Quite simply, I knew that Alan Keyes — whom I recently called the master of grandiloquent nonsense — would not let me down.
Keyes kicked off his campaign in what I guess we should be calling his new hometown of Chicago today. But first he had to get over the fact that a few years ago he not only knocked Hillary Clinton for relocating to New York to run for Senate — after all most every Republican did that — but had to dress it up in typically Keyesian mumbo-jumbo.
Harkening back to the wisdom of no one in particular, Keyes intoned, “I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness to go into a state she doesn’t even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn’t imitate it.”
The best walk back I heard for this one was the response from a Republican party official in Illinois a few days ago — as related to me by a TPM reader — who, when confronted with this seeming change of mind, shot back that … you guessed it, 9/11 changed everything!
Clearly, something like that is far too banal for Keyes. So he described his flash of light on the road to Chicago experience like this …
As Keyes told his new Illinois supporters today, he was at first dead-set against running for senate in another state. But then he was shown copies of Barack Obama’s state legislative voting record and he decided he had no choice — flip flop or no flip flop — but to jump into the ring.
“I’ll tell you by the time I got through the records, I was convinced that somebody had to run against Barack Obama,” he said.
And then after this long dark night of the soul Keyes spent with Obama’s voting records he decided that “I must leave the land of my forefathers [i.e., Maryland] in order to defend the land of my spirit, of my conscience and my heart — and I believe that that land is Illinois.”
Only Keyes could manage to bring a flourish to the rather prosaic work of backing out of backing out of a flat promise or turning a flip-flop into something vaguely reminiscent of St. Paul’s decision to abandon the teachings of the Pharisees and launch off on foot around the shores of the Mediterranean preaching Christ crucified.
What I can’t help but wonder is what issues get pulled into the mix when Keyes and his wife get in an argument about … say, whose toothbrush is whose? Or when one of the kids won’t take out the trash?
“You have said that you will not take out the trash, that you will take out the trash after you play Nintendo. But I tell you today that taking out the trash is no mere chore. Just as a righteous society is preserved by preserving what is good and just and tossing aside what is bad, just so with the …”
Well, you get the idea.
In any case, I think Mike Murphy has the right take on this at The Weekly Standard when he argues that hiring Keyes for an election Kamikaze run is a foolish and self-destructive move for Illinois Republicans that shows just how bad a state they’re really in.
As Murphy puts it, “Keyes will be the perfect foil for Obama to campaign against, and the selection of Keyes will seem exactly the shoddy and cynical move that it is. The Republicans should know better.”