I said yesterday that I didn't know who'd win, and it wasn't because I doubted the oracle of West 43rd Street. It was because, in a weird way perhaps related to my long attention to wingnuts and the strange empathy with them that has engendered, I took one of their points: That a party with a raidable coalition whose champion presided over a weak economy had to be vulnerable.
That was why conservatives were so gloomy and doomy in 2008: They knew Bush had wrecked the party, and all the hobgoblins that emerged from the wreckage -- from Mark Foley to Sarah Palin -- made the opening for Democrats so big that they could even beat them with a black guy.
That was weird, because for years boogiemen were something GOP apparatchiks tied to the otherparty. I assumed that in 2012, as Obama hadn't improved things much in the here and now -- yeah, I know about all the new jobs, and they're not enough; the fundamental economic weaknesses and inequalities I've been griping about since the Bush years are still there -- the GOP would have room to Willie Horton and Al Sharpton their way into the amygdalae of enough gomers to win.
But a weird thing happened: During the campaign, instead of tying Democrats to weirdos, the Republicans generated a flood of their own. Again! And here conservatives turned out to be a big, fat liability for their cause. As Republican after Republican made crackpot comments about rape, contraception, and abortion, the GOP's rightwing brain trust unfailingly followed up and said, yeah, that's what we believe, that's what we've always believed.
And because the conventional wisdom had always been that autonomous, sexually active women and the men who love them are just a fringe constituency, instead of questioning the wisdom of attacking them, the big brains questioned the wisdom of having Sandra Fluke speak at the Democratic Convention.
I always knew this issue was a winner for the Democrats, but now I'm beginning to think that it affected everything else as well. That is, Romney's crackpot economic and environmental policies might have had more traction with voters if so many of them were not convinced that he represented and was listening to a bunch of lunatics who were totally out of touch with how human beings live. In tough times, you might go for a small-government reformer who says he has a plan to turn things around if you trust him. Americans have bought bigger grifters than Romney; a lot of them haven't even figured that the nice old man who unleashed the markets in the 1980s set them up for the hard times we have now.
Who knows what a Romney campaign might have achieved if he'd decisively cut loose the Erick Erickson contingent and run like a man trying to be governor of Massachusetts? The question was moot before the first GOP caucus vote. That was their problem
The election's tight, so the racket is to yell "we're winning" in a loud voice till the votes are counted. (And if you have a little lung power left over, bitch about the liberal media.) We that have free souls, it touches us not, and we take our pleasures where we can. I'm enjoying the brethren's reaction to Obama'sRolling Stone interview -- especially the Ayn Rand bit:
[Obama:] Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.
Yeah, you can guess. Let's start with Katrina Trinko, National Review's current delegate from the Youth of Today:
Sure, there’s a few libertarians who would love to abolish the safety net and slash government programs. But that’s not the party platform, or what Romney is setting out to do. Not to mention that plenty of conservatives would rather establish a safety net more concentrated, not in individuals’, but in other types of community: church, clubs, extended family.
You know, like in the Middle Ages.
What if Obama had faced Ron Paul or Rick Santorum? If this is your rhetoric against Mitt Romney, what the heck do you have left for those who hold positions even further right?
AKA the "hey, you should see the nutjobs we wanted to nominate" argument.
One last question: isn’t this an extraordinarily lame cover outfit/pose for the cover?
For perspective, this appears on the same page as Kathryn J. Lopez telling Lena Dunham Republicans aren't "super uncool," she's super uncool, infinity. Man. They all still dream of being backup posers in a heavy-rotation video starring Alex P. Keaton and Der Ahnold, don't they?
Of course at libertarian stroke book Reason Brian Doherty is furious adjusting his spectacles:
Obama Thinks Ayn Rand is For Teens (For Predictably Childish Reasons)
Correction -- furious adjusting his spectacles with one hand, furiously retucking his shirt with the other.
There is nothing "narrow" about Rand's vision except in that it created moral boundaries in which most of the functions of Obama's government would be seen as illegitimate, because they use threats and violence against non-aggressors to achieve social goals.
New to America, are you, Brian?
Nathaniel Branden, Rand's ideological lieutenant in the 1960s, sums up well the problem with most people trying to blithely critique Rand as Obama does. It can be found quoted on page 542 of my book Radicals for Capitalism...
Page 542! So that's why I never saw anyone reading it on the beach this summer.
Hilarious as this is, it's not a patch on what the non-heavily-Koch-funded libertarians are dishing. The Objective Standard argues with Obama's interpretation:
Rand utterly rejected the notion that one should live an isolated life. She recognized that a crucial way we “develop ourselves” and pursue our rational self-interest is by building strong relationships with other people, whether in business, friendship, romance, or any other kind of life-serving relationship. Rand wrote hundreds of pages about the virtues and benefits of collaborating with others to mutual advantage.
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, don't it? It's like the Garden of Eden, except that Adam, having rationally decided that the weakling Eve is just slowing him down, kills her, wears her skin for warmth, and then demands that God produce another, worthier partner for him because this is what the genius of the marketplace demands, whereupon God decides the whole thing was a horrible mistake and obliterates the universe. Ah, what might have been.
But listen, it's not all deep analysis. Look at what I found at Objectivism for Intellectuals:
Just because they stim instead of laughing doesn't mean they don't have a sense of humor.
FIGHTIN' KEYBOARDERS CALLED BACK INTO ACTION. We'll probably be reading a lot of idiotic stuff about Fort Hood, but it'll be hard to top this from Robert Stacy McCain:
The people who want to kill you are not Tea Party protesters or accountants from Saranac Lake, N.Y. They're not Kentucky populists or Belgian radicals.
Anyone who wants to distract you from real dangers by telling you to fear this week's pet bogeyman -- global warming! creationists! Ron Paul! -- is not your friend. They are fools and liars who cannot be trusted. They are objectively evil.
