Today, I've got a lot on my mind. I'm planning a visit to Alabama soon for an appearance at an event, my personal financial situation sucks, and if I don't get some serious tip-jar action going, it'll be even more scary than it already is. And so this idea of Frank Schaeffer being on CNN to peddle his book, making money by pushing the Obama agenda, kind of stuck in my craw, and my e-mail reply to my buddy ran to 1,400 words. Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair, because here is what I wrote:
You see that Schaeffer and others of that ilk were, in large measure, turned off by the cynicism of the Mehlman/Rove/Bush manipulation of evangelical Christians, as well as the shameless flag-waving "be patriotic, vote Republican" use of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Any intelligent, well-informed and politically aware person couldn't help that. But to jump over into the enemy camp over that, and publicly denounce the GOP in the manner that the soi-dissant "Obamacons" did -- that was stupid and dishonorable.
When I left the Democratic party (circa 1994-95), my disillusionment and sense of betrayal was so deep and profound that, as a conservative, I have maintained a very detached, skeptical and, you might say, objective view of the Republican Party. I try to avoid using "we" when speaking of the Republican Party, because I am not part (and have no desire to become a part) of the official electoral apparatus.
Politics is a very dirty and very cynical business, full of self-serving ambitious men who -- to give them every benefit of the doubt -- hope to do well by doing good. It's a racket, and if you've spent as long as I have watching it at close range, it is impossible to be too idealistic about it.
All that said, however, when push comes to shove, you have to choose sides and keep in mind the fundamental differences between the two parties, differences that have never been clearer than at the present moment, as the Obamanomics agenda devastates the market economy and Democrats enact policies intended to make their political hegemony permanent.
I talked to an old friend Tuesday, a retired fellow who has worked all his life, as has his dear wife, and they had managed to amass sufficient savings that he was set to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Or so he thought.
"Stacy, I've lost a half-million dollars in this market," he told me, and explained that the mortgage payment on his retirement home was becoming problematic. "We might lose our house."
My friend is an erudite man, who views his plight philosophically, and appreciated my jocular reply.
"Well . . . just think. Eighteen months ago, you could have given me a quarter-million, and whatever I did with that investment, you wouldn't have been worse off than you are now," I said. "You gotta go with who you know."
He laughed, and mused that, indeed, I'd have been a better steward of his investments than Lehmann Brothers. And then I told him that I'd managed by sheer lunatic accident to outsmart the market. When I walked out of the Washington Times in January 2008, I had money in my 401K that, over the course of several months, I withdrew and spent to subsidize the launching of my career as a freelance journalist and blogger.
At this point, although I might be flat broke and faced with all manner of financial woes, my blog has just passed the 1-million hits threshold, I'm being published at The American Spectator, Pajamas Media, Taki's Magazine and Splice Today, and it appears that investing in myself was the best move I could have made. It was a helluva crazy gamble, but it's starting to pay off.
Which brings me back to Frank Schaeffer and some of that "evangelicals for Obama" nonsense. Do you remember three weeks ago when Michelle Lee Muccio rocketed to Internet fame with her YouTube video? I've known Michelle for a couple of years, just from hanging around libertarian events in D.C. She works at the Acton Institute, which is all about getting Christians to understand that property rights and the free economy are far more consonant with Bible values than the socialist class-envy agenda of the Left.
This is a basic idea I've had for years, which I wrote about last fall in a column for the American Spectator called "The Bible vs. the Bailout." It infuriates me when people like that idiot Ryan Sager claim that there is some kind of conflict within the Republican "Big Tent" between evangelicals and libertarians. It's not true or, at least, it shouldn't be true. The idiocy of Frank Schaeffer -- and people like Rod Dreher, who can't seem to find time in their busy lives to read Ludwig Von Mises or Friedrich Hayek -- is that they have failed to understand, embrace and proclaim the truth that without economic liberty, we will have no other liberty, not even a free press or freedom of religion.
