First, the two Bush wars:
President Bush's experiments in Afghanistan and Iraq created his own chimeras, by injecting feudal and tribal societies with the cells of democracy, and blending warring factions and sects. Some of the forces unleashed are promising; others are frightening.And then the party itself:
The Republican Party is now a chimera, too, a mutant of old guard Republicans, who want government kept out of our lives, and evangelical Christians, who want government to legislate religion into our lives.Is the scary thing she's perceiving the combination of different things or the components that she would disapprove of whether they were in solo form or not?
But exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education, even in the blue states and blue suburbs of Maryland; a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.
Even as scientists issue rules on chimeras in labs, a spine-tingling he-monster with the power to drag us back into the pre-Darwinian dark ages is slouching around Washington. It's a fire-breathing creature with the head of W., the body of Bill Frist and the serpent tail of Tom DeLay.
I would have thought that the need to combine small factions into a larger party to achieve national power is a source of moderation.
Time to reread The Federalist, Number 10:
AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction....To bring it back to Dowd's genetic metaphor: let's remember the good of hybrid vigor and the disadvantages of inbreeding. Politically, inclusion, diversity, and assimilation seem to work better than exclusion and the enforcement of ideological purity. Is it any wonder the Republicans have outplayed the Democrats recently?
The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked, that where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, a communication is always checked by distrust, in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary....
The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States: a religious sect, may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national Councils against any danger from that source: a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.
UPDATE: Here's Captain Ed's reaction to Dowd's column. One point:
Dowd's argument is that democracy somehow is not only foreign to Arabs, but unnatural -- about as racist an argument that the New York Times has allowed in its editorial pages in decades.
And let me add that the whole fear of the chimera struck me as awfully similar to old racist fears about "miscegenation." Just substitute "mongrel" -- as in "mongrelization of the races" -- for the fancy-schmancy word "chimera." The horror of mixing divergent lines? It's a rather ugly metaphor.