Wushu is Mandarin for “arts of war.” Today in China there exists a standardized school of Wushu based on many of its historical martial arts disciplines. You can occasionally catch exhibitions on ESPN. It looks very impressive. Practitioners are capable of dizzying acrobatic feats. They wield traditional weapons. They chop at the air and each other in tightly controlled movements that look more like an exotic dance than a fight. Wushu exhibitions are visually stunning. But today’s Wushu has been emptied of its meaning. Lost are its deeper traditions and martial application. To serious martial artists, “wushu” is shorthand for spectacle without utility. The shiny weapons we see in exhibitions are hollow, light, and dull. Today the Shaolin monks, for instance, whose fighting styles are the stuff of legend, have been reduced to a cheap sideshow.
Wushu was neutered by the Maoist regime. The term was adopted by Chairman Mao and morphed from a fighting art into a physical fitness regimen. It became a tool of a statist regime intent on destroying all vestiges of traditional spirituality, culture, and independence.
Wushu is what came to mind as the Senate hearings for Samuel Alito unfolded.
For all their long-winded speeches and affected gravitas, Democratic Senators were never really fighting to stop him. If they’d really wanted to block his confirmation, they could have. They would have taken their case to the people and built some momentum for a real show-down on the Senate floor. Polls show that roughly a third of the populace was undecided on Alito. That’s what we call a “teachable moment.” Conventional wisdom says that the committee hearings were a dud, with opposing democrats unable to lay a glove on the staid, confident Alito. But if Senate Democrats couldn’t find a decent hook on which to hang Alito, how did the New York Times editorial board find so many?
Senate Dems would have you believe that this was an unwinnable fight. It was only unwinnnable because they were not fighting. They were exhibiting a kind of “sport politics” that Democratic Party insiders have come to excel in. They pander to C-Span cameras with a lot of sighing, grimacing, and verbal gymnastics, but when they cast their votes, they do so based on some vague perception of poltical safety.
The only real fight we saw in the face of this quiet killer came from the netroots, who shamed Kerry into backing up his rhetoric with action, and swamped the phone banks of waffling senators like Clinton, Feinstein, and Obama. But in the end, the last minute filibuster was a lot of filibluster. A little over half over of Senate Dems made a half-hearted attempt to stop our steady slide into one-party rule. What we saw yesterday was akin to an over-the-hill boxer taking a dive so he could still collect some mob money.
Establishment Democrats have long since ceased to be an opposition party. They are tools of a statist regime giving us all a good show, but stripped of any real power to stop a political juggernaut years in the making; one that would make kings of presidents and reduce Congress to a sad spectacle.
Crossposted at The Blogging Curmudgeon.