If the leadership of the Religious Right had proclaimed this truth to their followers -- who are "poor, uneducated and easy to command," we're told -- then evangelical conservatives would have screamed bloody murder over the Bush administration's deficit-spending ways and the profligacy of Republicans in Congress during those six long years where Bush seemed to have misplaced his veto pen. But the Mehlman/Rove axis was happy to get 51% with their jingoism and token gestures to the "base," while ignoring the basic maxim of governance that good policy is good politics.
So it is not as if I don't share the disappointment of effete critics like Schaeffer and Dreher and David Brooks -- the dogs who bark while the caravan moves on -- but rather that I was as undeceived about the essential nature of politics in 2001 as I am today. There are other maxims of politics that the barking dogs ignore, including this one: You can't govern if you don't win.
At a very basic level, politics comes down to the business of who can put the most butts in voting booths on Election Day. And when my libertarian or neocon friends scoff at pro-lifers and the Religious Right, my answer is always, "Yeah, but they can put butts in voting booths." How many votes can David Brooks deliver? Where is his powerful following? And since the answer is, "Not very many," then who the hell cares what David Brooks says about anything? He speaks for no important constituency, and his influence is effectively nihil, because the only people who pay attention to him are media types and others of the intelligentsia who vote about 8-to-1 Democrat year after year.
Dreher and Schaeffer and their ilk, however, are far more valuable to advancing the Democratic agenda. Because their dyspeptic obfuscations spread like a squid inking the waters, confusing and demoralizing the Bible believers who by all rights ought to be the staunchest advocates of economic liberty and, thus, the most militant opponents of Obamomics. What they are telling their readers is, "Don't bother to hope. Don't try to get involved and make a difference. You don't need to investigate for yourself what's going on. Why even bother to vote or contact your congressman? It doesn't matter what you think or what you do, because you are not important and politicians only care about important people. Just sit here with me, as inert as argon, complaining about everything, and take comfort in the dignity of your irrelevance."
Well, that ain't how I roll. Knowledge is more powerful than ignorance, truth is more powerful than a lie, and courage will always triumph over the weakling cowardice of those who sit on the sidelines whining because Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are in the starting lineup.
So I kept talking to my old friend who lost a half-million in the stock market, and I said to him that I have closely watched the signs of the times, and have seen the omens, and have faith that a mighty work is at hand. My friend laughed and remarked that, of course I know he's utterly unreligious.
"Yeah, I know, you're a damned pagan and I'm a hillbilly holly roller," I said. Nevertheless the signs of the times are clear to me, and I see which way this situation is headed. It doesn't matter whether you believe now, you will see soon enough. We are in the midst of a great sorting, separating the wheat from the chaff, and I don't plan to be the chaff.
As for Schaeffer and Dreher and those other barking dogs, they can either grow up and confront the realities of coalition politics, or find themselves counted as members of the hostile army encompassing the camp of the saints. I know what side I'm on, and I'm sick and tired of their carping pusillanimity. They can stand with us and fight the enemy, or they can get the hell gone, but the time for deciding is at hand, and they're not necessarily going to be the ones doing the deciding.
Living like a wild man on tip-jar contributions and freelance assignments isn't exactly fun, but at least I can tell the truth without having to ask anybody's permission. WOLVERINES!
Now, if you like that attitude and you want more of it, please hit the tip jar. To give you an idea of how bad things suck right now, before I opened my buddy's e-mail and wrote that reply, I'd been working on a little promotional idea. In college, I minored in art with an emphasis in commercial design, so I know a thing or two about effective messages that grab the reader's attention.
Exploring new nadirs of blogospheric shamelessness is kind of a hobby. Like I said, I write for money, and I have a lot of fun thinking up imaginative new ways to build traffic and enhance my revenue stream. As amusing as these detours into transparent blogwhoring might be -- oh, the joys of Rule 5! -- I'd rather be writing about politics, which would be easier to do if I didn't have to spend so much time coming up with devious new ways of shaking the tip jar.
I'm obliged to John Hawkins at Conservative Grapevine who linked to some smokin'-hot bikini pics of Miranda Kerr that inspired my latest fundraising scheme. So if you've been thinking about whether to hit the tip jar, hit it now. I don't know how much longer the ACORN protesters on the picket line will be able to keep the repo man from towing my car.