Let’s Not Elect a Potomac Man in 2012


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.

The Avenger
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.

The Deviant
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.

The Shaman
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.

The Berserker
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 don’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.

Sarah Palin 48 at time of inauguration
9th Governor of Alaska
In office:December 4, 2006 – July 26, 2009

“I want to make sure America is put back on the right track and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012.”

Tim Pawlenty 52 at time of inauguration
39th Governor of Minnesota
In office: January 6, 2003 – January 3, 2011

“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.”

Herman Cain 67 at time of inauguration
Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
In office: 1995–1996

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.

Gary Johnson 60 at time of inauguration
29th Governor of New Mexico
In office: January 1, 1995 – January 1, 2003

When asked if Obama was unbeatable, Gary Johnson said, “Only Republicans are capable of solving the problems that exist right now.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating
I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.
Previous articleThe Cello Sings Harmony, SSG Mark C Wells
Next articleBono The Bozo, And Eric Holder’s Complicity In The Big Lie
I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
May 23, 2011 5:38 pm

This is super, Pilgrim. Just super. Sets the tone for a lot of things we’ll be talking about here over the next few months. UP is the place to come to get the right low-down on the GOP race. Not the MSM.

Mike gamecock DeVine
May 23, 2011 6:23 pm

HomoCockius leans to HomoPawlenticus!

Mike gamecock DeVine
May 23, 2011 6:38 pm

I doubt the libertarian vote is very significant except in squeaker elections in which the electoral votes of one state decide the election. Most elections are decided by the economy in which the votes of libertarians get lost in the wake. And I certainly would not grant any kudos to Gary Johnson (Is he still in the race?) on the issue of life unless all we care about is taxpayer funds and have given up on reversing Roe and Casey thru SCOTUS replacements. Yes, those Libertarians that want the DemLibs out of their wallets and every aspect of life should… Read more »

Mike gamecock DeVine
May 23, 2011 7:13 pm

One characteristic that describes most all Potomac Ruling Class Men: They are pro-abortion. The GOP nominee will be pro-life, not merely Libertarian on the margins of the life issue.

redneck hippie
May 23, 2011 7:39 pm

May I refer you gentlemen to madam lineholder’s dispatch to your right? Good news on the way abortion is viewed by Americans.

May 24, 2011 9:05 am

What’s interesting, ‘Pil, is the way Potomac man fits the DC politician to a tee. And the Ruling class is made up of them from both parties. Avenging, berserkers, deviants and shamans. What’s missing in the equation, and what they have in common? Principles. That’s what’s missing.

The candidate we need in 2012 is one who has a solid core of principles.

Mike gamecock DeVine
May 24, 2011 12:23 pm

Past DeVine Gamecock crowings re uniting so-cons and libertarians via federalism and a realistic view of how Republicans are not in the same league with Dems and liberals re privacy and liberty intrusions:



more later

May 24, 2011 5:57 pm

Great conversation here, Pil and GC (mainly). A stroke of genius to include Johnson, Pilgrim, if for no other reason than a Libertarian’s position on social issue, from abortion to drug use to marrying a lamb(ie pie) matters little in being president, for the Libertarian, true Libertarian …Big L, believes those things to be the arena of the state. The prez, outside of appointing judges, has little to say about it. Libertarianism is essentially a philosophy of self-actualization, not governance. When any person wished to govern by personal whim I will declare him to stupid, first, then Leftist, Marxist, fascist,… Read more »

May 24, 2011 8:08 pm

All I’ll add is this comment…I’m so sick of the corruption in government that there are days when hope seems dim. It’s destroying our nation, and I want it to end.

I’m more than willing to support someone who will try to provide the kind of leadership that will move this nation back in the right direction.

May 24, 2011 9:55 pm

Herman Cain is my main man right now but I can tell you Pawlenty has my antenna up, he called out ethanol in IA and today in Florida he hit the 3rd rail straight up, called for reforming SS and Medicare….I think he knows what I believe I know and that is a majority of American are not greedy gusses and they are not willing to allow their greed today to be placed on the backs of their children and grandchildren and the future unborn!

May 24, 2011 10:27 pm

For those who are poll watchers, here’s a new poll out today that presents GOP candidates in the context of name recognition versus positive intensity.

First of, it’s Gallup, and I usually question Gallup’s data reliability to a certain extent. But the data is interesting to say the least.