Andrea Shea King has an interesting post today, castigating Mark Levin for his “petty” and “envious” attack on Glenn Beck. Her post is very useful in highlighting the divisions in the conservative side of the political spectrum, divisions that are sometimes so deep, both as to style and substance, that they might foreshadow conservatives managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2012.
As for me, I neither watch nor read Beck, but occasionally find myself listening to Levin on the radio because my carpool driving falls during Levin’s show. I invariably turn Levin off after about 5 minutes. His substance is great, but his style is so angry, I can’t deal with it. I’m with Andrea in finding off-putting the name-calling and chronic derision.
Thinking about Levin made me think of the idea of the whole notion of the Happy Warrior. Certainly Reagan had that quality. He saw and named America’s enemies, but he had a sunny optimism that instantly destroyed any attempts to call him paranoid.
Palin has that sunny quality, but 2008 and 2009 soured her a great deal, and she’s hewing towards a somewhat more paranoid, or I should say angry, style. Lately, one has the feeling that her political views are shaped as much by personal anger as they are by common sense and love for America. This development is unsurprising given the unprecedented personal attacks against her, but I don’t think it augurs well for her playing a huge leadership role in the near future.
Barack Obama is an interesting study in the Happy Warrior phenomenon because he lulled willing, credulous Americans into thinking that this man with a history of personal anger and angry associations was indeed a Happy Warrior. What a lie. But you can’t just blame Obama or the even the media. The American public was perfectly willing to be fooled by the Magic Negro Happy Warrior, so that the voters themselves could have for themselves that happy feeling of post-racialism.
Obama’s current flailing in the opinion polls reflects, not only his policy failures, but the fact that Americans are learning to dislike this whiny, angry, arrogant and dour man in the White House. Pre-election promise aside, he has about as much charm, optimism and warmth as “Jimmah” Carter. This is political death. As politicians from Teddy Roosevelt, to Franklin Roosevelt, to Eisenhower, to Kennedy, to Reagan have shown, Americans want an optimistic leader, one who believes in them and their potential.
The immediately problem as I see it is that conservatives don’t have a viable Happy Warrior candidate on the 2012 horizon. While I do see cheery, feisty up-and-comers, such as Rubio and Ryan, they’re too young and untried for 2012.
My question for you is: Who am I forgetting? What true happy conservative warriors are out there to uplift the American public in 2012?
UPDATE: With the exception of Palin, most of the Happy Warriors named in the comments (and I agree with people’s assessment’s there) are in entertainment and punditry. Only Palin is a politician. Based on this post, Don Quixote and I got into a larger discussion about American optimism. We wondered if 40 years of “progressive” education, which teaches children that all Americans are either bullies or victims, has created a generation incapable of the happy optimism and love of America that characterized both Reagan and Walt Disney. Even those of us who love our country are defensive about that love, rather than boundlessly and reflexively cheerful about America’s greatness.