L'élégance, Encore de L'élégance, et Toujours de L'élégance
They say conservatives can sound shrill. It is true that there is a sort of desperate edge sometimes to talk radio, Fox News, the conservative blog sites, or the Drudge Report as they attempt to challenge the established monopoly of the network news, the wire services, and news feeders —AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Google and Yahoo News — the marquee newspapers such as the New York Times or the Washington Post, and the left-leaning government owned NPR and PBS.
To be heard above that cacophony, conservatives must be loud, persistent, and repetitive. And the message of limited government, free markets, and self-reliance is easily caricatured as selfish and greedy, at least in comparison to the idea of a paternalistic government and its egalitarian Siren songs of taking care of the collective at the supposedly small price of surrendering liberty.
Although MSNBC certainly seems more hysterical than Fox, The Huffington Post far more accusatory than is the National Review, Air America more crass than right-wing talk radio, at times we might do better with tragic voices rather than accusatory ones -- to remind the public that it was the left, not the right, that turned mean and crass and decided that its utopian means justified almost any means necessary.
How, for example, did it happen that the liberal movement forsook its classical roots and instead opted for the tribe—the resort to illiberal voting along ethnic lines, as if those who look or speak similarly are not so much individuals as racial automatons. And how strange that we now speak so casually of the Latino vote, the black vote, the Asian vote, gay vote, the youth vote—as if there is not a human vote? Are there not to be any individuals within these stereotyped castes? Was the pathos of Martin Luther King to look to the content of our characters rather than to the color of our skin to end with the bathos of Rev. Joseph Lowery's pre-election venom that whites belong in Hell?
The reason we read Lincoln and Churchill and not Andrew Jackson or David Lloyd George is not just the greater wisdom of the former, but the greater beauty of their words as well. Conservatives cannot, as competing would-be emperors bidding for the services of the Praetorian Guard, trump the big-government entitlements of the Democrats. But we can offer more cogent—and more elegant—arguments for smaller government, fewer taxes, and greater individual freedom.
Barack Obama, it is true, is at times mellifluous on the teleprompter, but his rhetoric grows wearisome because it long ago became stereotypical and trite. We tire not just of the faux cadences and patois; of his monotonous fillers like ‘Make no mistake’, and ‘Let me be perfectly clear’; or the constant straw men “they”, or the obsessive use of the first-person “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”; or the psychodramatic braggodacio about Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin, and Susan Rice; or the occasional mean-spirited threat like “punish our enemies” and “get in their faces”; but also the banality of “pay your fair share” ad nauseam, and all of its predictable formulas like "spread the wealth", "corporate jet owner", "fat cat banker", and "you didn’t build that" business. An Obama speech is now all refrain and chorus with not a new line to be had.
Cannot a conservative answer in a simple, straightforward and logical manner? At what point did success become morally suspect, and dependence a virtue? If paying over half an income in local, state, and federal taxes is not a fair share, what, then, would be? Is not half a man’s waking hours enough for others? Mr. President, we can understand why you might brag to your base that you shut down new oil and gas leases on federal lands, but why at the same time boast that those whom you sought to stop—despite, not because, of your hostility—produced more gas and oil on private lands than at any time in our recent history? Are they to be damned or praised for providing more domestic carbon-based fuels?
Forget birth certificates and college transcripts. Let us show how Barack Obama is absurd and juvenile—but let us do it in a manner unlike that of Barack Obama.
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