Ross Douthat, senior editor over at The Atlantic, seems to be struggling with this election. I can't count the times something huge has happened in the campaign, and it takes him some time before he can sit down and compose a message about it (not that he's a very prolific blogger, but yesterday he had 2-3 posts on the Yankees and none on McCain's time-out).
Today he offers an apologia:
If you're wondering why I was writing about baseball yesterday instead of leaping into the debate over whether John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and call for the delay of tomorrow night's debate was a bold act of leadership, a brilliant piece of political theater, or a pointless, vote-losing stunt, it's because the baseball season suddenly seems a lot more interesting than Presidential politics.
All Presidential elections are important, of course, and they're usually important for reasons that nobody sees coming during the election itself. But given the evidence presented to date - the enormous constraints on American action abroad, a fiscal situation that more or less ensures that neither candidate's boldest ideas are likely to get off the ground, and the unimaginative, substance-averse politicking of the candidates themselves - there's good reason to think that the outcome of this election won't be nearly as transformational as many people seem to think.
I assume that last sentence was edited; he must have cut out: "..., I hope." Douthat is a thoughtful conservative, a passionate Christian, and a sharp writer (even if I don't think my porn collection is one step toward adultery). He's pro-life, and he's for fiscal constraint. He was a fan of Palin long before we'd ever heard of her, but worried that McCain's pick might do more damage to her career than good. Consider his position: a president he's supported has burned a hole in the government's check book and steered the economy into collapse. His cadaverous current candidate, as Douthat's noted often, has clearly decided that he's losing on substance, and opted instead for flash and style. And week after week sees some sort of bizarre stunt. Douthat clearly would like to pull for McCain more -- but like many conservatives with a brain (think of George S. Will), he realizes that rash cheerleading might look moronic in the lens of history. So week after week he wrestles with what to say, and what we get is posts on the Yankees. Because that's the story of the day if you're living in D.C. right now. If you're a conservative in Douthat's mold, your greatest political strengths are a sense of moral clarity and a commitment to fiscal discipline. This presidency has destroyed both. What's left? (Well, you could write a book called "Grand New Party" which points to these problems and offers substantive changes to G.O.P. direction, but then you'd garner limitless derision from Rush Limbaugh and watch, from the bleachers with Cassandra, as the party hurls itself off the cliff anyway.)
I imagine it's all a bit like waking up as Sampson with a buzz cut.