Götterdämerung

The response came as you might expect in a flurry of angry tweets, but it included a cynically combative ray of hope. “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

The Trump campaign has been compared many times in the past to a kind of fire – a dumpster fire, a tire fire, perhaps even a landfill fire. But with this great “stab in the back” by Republican leaders desperate to save their own skins there is little doubt the fire will indeed spread. Call it a funeral pyre, if you want, but eventually we can see it will ignite the highly flammable Republican panoply of Gods and Heroes alike.

We’ve seen such an epic blaze before – first in the stagecraft of Wagner and later made real through Hitler. Yes, we’ll go there. It’s all going there, all going ablaze.

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Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is one of the most influential authors of American thought in the late twentieth century.  It’s hard to find any college educated person under 40 years old who hasn’t had at least a brush with her works and the philosophy of Objectivism.  This is fascinating given how little serious critical attention has been paid to her work and how largely unknown it is in other nations.  She is the leader of a strong but underground movement, highly cultural and generational.

Rand finally bubbled into parts of the mainstream with the arrival of Paul Ryan, a one-time advocate of her work who advised staffers to read up on their Rand when he was a young congressman.  His later disavowal of Rand’s philosophy smelled like a rat to some, who wanted to make an issue out of it.  Bad move.  Rand and Objectivism do not lend themselves to sound bites or anything remotely simple.  The enticement of this mind candy is strong and deep.  But what is it?

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The Ryan Gamble

The choice of a running mate can easily be over-stated.  Did anyone vote for Obama because they like Biden?  How about Dick Cheney?  Or, for that matter, Joe Lieberman?  The Veep doesn’t really change the ticket enough to make any real difference in the long run – but it can change the perception in the press and inject some energy into a campaign.  If that’s what was at stake here Mitt Romney, the candidate who could do nothing right, hit a home run or some other sports analogy right when he needed it.

Policy-wise, Paul Ryan brings some serious risk.  But his personality and articulate ability to speak out are the real deal.  Many liberals, including myself, have little choice but to respect him even as we disagree with him.  Nothing substantial has changed in this campaign but it looks like we have a race – and, more importantly, a chance to talk about the critical decisions that have to be made sooner rather than later.

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