Monday, June 21

Shut Up, He (Tried To) Explain

Ross Douthat, "The Agony of the Liberals". June 21

THIS started for me at the Race Day Soirée we attend, when my neighbor, the dyed-in-the-wool-headed "conservative" "libertarian" with the framed Reagan/Bush reelection campaign poster in his garage, the one who left his Bush/Cheney 2000 yard sign up until after the Inauguration, asked my Poor Wife and I what we read of the Sunday Times he so kindly tosses over the fence for us when he's finished. He added how much he was enjoying the fact that "now even the Times" was "giving Obama a hard time" which he found "pretty funny".

Reader, I'm a tolerant man, philosophically, and only philosophically. I resist the urge to treat every "conservative", "libertarian" or no, as though he were a largely unexamined bundle of Christian morality tales for Children, stultifying nationalism that takes itself for patriotism, self-aggrandizement, barely-contained racism, FOX News rejoinders, and some self-fulfilling half-assed notions of the law, the Constitution, and US history which cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny, simply because that adequately describes every last one I've ever met. Aside from the outright clinical cases.

I mean, there must be some, right? You'd think the Times could find one, or even two.

Let's just go back to that statement for a moment. This comes from a guy who reads the Week in Review every Sunday, or at least folds the pages back. So he's had the theoretical ability, at least, to read That Dowd Woman since Senator Obama announced his candidacy; he might've noted the forced and belated apology for Judith Miller launching the Iraq War; if it was his habit back before they moved next door he could've read the Gore-sliming of MoDo and Frank Rich, and the factual Gore-sliming of Kit Seelye, and, before that, the comic fiction of Jeff Gerth. Yet, somehow, the Times is both epitome and pinnacle of Liberalism, and the fact that even they now criticize the President is proof positive that he's the worst failure in history, and everyone admits it.

He's fifty, my neighbor, meaning, if you'd care to do the math, prime Reagantot, David-Brooks-Without-the-Road-to-Damascus-Moment, no chance in hell he'd've been conscripted to put his warlust into practice; his natural inclination toward Regional Sales was reinforced during his sexual peak--and the most-likely-simultaneous peak of his indifferent political awareness--by the whole Morning in America crap pile. Meaning that between the Age of Majority and the time last year his teenaged daughter decided she was a Democrat, the only substantive political debates he's either entered into, or deigned to witness, were the imaginary sort that leaves one's opponents bawling like the little girls they are. And it's at least even money an erection was involved, at least metaphorically.

Dude, you been talking to yourself for thirty years! Which means I'm not quite certain what to make of Douthat, who apparently has been talking to himself since before he could talk:
They doubted him during the health care debate. They second-guessed his Afghanistan policy. They’ve fretted over his coziness with Wall Street and his comfort with executive power.

But now is the summer of their discontent. From MSNBC to “The Daily Show,” from The Huffington Post to the halls of Congress, movement liberals have had just about enough of Barack Obama.

Y'know, Ross, this reminds me: every time I read you I'm tempted to ask if 1) you play poker, and 2) what a seat costs. 'Cos son, that's a Tell a man could back a Brinks truck inta.

Let's just forget that notion of "movement" liberalism--aside from the cartoonish MSNBC, in Cartoon Land, there is no such thing--as well as the idea that Barack Obama is a paragon of Liberalism. He's a fucking Centrist. How much plainer could he have made that from Day One? How many times does it have to be diagrammed for you? Who d'ya think all those people will be voting for in 2012? Let's concentrate for a moment on George W. Bush.

Yeah, I know: another Liberal changing the subject. I'm not, and I'm not, but just fucking listen to an argument that isn't either your own, or safely corruptible, for once.

Let's focus on two major disasters of the Bush administration: Domestic, and Foreign. Worst economic record since the War, worst spending since the War, worst wars since the (Vietnam) war, and worst two wars ever. Toss in Katrina, since you're intent on comparing a slow-motion natural disaster greatly compounded by an ideological objection to doing anything about it--or, perhaps more precisely, to doing anything for those people--with a massive man-made ecological disaster which is directly attributable to 1) this country's self-centered consumption mania, which has been egged on by the Republican party especially, and 2) the cult of corporatism, ditto, though most Democrats show up for regular worship there, too, or have since George McGovern nearly toppled Western civilization.

So, tell me, Ross, where were the fucking objections from "conservatives" while those were going on? Please; not the six or seven editorialists who sorta kinda cautioned about soaring deficits, then wholeheartedly backed two blank-check wars. You're the guys who're so opposed to debt, but you're always finding reasons to excuse it when you're in power. We had a week of public denial about the non-response to Katrina before anyone on the Right allowed as how the problem went deeper than the genetic aquaphobia of your average African. Y'all still love those little military adventures, despite the fact that it's been five years since either one could be remotely defended as sane or successful or serving some national purpose.

