Tuesday, September 21

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Why does Ross Douthat have a job, again? Part 637

LOOK, Ross-boy, I'd be happy to ignore Christine O'Donnell; it's precisely the sort of thing I spend a lot of energy, on a regular basis, doing my best to ignore. If you think we all ought to live on a higher plane, eschew the cheap, the tawdry, and the facile guffaw, let's do so. You start.

And another thing: I don't really care that your party nominates idiots. It is, after all, a tried-and-true strategy for gaining a majority in Congress. But do you have to idolize them? Jesus Christ.
[C]an I make just one request? Can we officially retire the notion that liberals don’t like the culture war? That it’s something foisted on them by knuckle-dragging conservatives? That they would prefer to only talk about Very Serious Economic Policies, and that they hate the way the right wing keeps dragging the conversation around to sex and God and all the rest of it?

Sure. Can I make a request? Would you finally take a look at your oeuvre and die of embarrassment already?

You're thirty years old. Yes, it's hard to believe; I remain unconvinced that it's your chronological age, rather than some sort of average of your teenage beard, twentysomething html show-off persona, and seventy-year-old political outlook. There's been a "culture war" as long as you've been alive, and, unlike David "Springsteen fan" Brooks, you've been on the same side all that time. This means it is way, way too late for you to be making a crack about "your side does it too-ooo" without sounding for all the world like a miffed slumber-party attendee. If this really was the principled battle you pretend it to be, and not the accumulated disgruntlement because your Supreme Being won't let you zap everyone who disagrees with you with His Holy Lightning, you'd have gotten this stuff out of your system before you could drive.

Hell, yes, I enjoy it. What's not to enjoy? Some twenty-seven-year-old would-be Christian theologian with terminal mall hair publicly denounces masturbation; a decade later she's your nominee for a Senate seat, and you rush to defend her like she's a White Flower some Negro lad winked at. Sheesh, my one regret is that Jean Arthur and Preston Sturges aren't still with us to turn screwball into screwball comedy. You expect people to refrain from laughing? Did your parents even let you out of the house before your 21st birthday?

Really, if I get a request to match yours, it's this: let's have an honest Culture War, instead of an interminable pandering. No more pretending your moral objection to abortion is distinct from your objection to contraception. No more pretending you don't think masturbation, and pornography, are identical to adultery. No more running and hiding, as here, by claiming you aren't speaking about governmental coercion. The only time you explicitly take it out of politics is when you know you don't have the votes (which just happens to be most of the time); the minute you think Terry Schiavo is a jim-dandy opportunity you're on it like a drunken priest on a particularly dewey altarboy.
This is just further fuel for polarization, since it’s prompted conservative Christians to rally around O’Donnell just as they rallied around Palin. But more importantly, it’s a sign that in their heart of hearts, liberals love the culture wars too.

You put a loaded pistol in your mouth, then accuse your opponents of being insufficiently anti-suicide when they don't try to stop you.

But let's just get our history straight, if nothing else. Your people rallied around Sarah Palin before T Bogg had a chance to throw out the first snark. They did so, you may recall, because the campaign decided to release the news that she couldn't keep her own daughter unsullied. GOP delegates weren't heading back to the hotel to catch up on leftwing blogger reaction; they were watching the networks, and hearing questions about Palin's fitness for office and mental capabilities (sometimes, when the mic was supposed to be off, from the Right). And rightly so. But, conveniently, the natural level of mainstream news coverage is always biased against you whenever the news is bad, so you get to claim Palin as some sort of backlash, rather than the paragon of Stupidity Trumps Reason. (Doubly interesting in your case since, like Brooks, you won't come out and say it, and you have to flatter her admirers come Hell or high water: "As with Palin before her," you say, O'Donnell's "vulnerable to all sorts of possible attacks, and whose record and qualifications and positions provide plenty of fodder for either a high-minded, issues-based critique, or a more no-holds-barred assault on her honesty and integrity." That's not an opinion; it's boilerplate from the warranty for a particularly shoddy piece of merchandise.)

O'Donnell's no different. She's not rallied 'round on the issues, but because she appears to represent what you think Liberals don't like. And if they'd just forego making fun of her, why, this sort of thing would crawl back to the church basements and feed stores and Klan rallies where it belongs, and Reason would rule again.

Sure it would, Ross.


poicephalus said...

Nice job.
Square and flush.


R. Porrofatto said...

I expect candidates for the U.S. Senate and NY Times columnists to listen to what they are saying and at least know when it sounds really stupid, whether it's O'Donnell saying "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains" or Douthat writing "Can we officially retire the notion that liberals don’t like the culture war?" etc.

Also, it's dishonest hackery to do this kind of thing:
She concluded: “You’re going to be pleasing each other. And if he already knows what pleases him, and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?”
… In other words, masturbation is wrong because you do it alone, outside the “moral order” of social relations in which you’re supposed to perform your proper function.

That little ellipsis before "In other words" is where Saletan placed two substantial citations of Church orthodoxy on wanking, which is what he was putting into "other words." I keep forgetting Ross is a young Republican intellectual, so I shouldn't be surprised.

nanute said...

Next thing you know, we'll be hearing that scientists are cross breeding humans and vegetables; giving us pea brains. Oh wait, that's already happened. Never mind.

Fiddlin Bill said...

My question is, is the state of Deleware going to put this utter incompetent in the Senate to represent them? Perhaps there's a golden pipeline going straight from DuPont's coffers to Ms. O'Donnell's bank account? And have you noticed this developing GOP trend--put up actors for election. Started at least with Reagan. Actors have learned to read their lines.

Fiddlin Bill said...

Cutting to the chase, Tbogg offers a 20/20 glimpse at the real person behind the smoke and mirrors today:


Anonymous said...

Say, bub, that's what they used to call a good, old-fashioned whuppin'! Mr. Douthat is gonna need a donut pillow to sit on for the next few days, methinks. While we're on the subject, did young Ross miss the part of the Constitution that says something about "...make no law respecting...establishment of religion...?" New rule, OK? Keep your imaginary friend out of politics, and we won't make your religious sects pay any taxes. "Render unto Caesar..." etc. You know, that's in your favorite book...or don't you read past the "Old" part of the Testament? Wanker...

bjkeefe said...

All right. I am going to get the Blogger Ethics Panel on my ass by posting a comment before reading any other comments, and indeed, before even reading the post.

Because out of some crazy sense of Giving Ross Another Chance, I decided to look at his post first. And oh, lord:

... a writer as smart and sober-minded as Saletan ...

Bad craziness, as the man once said. And kill me now, as that other guy said.

bjkeefe said...

Oh, wow. Okay, now I have read the post.

Savage. And deserved. Righteous.

I wish I knew words good enough to express how much I am in awe of your insight and your writing.