Two movements with similar names are sweeping the nation. One deals with basketball. The other with our presidential campaign. The first is newer, more fun and a lot healthier for the nation.
“Linsanity” has recorded the impact made by Jeremy Lin, point guard for basketball’s New York Knicks, who emerged in the past two weeks as a budding megastar. The NBA’s first American-born Chinese player and undrafted out of Harvard, Lin sat on the bench last year for the Golden State Warriors. The Houston Rockets cut him on December 24 before the season started. The Knicks signed him and sent him to the minor leagues. So Lin’s “rags to riches” story makes everyone feel good.
But there’s another passion out there in America. I call it “Winsanity.” It’s about Republicans seeking a presidential nominee. Understandably, Republicans want to take the White House. So did Democrats in 2008. But Republican candidates offer the country little beyond their espousal of family values (according to their own definitions), unfettered capitalism and demonization of Washington. It’s all about beating Barack Obama because he’s, well… Barack Obama. A photo of a Tea Party protestor outside the President’s fundraiser on San Francisco’s Nob Hill last night may have said it best. Her sweatshirt read, “Blondes Against Obama.”
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have taken up Winsanity with a vengeance. Each is vying to convince Republicans that he’s ultra-conservative—everything the President is not. Both excoriate moderation. It’s all or nothing—a competition to reach the farthest border of the far right then crash through it.
What a shame. The United States needs two political parties with different ideas but a common purpose. What we don’t need is the screeching of opposing ideological extremes. “Screw the rich” and “worship the wealthy” provide no intellectual capital.
The problem that Romney and Santorum—Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, too—now face is their common declaration the Obama administration is a total disaster, the problem not the solution. Real life is proving unkind. Osama bin Laden is dead. We’re out of Iraq. And we’re easing out of Afghanistan. (Should Republicans pray for war with Iran?) At home, first-time state unemployment applications sank to 348,000 this week, part of a continuing trend of job growth. Silicon Valley is hiring like mad (although thousands of jobs go begging due to lack of qualified applicants). And the Dow closed up yesterday at 12,904, its highest mark since May 19, 2008. Neither the economy nor American society is perfect, but things are improving.
Just don’t tell tried-and-true conservatives. Perhaps Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s political advisor, best reflected their position when he blasted the TV commercial Chrysler ran on the Super Bowl two weeks ago. In it, Clint Eastwood says, “It’s halftime in America.” Detroit and the nation, he tells us, are coming back and on their way to winning. How dare anyone say that the U.S.A. has game!
What goes around comes around. Ronald Reagan won re-election in 1984 with a campaign proclaiming, “It’s morning in America.” Now, the far right roots against America. Winsanity. Insanity. Is there a difference?
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