Forget the Law of Thirds at your peril
Some time ago--long before I became a blogger, or even a neocon--I noticed a certain phenomenon and gave it what I thought was a unique name: the "Law of Thirds."
Well, it turns out the phrase also refers to a recommendation for photography composition, as well as a math principle involving random numbers. I guess it's harder than I thought to be original.
But no matter. Basically, my law refers to the fact that the populace of the US seems to be divided roughly into thirds, at least in the political sense: one-third on the entrenched left, one-third on the entrenched right, and one-third in between. It was something I'd noticed over and over in public opinion polls, and it seemed to be stable over time.
You all know where I stand--in that middle third. I think it's actually where I've always stood, although I used to be positioned towards the leftish end of that middle, and now I stand pretty much in the very middle of that middle. It's from this moderate middle third that elections are generally decided.
For the past few years we've been hearing a great deal of noise from the third on the left, the ones who suffer from the ailment known as Bush Derangement Syndrome. And now, with the Miers nomination, we're hearing the din emanating from the right third. To me, it's not a whole lot more attractive a sound, although it's a very different one in a very different cause.
Yesterday I wrote about what I think motivates those on the right who are rushing to judgment on Miers. Since then, I've done some more reading on conservative blogs about Miers, and some of the comments of those who are dead set against her have reminded me--as if I needed reminding--of just why I'm happy to call myself an independent, and of just how much the extremists on both sides resemble each other in their rage, their rigidity, and their sense of entitlement and grandiosity.
Here, for example, is a reader's dissenting comment to what I consider a very practical and evenhanded post at Polipundit. I offer an excerpt from the comment to illustrate the sort of thing I'm talking about:
What is so disappointing about the Miers nomination is the missed opportunity. No, not the missed opportunity to get a high-powered known-quantity conservative. That certainly could have failed, probably would have failed, as many have noted, given the likely apostasy of several GOP senators. So what? The battle itself would have been the prize:
(1) It would have forced the issue onto public consciousness in a way that the Miers nomination never will. Nobody, NOBODY, outside the respective bases and political junkies will give a whit about or pay a shred of attention to the Miers nomination. A teaching opportunity simply thrown away.
(2) It would have put on record the names, ranks and serial numbers of the apostates to blame for the failure to confirm. Not that we really don't know who they are, but they should be forced on record with their apostasy, with all the consequences that might follow thereunto. It's simply too easy to let them, in effect, kill the nomination of some Really Qualified conservative nominee without ever lifting a finger, and without taking explicit responsibility for the assasination. In the long-run, the best way to instill (enforce) conservative loyalty is to force the wishy-washy "moderates"; (and, truth be told, outright liberal Republicans)to own up to, act upon, and live with the consequences of their betrayals...
The final conclusion from all this: Bush is not a President of, for, or by the conservative movement. He is "conservative"in many (but certainly not all) of his instincts and policy preferences. But he is not a conservative warrior. He really believes in all that "get along together as Americans", "set a new tone and rise above partisanship"; bullshit. He wants to be a good President for America, pure and simple, not a crusader for the conservative movement. Thus all the reasons I've advanced for his pressing the fight for a conservative nominee he very likely would eventually lose have no appeal for him.
Now I, for one, become very nervous when accusations of "apostasy" get thrown around and don't seem to be meant as some sort of joke. The comment tells us quite a bit, I think, about the far right reaches of conservatism, which is rather like the far left reaches of "progressivism," to wit: "tow the most extreme version of the party line or we ostracize and/or destroy you."
The most telling sentences to me are the ones I've highlighted in boldface. If I understand the writer correctly, they're meant to be a condemnation of Bush. In my opinion, they ought to be a recommendation.
Those who are considerably to the right or left often seem to have another thing in common: when their party happens to get into power, they believe it means that the Law of Thirds has been repealed, just for them. It hasn't. As far as I know it's still in operation, and has been for quite some time. Anyone from either radical third who thinks the American people will be happy to give his/her third a permanent ascendance in American political life is quite wrong, IMHO, and that person will be soundly rejected by said American people if he/she arrogantly and openly displays the hubris of thinking so--whether that person's name be Howard Dean or Newt Gingrich or whomever else would be an even better example of the genre.
Right now I'm not sure whether the vocal conservatives whom Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters refers to as the "Rebel Alliance" actually think they can win more elections behaving this way, or whether they just don't care if they do or don't as long as they get what they want now. Either way, the electorate is watching, and my guess is that the rest of the middle third isn't liking what it's seeing any more than I am.
By the way, if anyone wants to read an exceptionally reasonable conservative voice on the matter of Harriet Miers, please visit BeldarBlog. Beldar been hard at work ever since the Miers flap began, and he's somehow managed to stay informative, circumspect, and fair to all concerned. It can't be easy.