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Friday, October 17, 2008

Who will keep the bridge with me?

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods,

"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

"Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"

I disagree with the estimable Jay Anderson and don't regard the conservative pundits delirious to the point of delusion with either Obamafever or Palin Derangement Syndrome as rats leaving a sinking ship. It's neither fair nor accurate--the poor rats are merely unintelligent creatures trying to do what they are hard wired to do. They can't help it.

No, the sauve qui peut quill-penners are much worse. They are comrades in arms who have chosen to flee the battle. And they've made laughable cases for their desertion. Manner, tone, "temperament"? Please. The gentleman who flipped off his opponent, accused her of having a plate-breaking hissy fit, a self-described "uniter" who unapologetically plays the race card--this is a "first class temperament" at work? In any event, we aren't electing the Chief Hotelier of the Republic here.

Great--it's nice that David Brooks treasures the opportunity to trade bon mots with the Illinois Senator about Neibuhr. Lovely. Too bad Mr. Temperate comes fully equipped with a set of media and political goons who could find work with Huge-o Chavez. That is, if the Tubby Tyrant decides to "go negative" at some point. Dare to ask The One a simple question about his policies that leads to an unscripted moment? Time to pay.

That's change you can be terrified by.

It's pretty clear that McCain is a flawed candidate in a lot of ways. There's no doubt Palin was unsteady-to-cringe-inducing at the outset. However, their campaign is the only thing standing in the way of a total rout, the only brake pedal on a car that will otherwise have three accelerators for the left foot.

But Palin's the problem here? The embarrassing vulgar cancer? All-righty, then.

Sure. Nevermind the fact the last time McCain had the lead was after he named her as his VP. Rest assured we are keeping track of the savaging disdain here, given that its real target is the social conservatives. Gotta love an officer corps that sneers at its grunts. Note also the beginnings of an attempt to pin the blame on Palin, which has to be apprehended with excessive force.

Which has been approved, by the way.

As I said before, McCain is a flawed candidate. But he has virtues which substantially outweigh the flaws. The Macaulay poem above reminds me of those virtues. Macaulay wove an idealized version of the Roman Republic and its stolid citizens, but it rings true. It was certainly how the Romans saw themselves, SPQR emblazoned on the eagles preceding the legions, long after the Senate had been deprived of any real authority and the citizenry had been reduced to cataphract-fodder and the dole. It is that kind of old-fashioned civic-mindedness that fires him. It also leads him (wrongly) to put our issues on the backburner, for the most part. But I'll take the backburner over the freezer any day of the week. Not to mention goonsquading by the starry-eyed who have made politics their religion.

He may very well lose--right now, the polls (dubious and volatile as they are) point to that. But if he does, remember who did try to keep the bridge--and who didn't. Because the revisionism is going to be piled high and deep.

And who knows? If you stand at the bridge, it has a better chance of being kept.

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