Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"A Rose for Bobo" -- Part 2 of 4.



Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?

Consider that as the GOP has grown ever more violently unmoored from reality, Loyal Conservative David Brooks has remained right where you would expect him to be: from the pinnacle of journalism’s highest peak, he has take to skulking ever more quietly and irrelevantly around in the shadows, popping up every now and then to maunder about culture and brain chemistry and, really, just anything other than the contents of the very headlines his own paper publishes every day.

So of all the trivial cultural gingerbread about which Bobo usually opines, and of all current, topical issues that stomp bloody footprints across the front pages of every paper on the planet from which he usually hides, why this sudden, weird, almost-hormonally-berserk lashing out over a relatively peripheral issue?

I mean, Iraq is still undeniably a catastrophe -- a disastrous, destabilizing, currently-slightly-less-murderous-than-a-few-weeks-ago hole punched in the world, still without a government or a plan or a future. The Conservative Base is still losing its mind at an exponential rate. The dollar is plummeting. The housing market is looking more and more like what happened to Bambi’s mom. Our BFFs in Pakistan have decided to kick the hinges on Pandora’s Box a little harder. And the Party of God has apparently opted to run on an explicitly pro-torture and anti-sick-children platform with a brace of candidates whom they obviously despise…

…and Bobo has chosen this golden moment -- one positively thick with issues of genuine importance -- to gallop into the hinterlands and pick a fight over the fact that some unnamed people have been saying bad things about something Ronald Reagan said 27 years ago.

So here is the question:
What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports prompted this trivial hack to fall off the Irrelevancy Wagon and decided that the most important use of his pen and this time was to gurgle this particular bit of sticky discharge into his cocktail napkin?
And here, I suggest, is the answer:
Bobo was provoked into this asinine jeremiad precisely because of what those headlines scream louder and louder and louder every single day; that Modern Conservativism is exactly as big a fraud and a failure as the Dirty Fucking Hippies have been trying to tell you it was for the last 30 years.
Or (to put it into the Bobo Mother Tongue) as Wingnut Patron Saint Ayn Rand said in “Atlas Shrugged” (p. 924):
“You have destroyed all that which you have held to be evil and achieved all that which you have held to be good. Why then do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and image of your virtues.

It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection.

You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it…”
The headlines of his own newspaper are precisely the very public intersection where Bobo’s eyes-clamped-shut masturbatory fantasies about what he wishes his ideology were…

…collides violently with what it actually is.

And he cannot stand it.

Can’t stand that every Schiavo, every veto, every fraud, every freak falling out of every wingnut closet, every day and every dollar and every life lost in Iraq, every pilfered election -- all of it -- has all been brought to us courtesy of the Party of David Brooks.

That it is the conglomerate of bigots, Dominionists and “Fuck everybody but me”-libertarians all pulling in harness towards the abyss that makes Bobo’s machine move.

And the Grand Illusion that this is somehow not really true works specifically because modern Conservativism is not a rational ideology where all the facts are laid out like dry goods, sorted, weighed, counted and then action is decided upon.

Instead it is a rational-izing ideology: one that depends entirely on the moral and intellectual cowardice of men like David Brooks. Men who would turn instantly into pillars of genuine imported gourmet smoked Harima Sea Salt if they were ever compelled to look at the unvarnished truth of who they are and who they support.

Digby, as usually, understands perfectly what ball is really in play here:
The Republican tribe has worked for decades on two separate tracks. They know that their real philosophy and agenda is repellent to the majority of Americans so they all agree to keep it more or less under wraps at election time. But they do have to prove to each other that they are for real and the way to do it is through coded language and angering the left into making them look like heroes to the tribe.

