Gone are the days when a great but uncharismatic president like Calvin Coolidge could get elected because he promised to do as little as possible. (“Perhaps,” he observed, “one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”)
But Goldberg doesn't really want a government that does little or nothing.
I would love it if the GOP dedicated itself to cutting government by two-thirds, leaving only a minimal social safety net, a big honking military, and a few other bells and whistles for promoting the general welfare. My ideal ticket in 2008 would have been Cheney-Gramm. That’s right, Dick Cheney and Phil Gramm: two old white guys who would crush our enemies and liberate our economy while shouting, “You kids get off my lawn!” at the filthy hippies who would inevitably accumulate outside the White House like so much bathroom fungus.
If only we had Dick Cheney designing our military strategy, and Phil Gramm designing our economic strategy. Except we did, and it brought us to this sorry-yet-happily-conservative-free state. Reality doesn't matter to an authoritarian, however. Maintaining the illusion of a protective Daddy who takes care of you is what really counts.
Liberals bristled at — but didn’t really deny — the suggestion that voters preferred Bush because they’d rather “have a beer with him.” What they fail to fully appreciate is that many voters preferred Obama because they’d rather have a chardonnay with him than with that cranky John McCain. Obama’s winning personality and a widespread yearning for ill-defined “change” were probably more essential to Obama’s victory than his campaign proposals.
Liberals are less authoritarian than conservatives because less authoritarian people are more attracted to liberalism than they are the stratified and closed world of conservatism. Goldberg's method of dealing with disagreement is to write "I know you are but what am I," and this is just another example. Obama won because the Bush Team sent the economy into the crapper. Period. It took a major financial meltdown to overcome the popular Republican platform of telling people their taxes will be cut and that they are superior to the rest of humanity.
So what does this mean for conservatives? Well, it doesn’t mean that we should stop debating ideas. But it also probably means that we won’t have a chance to implement those ideas until the GOP finds a winning salesman or vessel for them, and that person doesn’t seem to exist right now. Again, I’m speaking to my fears, not my hopes.
Again, Goldberg ignores the past eight years in which conservative ideas finally were able to run their natural course without any governmental mitigation. He also ignores the fact that popular Bush became unpopular Bush due to the failure of his policies. It's not the policies, it's the person, he says, so all they need is a new authority to follow and they'll be winners once again.
Watching the right blame Obama for our economic troubles is a surreal experience, but reality doesn't go away just because you ignore it. Republicans will find some other drooling moron with money and a familiar name and immediately hold him up as a paragon, just like they did with Bush. The only question is if there will be anyone left in Jonah's camp when they do.