Every now and then, I get this sensation that We've Been Down This Road Before. It's not exactly deja vu, because I'm not (necessarily) the one who went this route in the past.
It's the Nation.
Two characteristics keep cropping up over and over again:
We toggle between them perpetually.
Right now, we're in a Hysterical phase with the Puritans anxious to return to the fore. We've been in a state of Hysteria for nearly a generation, since the advent of the Reagan Era, and we're wearing out.
The Puritans -- call them Progressives if you like -- are Ready to step in, chain up the Hysterics for a while, and start cleaning up the mess.
But are the Hysterics ready to let go?
Hillary! gets them more riled up than they usually are. Barack seems to soothe them, calm them down. And by "them", I'm referring to the RWA crowd as well as a whole raft of Opinion Leaders, Pundits, and a national zeitgeist that derives from them.
It's been predicted that if McCain goes against Hillary! in the fall, McCain wins; if he goes against Barack, Barack wins. That prediction seems sensible. Until Obama's rise, Hillary's victory was all but foregone, no matter which R she ran against, so much so that Limbaugh himself was resigned to President Hillary in '09 and was gently preparing his dwindling audience to accept the Inevitable.
And Hillary! is a quintessential tight ass Puritan, oozes take-charge superiority and empowerment. Focus. Discipline. Planning. After a generation of Hysterics, she would seem to be what the country badly needs.
But along comes Barack Obama, out of Chicago by way of quite a journey through the rest of the world, and he not only upsets the Clintonian Inevitability Showcart, he starts us down a whole other path.
He's neither a Hysteric nor a Puritan, at least as far as anyone can tell. He's completely different. Well. Not completely, but different enough from what we're used to, and so filled with Redemptionist fervor, the Clintons can't get any traction against him, and the RWA's are mystified, perplexed, and oddly charmed.
Is it time to get off the swinging pendulum?