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Why We're Ignoring the Primary Campaign

Because there's no news there.

By Petrarch  |  December 28, 2011

Scragged has never been a conventional political magazine.  From its inception, this space has covered the full gamut of everything that might conceivably be related to politics, public policy, or public space, from the environment to marriage to foreign affairs to "big think" analysis of fundamental issues.

While wide-ranging, Scragged has at bottom always been about politics, more or less.  One might suppose, therefore, that as the presidential race heats up - as ever, the "most important election in our lives" - we'd be writing more about campaign events and the candidates themselves.

You'd be wrong.  The pages of Scragged have been all but silent concerning campaign goings-on.  It occurs to us that we owe our readers an explanation as to why.

News for the Sake of News

It's oft forgotten in these times of wall-to-wall cable news, but part and parcel of the very word "news" is the word "new."  As in, something that our readers do not already know and which they might find useful.

And "news," strictly defined, has been starkly absent from this campaign.  Have we learned anything about Barack Obama that we did not already know?  About Mitt Romney?  About Newt Gingrich?  No; they all have the same number of wives that they did before, the same range of political opinions and spectrum of ad-hoc change as they did last time around.

Herman Cain was at least novel, and he garnered the occasional mention in Scragged.  Alas, the means of his expulsion from the race was anything but new: the media, as is their wont, trumped up ancient allegations devoid of any solid proof into a capital offense, whereas the opposite would have been done for any Democrat as was the case with John Edwards.

This has been standard practice for well over a decade; the only thing "new" was to marvel how even a political newcomer like Herman Cain could have failed to anticipate it and react effectively.  More's the pity; Mr. Cain seemed like a decent man and we grieve at his fate.

Even the singular Ron Paul is exactly the same Ron Paul as he was four years ago: he is consistent and repetitive to the point of nausea in his uniqueness.  Not much can be said about him that hasn't already been said.

No, the best characterization of this campaign so far is the legendary reporter's response to editor Horace Greeley's wire of inquiry, "Are there any news?"  Like him, we say, "Not a new!"

Seeing the Forest And the Trees

Instead, until something worthy of attention takes place, we'll follow the example of the legendary coach Vince Lombardi.  When he was brought in to rescue the Green Bay Packers from a decade-long slump, he felt that their performance (or lack thereof) demanded a complete reboot.  His first lesson out on the field, to these burly but disheartened professional football players?  "Gentlemen," he said, "We must get back to fundamentals.  This is a football..."

Team America has been doing rather badly for an unpleasantly long time; you can make a case that we've been losing consistently since Ronald Reagan, and even more, that the Reagan years were only a temporary interruption in a losing streak going back to the retirement of Eisenhower.  Are we more powerful, more successful, more respected in the world, proportionately richer, and most of all, freer than we were in 1961 when Ike hung up his jersey?  Hardly.

Therefore, rather than constantly natter on about the horserace, about who's up and who's down in this most depressing of primaries, we consider our time and yours to be better spent on the fundamentals.  In large part, Americans have forgotten what a football is, which end of the field you're supposed to run to, and what you're supposed to do once you get there, much less the details of how to go about accomplishing... um... whatever it is we're supposed to be accomplishing.  So we'll keep right on reminding them in our own small way, and arming our Gentle Readers with arguments they can use as the occasion arises.

Who knows?  Our Founders had a great faith in the ability of the American people to eventually make the right decision, though as Winston Churchill wryly observed, it's generally after trying everything else first.  By methodically testing and eliminating every conceivable candidate, the Republican Party is continuing in this noble tradition.

Far be it from us to shortstop this process by declaring for one of them right now - even if we could make up our minds that there was one sufficiently worthy!  All in good time - and in the meantime, the more intellectual armaments we can create, the better.