Posted on | January 2, 2012 | 66 Comments
Today I published another column from the campaign trail here in Iowa:
Rick Santorum made a bold prediction here Friday night: The Pittsburgh Steelers will go all the way to the Super Bowl for a rematch with the Green Bay Packers.
The former Pennsylvania senator was enjoying a rare moment of relaxation on the campaign trail here in Iowa, where voters will gather Tuesday night to cast the first real votes that count toward the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum was wearing a University of Iowa Hawkeyes cap at the Okoboji Grille, where he gathered with supporters to watch the Hawkeyes play the Oklahoma Sooners in the Insight Bowl. When he arrived at the restaurant in Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines, Santorum was swarmed by reporters, photographers, and TV cameramen who have swooped down on his campaign in the past week as polls began indicating that he was surging ahead in the pack of GOP candidates.
Most of the reporters had left the restaurant (and the Hawkeyes were well on their way to a 31-14 loss to the Sooners) by the time I had the chance to ask Santorum about his beloved Steelers. “We will beat the Browns this week,” he said, sitting in front of a half-finished platter of nachos. “My prediction is, both the Patriots will lose to the Bills and the Ravens will lose to the Bengals and we will be the Number One seed in the AFC playoffs.”
But while the underdog-turned-contender was willing to risk prognosticating the NFL all the way to the Super Bowl, he has remained hesitant to predict how he’ll finish in Tuesday’s caucuses. Santorum obviously wants to exceed expectations, but the poll numbers and media buzz surrounding his campaign are making it hard to suppress those expectations. . . .
You can read the whole thing at The American Spectator, and I hope readers are not offended by my practice of linking my columns here, but I sometimes get the feeling that if I didn’t link and quote my own columns, no one would. Here, for the record, are my previous four columns from Iowa:
- Dec. 30: Weird Week in the Hawkeye State
- Dec. 29: Iowa’s Final Flavor of the Month?
- Dec. 28: Generic Republican
- Dec. 27: Hunting in the Hawkeye State
God knows that, having started reporting the “Santorum Surge” weeks before anyone else noticed it, I certainly don’t deserve any credit for my foresight now that the surge is headline news all across the country. In fact, conservative bloggers who ridiculed me for writing about Santorum a month ago are now linking and quoting MSM reports about the Iowa caucuses rather than quoting anything I’ve written.
Even before Tabitha Hale made a point of excluding me from the BlogCon agenda, I began to suspect that rather than being hated for anything I’d done wrong, I was being hated for my successes. One might think that a track record of success would count for something in the political blogosphere, and yet the more often I’m right, the more profoundly I’m hated. This problem was once more brought to my attention last night when Smitty e-mailed me a post Professor William Jacobson wrote at Legal Insurrection, which touched a raw nerve.
It seems there are people who resent my very presence in the conservative blogosphere, who feel that I am an unwelcome interloper, intruding on a private party to which I was not invited. These people apparently hope that, if they can ignore me long enough — and persuade others also to ignore me — maybe I’ll just go away. Being treated as persona non grata by those who profess friendship is a bewildering experience, one which permits only two possible explanations:
- The professions of friendship are false and these people who say they harbor no animosity toward me are concealing a profound hatred toward me which, for some reason, they are unwilling to admit; or
- My work is utterly worthless, and therefore undeserving of recognition.
Neither explanation is comforting, for either I have spent the past 25 years pursuing a career for which I lack any aptitude, or else I have somehow managed to inspire intense hatred from these people who, for some unexplained reason, prefer to conceal the motives of their hatred. Such relentless discouragement from my “friends” is particularly distracting at a time when I have traveled to Iowa in hopes of doing some work that might be regarded as useful.
In the case of Professor Jacobson, I suppose his evident delight in heaping scorn on me is related to his undisguised opposition to the candidacy of Rick Santorum. And thus does the bearer of bad news (from the perspective that good news for Santorum is bad news for the professor’s favored candidate) become persona non grata.
People who tell you that honesty is the best policy are wrong, if the object of your policy is to become popular. To say honestly what one believes is viewed by sophisticated people as foolishness, and to admit doubt or discouragement is considered an expression of self-pity. So it is that, desiring to be thought wise and strong, we are led to care more about seeming virtuous than actually being virtuous.
Bite your tongue and hide your motives, for this is wisdom. Never acknowledge that you have been hurt, for there is strength in denial. Such are the implicit maxims of the Cult of Seeming.
The incentives to be concerned chiefly with seeming are very powerful, in a world where people are often judged more by perception than reality. Yet that temptation must be resisted, because it can lead to a life based on falsehood, and those who attempt to live a lie are never completely successful in their deceptions.
Take a step down that path, and then another and another and, before you know it, you’ll be lobbying for Freddie Mac, recording a video with Nancy Pelosi, running up a million-dollar tab at Tiffany’s and cruising the Aegean with your third wife, all the while expecting the good people of Iowa to support you as an “outsider” who is going to clean up the mess in Washington.
I believe it was a Republican who once observed that you cannot fool all the people all the time. And we have reason to believe that not many Republicans in Iowa have been fooled this time.
Yet to point out the imposture, to say that the transparent phoniness of Newt Gingrich is the direct cause of his failure, is to alienate those who believed that Newt could get away with it. I think they underestimated the good folk of Iowa.
Maybe Professor Jacobson doesn’t like me, and certainly he doesn’t like Rick Santorum. But at least Santorum is who he is, and doesn’t try to substitute seeming for being.