Are Conservative Republicans Now America’s Permanent Ruling Class?

“Today’s true big political picture is mostly gray shades against a purple (red mixed with blue) canvas. Conservative Republicans, beset by deep ideological divisions, are not even close to becoming the country’s permanent ruling class. Neither the post-Reagan Republican Party in general, nor the present Bush White House in particular, ever actually rode so high politically.

Just the same, neither the GOP nor the president is in any definite long-term political trouble. Conservative Republicans, even without permanent-majority clout, are still more potent politically than liberal Democrats, and likely to remain so. Centrist and neoprogressive Democrats could credibly compete for power with conservative Republicans, but they must first pry their party’s presidential nomination process and key leadership posts from the old-left hands that still primarily control them. Despite strenuous efforts to do so since the mid-1980s by various New Democrat groups, the party is still led mainly by its liberals. Not even the New Democrats have ever really reached out to the culturally conservative and anti-abortion Democrats who have been defecting to the Republican Party since the Reagan years.” — John J. DiIulio Jr., a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, who served as first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (The Chronicle)

Bush to Take Unscripted Audience Questions

And this is news? …by which I mean, shouldn’t it have been this way all along? It dramatizes how utterly inaccessible this administration has been to the public and the execrable state of American “democracy.” Lest you think this represents a significant change, however, keep in mind that, even if questions are not prescreened, the audiences allowed into his personal appearances are… (Yahoo! News)

Vonnegut goes creationist…

…and biologist PZ Myers, self-professed “godless liberal” whose weblog Pharyngula is attracting alot of complimentary attention, is not happy. He does make a stab at characterizing the logical fallacies in Vonnegut’s recent statements on NPR in support of intelligent design, but the piece starts with a long preface lamenting Vonnegut’s apparent cognitive decline, as if that were the real explanation for his blasphemy.

If one is to be critical of Vonnegut’s unreasonableness, one must do it in a reasonable manner. Myers is flirting with ad hominem-ism and undercutting his own position here, IMHO. Although I think it is clear that I am across the culture-wars divide from those who profess to creationism, I also know that it is sometimes from reasoned faith. To refute intelligent design, one must engage with the more thoughtful adherents rather than just ridicule the least reasoned arguments.

Moreover, it is often said that people become more like themselves as they decline cognitively. One would be hard pressed to suggest that Vonnegut took a new unreasonable position as he aged. Even a beloved author may have opinions at odds with those of readers who cherish his work, it goes without saying. Vonnegut had a term for that; don’t you suppose he would call the community of Vonnegut fans a granfalloon?

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