Sunday, December 16, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 23

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

The Next Four Obama Years Part III

A Republican House Divided Against Itself


·         The Next Four Obama Years, Part III: Republicans Will Fight - Each Other

·         Cartoon “Obama Claus” by Nate Beeler

·         Women in Combat: The Un-asked Question


The Next Four Years, Part III

A Republican House Divided


In the first two parts of this series we covered our expectations for President Barack Obama’s approach towards the Republicans, the tax fight, and foreign affairs (forecasts already bearing out).  In our third and last, we now focus on what to expect from the Republicans.


Democratic Just Desserts


Sean Hannity, the very conservative host of his eponymous radio talk show, said in the days following the election, in commenting on the president’s re-election victory, that “Americans, you get the government you deserve. And it pains me to say this, but America now deserves Barack Obama. You deserve what you voted for.” Mr. Hannity clearly intended it as a dark warning in the wake of his tremendous disappointment after insisting week after week how Governor Mitt Romney would handily win the election (as did almost every right-of-center pundit and opinion-maker).  But, technically, Mr. Hannity is correct; when people live in a democratic republic, they deserve what they select, though whether on this occasion this is an omen of impending doom, we defer to say.  Sean Hannity also predicted (as if he should have credibility) that “the country will come calling, at some point, for conservatism.”  If the country comes calling, it won’t be for conservatism any more than it was so in 2010, or than it was so for ‘liberalism’ in 2008 or 2012. 


Party of the ‘Successful’ Cannot Succeed


If the country comes calling for anyone, it will again be for any solutions and a believable prospect of success.  Regrettably, the nation will remain susceptible to demagogic plans that offer ridiculously painless fixes – at least until things get scary.  Yet, the country will also listen to a case for serious solutions if they are convinced the answers don’t lead to another windfall for those at the top at the expense of everyone else, which is much of what happened in the aughts of the 21st century.  But, the case for serious solutions based on Republican principles of personal responsibility and economic freedom cannot be made while hostage to rigid and simplistic demands focused almost totally on protecting the rights of the wealthy, pay no interest to the working conditions and wages of the majority of Americans that work for someone else, and while repeatedly using language that implies that anyone not wealthy is not “successful.”


Republicans should ask themselves why it is, when polls show more Americans describe themselves as ‘conservative’ than do as ‘liberals,’ more claim a Democratic Party affiliation than a Republican one.  Governor Romney was asked at the second ‘town hall’-style presidential debate, how his administration would differ from that of George Bush.  Even as he proceeded to firmly throw the 43rd president under his campaign bus (actually, rhetorically he ran over him, and then backed up over him repeatedly - just to be sure), yet still failed to make clear what he would do differently in any meaningful way. 


Opposite Reactions


In our January 25 issue, as we re-stated our forecast for an Obama re-election, we also said, “A defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012, whereby conservative Republicans fail to enthusiastically support Romney at the polls, will be seen as proof by hard-line conservatives that only a conservative like themselves could have won, when in fact, a hardliner would have been more soundly rejected and the defeat was of their own making.  This is exactly what has happened.  Prominent hard-right conservatives like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have made exactly that case.  But, other Republicans, like House Speaker John Boehner actually elected to do the hard work of real-life governing, are recognizing that regardless of the reasons for Gov. Romney’s defeat, rigid adherence to hard-right conservative principles is not a viable option at this time.  Already, Tea Party-elected conservatives in Congress are being sidelined for not getting with the new program.  Expect more intra-party fighting for the next two years, with the intensity to increase as we approach the next midterm elections in 2014.


It’s true that since the Reagan years, both parties have moved further towards the opposite sides of the political spectrum.  However, the Republican Party has been listing further and further right more as a reactionary response to the Democratic Party’s more successful push of the country to the left over the last fifty years.  This reactionary response has been, as all reactionary responses tend to be, evermore suspicious of any deviation from the core ideas it wants to defend, and consequently, the party has become less and less able to engage in intellectually nuanced and substantive discussions of its political ideas.  In fact, intellectual discussion itself has become suspect among the rank and file, partly due to the recognition that much of the successful attack that has driven back conservative values and ideas has originated intellectually from academia.  In a quest for ideological purity, conservatives are intellectually disarming themselves.  Imagine Democratic candidates arguing amongst themselves over who is the most liberal of them all.


