Thursday, January 6


William Saletan, "Boehner's Brakes: Will John Boehner's House rules screw up the GOP?" January 6

REAGANTOT, n. 1. An American, or Canadian (see Brooks, David; Frum, David) who came to majority during the administration of Ronald Wilson "Dutch", "Gipper", "Great Communicator", "Republican #1", "The Quipmeister", "Mr. Brain Bubbles", "Ol' Carrot Top" Reagan, or during its penumbra in the early Bush I years, or who reached the stage of Compulsory Current Events Studies in his secondary education during that period, and who, in the interim, has evinced no sign of ever having noticed the yawning chasm between the actual results of Reagan's policies--i.e., the incredible downward spiral of that self-same "America" ever since "Morning", all, or essentially all of the Reagantot's adult life--and the risibly transparent fabrications of his legion of hagiographers. 2. A subset of that group whose unending and inexplicable fealty to a set of thirty-year-old bumpersticker slogans neither Reagan nor his, and their, party ever felt themselves personally constrained by, nor obliged to defend, in public, where the potential cost to one's career, income, or avoidance of military service exceeded zero, appears to be more than passingly related to an adolescence/young adulthood subsumed by resentment at the Hippie/Stoner/"Freebird"/Ridgemont High popular culture which may have then dominated teenaged society in whatever section of the Prairie the budding young Reagantot inhabited, and whose enactors enjoyed things such as sex, drugs, physical activity, the ability to drive, and freedom from accordion lessons he could only dream of (see Brooks, David; Frum, David; Reynolds, Glenn). Whether the resultant confusion of the sartorial and pharmaceutical choices of the popular 80s teen with the stereotypical media image of the 60s counterculturist, and subsequent unthinking, almost visceral reaction to the social and political movements the 1950s and 60s, is purely the result of hormonal mazement and permanent sexual juvenility, or the later realization that a solid career could be obtained by changing "Those punks who stuffed me in my locker in 1982" to "Liberal Democrats", is still a matter of debate. 3. By extension, someone who exhibits the characteristics of the Reagantot without meeting the chronology exactly, but is suspected of having undergone a delayed adolescence or some earlier "Freebird"-related trauma. See entries at Lileks, James and Anachronism, Mildly Amusing the First Twenty Times We Heard It.
Boehner's rules won't help the House do the people's will. They won't help it accomplish anything else, either. They'll gum up the works. Which is bad news if you're a Republican activist. But it's good news if you're an old-fashioned conservative.

Saletan certainly doesn't consider himself one, just someone who's eager to make common cause with any person or group promising to bollox up the legislative process, either intentionally or though the flagrant insanity of his core principles, thus paving the way for a permanent tax rate which should ensure the National Parks become open to condo developers within a decade. This will leave time for the House to hammer out the details of that Abortion compromise Saletan worked out, plus, with any luck, a new war or two he can support for its first fifteen minutes, assuring a lifetime of employment on one of Slate's annual "What We Got Wrong" roundtables.
This is the philosophy Boehner captured in his criticism of efficiency and fast legislating. When people are unhappy, as they are in this recession, there's tremendous pressure on politicians to do something. Sometimes what they do helps. But sometimes it makes things worse. A Republican activist looks at the last two years and thinks: "What a mess. A Democratic spending spree and a health-care monstrosity. Let's move fast and undo their mistakes." A conservative looks at the last decade and thinks: "What a mess. An unnecessary war, a Republican spending spree, a Democratic spending spree, and a health-care monstrosity. Let's slow down before we make another mistake."

In his speech, Boehner asserted that last November, "the people voted to end business as usual" in Washington. Maybe so, but Boehner's rules would go further. They would end business altogether. That's why I doubt he'll stick with them. But for the country's sake, I hope he does.

Look at the Reagantotage at work here: Government is axiomatically the Problem (which The Gipper was fond of announcing too, right up to the point where he got hold of its Purse); spending is always bad; legislation is always abstruse, inept, time-consuming, and monstrously expensive, unless we get another superfluous aircraft carrier or unneeded bomber program we can name after Reagan out of it.

How does one get there? Privilege? Indolence? Or by absorbing that cheap partisanship at a tender age, when one was too young to understand it was merely intended to hoodwink enough working Americans into giving the wealthy a permanent governing supermajority? Even supposing that Saletan approves because it will play havoc with the sort of Republican legislation he's not particularly interested in, the sort that doesn't invade wombs or other countries, this is like praying for salmonella so you won't have to eat your vegetables.

These are not your issues, oh Spawn of Reagan. You're making mouths in a glass. You're Mickey Rooney aping every new car or fedora Clark Gable ever purchased. It's just like you do not remember a time when American women did not have a Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, one which was continually under threat, yet you act as though that right has shifted the ground you used to trod. It's bullshit. Reform of the most overpriced and least effective health care system in the First World, which was at least twenty years overdue, is the only mutherfuggin' social legislation enacted in your lifetime, which has seen thirty years of the social net being slashed while Defense budgets go up and up and up. It's at least argued that public health care will reduce costs; the alternative view now seems to be that it will unfairly, and unAmericanly, deprive the insurance companies their chance to complete the skinning of the public the banks have so nobly advanced. A goddam year ago this same Boehner-led Republican party was promising to propose its own legislation to address the problem; funny how once the political wind shifted (cough cough) that problem disappeared.

Honest to god, man; Lileks is still being oppressed by his mother's shag carpeting. Take note. Middle age really is beyond the time when you should start thinking about problems as problems, even if you truly don't believe they're solvable. If your personal bottom line is more important to you that the fate of 95% of your fellow citizens, may I suggest that it's also a great time to consider a second, more fitting career? Online sports betting, say. Or meat processing.


Sator Arepo said...

"How does one get there? Privilege?"


Kathy said...

Will John Boehner's House rules screw up the GOP?

Is it possible for the GOP to get any worse? Let's sit back and watch. Better keep a sturdy plastic sheet on hand (like Gallagher fans) though. God knows what things the GOP will explode over all the country.

bjkeefe said...

... (which The Gipper was fond of announcing too, right up to the point where he got hold of its Credit Card) ...


concerned out west said...

Slightly off topic, but a harmful meme is being perpetrated here. Or something. A slope is being slipped on.

The Gipper wasn't really the Gipper, you know. He just played a guy called the Gipper in a movie.

It's like, whoa, robust, President the Gipper, what a d00d. But he wasn't the real Gipper. He just pretended to be the Gipper, the way Paul pretended to be the walrus.

Where the Reagantots got screwed by life, and terminally disoriented, they were never given a chance to ponder the fact that a first-class president would have guys in movies named after him, rather than being named after a guy in a movie.

Just saying.

StringonaStick said...

Well, Concerned, it does seem fitting though since St. Ronnie bought the idea of Star Wars based on some realistic animation (and creeping senility) carefully produced and shown to him by select defense contractors/bloodsuckers.

I truly think St. Ronnie died believing he really was the Gipper. His lickspittle followers believe it now, without the convenient Alzheimer's excuse.