I don’t usually watch the Sunday morning political talk shows because I can’t stand all the cross-talk when there isn’t somebody funny like Bill Maher to interrupt them with a good joke. (Needless to say, I am a huge fan of Real Time.) But, this morning I watched the whole hour of This Week with George Stephanopoulos about “The Tragedy in Colorado” that unfortunately includes George Will as a regluar roundtable guest.

George Will, like every “good” conservative following the script, argues throughout the show that there’s no reason to push for stricter gun control laws because James Holmes, although very smart, was crazy, so there are no laws that could have prevented him from doing what he did.

Jennifer Rubin, when she could get some words in between others and “he who must be treated with great deference” a.k.a. George Will, was attempting to make a connection between gun laws and mental health, but could never quite tie it all together by suggesting that some sort of psychological screenings for buyers of guns might be a good step in keeping guns out of the hands of psychopaths. (If you’ve read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, you know there are some tests that are pretty accurate in identifying them).

There are millions and millioins of conservatives that adore George Will and think like George Will, and it’s because of them that absolutely nothing about gun laws in this country will change because of the mass murder committed in Colorado by a psychopath that was able to legally purchase several handguns and an assault rifle that he easily equipped with a hundred-round ammo clip.

To them, it’s the same as it ever was: “He was crazy! There’s nothing we can do to stop it, so why try?” Yes, why try to stop people from legally purchasing guns designed for the sole purpose of killing othe people in the most efficient ways? Having millions of assault rifles scattered throughout America so that we can all kill each other isn’t a big deal is it? No… Let’s make more of them! Let’s arm all Americans with assault rifles and hundred-round clips so that at the next major movie premiere we can have a good old-fashioned American shootout. Just think how of many more people could be killed if everyone in attendance had assault rifles strapped over their shoulders and semi-automatic pistols holstered at their sides. The more Jokers that can get guns, the better.

Chaos! It’s our destiny, so why try to stop it?

Ask George Will.

The flap over the Obama administration’s contraception regulation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act highlights the electoral choice we have before us in November.

For a Democratic president and for most of his supporters, the central issue is women’s health in general and their ability to access safe contraception in particular.  The plan is a pragmatic response to a public policy imperative.

Republicans on the other hand see nothing beyond their blind opposition on principle to the federal government regulating the health care insurance industry, in this case under the guise of trumpeting religious freedom. They certainly couldn’t care less whether women actually benefit from the rule or not. In that they apparently have the support of Catholic bishops albeit not, I daresay, the majority of Catholic women.  

Yet the more important point is that it is merely the latest example of ideology trumping good sense for the GOP.  What we now have in this country is one of our major political parties seeking ways to solve our most pressing problems in practical, commonsense ways, while the other sticks to a rigid orthodoxy that brooks no compromise no matter how wrongheaded or harmful its position.

Typical of the reaction of the right was George Will on This Week with George Stephanopoulos expressing outrage over this latest example of the federal government’s intrusion into the healthcare insurance market and grim satisfaction that this represented a sort of comeuppance for the Catholic bishops, many of whom supported the Affordable Care Act.  

Of course rather than a vindication of conservative opposition to the ACA, the flap over contraception vindicates those of us who support a government run universal healthcare system since private sensibilities about what coverage is provided and to whom would then be moot.

The ACA itself is a prime example of the spirit of compromise and pragmatism that Democrats bring to the table. It is not the first choice for many in the party who recognize that the experience of other countries shows conclusively that a single-payer system would be far more efficient. We spend far more of our national wealth on healthcare than anyone else in the industrialized world and yet still leave out of our disjointed, mostly private non-system 50 million people. And the most cost-effective services are delivered to seniors and veterans – in other words the government-run bits.

Yet the GOP is fanatical and irrational in its determination to repeal the ACA, never mind that it borrowed many of its ideas from Republican plans of the past (Nixon, Dole and, dare I say – Romney).  Today’s GOP has moved so far from pragmatism that even its own proposals from eras past when the party was less ideologically strait-jacketed are totally unacceptable. 

The Catholic bishops have a difficult dilemma. They can fight the Obama administration tooth and nail on the contraception issue and whether they prevail or not do significant harm to the president’s re-election prospects. Yet to do so will risk a GOP victory that all but ensures severe cuts to social services for the poor and near poor, an issue that goes to the heart of what the church stands for.

The electorate’s choice in November, on the other hand, really shouldn’t be that difficult. To choose the ideologically blinkered GOP in its current form either for the White House or to control Congress would simply be disastrous for the country.  That much surely is clear.

I can’t decide if George Will’s latest column is a sign that he thinks everything is going well now that we have an intelligent man in the White House or if its and early indication that he’s starting to lose his mind.

Yesterday he took a break from politics and the economy so that he could lash out against blue jeans.  Yes, George Will says those jeans you are wearing right now are one of the root causes of the decline of American civilization. 

On any American street, or in any airport or mall, you see the same sad tableau: A 10-year-old boy is walking with his father, whose development was evidently arrested when he was that age, judging by his clothes. Father and son are dressed identically — running shoes, T-shirts. And jeans, always jeans. If mother is there, she, too, is draped in denim.

Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling — thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism — of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.

Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.

What?  Is he serious?  What are we supposed to wear when we’re not at the office or not celebrating a wedding, an anniversary, or perhaps attending a funeral?  No jeans while we’re working in the yard?  No jeans while we play with our kids or pets?  No jeans while we wash the car or paint the house or clean the garage?  No jeans when we trudge through rain, sleet, and snow to go to a football game?

That’s right folks.  If you wear jeans – EVER – it means you are immature.  You haven’t grown up yet.  You aren’t as sophisticated as the curmudgeonly George Will who says he has only worn jeans once in his life because he had to.

So when you do grow up, what are you supposed to wear?  George says:

For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don’t wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

So here you go, start dressing up like these two.

 

Make America beautiful again and, more importantly, make George Will a happy man.