The Politician, the Politician, and—the Politician


Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best.

―Otto von Bismarck

But who cares what is possible these days? If the intention is good and the means sound plausible, who wants to get bogged down in specifics? Certainly not politicians or most of the media. All you really need is rhetoric that puts you on the side of the angels against the forces of evil.

—Thomas Sowell, The Art of the Impossible


Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

―Groucho Marx


My friend Tom has a point:

That quippy exchange made me realize something, an additional insight into a dynamic I’ve been mulling over for quite awhile.

I’ve recently been making much about the difference in skill sets—and temperament—between legislative (what I call parliamentary) and electoral politics.

You can see this played out in the GOP’s intramural struggles between insurgents and establishment.

Mitch McConnell, God bless him, is a master at the art of making deals, keeping rivals at bay, and acquiring and keeping personal power.

But he has no clue what it takes to win elections outside his own.

Then there’s a growing array of insurgents who do know how to win elections. Sometimes beating out establishment-backed money and candidates in the process.

Mike Lee. Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. Rand Paul. Ben Sasse (so far).

I’ve probably left someone off that list and that list is growing.

But there’s a third skill set—and temperament—that I haven’t talked about in this context:

Ideological vision.

Do you realize how little the Obama team cares about partisan politics?

They don’t care how many Democratic Representatives and Senators go down in any given election—just as long as they go down because they voted for permanent expansion of the machinery of central government.

Democratic legislators are cannon fodder in the war to keep government the center of all human activity and concern.

There are three kinds of politicians, according to this schema:

  • Politicians skilled in parliamentary maneuvering, luxuriating in their posh Capitol suites.
  • Politicians who know how to charm the electorate and out-maneuver enemy candidates.
  • Politicians who will gladly sacrifice themselves, and their teams, in order to get their ideological football into the other team’s endzone.

While the McConnells of this generation of Republicans assure us we must win back the majority in order slow down—just a bit—The Great Goddess Government, the Obama folks laugh, knowing that’s never going to happen.

And wouldn’t matter if it did.

All they care about is the Progressive Dream.

Damn the cost.


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