Perlstein writes about the masterful use of these coded messages from the master himself:
For the suspicious, Romney's announcement in Dearborn recalled Ronald Reagan's notorious 1980 campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, Mississippi, mere miles from the site where, in 1964, Klansmen murdered three civil rights workers. Then, the symbolism was absolutely deliberate: Reagan pledged fealty to "states' rights," a concerted attempt to nudge the tribal identities of Southerners into the Republican column once and for all. But it didn't mean Reagan, or anyone in his audience, was for bringing back Klan terrorism any more than Romney has Michigan anti-Semites dusting off their copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Reagan's benefit from speaking at Philadelphia, Mississippi derived primarily from all that outrage that he spoke at Philadelphia, Mississippi. He stood up to the Yankees. He proved to Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and the rest that he felt their pain: tribally, he was one of them--just as Romney has just demonstrated oneness with conservatives sick of being called "fascists" by liberals.
...
So you see the GOP base is not really concerned with issues or even God, Family, Country. They are about hating liberals. (Many of them are about hating dark or foreign liberals in particular.) We can present a thousand ten point plans and say they should vote for us because their economic interests lie with liberal policies, but it won't make a bit of difference. We can point out their hypocrisy and flip-flops and it means nothing. Republican identity politics transcend such prosaic concerns as policy and political philosophy. It's all about whether you are one of them. If you can prove that then they could not care less what you once stood for. The only thing that will trip you up is being insufficiently hostile to liberals once they have validated your membership. That will get you kicked to the curb in a Midland Minute.
What is at stake for David Brooks is not the validity of some quarter-century-old quote by Ronald Reagan, but Bobo’s very own tribal identity.

His back-stage, hologram-stamped laminates to the Big Freeper Jamboree.

Long ago Bobo went all-in on his Great Imaginary Conservative Revolution. And now, while he desperately clings to his self image as a tolerant and reasonable person, his ideology and chosen profession have left him literally nowhere else to go but deeper into the pit, shackled at the throat by chains of his own forging to the scum of the nation.

Which is why he can only bear to sneak little glimpses of his fetid political bunkmates as he scurries past them in the dark; can only bear to catching tiny terrifying glances of their squirmy, bestial bulk in the blastlight of occasional, startling flashes of illumination, like Katrina and Abu Ghraib.

And so what we see in Bobo’s column is a deep-dive into the dangerously self-deluded mind of one of the last, faux-reasonable Defenders of the Faith, torqued almost to the breaking point.

A man whose livelihood depends entirely on sustaining a state of utter denial about what his livelihood actually depends on.

A man for whom a direct confrontation with the ugly, nekkid truth of what he has really aided and abetted would be epistemologically annihilating.

So what does such a man do?

The answer in Part 3

End Part 2 of 4


Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4

4 comments:

PhysioProf said...

"That it is the conglomerate of bigots, Dominionists and 'Fuck everybody but me'-libertarians all pulling in harness towards the abyss that makes Bobo’s machine move."

Cha-Ching!!

skunqesh said...

"Instead it is a rational-izing ideology: one that depends entirely on the moral and intellectual cowardice of men like David Brooks"

Buh-Bingo! but don't underestimate the power of delusional rationalizing - even Heaven's Gate followers were willing to castrate themselves sans anesthesia to prove their faith, and I considered them a much more affable and optimisitc bunch than any modern conservo-bot collective.
eesh.

Malacandra said...

"Don't knock rationalization. Where would we be without it? I don't know anyone who'd get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex. Have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?"

That quote from the Big Chill anticipated everything that was to follow.

Of course, conservatism's ability to (and need to) rationalize the untenable has outstripped Moore's Law to the point where being a Republican today requires liquid cooling of their over-clocked multi-core rationalization processors.

The challenge for us is merely this: to repudiate the conservative movement, reform the press, and give the Democratic Party a spine.

And let me pile on one more eulogy for Gilliard:

"He has gone where fierce indignation can lacerate his heart no more - depart wayfarer, and imitate if you are able one who to the utmost strenously championed liberty."

Neo Tuxedo said...

Noticed on this re-reading:

You have destroyed all that which you have held to be evil and achieved all that which you have held to be good. Why then do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and image of your virtues.

It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection.


I think I started wanting to tell them that, in those words, around the same time. Clearly, there was something in the air, a kind of chain reaction to all the bullshit everywhere.