Imagine that instead of playing the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl this Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers were matched against a group of 22 business people who happened to get together to play football once a week just for the sake of exercise or camaraderie. Needless to say, it would not be a fair fight or a pretty sight.
This mismatch is what comes to mind when I contemplate Professor Rahe's post regarding the future of the conservative movement and particularly his call for a conservative standard bearer -- someone "of intelligence and real cunning with fire in the belly and a willingness to fight the ruthlessness of the Democrats with a ruthlessness of his own."
This won't be easy. The Democratic Party is populated by people who view politics as a noble profession and are willing and even eager to make a career of it. When one makes a career of something, one generally expends a substantial amount of energy and passion climbing to the top. Necessarily, a little (and, sometimes, even a lot) of ruthlessness is learned and employed along the way.
On the conservative side of the ledger, the best and the brightest tend not to be political careerists. They are doctors, scientists, people who go into business for themselves, or rise through the ranks of big business or financial institutions, or populate conservative think tanks, or write for conservative news magazines or websites. Politics for these folks is more avocation than vocation, more civic obligation than career opportunity.
It's hard for a person who views politics as a civic obligation -- one undertaken reluctantly, but for the good of the country -- to subject himself to (or envision himself engaging in) the kind of trench warfare that a political careerist would force upon him. Just as the casual weekend footballer would not want to line up opposite the 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday, so too the decent conservative with a good heart and good head would be understandably reluctant to subject himself (and his family) to a $750 million TV ad campaign painting him as a cruel, woman-with-cancer-killing, job-destroying, birth control-denying monster (hypothetically speaking, of course).
In fact, I think I would rather suffer a physical beat down at the hands of the 49ers than put my family through what Mitt Romney put his family through last election.
So the real question is this: do we have to become like them to beat them? Do we have to become ruthless liars like our current POTUS in order to win in the future? If so, we weekend footballers better start getting in shape.