Dana Millbank is a columnist for the Washington Post who I have little respect for, being more like a court jester than a serious newspaper columnist. A few years ago he wrote a book, Homo Politicus, an amusing piece about the ruling class politicians that he refers to as “Potomac man.” As a liberal, most of his mocking is directed toward Republicans, but what does make it amusing is that there is a kernel of truth in his screeds. I borrow from his descriptions of different segments of Potomac man and relate them to the 2012 GOP candidates I have a problem supporting with any enthusiasm.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is avenging his father’s embarrassing collapse as a presidential candidate; George Romney, then governor of Michigan, claimed in 1967 that he had been “brainwashed” over Vietnam.
Potomac Man is surprisingly tolerant of those who deviate from his social norms–as long as that person is a member of his political party. Ron Paul would legalize prostitution and drugs and opposes the Iraq war, but his fellow partisans keep him on the stage in debates because they need his fellow libertarians to vote Republican in November.
Potomac Man is idolatrous: He worships the gods of public opinion, and his sacred texts are polls. Those who can shift public opinion–particularly those who can convert members of the rival tribe–are believed to have magical powers. Huntsman and Santorum are wannabe shamans who have served the opposition as ambassador to China or worked hard to find a bill to cosponsor with Sen. Boxer.
In medieval Iceland, the fiercest of all Viking warriors were known as the berserkers. They prepared themselves for battle by donning animal skins, drinking the blood of bears and wolves, biting their shields and howling. The berserker tradition continues in Potomac Land–exemplified by Newt Gingrich. In response to a question about the Paul Ryan plan for MediCare, Newt said: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I donâ€™t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
This leaves me with four candidates who do not fall into any of these Potomac man groups. I include Sarah Palin, who says she has the “fire in the belly,” and I include Gary Johnson. Some may ask why I include a social liberal, Gary Johnson. My answer is that he is not a social liberal, but he is a libertarian. I think conservatives and libertarians should be a natural alliance instead of foes.
Let me explain the difference on two issues, abortion and gays, between social conservative authoritarians, social liberal authoritarians, and libertarians. The social conservative authoritarians believe in having the authority to declare – that no hospital or clinic or physician can provide for or facilitate abortions, in any way shape or form. The social liberal authoritarians believe that no hospital or clinic or physician can refuse to provide for and facilitate abortions, and the taxpayers should fund abortions for those who can’t afford it. Gary Johnson, the libertarian, wants to give the hospitals, clinics, and physicians the liberty to let their own conscience guide what they will and will not do, and his view of taxpayer money to provide or facilitate abortions is exactly the same as Mike Pence’s view.
The social conservative authoritarians believe in having the authority to declare that no church or church leaders can provide for or facilitate a ceremony for a couple of gays in any way shape or form. The social liberal authoritarians believe in having the authority to declare that any church or church leaders must never refuse a ceremony for a couple of gays, and a couple of gays have to be recognized by all as having all the legal rights a traditional married couple are entitled. Gary Johnson, the libertarian, wants to give the churches and church leaders the liberty to let their own conscience guide what ceremonies they will or will not facilitate, and there are no legal rights granted at all. Gary Johnson is not asking conservatives or liberals to stop debating these issues and attempting to win hearts and minds. It is still early, and Gary Johnson may not get any kind of traction and end his campaign. I have three candidates I would choose before him, but for the explanations I provide he is my #4.
“I want to make sure America is put back on the right track and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012.”
“He would rather pretend there is no crisis and attack those who are willing to stand up and try to solve it rather than risk doing anything about it himself. In Washington, they call that “smart politics.” But I’m not from Washington.”
When asked if Obama was unbeatable, Herman Cain said, “He is not unbeatable because one right decision does not a great president make,” indicating the bin Laden raid was Obama’s one right decision.
When asked if Obama was unbeatable, Gary Johnson said, “Only Republicans are capable of solving the problems that exist right now.”