This week, in the face of a major hurricane, Republicans had to postpone the start day in Tampa of their convention.
And that, if nothing else, seems like a good set of reasons to get back into the game of writing.
I started a blog almost 6 years ago, and part of the reason for that was the times I had lived through, and a desire not to remain silent. A terrible hurricane had ravaged New Orleans. Our President was terrible. And somehow, something had to be done.
Six years later, the Republican remains a spectacular mess of a political party, its organization in disarray, attempting to put a brave face on a weak set of Presidential prospects, blown off course, yet again, by hurricanes and other forces they can't control (though Todd Akin, one would think, is something they could have controlled. Somehow). Hurricane Isaac, once headed straight for Tampa is, naturally, now headed towards New Orleans. And therein, I think, lies about all the metaphor one needs for why Republicans are likely to face disastrous results in the next three months.
There's the obvious stuff about how any planning committe should have wondered about planning a convention during the height of hurricane season in a hurricane prone city. There's the slightly surreal point that a party full of people quick to point to natural events as "God's wrath" having, well, God's actual wrath descend on them. And then there's Isaac, headed right in the direction Katrina went, seven years ago.
Like many a liberal, I considered George W. Bush's presidency a failure very early on, probably before 9/11, though after that, calling him hopeless hardly sufficed. Sure, I'd been angry about the 2000 election. We all were. But long before conservatives called "anti-Bush rage" a thing, I stopped being angry. Anger serves little purpose. And anger was hardly the point. The failures, the long list of them, were really the point.
And the point, even now, is that we are left witha Republican Party that cannot admit failure. They cannot admit - or even speak of - the failed Bush Presidency. One can argue that neither political party dwells on failure... but liberals are, even these days, pretty quick to admit that, however nice a man Jimmy Carter is and however admirable his post-presidency acts are, his time as President was disastrous. For Democrats. And for America.
Democrats spent years - at least 12, until Clinton - paying for that failure, and the first, necessary step away from failure was admitting the failures and starting to change things. We are different Democrats than we were in 1978. The world has changed. And we changed with it - we faced up to forces beyond our control (like huge swaths of voters selecting Ronald Reagan. Twice). And we stopped trying, quite so hard, to control them.
Imagine a GOP that responded to the weather events of this week with massive volunteer efforts to send delegates and young people to the hurricane zone, away from Tampa. Imagine a GOP that pulled out a ready made slide on "improving disaster preparedness" and ticked off 10-15 proposals for ways that government (and knowing them, public-private partners) could be more successfully respond to hurricanes and their aftermath. That party, those thinkers, would be formidable opponents.
Instead, we've got MItt Romney and Paul Ryan and a GOP that's generally at odd with itself, unable to agree on the time of day or just how mean and restrictive they want to be on almost anything. Romney, who I believe still will never be President, is the worst combination of known and unknown imaginable: what we know about him is mostly dreadful, what we don't know is close to terrifying. Ryan is surely young and energetic.... but also clearly a craven "say anything" politician trying hard to run away from a host of extreme policy ideas and positions.
However much Republicans put on their good face and their best show in Tampa (and I doubt it will be that good), what hangs over them is the stray clouds winging out from the center of a hurricane - Isaac's promise of current misery, Katrina's history still on view in New Orleans and our national psyche, and the grim cloud of the failed Bush Presidency. Until Republicans surrender some of this need for control - and yes, that can metaphorically stretch to immigrants and women's health, too, if one thinks about it - they can't get past the clouds on their horizon. And while those clouds hang there... I doubt they'll see the kind of success they crave.