IT'S not merely my contention; it was my observation that, having lost every argument of import in the 1960s, and on factual grounds, for the most part, "conservatives" figured the only way to ever win again was to stop listening to the opposition. We now have an entire generation grown to middle-aged punditry which doesn't understand what "engaging the argument" means. (Thus the idea that we'd somehow be better off with a Senateful of Olympia Snowes and Dick Lugars, "natural" "non-partisans", as opposed to, say, finding someone smarter, or closer to the natural consensus of the country, or, god forbid, not beholden to Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs.)
George Eff Will owes his entire career to the phenomenon. He's a national pundit (and leading "conservative" intellectual) not because he had anything wise to say, or a witty way of saying it, and not because the late 1970s were crying out for a recapitulation of the debates of the Tyler administration. He's a national pundit because Dick Fucking Nixon hated the Press, and adding Will to the Post and This Week was one way to prove that not all the gentlemen of the Press were as ultra-liberal as David Broder or David Brinkley.
And, y'know, fine; pundits aren't supposed to straddle fences, but it'd be nice if they at least had to pretend to watch out for bird shit and barbed wire. The fact that the post-war "conservative" tradition was informed by galloping fantasy and willful inaccuracy, poured copiously over a bed of groundless paranoia--the reason why the so-called liberal media was so-called liberal, to the extent it was--was never addressed. Will just donned his little I'm-so-unfashionable-you're-supposed-to-imagine-I'm-serious bowtie, and got to spout his monarchist claptrap as though it had some intellectual currency. And it still is news.
And once on the stage Will was permitted to simply ignore all the other actors. Is there some other explanation for how the Republican party is the party of incontinent tax-cutting thirty years after it was demonstrated to be a failure and a fraud? For the disparity between Ronald Reagan, "conservative" mythological hero, and Ronald Reagan, actual and addled titular head of the most corrupt administration since Grant's? The punditry weeps, openly, that the 2012 campaign could be "reduced" to discussing a "settled issue" like contraception, but we've had forty years of punditry which pretended the "ethical" opposition to reproductive freedom had no connection whatsoever to institutionalized Bronze Age patriarchy. The same bastards who marched us off to twin disasters in the Middle East now demand war with Iran and are taken seriously rather than being trussed up like Mussolini's mistress.
This has done no one any good. What it's done to "conservatism" is on view at the National Review, Will's first sinecure, which started out as a plutocratic, racist, fatuous High Church organ and has managed to go downhill; what it's done to the Republican party was clearly displayed by Sarah Palin in the three years before the current Clown Car to the Nomination got in gear; what it's done to the country, well, look around. Will is supposedly one of his party's deep-thinkers who are perturbed by this "sudden" turn of events, even as his undisclosed wife worked mostly undisclosedly for the biggest buffoon save one. How long is it going to be before we admit that that is part of the problem? If you didn't realize what the Republican party was becoming over the past three decades your place on the ash heap of history is unfairly vacant.
But here's Will:
Two policies of the Obama administration illustrate an axiom: As government expands, its lawfulness contracts. Consider the administration’s desire to continue funding UNESCO and to develop a national curriculum for primary and secondary education.
Izzat enough for you? I hope so. The utter lawlessness of the Obama administration is perfectly illustrated by its attempts to gain a waiver for funding UNESCO, and by talking to states interested in a voluntary adoption of national standards. Texas has already opted out, by the way, lest it be forced to teach History. Again, the measure of our total fucked-upedness is that Texas imagined it would be included in the first place.
Friends, when George Eff Will was born, Pearl Harbor was still seven months away. He was, in other words, an intelligent teenager when the whole of Dixie shut down its public schools rather than comply with Brown. In his 70 years the United States has engaged in more than fifty military conflicts; precisely two involved a Declaration of War, and both of those occurred before he was a year old. He undoubtedly knows, and maybe even recalls, the United States government trying to prevent American citizens from gaining employment in the movie industry, because of what they thought, or used to think. He certainly remembers the Bay of Pigs, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and the secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia. He probably picked up a word or two about the FBI's program to entice Sixties Radicals into blowing shit up, and provide the hardware. I'm sure Nixon's domestic programs, including the Plumbers, caught his attention for a week or two. What he knows about Debategate, the Iranian hostage deal, Iran-Contra and the willful violation of the Boland amendment he might not want to mention. All that's before Bush's signing statements, the Patriot Act, the retroactive immunity given international telecommunications conglomerates for illegally spying on every living American, and the shredding of the Geneva Conventions and the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to the Constitution, in the name of the Holy War On Terra In Perpetuity.
For that matter, we might point out that the worst example of government overreach before George W. Bush became President, with the approval of George Eff Will, occurred during the John Adams administration. So much for government expansion being the root of the problem.
But, yeah, sure. Asking for a waiver of a fifteen-year-old pro-AIPAC piece of shit legislation, and talking to state officials who might want to consider actually improving education in some way? That's how Hitler got started.