Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Cornel West for president? Matt Labash asks the question. Also, fashion tips for Ron Paul supporters

Matt Labash Columnist
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Matt…..if West could be persuaded to run, would he have a good chance to win? Just curious as to your thoughts. I think he could beat Obama like a drum in any arena and I would absolutely love to see the two of them in a debate. Thanks, Trish

True, West would paint the walls in blood during debates when talk turned to post-analytic philosophy or ethics, historicism and the Marxist tradition. But I’m just not sure Cornel West will play in Middle America. First off, we are a nation of optimists. And his all-black funeral suits might make you want to buy an urn from him in which to store your favorite loved one, but don’t necessarily make you want to vote for him. If he were to run, he’s going to need to lighten things up a bit. Bright ginghams really seem to be in this season at The Gap. So he might start there.

Second, if Iowa farmers wanted angry, militant black guys to be president, they’d have given the nod to Alan Keyes in ‘96. Plus, Cornel West isn’t going to cut much ice with Tea Partiers, since he has served as honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, which he described as “the first multiracial, socialist organization close enough to my politics that I could join.” The 2012 election is going to be a referendum on Barack Obama, meaning his challenger must provide a clear alternative. We already have a socialist president. Why do we need another one?

So wait…… eagle-eyed editor is now telling me you were wondering if Allen West could beat Obama. Scratch everything I just said, except for the not-a-chance part.

Do you consider yourself to be a fly fisherman, or simply a fisherman? If you’re a fly fisherman, and proudly unconventional, would you troll fly gear? If so, would you allow yourself to hook a 6’ 2wt to a downrigger ball and fight him on 6x and up? — Clam Diggah

I know it’s cool and egalitarian to say that catching fish is the important thing, not how you catch them. But since the only time I even hold a spinning rod anymore is when my kids need help drowning worms off our kayak, I suppose I have to say I’m strictly a fly fisherman. Though since I recently floated the Madison River in Montana, catching a single rainbow all afternoon, my fishing guide might dispute that.

That said, trolling is for frauds and criminals. Since I’m a Marylander, I see it all the time on the Chesapeake Bay. Some jowly Fredneck will tell me he’s “goin’ fishin’.” No he’s not. He’s going to pay hundreds of bucks to sit on some skipper’s boat drinking beer while the skipper pulls behind them an umbrella rig full of sassy shad so that he can play stripers in after the boat’s done all the work. If the boat’s catching your fish, don’t call yourself a fisherman.

I’ve trolled with a fly rod before – for northern pike up in Canada. While there, I was getting out-caught by a bunch of spin fishermen, who were doing donuts around me in their boats, catching all the fish. Frustrated, I ripped the twister tail off of a grub, and attached it to the hook bend of a gigantic Deceiver, then dragged it on my 9 weight behind my skiff. I caught plenty of fish with it. But I hated myself almost as much as the fish did for disgracing them by catching them that way. My self-loathing didn’t come from putting a twister tail on a Deceiver fly – that just proves that I’m an innovator and a visionary. But trolling for them was unforgiveable.  In fact, when releasing one northern, I looked into his cold, prehistoric eyes and could swear he was thinking, “Trolling? Seriously? You’re better than this.” Only now, after many years of therapy and writing in my shame journal, can I admit it, and start the healing process.

I suggest you do the same, before completely losing your moral center. Though if you can land a fish trolling a 2 weight while pulling a downrigger ball on fine 6X tippet, I’ll fill your boat up with gas right after I tie you a boxful of Twister Tail Deceivers.

Who won the Revolutionary War? Not the smartly dressed English, but the raggedy men who were fighting for LIBERTY. So I am offended by your comment about why Ron Paul won’t win — “…just go to a Ron Paul convention…”. You will find a whole lot of “just regular people” — no lobbyists, no media, just regular folks from all walks of life. Not a lot of suits. You might say it is the progeny of those raggedy men who fought for LIBERTY so many years ago….AND WON — LETS DO IT AGAIN! — Abby

I’m no historian, but by my count, the 1700s ended over two centuries ago. So nowadays, I’d tend to trust a guy in a suit over a guy in colonial tights, no disrespect intended to our forefathers. And did I say that Ron Paul couldn’t be president? It turns out, I did. Though I actually said the reason that he couldn’t win is that he’s too honest to be president. Which is something like a compliment. But I probably shouldn’t foreclose all possibility. This is America, where anyone can grow up to be anything. When I grow up, for instance, I’m planning to be Rand Paul, just so that I can spend Father’s Days with Ron.

Nor did I mean to insult all Paultards, even if a disproportionate number of them dress like Paul Revere & the Raiders at political conventions. I think that on balance, they are great Americans, who should be afforded respect, courtesy, and be allowed to park in handicapped spaces. I quite like Ronulans. The only ones I find truly objectionable are the foaming-at-the-mouth nutloafs who are so anti-government that they’re prepared to believe it killed 3,000 of its own citizens by bringing down the Twin Towers (Jesse Ventura, I am your conscience.)

But I’d rather find commonality than sow seeds of discord. So let’s agree on this much: beating the British is always a noble cause, no matter what you’re wearing. In fact, they’re in need of many more beatings, as the last six months of Royal Wedding-fetishization  proved.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.