Friday, October 27, 2006

Just Another Post About the Jim Webb Thing

Man I'm getting so weary of politics in these final weeks. It's hard not to imagine yourself in their shoes, dealing with the twin indignities of enduring vicious personal attacks and having to make vicious personal attacks in turn just to stay in the race. Everyone says they hate all the negativity in politics, myself included, but the fact is that elections aren't won by how good you can make your guy look, they're won by how bad you can make your opponent look. So this we must endure. Every two years.

Anyway, an update on the Jim Webb non-story story percolating today. If you're of a mind to waste 30 seconds of your life, you can click here and see the usually cowed Wolf Blitzer confront Lynn Cheney with some of her own medicine. She thinks Jim Webb's a degenerate because of what he wrote in his novels, but as you can see in the clip, she isn't too keen to talk about the R-rated material in her own novel, entitled "Sisters" (and yes, there are lesbian undertones in it). The thing about this whole business that gets under my skin the most is that this new tack taken by the Allen campaign is forcing us all to scan works of art for the "naughty bits", and then castigate the writers of those naughty bits as pervy scum, unfit for life much less public office. Isn't it fiction? Isn't coming up with disturbing imagery part of the job description?

Can you imagine what hell Stephen King would get from the likes of George Allen if King decided to run for office in Maine? Or John Irving? The Republicans would trot out the scenes from King's novel "It" when the children have sex in the sewer below Derry. Or the scenes in Irving's "Until I Find You" where the character of Jack, a young boy, is repeatedly molested without any overt signs of authorial disapproval. Do the requirements of their job, namely to imagine scenarios and characters freely, unfettered by the constraints of social mores, negate their feasibility as potential holders of public office? But these are just two examples from guys I've read, but this is the case with almost any serious novelist who doesn't write fiction intended for Christian bookstores. No one's safe from these kinds of attacks.

I haven't read Jim Webb's fiction and don't plan to -- seems kind of hawkish and military-fixated -- but I hate to think that he'd have been better off if he'd imagined a coterie of pinched-faced "Values voters" looking over his shoulder as he wrote his books, trying to keep whatever he wrote safely within their narrow boundaries of "good taste".

Anyway, I'm just more disgusted with this cynical political play than usual, thought I'd rant a little more about it. Again, have a good weekend.


blankfist said...

Man I'm getting so weary of politics in these final weeks. It's hard not to imagine yourself in their shoes, dealing with the twin indignities of enduring vicious personal attacks and having to make vicious personal attacks in turn just to stay in the race.

So, are you saying you feel empathetic towards the Republican political plight, as well? That statement goes for both parties?

JudgeHolden said...

Yes it does.

Most people, I think, including Republicans, aren't generally inclined towards confrontation or smallness or pettiness, but democracies seem to demand this sort of pettiness from candidates in order to win elections. Looking at it from a more remote perspective, would it be more useful to the public if debates were always friendly chats that allowed disagreement but no rancor? I doubt it. Does it benefit the electorate to know that George Allen is probably racist? I think so. Is it useful for the electorate to know that Jim Webb's probably a mysogenist? I think so. (This thing with the novels showing, according to Allen, Webb's "bad character", doesn't seem in any way useful, but that's just me.)

This mud-slinging is, perhaps necessary. How else do you fight complacency in the electorate (look at the incumbent reelection rate for evidence) unless you're able to convince the voters that an unknown quantity, the challenger, is superior to the guy currently in office? If there wasn't this ugly mud-slinging a politician would have to have been part of a major scandal to go out of office. The incumbancy reelection rate would be even higher, which seems impossible. To some degree, it's either dirty campaigns like this, or term limits, and term limits seem like a good idea, but it's also a limit on the public's right to elect whomever they like, which maybe isn't so good.

Brian O'Malley said...

Let's give Bush another four.

Brian O'Malley said...

Donald Lambro wrote in this Thursday's Washington Times “the 2006 elections could turn on one final, frantic, door-to-door battle: who wins the voter turnout game. A little more than a week before voters decide who will control Congress next year, that game is played out in a half-dozen battleground Senate races and 40 to 50 closely-contested House elections across the country. …many contests appear close enough where turnout could make the crucial difference. …No one doubts who has the stronger voter turnout ground game: the Republicans.”

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