The only through-line I can detect in this incoherent gush is this: Liberals are trying to distract you so their friend the Arab terrorist can kill you. So don't shit your pants like they want you to -- shit your pants like Robert Stacy McCain wants you to!
There are other contenders. For example, there's Linda Chavez at Commentary, who attempts to portray President Obama's delivery of planned remarks to a Native American affairs conference before announcing the Fort Hood situation as the equivalent of "President Bush’s 'Pet Goat' moment on 9/11." First of all, Obama was, in the face of crisis, taking care of business rather than, as our last President did, shitting his pants; second, how refreshing to hear a conservative acknowledge there was something weird about "President Bush’s 'Pet Goat' moment on 9/11."
There will be plenty of small-time nutcakes making fools of themselves (like Mad Americans Club, which raves "Obama wants to honor these type of actions with a United States Stamp! USPS New 44-Cent Stamp!!! Celebrates Muslim holiday," apparently referring to this), but the more well-known and respectable rightbloggers are soiling themselves as badly as any of those.
The reason's simple, and the same as it was during 9/11: they think soiling oneself is a sign of patriotism, and consider those who pants are not full of shit to be traitors.
The White House release is incomplete at this time, which I can't approve. (More names are expected later this year.) But I'm heartened that its content suggests the Administration knows how to drive its opposition nuts on purpose.
The White House went out of its way to alert readers that some names recorded in the logs were not those of the people you might think they are -- the visitors Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, for example, were not the famous preacher and radical, respectively.
Megan McArdle realizes she hasn't pretended to be Above the Fray for a while, and goes on about how wrong it is to call even Obama a fascist. Her commenters, nearly to a man (and trust me, they're all men), prove an Army of Jonah Goldbergs ("I think fascism is a sufficiently distinct superset of Nazism that it still deserves useful life on its own"), and say it was LaRouchites (who are Democrats!) who called Obama Hitler so why are you hitting yourself?
Try to imagine making such a basic proposition as Our President is Not the Living Embodiment of Adolf Hitler and getting such an overwhelmingly negative response from your readers. I bet her next post is about puppies or how when you get married you have to buy stockings or some shit.
Meanwhile Ace of Spades calls Obama a Nazi For Reals (wow, I didn't know Ace was a LaRouchite) because the NEA had a focus group about a government ad campaign. Don't tell Ace that all those ads for fire prevention and against drugs (of the sort he sees when he wakes up in the middle of the night and finds the TV still on) are produced by the government -- it'll really blow his mind.
Can't we somehow spread the word that Obama is really an anarcho-syndicalist? I'd like to hear them try and pronounce it.
I predicted they'd go after Obama for Richard Pryor. They're getting closer. After a detour -- Malcolm X? Blogger, please! -- Human Events' Evan Gahr goes after "Obama's Other Jeremiah Wrights," namely Ludacris and Jay-Z. After tittilating Human Events readers with some expurgated lyrics, Gahr says:
Obama thus far has equivocated on rappers. He has criticized their language, but adamantly refused to denounce the whole sordid genre as the unique cultural problem that it is.Suppose we apply this root-and-branch approach to country music. From the old murder ballads through the works of modern-era superstars, we can see a normative attitude toward drink, drugs, and violence against women. Many country songs promote alcoholism, loyalty to anti-social homies, and brawling. Even the female stars are getting in on the act, a sure sign of social breakdown.
Yet John McCain has failed to denounce country music. Maybe Gahr can persuade him to appear in an appropriate venue -- Gilley's, perhaps -- for a Sister Souljah moment. I would advise him to bring plenty of chicken wire.
During Benedict XVI's American tour, you may tire of watching the pontiff work his small range of expressions and resemblances (when he is enthused and engaged, Dracula; when he is not, Sam Jaffe in The Scarlet Empress). But conservative bloggers -- whether out of allegiance to Opus Dei or just out of collegial feelings for a fellow dogmatist -- are riveted. From The Corner at National Review comes this awestruck Michael Novak reportage from the Pope's D.C. lodgings:
...hanging on the wall, a life size portrait of [Benedict] by the great Russian ÃƒÂ©migrÃƒÂ© painter, Igor Babailov.
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio, said in advance that the portrait catches the popeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shyness, strength, and almost physical presence, in stirring colors of light gold against the dark.An "almost physical presence"? Maybe it's actually a hologram that blinks on and off. Also:
Best of all, the figure of the risen Christ towers above Pope Benedict...If Benedict is, as Novak says, "life size" in the picture, and Christ towers above him, the whole thing must be the size of a small billboard. Imagine being comfortable with a near-mural starring oneself in one's apartment -- especially one that, "in its style and presentation," Novak reports, "reaches back to the traditions of the great artists of the Renaissance." I imagine this would be a little much for Siegfried and Roy, let alone a simple man of God.
But this ostentation is just funny; some forms of Pope worship are creepier. At the Weekly Standard, Mark Shea compares the relationship between Benedict and Americans to that of St. Paul and the Corinthians -- and no, I didn't mean "American Catholics," because neither does Shea: he means the lot of us, whom he blasts as a "Paris Hilton kind of people" with "a culture that is desperately in need of the clarity, humility, beauty, and love of Christ that [Benedict] preaches with such marvelous grace."
So if you ain't a congregent, you best congregate anyway! And if you aren't so inclined, too bad, because the TV stations are all tuned to the former Inquisitor performing his Stations of the Crass: zipping around in his motorized vitrine, listening to ecclesiastical yammering (where the dazed Sam Jaffe look comes into play), and explaining to Americans (alongside their despised leader) that they aren't entitled to freedom, because it isn't a right at all -- just something God grants. If you're lucky. And he's in a good mood.