Monday, January 23, 2012

On The Knife's Edge

Jonathan Cohn, who favors the president's reelection, counsels against those who celebrate Newt Gingrich's surge because they think he'd be easy to beat:
Yes, an unstable demagogue should be a lot easier for Obama to beat than a candidate who'd make a plausible president -- e.g., judging by past work product, Romney. But in a two-party system, either party nominating an unstable demagogue is a danger to democracy, both because any incumbent can be beat if economic conditions are bad enough or if catastrophe strikes, and because the takeover of one major party by extremists, reactionaries and hatemongers means we are always on the knife's edge. The counter-argument, often expressed by [Andrew] Sullivan, is that only by electing an extremist and getting its clock cleaned can a party submerged in its own ideology be dragged back to the center. That may have worked in the case of Goldwater. But Goldwater was a sober statesman compared to Gingrich, Perry, Palin.

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