Melanie Phillips on our (America’s) scary politics:
What is happening in American politics is simply astounding. Here is an incumbent President whose approval ratings are rightly dire. He is the most far-left, dangerous and damaging President the US has ever known. In office, he has amply fulfilled the worst fears of those like myself who warned well before he was even elected that his agenda was to neuter America’s influence abroad and to extend the reach of the state into people’s lives at home.
In foreign policy, he has made the world an immeasurably more dangerous place by strengthening America’s enemies and dumping on its allies (even vitiating the sacrifice of America’s own soldiers in Iraq, now poised to descend into world-threatening anarchy because of the miliarily illiterate and defeatist withdrawal of US forces from there). With the US economy tanking so disastrously, one might think that such a President offered an open goal for the Republicans. Yet the amazing fact is that the Republicans just have not got a credible candidate. One after the other, they have been exposed as either embarrassingly third rate or off-the-wall or both…
But you really do have to scratch your head when the candidate who is currently capitalising most from the Republican disarray is the maverick Dr Ron Paul, now tipped to win in Iowa and do well in New Hampshire. He is now being talked of as not just a spoiler but as a possible kingmaker and even of winning the White House itself.
Yet Ron Paul has views which once would have consigned him to the far-reaches of outer-kookdom. He is not just an extreme libertarian having opposed all drug laws and all income tax; Texas newsletters published in his name in the 1980s and 1990s contained racist and incendiary material from which he has subsequently sought to dissociate himself.
He also believes that the US brought 9/11 on itself; that there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme but if it did this would be reasonable, since Iran is threatened by hostile powers in its neighborhood some of which already have nuclear weapons (three guesses which one); and he has claimed that the war on terror has amounted to a declaration of war on the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.
Loony tunes? But the really striking thing is the symmetry between Ron Paul and Barack Obama. Both are isolationists; both blame America for the terrorist war being waged against it; both serve as apologists for America’s enemies; both take positions antithetical to the survival of America’s sole ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel.
This symmetry is actually no surprise. For not just in the US but in Britain too, significant elements of both the left and right now meet on this very territory. In the profound confusion of the times, both left and right march behind the banners of libertarianism and isolationism.
The core of these positions is the belief that nothing matters beyond the individual’s immediate gratification or circumstances. On the left, this takes the form of preening narcissism; on the right, pulling up the drawbridge against that terrifying place called ‘abroad’ and declaring ‘I don’t want to know’.
This symmetry is yet further evidence of the death wish in the west, now progressively paralysing itself before an enemy which on one flank is steadily conquering the citadels of western culture and on the other is poised for what in its apocalyptic fanaticism it considers to be the final war to end all wars.
So as we stagger towards 2012 we find that America first elected a far-left President whose entire history, past associations and declared beliefs always indicated that he would bring America to its knees — and now that same America is prepared solemnly to countenance as an alternative Commander-in-Chief a man who acts as a cheerleader for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The question is therefore not just what in heaven’s name has happened to the Republican Party. It is what has happened to America.