Norm, James, and Political Irony

I have long found it interesting how comfortable  people can be with logical inconsistency…you know, like a wealthy candidate for public office decrying subsidies while accepting them himself.

I encountered something like that today at the new Sic Semper Tyrannis as an add on to a conversation between two of the best writing bloggers we have.

Norm Leahy and James Atticus Bowden are two of the best writers and thinkers in the Virginia blogosphere. They take clear positions and write forcefully and even eloquently in support of them. James blogs at Deo Vindice, and Norm was lured from blogging retirement after he closed out One Man’s Trash (OMT) to take up the keyboard at Sic Semper…much to the benefit of the blogosphere.

Last week, Norm took issue with the an announcement that Christian conservatives might bolt the GOP for a third party candidacy if Rudy Giuliani gets the GOP nod. Norm questioned the efficacy of the move, noting it could ensure a GOP win and asking:

Do the ChristCons really want to play the Ross Perot role in 2008? Is their pique so great, and their masochism so pronounced, that they would rather see Mrs. Clinton than Giuliani in the White House?

Maybe it is. And as Old Zach wrote, that’s just foolishness.

JAB, both in a comment and on his blog, disagreed:

You may call it foolish to let Hillary win. Another perspective is that it is foolish to give support to someone who opposes you on social issues almost as much as Hillary does. The lesser of two evils is still evil. The people, who are called Preachers, are in the business of not siding with evil. Making compromises is the stuff of politicians not preachers.

These Preachers fear the reign of HRH Hillary I less than they fear helping elect someone with the message – our values are negotiable for political gain.

I commented to Norm’s post, and was going to go on at greater length at my joint, when I saw a new post by Norm. Norm offers some views of the upcoming Virginia General Assembly elections. First, he offers a scathing critique of the GOP and their record during the Warner/Kaine years…:

This is not a conservative record. It is not a record of fiscal restraint, and it manages to avoid paying even lip-service to the now quaint concept of limited government.

In ways that are painful to admit, it is closer to the record established by the congressional Republicans before the 2006 elections. And the results in Virginia could be much the same.

…and then the Democrats…:

That’s not to give the Democrats any credit for running good races. As a party, they have put forward almost nothing in the way of a platform, let alone a vision for the Commonwealth that does not involve even more and even larger government. They are following as closely as possible the Pelosi model of campaigning, which is to stand on the proper corner and wait patiently for the victory bus to scoop them up in November….All thanks to a rudderless, visionless GOP.

…followed by a general prediction:

As I wrote before the 2006 elections back on OMT, the Republicans are so deep in the weeds, the only way they will find their way out is to lose, and lose handily in November. That will not sit well at all with my partisan friends, but I still believe defeat can be an invaluable tonic…For Virginia Republicans, defeat can help them decide what they truly believe as a party. It will be ugly and painful. But it will also be useful, giving them the sort of clarity they need to come back strong in 2009.

This is the part that caught my attention.

I agree with Norm on all counts. The GOP is rudderless, and has neither offered not enunciated a vision for leadership. The Democrats have been playing prevent defense, not offering initiatives and wairing for power to drop into their hands. Sometimes, when a party has lost its way, it takes a resounding defeat to bring it back to its senses and realize it exists not for the sole reason of gaining and exercising political power.

What is ironic is that the scouring that Norm envisions and even embraces for the Virginia GOP is exactly what the Christian Conservatives seemingly envision and likely embrace for the national GOP. 

Just as the Virginia GOP has losts its way, the national GOP has also losts its way.  It cannot claim to be the party of fiscal conservatism, or of small government, or of any of the positions that Barry Goldwater and then Ronald Reagan spoke of so many years ago.  They seem to want to stand for something, and yet do nothing to take that stand. 

Their failure is reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s comment about the failure of the Baldwin government to come down solidly for or against rearmament:

“The Government cannot make up their minds,” snorted Mr. Churchill, “and so they decide only to be undecided, resolve only to be irresolute, are adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful but impotent!”

The same can be said of the failure of the state and national GOP to offer a vision for the country and the commonwealth.

That is what I find ironic about Norm’s post. He is unhappy with the Virginia GOP, and sees that perhaps the quickest way for it to find its footing is to take an electoral loss, re-identify itself, and come back strong in 2009. James sees the need for the same thing on the national level, but there the spectre of Hillary Clinton has Norm taking a different tact, casting those that would go to a third party over a matter of conscience as “Ross Perot” like spoilers doing something out of “pique” and “machismo.”

Logical inconsistency? Perhaps. Ironic? Definitely.


3 thoughts on “Norm, James, and Political Irony

  1. I wouldn’t use the word ‘need’. We don’t need to lose in Virginia in a few weeks or nationally in 08.

    When you do military analysis and futurist analysis (yes there is such a thing a methodologys)you look at ‘branches and sequels’ of what might happen.

    My point is “So what?” if we do lose. I’ve written op eds so titled.

    I draw the distinction between R and C (and our allies the Lt for Libertarian… Lt being an abbreviation for light – and double entendre intended).

    The Cs will prevail in this Commonwealth and Country. Read my piece from October 2001 (

    The present issue is this, “Will the political leadership of the Rs make that victory slow and painful by passing through defeats or exhilarating by moving towards our destiny forthrightly?”

    That political leadership includes a large political elite, a special interest group of career politicians for whom politics is their business and a few public servants, citizen legislators, who weren’t groomed for compliant ruling but rose from the People. Jo Ann Davis was a member of the smaller set of our R leadership across the Commonwealth and the Country.

    Also, timing is everything. I don’t support James Dobson’s talk of walking out. I just understand it. Dobson has done great things for families and our Nation by changing the culture. Dobson’s political analysis isn’t as strong,nor does it carry the moral suasion when he cross from the religious to the political. If he attempts to lead a walk out from the GOP, he will find out why the Evangelicals don’t have a Pope. We don’t submit to human authority well or often. We love to fight amongst ourselves over what we think are principles.

    Does that seem inconsistent?

  2. Am I inconsistent?


    But perhaps my greatest guilt was in not further expanding upon the ChristCon post. What I should have added was that talk of mounting a third party challenge even before the primaries begin — primaries that include candidates like Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback — seems just silly. I’m all for standing on principle. I’m all for fighting fights that seem hopeless based upon those principles.

    But they are threatening to walk out before the fight even begins. That’s the sort of behavior I simply cannot understand.

    As for the Virginia GOP and its latest road show…well, they fought for principle at one time. They won some, lost some, but they fought for what they believed in regardless of the outcome. Now, they seem to be fighting merely for the sake of power. That’s discouraging on so many levels that I’m left thinking that only defeat can snap them back to their senses.

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