- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006

We are now in the warm season of preliminaries of the 2006 midterm elections. The conventional or mainstream print and broadcast media, like safari hunters on a holiday on a distant continent, are seeking exotic game trophies wherever they can find them.

Traveling to the mysterious and opaque land known as Southern California recently, they had flocked together to record and observe a hitherto rare creature, the disappearing-Republican. As everyone knows, the majoritarian Republican is common throughout the nation, and in the journalistic community the dominant theory is that this species is overstocked and should be replaced with colorful and noisy creatures known as Democrats. If the disappearing Republican theory had proved to be correct, celebrations would have broken out everywhere in the media world. Sales of chablis, merlot and Belgian beer would have soared. It could have been an outrageous spectacle.

But for the time being, it turned into a fishing expedition and not a hunting trip, as the demise of the Republicans did not materialize. The media lords, of course, have proclaimed this Republican to be an endangered species, and they hold up certain hard evidence, such as public opinion polls and the quotations of European leaders, to justify their contentions. For the rest of the summer, pith helmets and safari jackets are the clothing of journalistic choice as the indomitable pundits who usually write about the famous political zoo in the nation’s capital fan out into remote corners, seeking to be the first to spot a disappearing Republican.

The unconventional media, known as “netroot bloggers,” are also in the hunt, but they would not dream of wearing pith helmets or traveling to exotic lands. (In fact, bloggers seem allergic to any kind of pith at all.) They wear visors instead, and camped out recently in that new national center of political speculation, air-conditioned Las Vegas. There, in an orgy of self-congratulation and pristine hubris, the left-wing bloggers of America converged to hear obsequious Democratic politicians try to ingratiate themselves into the newest power of technology. As in the Colosseum in ancient Rome, it was thumbs up or thumbs down for the would-be gladiators.

Liberal credentials meant nothing. One very liberal senator, Barbara Boxer of California, apparently told the radical bloggers everything they wanted to hear, and was well-received until she told them that she supported the re-election of centrist Democrat Joe Lieberman in his Senate race this year. Boos. “She’s an idiot!” one neo-Roman blogger was quoted to say. Thumbs down, Barbara.

Orders for a ritualized funeral pyre send-off of Karl Rove had already been sent to nationwide political crematoria, but hastily had to be withdrawn. Crematorium officials were not discouraged, however — they expected a number of left-wing self-immolations to take up the slack in November.

Then, like a lightning bolt from Zeus, came the news that the leader of the Iraqi terrorists had been demolished by a deft U.S. bomb, followed by the roundup of hundreds of his minions throughout Iraq. After a previously interminable delay in assembling his cabinet, the Iraqi prime minister quickly put his government together. U.S. forces then took out a number of terrorists, and President Bush showed up in Baghdad to lift the new government and the allied troops with a personal salute. (Noticeably absent were any banners proclaiming “Mission Accomplished!”)

The safari hunters in their pith helmets and stylish khaki jackets are still out there, sweating profusely in the early summer sun and combing the nation for their favorite endangered species. They could not find one. Anything might happen in this strange political season, but so far they are encountering mostly contrary clues in the states of Washington, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland and New Jersey — where incumbent or favored Democrats are unaccountably in trouble.

The netroot bloggers, back in their air-conditioned home computer rooms, are excited because they think they have found another rare species — the aforementioned centrist Democrat on his way to extinction in Connecticut. Their line of political theory goes this way: If the centrist Democrat becomes extinct, the United States will be out of Iraq in a flash, and the country will, as a consequence, elect a left-wing Democrat as president in 2008.

This theory defies all known laws of mathematics, but, after all, these new pashas of punditry have been to Las Vegas, where it is well-known that the public always beats the house, and tourists always win more than they lose.

Barry Casselman writes about national politics for Preludium News Service.

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