Well, OK then. Faith restored, balance forthcoming, etc. etc. For the record, I don’t think 2007 promises a geyser of ponies on every lawn, but maybe it serves as a wake-up call.
Nothing demonstrates my state of mind better than my vote in the Michigan governor’s race. Seldom have I pulled a lever with less enthusiasm than I did for Jennifer Granholm yesterday. As I explained earlier in the fall, there is only one issue of concern to Michiganians, and likely will be for some time: Economic development. This state is going through a paroxysm of agony over the draining of good-paying manufacturing jobs, jobs that are likely never coming back. The time is long, long overdue for every business leader and policy maker in the state to be thinking creatively about how we diversify our state’s economy so that we aren’t so dependent on one sector. I don’t expect government to fix the problem, but I expect it to be part of the solution. I expect public office holders to be paying attention.
Granholm’s “plan” for economic recovery hasn’t done squat so far and likely won’t in the future. Dick DeVos spent $40 million of his own money to point this out; for months and months, he’s been advertising on television, pointing this out. She was wide-open and vulnerable.
DeVos didn’t have much of a plan of his own, other than the usual: Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts. He had no clear answer for how he was going to reconcile these cuts with political reality in Michigan — what do we cut elsewhere? Mumble mumble. Still, he was only pointing out the obvious, and for much of the summer and into the campaign he had a handy lead over Granholm, until she started her own advertising, and his lead shrank to nothing more or less overnight.
And the next words out of his mouth were: Intelligent design.
I was appalled. Rarely have I felt so insulted as a voter. It was flag-burning and Willie Horton all over again.
DeVos advocated Michigan schoolchildren be taught ID in science class. Now. By my reckoning we’ve already fought this battle twice, once on the local level (Pennsylvania) and once on the state (Kansas), and both times the issue was a stunning defeat for the pro-ID camp. Presumably DeVos is not so dumb that he thinks he could just slide this one by the people of Michigan, and knows that even if he could push it through the state board of education, it would lead to yet another months-long, outrageously expensive and ultimately pointless court battle. Recall, again, that we’re in a one-state recession here, unemployment above 7 percent, and Job One is convincing the employers of the 21st century that Michigan will be a good place to do business, with its priorities straight and its workforce well-educated and ready.
Isn’t that just what we don’t need? The third rerun of the Scopes monkey trial? National ridicule, cable-news hot air, the Discovery Institute poobahs testifying again about their “alternative” theory?
So you have to figure DeVos knows this, too. If he believes God made the world according to his design, that’s his business. He can’t possibly think Michigan’s monkey trial would be the third-time charm. And he knows that, in a state as blue/purple as this one, his chances of taking the idea very far are pretty low. So what was he really saying when he said, “Let’s teach ID in science class”? Just this:
Psst, religious right. I’m just like you!
And that, finally, was enough for me to say, uh-uh. Because if there’s one group of people I have, finally, heard quite enough from, it’s those guys. Enough culture warring, please. You see what happens to the art of political compromise when you deal with extremists; you say, “OK, look, no one feels totally hunky-dory about abortion. So let’s sit down together and see what we can do about it.” And their reply is, “There is no compromise. My position is the only moral one available, but while we’ve got you, be advised: Our next fun issue will be to make it perfectly legal for your pharmacist to insert his own pious moralizing into your relationship with your doctor, and make you drive 100 miles to get birth-control pills.”
The Schiavo case was hideous enough — the governor of Florida and U.S. Congress poking their noses into one family’s agony, not to mention the spectacle of Catholic priests going on talk shows to insinuate Michael Schiavo beat his wife into a coma and now wants to finish the job. As though this pathetic woman with her brain turning slowly to pudding was about to wake up one day and say, “Don’t let him finish the job.”
But suppose there was hope for Terri Schiavo, and it lay in stem-cell research. Those same lying priests would have said it was better for her to spend her life flicking her unseeing eyes across the walls of her nursing home than for one 16-cell blastocyst to be used for science. Because to do so would be just like Dr. Mengele’s experiments on twins, don’t you know.
So farewell to those folks, too. Bye, Rick Santorum; dogs everywhere appreciate your interest in their welfare, but alas. (Yes, I know: Bob Casey is pro-life, too. But he’s not Rick Santorum. An improvement.)
And then, finally, there’s the war. Already the airy arguments are beginning. Sniffed HTML warrior James Lileks: “…perhaps it’s possible for a country to win a war with apologies and investigations.” Uh-huh. Funny. Of course, it wasn’t possible for us to win the war with Donald Rumsfeld in charge, either, WHICH WAS THE POINT, AFTER ALL. I could accept the war, opposed to it as I am, if I thought it were being run competently, but it’s the Hurricane Katrina of foreign policy, and instead of accountability, what we get from the Bush administration is: Heckuva job, Brownie! We need more soldiers; what we should be hearing from the 101st Fighting Keyboarders is why the frat-house row at Dartmouth isn’t empty, because all the patriotic young Republicans have marched off to fight in this war they believe so fervently in. But we don’t hear that. We don’t hear much at all, other than, “I guess we’re going to cut and run now.”
Cutting and running makes more sense, at this point, than more wasted American lives. Unless we could put Rummy in body armor and put him on the turret gun of a Humvee, patrolling Tikrit.
So that’s the mood of one voter, today. I’m not exulting over the GOP shellacking, but I am pleased to see they’ve learned about pendulums and what they do. This was a corrective, and it was long overdue.