A Sheliak and a Ferengi walk into a bar…
Posted April 1, 2014on:
Good afternoon Widdershins. I hope your week is off to a great start.
To follow-up on last Friday’s post about the Republican beauty contest held this past weekend in Las Vegas, it was pretty uneventful for those invited to sashay down the Sheldon Adelson catwalk. Adelson arrived at the Venetian in his Maybach followed by a roving pack of strategists sniffing about for the least crazy potential Presidential candidate as determined by Sheldon himself.
To us political junkies, the most interesting facet of the Adelson conclave was not the invite list, but who was not invited. Accordingly Rand Paul, who I have taken to calling RaPaul in keeping with his impersonator persona where drag outfits are selected by the latest poll, was not invited to the Las Vegas pageant.
RaPaul has demonstrated some bizarre bi-polar positions when it comes to the Middle East and Israel — an issue of singular importance to Adelson. While RaPaul purports to support all things Israel, his statements are all over the Mediterranean waterfront when it comes to particular issues like a nuclear Iran. This vacillation has not passed without notice.
For instance, Jennifer Rubin of WaPo wrote about a 2012 video clip of RaPaul (the clip is lodged on a Rand Paul fan boy site and I won’t link to it, but you can click-through in Rubin‘s piece) where he essentially attacked Christian Conservatives as being “war mongers” for their stalwart defense of Israel. If that wasn’t enough, he offered an outrageously convoluted theory about the U.S. being to blame for World War II.
It is unclear whether RaPaul’s beliefs are genetic gifts from this father or the product of spending too much time on the tippy-tip of the fringiest of fringe internet sites. Suffice it to say, these types of comments light-up most conservatives. Quite uncharitably, a representative of the American Enterprise Institute said:
Rand Paul’s comments represent tremendous historical illiteracy…His views are so eccentric that it’s hard to be sure what he’s even talking about.
While not being invited to the Adelson’s billionaire boogie is noteworthy, what it represents is even more significant as we peel months away from the calendar heading toward 2016. The RaPaul snub represents the schism between “isolationists” and “non-interventionists” within the traditional Republican apparatus. The cable news channels use the terms interchangeably. They are not.
Isolationists are opposed to the use of the American military, opposed to free trade, opposed to immigration, and opposed to anything other than exorbitant tariffs to protect against foreign competition. On the other hand, non-interventionists are opposed to entangling military alliances, but fully support free trade, commerce, travel, and immigration. In other words, non-interventionists will let you get to third base, but isolationists are perfectly happy to stay home, wash their hair, and knit a couple of tea cozies from immaculately conceived Hobby Lobby yarn.
This is only my opinion, but RaPaul is showing both his chameleon political nature and his inability to find a good pollster. Americans are routinely attracted to poorly constructed poll questions that tend to favor non-interventionist sounding policies. Simply put, poorly structured questionnaires skew toward the socially desirable non-interventionist positions.
These inflated polling results have lulled many an unsuspecting politician into a false sense of security until that politician tries to explain the difficult nuances presented by the Middle East. Given the insatiable intellectual curiosity of Widdershinners, I know you are thinking, “What politician has been able to bridge that gap?” Your ginkgo biloba isn’t failing you, there’s never been a non-interventionist who has successfully negotiated that minefield.
The difference between isolationists and non-interventionists may not seem significant, but you can bet it is a big deal to a large segment of the Republican primary voters. The voters who really count in this next cycle.
Here’s an easy way to remember the difference courtesy of Star Trek. The Sheliak was a species who wanted nothing to do with any other interstellar race so much so they negotiated a treaty with the Federation where they would never have to talk to “carbon-based units” — pretty isolationist sounding to me. On the other hand, while being somewhat cowardly, the Ferengi species was all about business based upon the “Ferengi Rules of Acquisition” — think a non-interventionist Donald Trump with better hair.
So in the Trekkie vernacular, the isolationists are Sheliaks and the non-interventionists are the Ferengi. The Ferengi similarity to non-interventionists doesn’t stop there given that their sex organs are in their ears — easily aroused when they hear what they want to hear. But to a diehard Trekkie, the true difference is that a Sheliak would never walk into a bar.
This is an open thread.
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