By Daniel Rigney
As we dissect the American right to understand how it functions, we should take care to distinguish between its hot-blooded and cold-blooded varieties. Hot conservatism “angries up the blood,” in Satchel Paige’s memorable phrase, while cold conservatism calculates self-interest or group-interest more cerebrally, with little sentimentality or heart.
The first variety is unapologetically passionate, while the second likes to imagine itself “rational.” The differences are as much temperamental as philosophical.
“Hot-blooded” and “cold-blooded” represent extreme types of conservative temperament. In reality, any given conservative may bleed hot or cold depending on the issue, the social context, and the economic and emotional interests at stake.
Most conservatives fall between the extremes of hot- and cold-bloodedness most of the time. (Would that make them tepid?) Yet a few seem to maintain fairly constant temperature readings -- whether toward the boiling or the freezing points -- on their ideological thermometers.
Consider a few living specimens of homo conservatus:
Rush Limbaugh, or at least the character he plays in his radio rants, is clearly a hotblood. He does the angry thinking for millions of highly-flammable and easily-ignited followers. He and others like him on the right are the proverbial matches to the powder keg.
Limbaugh’s hot-headed counterpart on the left might be Keith Olbermann. On occasion each displays a rumbling rage that explodes like a volcanic lava geyser.
On the cooler side of conservatism are the more corporate or establishment types -- the lukewarm and labile Mitt Romneys of the Republican boardroom. Colder still are the Karl Roves and Frank Luntzes, the calculating and fox-like Machiavellians who know how to feed the fires and fears that bring the Republican base to a rolling boil -- all the better to make tea with.
Yet even Rove can’t match the stone-frozenness of a heart that still beats – somehow – in the breast of a certain titanic iceBorg.
I refer, of course, to …. No, not Ayn Rand. She died some years ago and was reincarnated as Paul Ryan. No, it's not the Koch Brothers either. They're two cold-hearted bastards, not one.
The person I’m thinking of is someone else, someone who’s still alive at this writing, so far as I know. That would be ...