If you are at all like me, you woke up this April morning hoping that the newspapers would be full of headlines reading “April Fool,” and subheaded, “The last few weeks? Gotcha!” Alas, no such luck.
Consider the politics of the moment. Negotiations to keep Iran from getting the bomb continue well past the deadline when we have already given away the farm. Hillary Clinton evades scrutiny in ways Bill never dreamed of. The Indiana madness (and we are NOT talking basketball) has now taken root in Arkansas. And the former Majority Leader of the Senate shamelessly admits to lying for political gain. All of these are stories where political victory seems to trump fair play, ethics, reason, and the constitution. It’s not a good time in American politics.
Desperate for a foreign policy win of any sort, Obama and Kerry keep trying to get a “deal.” At this point, the deal is virtually worthless, but at least they will be able to say they inked something with the ayatollahs. The March 31 deadline for negotiations to conclude proves to be yet another red line that this administration was not sincere in drawing. Victory through weakness! (I can just hear my many liberal Christians friends telling me this Holy Week that such was the model of Christ on the cross. Ahem. Victory through sacrifice, and resurrection, is a very different thing that victory through weakness.) There is no deal here, but Obama and Kerry soldier on to achieve the illusion of deal.
Hillary Clinton did not just erase her email hard drive, she wiped it, making it completely unrecoverable. This is a move of misdirection. She can shift the focus of the investigation from her failures at Benghazi, and generally as SoS, to her electronic management. A lot of people find the world of electronic management bewildering, and now the focus is on something where many people will experience empathy, rather than hard core failures that cost American lives. This is right out of Bill’s play book. Nobody likes a liar, but seemingly everybody has some sort sex secret in their lives. On trial for perjury, Bill shifted the focus to sex and prevailed – misdirection.
Indiana passes a RFRA, one of many states to do so, but a lot of people in and around Indiana like a child afraid of a fictional monster in the hardware store, throw a tantrum. Dad tries to reason with the child which only increases the volume of the tantrum. So, Dad gets in the car and drives away. This has two effects. The child in the car in the next parking spot (Arkansas) sees this work, and simply not wanting to be bothered with the store, throws his own tantrum. Secondly, when Dad gets the child home and tries to return to the hardware store alone, he is met with another, even more boisterous tantrum. The child’s irrational fear, reinforced by Dad’s actions, has now decided that Dad will die if he goes to the hardware store even alone. (Clarification of Indiana’s RFRA is no longer good enough, the calls are now for repeal.) Having rewarded the tantrum, the tantrum is repeated. (There are better ways.)
Harry Reid, stripped of the need to seek office any more, just spells it out. He flat out justifies lying on the floor of the United States Senate with the simple sentence, “He didn’t win, did he?”
All of these are cases of, at least for the moment, political victory through dishonorable means. Some, of course, more dishonorable than others but all eschew honest debate on the merits of the issue at hand for manipulation of public opinion. Nothing new about that really; it is as old as politics. What is chilling is that there are so many such events are occurring at the same time, relatively transparently, and that the public seems quite willing to be manipulated. As one example, in Indiana many people that may even have moral objections to same-sex marriage are calling for the “fix” or repeal of RFRA on purely image and reputation grounds. It is a form of public relations blackmail, entirely reminiscent of the tactics of Al Sharpton and his ilk.
While this sort of political trick is indeed as old as the hills, what is not is the amount of success it seems to be garnering. Such victories are generally pyrrhic. Harry Reid’s certainly will be. Decades from now he will be remembered as the guy that abolished the filibuster and the guy that lied on the floor of the Senate. Just as no one really remembers anything good that Richard Nixon did, any good Harry Reid may have accomplished has disappeared into the waste bin of “He didn’t win, did he?” The verdict is still out on Hillary Clinton and the signs of her cover up costing her are on the increase. Only history will be able to tell us of about the illusionary nature of the deal with Iran if it comes to pass. Let’s just hope and pray that the pyrrhic nature of the victory is measured in purely political terms, and not nuclear explosion terms.
But in Indiana one is concerned that something essential has been lost. The furor has been so without substance and fact that the only thing left to focus on is the tantrum itself. The tantrum has indeed been rewarded which means we are doomed to repeats. Setting aside moral authority for the sake of public relations serves only to cheapen the moral authority.
One can wish this was all an April Fools charade, but it is not.