U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama

Women in Combat

Demand Equality, But Not Really


Word Shell Game


Lecturer Megan MacKenzie, in her discussion “Let Women Fight” in the November/December 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, is curiously, but tellingly brief on the key and central issue of women in combat: whether women can “keep up” - as Ms. MacKenzie puts it - with men.   She cleverly implies, without ever actually making a declarative statement, that women can do anything men can do in the same proportions, only to then argue that women should not be expected to meet the same levels of fitness as men, and that we should instead focus on “effectiveness.”  But she pulls a shell game here (as she does throughout her essay on almost every point), because while it is true that military desk or other support jobs do not require the same level of fitness as a front-line combat position, her argument is supposed to be about only combat positions.  So, she evades the key question in her essay, as she has on aired interviews we have heard to date, and as do her cause allies: Can women perform, and will they be expected to perform, the same physically-demanding battlefield tasks that men are expected to perform, at the same level?  Or, will she, and her allies, eventually push for lowering physical standards (probably using euphemistic words like ‘adjusted’ or ‘calibrated,’  ‘effectiveness’) for women in battlefield, combat positions? Ms. MacKenzie won’t say so in any direct, unambiguous way, but the latter is what her implication always is, and obviously must be in order to reconcile biological reality with her desire to validate her sense of self-esteem and her rigid understanding of gender equality.


Don’t Ask, They Won’t Tell


Currently, in the military, as in other ‘guardian’ professions like law-enforcement and firefighting, women are not expected to meet the same standards as men. There are no publicly available reports that we know of studying the effect of lost lives or other diminished job effectiveness effects, when women admitted on a lower physical standard were not able to pull a body to safety, or haul a water hose at a critical point in a fire, or jump a high fence in pursuit of a dangerous target. 

We recall The New Republic reported in the 1990’s on a Rand study comparing performance in military exercises by all-male, all-female, and co-ed units, the only known study of that kind, and the results were unfavorable to Ms. Mackenzie’s position.  However, it seems now impossible to find that study.  But even if it is unavailable or no longer valid, why would the military not go ahead and conduct a scientifically-solid experiment to compare such performance?

A Daisy by Any Other Name


There is no logical reason why a man should be required to meet a higher physical standard of any kind to do a specific job, if women are equally capable of doing the same job – except to ensure a certain quota of female participation.  But, that is what will happen and Ms. MacKenzie will get her way.  Not because Ms. MacKenzie is right, but because the voting demographics favor her position, and no one in politics or in the military will sacrifice their career once they see where all this is going.  The entertainment industry has been uniformly consistent in creating fictional characters to support the case for women in combat. No double-blind studies or new science needed – just stories built around drama, emotion, and self-esteem (the case usually made for women in combat centers on female self-esteem and career development – not military need).  And, when people on our side – male and female – actually die in the battlefield because some women admitted under female body-friendly fitness standards could not perform a critical task at a key moment, no one will know the names of the lost or how it happened, even as Ms. MacKenzie continues her march from one prominent lecture venue to another, past her authored wreckage with the self-reflection of a Daisy Buchanan; yet ever-proud of her accomplishment, her female-centric self-esteem intact.



The loss of 2012 is provoking anguished soul-searching within the party.  But the retention of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives will give ammunition to those on the conservative right that argue that the problem is too much moderation and accommodation.  So, the intra-party fighting will persist and intensify thru 2014.  The Rockefeller Republicans will attempt to regain control of the party, and the conservative right will react with fury – and will have the advantage of that fervor.  The country will come calling again, and will find a house divided against itself.







Our forecast record cannot be beat.  One can follow the herd chasing the latest hyperbolic, melodramatic, and soon-forgotten micro-trend on Facebook and Twitter, or one can be wisely and judiciously in front of it with UWFR. 



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