Monday, October 15

Political Science Discovers Problem For Which "Non-functioning Third Nipple" Is The Solution!

William Saletan, "Foreign Exchange: On defense and foreign policy, Democrats talk like conservatives, and Republicans talk like liberals".  October 12

OKAY, maybe you accept Slate's double-special-triple-reverse wrong-footed contrarianism as something resembling a marketing idea on some theoretical planet (if you do, kindly explain it to me). Maybe you accept it as a continuation of the sort of blithering nonsense teevee leftists like Michael Kinsley started spouting in the 80s after their party suffered two disheartening loses to a transparent half-witted huckster like Ronald Reagan. And/or  after they'd listened to the half of their party which cooperated with "Psycho Dick" Nixon blame '68 and '72 on the other half.  Dishwater centrism apparently seemed like a decent place to tread water in those days, at least to a certain brand of careerist. Admit your sin, boy! Just confess a grudging admiration for all that the Gipper has accomplished, and you'll be drawin' paychecks from one billionaire or another forever.

So maybe you're a lot more generous than I. That still doesn't explain Saletan. Nothing does. For the life of me, "Republicans talk like this, Democrats talk like this" had to be getting tiresome to college sophomores by the mid-80s, didn't it? How did it come to be so ingrained in so many people? I don't get it. I mean, it's not like you're still listening to Night Ranger or something. It's not like there was some special Huey Lewis Fan cachet that got you laid, and you still wear as an amulet. You should have been questioning that Faux Balance bullshit then. You would at least have understood it was a political construct, not a philosophical one. You would at least have understood that the reason the American right wasn't given coequal status in our political debate before Nixon was that it was clinically insane, then as now. It was dead wrong about Civil Rights, it was dead wrong about the Cold War and Vietnam, it was dead wrong about the Culture War. Then as now. In the 70s people surveyed the wreckage of America's grand idea of Itself, the flotsam and jetsam of Jim Crow, Watergate, and the enormity of our attempt to reinstate colonialism, and said "Let's run for cover at Ozzie and Harriet's place." Or just elect Ronald Reagan.

I don't get it. I understood what they were up to then; I sure expected the following generation to call bullshit. One fucking look was enough to tell you who was on the wrong side of Civil Rights. And why, and why they still are. One fucking look tells you all you need to know about the history of the US in Indochina; why does the fabulous version still hold sway? (Why does one of those POW/MIA flags fly over my local post office, a monument to cheap political theatrics and zero attention spans?) I'm sorry to go all Old Joe Biden on you, but look: you were supposed to outgrow your fascination with Ayn Rand before you turned 21, and by the time you were 22 you were supposed to understand that the proper response, in retrospect, was embarrassment over the whole thing. If you didn't, for some reason (serious concussion, brown acid, bad potty training), then you were at least supposed to understand you were reading an atheist, not wait until you were a 40-year-old dairy cowtown Congressman to have it explained to you. And I do not believe that, as an adult, you take a critical look at the question of reproductive rights and conclude that the answer is to split the difference. It isn't. That's the one thing we do know. You believe one thing, or you believe another. If you're gonna turn out this sort of drivel insisting on some faux intellectual consistency in entire political parties, then kindly display some yourself. Either abortion is murder, or it ain't, and if you believe it is, then make arguments about exemptions to murder. Everyone who says "Abortions should be available, but there should be some restrictions to make them difficult or impossible to obtain"--the majority of Americans, so say the pollsters--is, simply, ill- or un-informed, and/or a liar. Anyone encouraging the idea as an objective compromise is that, and worse.
Here’s what we learned from last night’s vice-presidential debate. On domestic policy, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stand for self-sufficiency, compromise, and reducing the government’s rate of growth. Barack Obama and Joe Biden stand for generosity, firmness, and maintaining projected spending. On foreign and defense policy, it’s exactly the opposite. Obama and Biden stand for self-sufficiency, compromise, and cutting back budgetary increases. Romney and Ryan stand for generosity, firmness, and higher spending growth.

So fucking what? People who believe that everything ought to proceed according to some supposed truism (who have been known as ideologues since the 19th century) are often the first to abandon those ideas when there's a buck to be made. Is there really anyone who argues this way? No. Is there really anyone whose argument can be fairly characterized this way? No. There are Republicans who want to eliminate all social spending, at least ideologically. Are there any Democrats who want to eliminate all Defense spending?

Good Lord, it's as if, having excised Hypocrisy from the list of sins, lest the modern-day parishioner take his money and go home, we find some cartoon version to make fun of when we're pressed for a topic for this week's sermon. What intellectual difference is there between this and Rick Santorum's notion about gay marriage and sex with household pets? There are clear, substantive arguments about social spending and about defense. It's possible to want to raise one and lower the other, and remain consistent. And th' fuck are we explaining inconsistency to the Reverse Corkscrew Non-Contrarian Contrarians at Slate?
If you watched the debate to find out where the candidates stand on specific issues, the exchange was informative.

I take it that's some sort of journalism in-joke?
But if you hoped to find out which ticket shares your values, good luck. You can vote for the party of self-sufficiency, flexibility, and slower spending growth, or you can vote for the party of compassion, clarity, and sustained financial commitments. But first you’ll have to decide whether you want those principles at home or abroad.

"Principles". What distinguishes the beliefs of the self-described moderate Republican from stupid shit the party he votes for actually does.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Maybe you accept it as a continuation of the sort of blithering nonsense teevee leftists like Michael Kinsley started spouting

That's where I place my acceptance.