So, y'know, just fucking spare us the "even the liberal MSNBC" routine as a mark of "liberal" discombobulation. The most substantive criticism of the Obama administration has come from Glenn Greenwald, and that's since the election, back when your side was consumed with Messiah complexes and hatching Birther conspiracies. A lot of us would be happy to make common cause with y'all when possible, provided you ever decide to stop being batshit crazy.

Consider, instead, what it means that such criticism is never heard in your party until it's too late. Consider what that's meant, and what it's gotten you.


heydave said...

You may like being the neighborhood curmudgeon, but don't you ever just let them know they're fucking inbred morons to their faces? Dude, way too patient. Maybe it's me in my cranky ways talking. I can't tolerate nearly as well; guess I have to work on my Zen.

Kathy said...

Perhaps the greatest fear of our Corporate Kleptocratic Government is that Progressives and Regressives (wingnuts) might, possibly come together< over this gov/BP caused calamity in the Gulf; suddenly we'll realize who the REAL enemies & villains are: NOT the vacuous tbaggers with their misspelled signs; NOT the tree-hugging hippies with their "green"obsessions: the Enemy We've Met is NOT Us: it is Government aided and protected Corporate Greed.

The never-ending volcano of oil in the gulf which BP is BURNING, (along with Sea Turtles), Should bring us together, if not long enough to agree that abortion would best be halted by implementing thorough Sex Education Classes & Easy Access to Contraception, at least long enough to get a few ANTI-Corporate Rape Laws passed.

Watch how the Powers at Fox and all the other "media" outlets like NY Times work their asses off to continue to divide Americans, to exacerbate the anger and mistrust up to levels of murderous violence.

THANKS, DouchHat.

Augustus Mulliner said...

I dream of arranging a Christmas Carol-type visitation of Douthat by the ghosts of Gene Debs, Henry Wallace and Mother Jones. If his mattress were made entirely of polystyrene, he'd still soak right through it.

Mr. Riley, you're the wind beneath my wings, both right and left.

bjkeefe said...

@heydave: But then how would he get his free newspaper, to enjoy reading the columns he enjoys so much?

Sator Arepo said...

When one replaces all of one's ethics, morals, and aesthetics with love of capital, one reaps what one sows.

Douthat is a perfect exemplar of our current place in the world: an entitled, nouveaux riche bully douchebag, doing what we please with no regard for anyone else, and all the while daring anyone that will listen to suck our(collective and metaphorical) dick while simultaneously claiming the Moral High Ground(tm).

Christopher said...

The second vice is an overweening faith in theory. It’s now conventional wisdom among Obama’s liberal critics that the White House has been insufficiently ambitious about deficit spending. The economy is stuck in neutral, they argue, because Obama didn’t push last year’s recovery act up over a trillion dollars, and hasn’t pressed hard enough for a second major stimulus.

Technically, they could be right — but only in the same way that it’s possible that the Iraq War would have been a ringing success if only we’d invaded with a million extra soldiers. The theory is unfalsifiable because the policy course is imaginary. Maybe in some parallel universe there’s a Congress that would be willing to borrow and spend trillions in stimulus dollars, despite record deficits, if that’s what liberal economists said the situation required. But not in this one.

I like ("Like" might not be quite the right word) that one of the "intellectual vices" Douthat attributes to liberals essentially boils down to "They believe in liberalism".

Which... yeah, you'd have to imagine that they would.

How far back do you think I would have to go before I could find Ross saying that the President could succeed better if he did something other then what he's doing?

The question that gnaws at me is whether Ross really thinks he's being slick, or if he just doesn't give a shit.

desertscope said...

In some ways, I envy the right. No matter the choices of their leaders, those leaders chose *correctly, and the results are far better than they would have been with a liberal in charge.

*Note: occasionally, the leader does meet with the disapproval of the right wingers, but it is only to denounce them for "abandoning Conservative principles."

drip said...

this country's self-centered consumption mania is the root of the behavior of the government and corporate enterprises and the continued source of our tortured slide toward oblivion. Douhat can no more see that then we see air or a fish sees water. Bush's exhortation after 9/11 to head to the malls is just the most obvious example, but Obama's socialist urge to spend all our money on the uber-consumer DoD is just more of the same. "What about the jobs?" Douhat and your neighbor will ask. "What about them?" I reply. "If they're worried about the bottom line, they'll make more jobs when they can make more money with them than without them." As long as we keep consuming, its easy enough to make money with money. Who needs workers when you have consumers?

Great post.