Welcome to Schadenfreude Files Volume II
“President Obama did not lose, he won … Mitt Romney’s assumed base did not fully emerge … The last rallies of his campaign neither signaled nor reflected a Republican resurgence … While GOP voters … with lawn signs … Democrats … organising, data mining and turning out the vote … Obama was perhaps not joyless but dogged, determined …
“Apart from that everything I wrote in my blog post of November 5 [‘I think Mitt Romney will win, I think he is sneaking in … like a thief in the night with good tools’] still stands.” — Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, post-election
You’ve got to give it to Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter who has now taken on an empyrean persona that makes Katharine Hepburn look like Gina Rinehart pumicing her corns in a heatwave. Noonan had loftily disregarded the dull machinations of Nate Silver for her superior knowledge of the American mood, and while she was willing to admit the occasional inconvenient fact — such as the result — that changed nothing.
America was an unchanging eternal being, a centre-right nation, and so the only task of conservatives was to find the accidental features of this result, and reveal the essence beneath. It’s a measure of how crazy the Right is, that Noonan was one of the saner voices in the mix. Karl Rove, recovering from the wave of loathing directed at him from the Right, told Fox News that Obama had won by “voter suppression”, by which he meant the ads that had convinced working-class Right-leaning voters to stay home because Romney hated them.
Charles Krauthammer urged change on immigration policy — and nothing else. People would return to Republican ideals, he said, because “European social democracy is imploding before our eyes” — presumably referring to the riots and grievous poverty we hear about in Sweden and Germany every day. George Will, having urged the GOP to admit defeat during the primaries, and then forecasting an easy Romney win, now tried to cheer the faithful up about modernising the party by quoting a 1936 song: ”I pick myself up/Dust myself off/Start all over again”.
On it went, and any doubts I had of compiling volume two of the Schadenfreude Files was swept away — leaving only the concern that I alone would be so obsessive to see it as worthwhile. (Volumes three, four and beyond — and oh yes, there will be more — will most likely be consigned to blog row, by the eds).
Fortunately, the Right came to my rescue in, well, everywhere. In Australia, Tony Abbott put out the call for an “authentic” aborigine, while George Pell and other Catholic grandees once more played the victim card with regard to child s-xual abuse, and the “war against religion”. This was — tragically, heartbreakingly — added to when a young pregnant woman died of septicemia in Ireland, after the hospital staff stuck to the most rigid interpretation of Ireland’s anti-abortion law.
In the UK, the Tory Party, reeling from a 15%, seat-taking swing to Labour in the Corby by-election — after the sudden departure of alleged ex-nightclub drug dabbler and chick-lit novelist Louise Mensch — hired Lynton Crosby. He’d been responsible for the 2005 Tory campaign widely seen as the nastiest, and utterly unsuccessful, campaign in recent history, with its “are you thinking what we’re thinking?” anti-immigration ads. And coming back to the US, there was of course Mormon Mitt, telling a phone hook post-mortem for his campaign managers that Obama had won by giving “gifts” to people, simply reiterating his earlier disdain for half the population. (He also suggested that the group stay in touch, with regular catch-ups and perhaps a newsletter and then said hello, hello, is this thing on?). Continent by continent, the Right was curling into itself, doing the Mobius strip thing, where “having a rethink” really means redoubling your efforts to project a neat political fantasy onto real-life.
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