Monday, October 02, 2006
The Party's Over
Quick -- how do you save a drowning elephant?
What at first glance seems like the set-up for a rather sophomoric joke is actually a question the Republican Party is no doubt taking very seriously right now. If you know the answer, I'm sure Ken Melhman would love to hear from you; until recently, he hasn't faced a crisis that a hundred GOP fax-machines with perfectly-coordinated talking points couldn't get him out of.
I freely admit to gleaning a noticeable amount of enjoyment from the downturn in the fortunes of the party which has kept an unchallenged stranglehold on this country for the past six years. However, that sense of political schadenfreude is less a result of policy than it is a result of pretension. This has been said by many, but it bears repeating simply by virtue of the fact that it cannot be emphasized enough: there hasn't been a political party in general or an administration in particular of my generation which has so thoroughly cloaked itself in the kind of monumentally arrogant sense of entitlement and self-righteous hubris as the current governing body. The Republicans have operated as an unwavering, power-mad juggernaut -- a monstrous political machine -- that has acted with impunity and contemptibly crushed dissent by means of suggestion and innuendo, treachery and character assassination; it has done so through the ignorance of a Vichy press corps -- too frightened, starstruck or easily manipulated to adhere to its journalistic obligation -- and through the complicity of its own private media outlet. The ruling party has consistently behaved as if half of the country -- the half comprised of those who disagree with it -- doesn't exist, and it has done so simply because it is the ruling party; it has done so, because it can.
At this point, watching the swaggering schoolyard bully fall -- watching the machine collapse in a confused mess -- is nothing more than human nature.
The recent perfect storm of scandal, discredit and revelation will not spell the end of the Republican Party, nor should it. It will however give the GOP the chance to purge itself of the blustering demagogues who've spent the last several years corrupting the party's once-good name; whether or not it chooses to actually do this remains to be seen.
So how do you save a drowning elephant?
It can only save itself -- but chances are, if it believed that it could walk on water to begin with, it may not have the smarts to do that.