. . . Patsy Cline used to sing. And that is what we need, it seems to me. We need the equivalent of a smoker on our ticket in O8. "Say what?" you ask. Read Lawlers posts below about Obamas smoking and check the links, then read on.
I hadnt even considered the marked contrast between the cool smoker Obama and Mitt Romney until Lawler brought it up in his post below. Consider that contrast for a moment . . . Oooouch! That would be bad for us, it seems. And it wouldnt so much be an anti-Mormon thing as it is an anti-goody-too-shoes thing. That, of course plays into the stereo-type of Republicans as a bunch of uptight old guys with really bad wedgies. Romney would have to work very hard to prove that his own preferences against these doing these things himself do not reflect any kind of new-age temperance movement. But then, Lincoln didnt smoke or drink and yet was able to thoroughly enjoy the company of those who did and, moreover, not make them feel embarrassed for their choices. I suppose Romney might, if he were very clever, be able to use the sentiment Obama could create against the Democrats: i.e., he could demonstrate that the positions Obama takes on the issues show a real and more devastating kind of intolerance to personal choice and that the Democratic party does more oppressively represent the soft-despotism of the finger-wagging old school. He would have to differentiate big from small vices. But he would have to be very clever to pull it off if he does not indulge in even the smallest of vices. If he got any traction at all here, the left would trot out their tired, old, but amazingly effective gun about sexual liberation and the perceived Republican backwardness on these issues. Not to mention their anti-science superstitions (to use their words).
Dont we have any cooler, rougher seeming Republicans who could work this issue and carve this image right?
Giuliani seems better than Romney for the "coolness" factor at first glance. Speaking only about his general appeal and not his positions on the issues, I have always thought that I would prefer him to any of the other contenders. He is a tough guy who messed with the mob and talked tough to the terrorists after all. There is a kind of old-fashioned manly quality to his brusque New York ways. But his stated opinions on these moral questions and his own problems in that arena mean that he would have to more or less leave the charge of prudishness in the Republican party unanswered. His silence would leave the party susceptible to further charges of hypocrisy. I dont think its a smart strategy for Republicans to try and sweep that issue under the rug if they mean to--as they must do--make gains among the young.
Because the GOP will never win anything without social conservatives and because the country will collapse into degeneracy if social conservatives are entirely ignored, there is nothing left to do here, it seems, but to persuade young people that the GOP is right about this stuff. The question is, who can best do that? I have no good answer to that question but I know this much: he has to be cool--not a church lady. He has to have a great sense of humor and a thick skin. He should be a little vulnerable on these questions--but not have gaping holes in his moral armor--and where vulnerable show appropriate self-deprecating humor but not pretend to excuse himself. He must be able to make an appeal to morality that is based in more than glittering "higher truths" (though he mustnt denounce these). He should, it seems to me, ground his appeal in self-interest rightly understood and cold, calculating reason. Find that guy, and we will do well now and well into the future. Fail to find him, and I think we will continue to lose ground.