Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Why the GOP Field Is Like Star Trek: TNG

Last night over martinis someone asked me who I liked in the GOP presidential field. Like most conservatives I’m not very enthusiastic about any of the three front-runners. Maybe it was the martinis, but the thought popped into my head: “The problem with this field is that it is too much like the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

You’ll have to bear with me here, and follow the story line. The major premise is that Ronald Reagan was Captain Kirk. I know, I know, Kirk’s character was said to have been loosely modeled on JFK, but don’t forget that Reagan inherited the mantle of JFK’s Cold Warriorism (as well as JFK’s income tax cuts). Having grown up with Kirk (and Governor Reagan), I hated—hatedStar Trek: TNG when it came on in the 1980s. The first of many reasons for hating TNG was that they actually obeyed the stupid Prime Directive, which is the epitome of cultural relativism. Half the plot lines of the original Star Trek involved Kirk wantonly violating the Prime Directive in what constituted acts of democratic statesmanship. Let’s recall, for example, the episode called “The Apple,” where Kirk revels in destroying the planet’s oppressive false god Vaal, and then explains to the stupefied inhabitants that their lives are going to change: “That’s what we call freedom. You’ll like it a lot. . . You’ll learn something about men and women—the way they’re supposed to be.” (The best analysis of this topic remains Paul Cantor’s wonderful book Gilligan Unbound, especially chapter 2, “Shakespeare in the Original Klingon.”)

TNG, on the other hand, was wholly bureaucratic—Star Trek as imagined by the UN General Assembly—and Captain Jean-Luc Piccard seemed more like the UN Secretary General than a commander. More to the point—and here we get back to the main thread—the problem with TNG was that it split Kirk’s character into three people: Piccard the authoritative but rule-abiding commander; First Officer Will Riker as the impetuous and womanizing swashbuckler, and Counselor Deanna Troi representing analytical reason and intuition. No one of them alone could effectively lead the Enterprise. The result was unwatchable. (How many times did Piccard surrender the Enterprise in that first season? Kirk would never have done that.)

Well, this describes the GOP front-runners. The parallels are not exact, of course, but generally break out something like this: Giuliani is Piccard, with his brusque, “make-it-so” personality; McCain is the impetuous and volatile Riker; and Romney is clearly an analytical Betazoid. Each by themselves has obvious limitations and defects. Combine them and you’d have something about right.

So forget this Fred Thompson boomlet. I have a better idea: William Shatner for President.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Nope, I want Worf! Shatner for SecDoD! Spock for SecDoS. We can keep Cheney on as Veep.

But Picard did deal with the Borg (islamofascits?) in ways that no other captain (with the exception of Capt. Janeway -better be careful here or we will merge with the nerdom of Moser's thread) could. Shatner has too good of a day job to run.

Shatner in 2008 does have that whole "oops, Canadian" thing going against it.

Shatner is a lefty.

I didn't care for TNG when it first came out, but it grew on me over time. I ended up liking Picard more than Kirk.

(Cue zany commenters pro and anti Russell Kirk.)

I see the Canadian thing as a minor annoyance. The Priceline Negotiator can surely work around it.

Besides, Hooker's a good cop!

Very interesting, Steve. Of course, I would vote for Captain Kirk but not William Shatner. Shatner is unfortunately a toupee-wearing, grossly overweight internet company pitch-man whose forays into acting now seem like nothing but parodies of his former self. He was a cool Kirk though (in the tv series).

Shatner...as...president? It would take... three hours... to GET... through... a... two-page speech!

Wrath of Kahn? Wait until Labor Day to behold the Wrath of Newt!

Not that I am a relativist, but "cultural relativism" is largely a bogeyman set up by neocons so that the can put up left-wing Jacobin universals to guide us. This is part of the neocons' war on Western Civilization. They want to destroy the real West and replace it with liberal abstractions. Strauss, for example, used the ancient world as a prop upon which he superimposed left-wing universal abstractions. This, of course, was a form of "soft terrorism" against the West, but not surprising, since neocons hate the real West, with its real European past.

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