The Republican race looks--at the moment--to be determined primarily by one thing, the question of religious faith. In my lifetime faith has been a significant issue in presidential politics, but not the sole determinative one. Is that changing? If it is, it is not progress.
I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I'm just not sure he'd be pure enough to make it in this party. I'm not sure he'd be considered good enough.
A thought on the presence of Bill Clinton. He is showing up all over in Iowa and New Hampshire, speaking, shaking hands, drawing crowds. But when he speaks, he has a tendency to speak about himself. It's all, always, me-me-me in his gigantic bullying neediness. Still, he's there, and he's a draw, and the plan was that his presence would boost his wife's fortunes. The way it was supposed to work, the logic, was this: People miss Bill. They miss the '90s. They miss the pre-9/11 world. So they'll love seeing him back in the White House. So they'll vote for Hillary. Because she'll bring him. "Two for the price of one."
It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?
Maybe. But maybe it's this. Maybe they'd love to have him back in the White House. Maybe they just don't want him to bring her. Maybe they miss the Cuckoo's Nest and they'd love having Jack Nicholson's McMurphy running through the halls. Maybe they just don't miss Nurse Ratched. Does she have to come?
It is clear in Iowa that immigration is the great issue that won't go away. Members of the American elite, including U.S. senators, continue to do damage to the public debate on immigration. They do not view it as a crucial question of America's continuance. They view it as an onerous issue that might upset their personal plans, an issue dominated by pro-immigration groups and power centers on the one hand, and the pesky American people, with their limited and quasi-racist concerns, on the other.
Because politicians see immigration as just another issue in "the game," they feel compelled to speak of it not with honest indifference but with hot words and images. With a lack of sympathy. This is in contrast to normal Americans, who do not use hot words, and just want the problem handled and the rule of law returned to the borders.
Politicians, that is, distort the debate, not because they care so much but because they care so little.