The evidential quality of merciless comeuppance continues to droppeth like the gentle rain, and today's cloudy horizon is even stormier than yesterday's. I speak, of course, of the Republican pickle, and what a pickle it seems to be.
Yesterday, citing a WaPo-ABC News poll, I noted with good cheer that "Democrats 'overwhelmingly ... want a new direction,' but three out of every four independents are right there on the sidelines with them. Not really so astounding, you say? Then try this on: so are 'half of Republicans.' Half. Or, put another way, self-loathing within the GOP is now on a par with self-satisfaction."
Today comes reinforcement, and may God bless what I pray is the lethally accurate statistical methodology of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. For its calculus shows that "only 36 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the GOP 'does an excellent or good job' of 'standing up for traditional GOP positions' on issues like reducing the size of government, cutting taxes and promoting conservative social issues."
Hence two out of every three GOPers are, in Dick Cheney's famous formulation, pissed off big-time. And signs of their troubled dysuria only get better from there. For instance the 36 percent figure is "a decline of 25 points since July 2004. In fact, it’s the lowest Republican rating for the GOP since Pew began tracking the issue in 2000." Contentment within is plunging, or, if one prefers the more positive angle, dissatisfaction is skyrocketing. Oh, happy days.
As well, related polling has shown that for the first time since the pre-Vietnam era "Americans now see the two parties as equally qualified to face down national security threats -- erasing the 'security advantage' Republicans have long relied on." Its testosterone level remains dangerously high, but so far the party's come-hither leers have increasingly failed to seduce.
But what I found the most eye-popping in Pew's results was this little electoral gem: As of today, in a head-to-head match-up with Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton "wins the South." To boot, in what you might view as something of a statistical redundancy, she "polls evenly with Giuliani among voters who attend church at least once a week."
Michael Dimock, the associate director of Pew's research, chimed in with the drearily true: "It’s very early in the race, and we would all be shocked if the South went for Clinton." Yes, so would we, and so would -- especially -- the South. But such a Republican-plummeting, even-Steven finding at any point during this primary season is no less than stunning as a signal of extraordinarily troubled waters for the party of good-ole-boy hyperpatriotism and church-lady devotionals.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't taken leave of my progressive senses and signed on with the "Handsprings for Hillary" club. I find her schmoozing with the right's sensibilities immensely distasteful, however politically pragmatic and electorally clever.
On the other hand, until I do indeed take leave of my senses, I remain in real-world residence. And the bottom line is that classic formulation of the lesser of two evils. Although I may never actually cast a vote for Hillary, if Hillary it be -- writing in, instead, Mr. Gore or Kucinich or Ms. Moneypenny-- I'm at least convinced another Clinton White House would swindle slightly fewer citizens and start slightly fewer buffoonish wars than a Giuliani, Romney or Thompson presidency. And that, these days, may be about as good as this country can get.
But, for me, an even deeper bottom line springs from the emotional well of "The Godfather"'s Pete Clemenza, who so philosophically and succinctly stated his warring preferences in a rather polarized fashion: "I hate those goddamn Barzinis."
Amen, Brother Pete, as for the Republicans. In the shortest of historical order they turned out the lights of this often shining nation-state of the globe, and any enemy of that enemy is, loosely, our friend ... I suppose, for I can suppose no other.
No doubt the Grand Old Party will again crank up the fear-mongering and authoritarianism-hugging and Jesus-loving flag-waving and thereby rally many of their apostates from their disillusioned stupor. 2008 will be a rollicking ride through a living hell, and no doubt the GOP's efforts will avail better than the polls now indicate.
But we can at least savor its current condition. Comeuppance, however fleeting, is a joyful thing.
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