I have already written some about how I think the election is going to go, and this is related to that. This is not the same subject, but is related to it. A cynic might say that this is only a different subject in the sense that I am doing post-election analysis before the election — explaining how it is that the election went the way that I only think it is going to go.
But this is more fundamental than that. What I am seeing is related to the election, of course, but I think it is related to far more than just that.
So here is the issue. A lot of people have needed permission to reject the prevailing kultursmog. Those on the libertarian and conservative right have it worked out on their own without that permission — they have decided views already. They know what they think. The same goes for those on the other end of the spectrum. The future of the country is therefore in the hands of the great, undecided middle — that group that has come to be called (for some reason) Independents. But they are not really indepdendent, except in the sense that a girl going out with two different guys is independent. It would be better to say that she can’t make up her mind.
Those in this group are far more vulnerable to the public organs of opinion that tell us all what is done and not done around here. They are vulnerable to those who would undertake to organize the general consensus. Now what I see happening is that this group is being given permission to give the raspberry to Obama and his entourage. Permission is quite different than conviction.
Conservatives have their convictions, and don’t need permission. But there are those in the middle who need permission, and it is starting to come from those who usually manage the middle. And these managers, understand, are getting some feedback from the people — those people are not thriving, and they know generally that they are not happy with how “things” are going. And it is not just a matter of finding someone to take the fall for it — unless there is some kind of fix or correction, the backlash from this group is going to be more radical than just voting out one guy.
So I see all kinds of signals being sent that in effect grant this permission. Not from everyone, of course, and there is still plenty of panic on the establishment Left. But in odd places, the vibe is now going out that you can vote against Obama without being written off as a hate-filled space alien. This is effective for the person who voted for Obama the first time to prove he was not a racist. He is now being given permission to not vote for him to prove he notices things outside his own backyard.
Obama’s was a failed presidency a good two years ago, but he was kept aloft by the sheer cussedness of the broad societal narrative. “Stay up there, dern it. You are the first black president, and you are going to be a good one. We have decided.” But the societal narrative is showing signs of strain of holding up the weight of this massive and humongoid incompetence.
One can see the problem of course. It is as though Jackie Robinson made it into the majors for the first time, and then batted .113, and had every ball that came his way go right between his feet. There would have been — despite this — a number of people who were invested in keeping him on for a season or two anyway. And why? Because failure was not an option. They were fixing the social narrative, and not just playing baseball. It would be like James Meredith flunking out after his first full quarter at the University of Mississippi. You just don’t do that, and much to their credit, those two gentlemen didn’t. They did what they were supposed to. But Obama? Obama has been about as bad as a president can get without being hauled off at the end of a Tom Clancy novel as that red diaper grandkid of a Comintern operative who became president, and who came down with Alzheimers somewhere in the process. How can you get a guy like that an honored place in the history books?
So permission to state the obvious is being granted to the middle. This can be found many places, but you can see it clearly in the widespread reactions to the first presidential debate, and the only veep debate. In both cases, the president and vice-president pretty much did what everybody says they did, which is to say, they did not show up with their game face on. Well, Joe Biden did, but we are not quite sure what game that was supposed to be. So that is true enough.
But the thing that is amazing about this is that the reverberations from those two debates have been gathering force since the debates. In a different setting, Obama’s lackluster performance (and that is all it was) was something that the controlling social narrative could have handled before breakfast. But now . . .? That lackluster perforamce has turned into a rolling disaster. And the appalling nature of the vice-president’s mugging around for the camera has been acknowledged with greater and greater strength as every day goes by. This doesn’t happen unless the narrative managers have given permission for it, or unless they have lost control of the whole thing, which I don’t believe.
The same thing can be said about the Libya scandal — and what a scandal that is going to be. Permission is being granted to notice it. That permission is coming out piecemeal, and it does not yet exist across the board, but it is definitely there.
An election is, in effect, an extension (or not) of a work agreement. In order to fire a president, you have to do something like impeach him. But to simply “not hire” again, all you need do is go into the voting booth with all your reservations just a-going and stand in there scratching your head. In this setting, you have been given permission to have those reservations. And you can actually talk about it afterwards. That is what I mean by permission.
Last night on a John Stossel program about elections and campaigns, I saw Bob Beckel, with his political operative hat on, say that the average American devotes about three hours of attention to a presidential campaign, over the course of the campaign. This makes no sense to policy wonks and political junkies, who spend their days working through this kind of stuff, but there it is. And this means that, with that level of analysis, the kind of permission I am talking about really matters. It reduces to “I can register my unhappiness about the economy, and not be a vile racist.” This permission is garnered from car pool conversations, a Leno joke, one political ad, and something your mom said.
I can notice that Jackie Robinson keeps striking out. I don’t have to pretend that he didn’t.