Matthew Continetti, "Five Myths About Sarah Palin". October 17
Ross Douthat, "Tales of the Tea Party". October 17
David Brooks, "Don't Follow the Money". October 18
LAST week I got around to watching the POV documentary on Daniel Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America.
Ellsberg left Harvard to become a Marine. As a civilian military analyst he led mission after mission in Vietnam, like his friend John Paul Vann, going where the brass--let alone the politicians and functionaries--wouldn't have dared. He was a war supporter who gradually came to realize what a lie the whole thing was.
In other words, Daniel Ellsberg had more intellectual courage than the three privileged fucks listed above, their organizations, and their "movement", as well as more physical courage thanthey and the entire Republican leadership. And that's before you factor in risking life in prison to expose the vengeful war criminals who killed twenty times the number of Americans bin-Laden ever did, and millions of the Other, just to keep their Ponzi scheme profitable.
Of course, the whole exercise wound up as a sort of sick comedy, proving that it was easier, and more effective, to hand America a witless bumper sticker than a 1700-page look at what was done in its name, with its money; the reader can decide if there are still any reverberations to be heard today. Nixon won a second term in a landslide; Gene Roddenberry and Roone Arledge served as the boring insects spreading the virus to the twisted bowel of the body politic. You can get into an extended argument over Vietnam today, without effort, with people whose entire position is obliterated by the factual record. Hell, you could get into an argument with so-called Progressives during the Glorious Revolution of 2008 without them displaying the slightest recognition that the United States had ever taken a military action from any motive other than the purest, nor without heavy humanitarian heart. If you haven't heard, within the last six months, that Tet was Actually A US Victory, or that Walter Cronkite sold out the United States (or any other variation on "the media mislead Americans into defeatism"), it can only be because you don't follow the argument.
How many of the well-respected punditasters above do you imagine has ever cracked open a copy of The Pentagon Papers? They do not want to know; they do not want to be forced to apply their easy moral pronouncements to issues that aren't predecided for them. Th' fuck did we get here? Well, we got here because the realities of Vietnam were so ugly, so destructive of the national mythology, that a wide swath of Americans simply decided that talking to themselves was preferable to facing reality. Meet their children. There was certainly an element of this in the opposition to the Civil Rights movement, but that opposition was allowed to show itself plain and in public for many years to come (Bill Buckley was still writing those "King was too a Commie" pieces in the early 80s). Vietnam is to "Conservatism", and its party, what On the Origin of the Species is to backwoods fundamentalist magic.
This is how you get, not only some two-bit whore to shill for Sarah Palin, but a supposed major newsource to publish it. Palin "didn't hurt McCain" because a CNN exit poll of Republican voters says so; what prodigies of illiteracy would this sort of thing evoke in a sane conversation? And that represents the single "fact" offered in "busting" Five "Myths". The rest of the thing is a Bunny Ranch price list for a selection of tawdry corporate sex acts. You know; the Weekly Standard's stock in trade. (I don't care if you imagine that La Palin has her finger in the light socket of some vast Middle American power grid; ignoring her obvious mental incapacity just because she's on your side is beyond the pale. It's no longer a question of what, if anything, can be said to excuse Palin, or O'Donnell, or Angle, or Bachman, or Beck; it's how they come to feel so at home in a major political party that they could walk in and help themselves to the remote. Ask the same goddam thing about Reagan, whom the Right was beginning to criticize in its darkest days, or Bush, whom it now treats as some accidental houseguest, half-remembered only because he left an embarrassing stain on one of the towels. Look: God Knows I'm not exactly thrilled with my own end of the political spectrum, and, especially, its appointed spokescreatures. But there's a clear distinction, at least, in that Glenn Greenwald has been holding the President's feet to the fire since the primaries; compare this to "Palin's uneven performance on the campaign trail". Uneven! The Party of Burke won't even criticize a moran in its midst. Unless it thinks the mic is turned off.)
Which brings us to Douthat, who'd clearly be the village idiot in any decently-educated village. The man made his bones--inexplicably (paging Mr. Moyers!)--by writing, two years ago, that the Republican party needed to become the party of New Ideas; today he writes that Dumb as Dirt is actually pretty insightful, provided you squint just right and are congenitally disposed to believing the last thirty years of economic disaster must be someone else's fault. [Not to mention that the goddam thing recapitulates Continetti's drivel, except Ross Boy could only come up with Four Myths and zero phony facts. Great minds think alike. So they can, too. At any rate, the whole exercise ("For one thing, I never said the downstairs bath had to be Early American") sounds like a strategy session with the divorce lawyer just in case That Cheatin' Bastard tries to keep the House. Which sorta puts the lie to the whole "What Republican Rift"? routine.]
Like Brooks, Douthat for some reason believes arguing with imaginary liberals is a lifetime sinecure. Brooks, who could just as easily be ignored as the rest of this stuff if it weren't being taken seriously by the country's last surviving newspaper, of course, has made the same sort of "peace" with his new, or "new", 300 lb. bunkmate as Douthat; today he's busy swimming in the vast pools of anonymous Republican campaign contribution cess, and pronouncing the stench not so bad if you stand far enough away. Brooks comes up with one-one, (1), O-N-E--example of a race where Democratic outside interests have slightly outspent Republican outside interests, proving for all time that money doesn't influence politics. He points out that in the most heavily contested races Democrats have outspent Republicans. Which is like noting that the Texans at the Alamo had an unfair advantage in interior lines.
I'm long inured to this sort of thing passing for Thought. I just don't know how much longer it'll be before I can understand how it passes for analytical thought.