Monday, January 27, 2014

More Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says, Ctd.


Sore afflicted with that debilitating-but-financially-advantageous strain of Memento disease which prevents him from forming any new political memories past 1992, Conservative-by-Choice Andrew Sullivan is always perpetually shocked and amazed when leading American Conservatives sincerely aver the kind of ludicrous, paranoid, hateful, destructive beliefs that Liberals have always told him are at the core of American Conservatism.

And so, every week or so, Mr. Sullivan treats his readers to another post shot through with Sullivan Brand stunned indignation that another rapacious plutocrat Conservative asshole or bigoted halfwit Conservative asshole or anti-science, bible-rigging Conservative asshole is behaving in a way that would be tediously predictable to any honest observer of American politics and culture for the last 30 years.

In today's exciting episode, Mr. Sullivan is appalled at the whole line of "Obama is a Socialist Monster!" line of Conservative free-form ass-whistling given how pro-business and pro-Wall Street this Administration has acted over the last five years:
There has been plenty of well-deserved derision directed at the billionaire fretting in the Wall Street Journal that the super-duper-rich like him are headed for concentration camps. Paul Krugman fires an AK47 into the world’s smallest barrel here; while Josh Marshall has a must-read. Josh is actually trying to understand rather than simply excoriate the completely bizarre idea that the Obama administration is a populist, socialist threat to a capitalist system it all but saved from itself
I’ve been a little taken aback too by the attitude of the Wall Street class, after they royally fucked up the entire global economy, were bailed out by the rest of us, still get Dimon-style compensation, and have enjoyed one of the sharpest booms in stock prices since 2009. At some point, you have to ask: WTF?

Of course, the point at which the WTF's should have begun was the day Ronald Reagan decided to slalom down the Laffer Curve with the American middle class tied to his bumper, but aside from recommending that Mr. Sullivan settle in with Thomas Frank's entire collection, he gets no argument from me...

...right up until this (emphasis added):

Well, yes, they have returned to pre-Reagan levels of taxation. But the tax take is still roughly where it was in the mid-1990s and I don’t recall Clinton being perceived as a socialist or howls of protest from the wealthy...
And that's where the laughing begins...

Just for fun, let's reintroduce America to John "Johnny Smooth" Daggett (Motto: "You might remember me from such political hit-job supporting roles as "One of the clowns the GOP tapped to napalm Anita Hill because who can resist Johnny Smooth!") circa 1999:


Published: 01/22/1999 at 1:00 AM

Bill Clinton’s State of the Union speech reveals a socialist who wants to take away your freedom. Bill’s speech drips with his contempt of our free market economic system. Bill’s speech is a declaration of war against America’s heritage.

Bill says that the government can do a better job of spending your money than you can. Bill says that you are not smart enough to take care of your children, your parents or your communities without government direction. And if that is not enough to boil your blood, Bill also wants to destroy the stock market, steal your money and federalize your schools.
Exit Johnny Smooth, pursued by bears.

Too obscure?

Enter Newton Leroy Gingrich circa 2011.  A man who, unlike Mr. Sullivan, believes that all of the Socialist Monster talk about the Kenyan Usurper is perfectly justified Because!Socialism!, but like Mr. Sullivan, believes that certainly no one was slinging around the "S" word back when Bill Clinton was in the White House:
In 1993, you had nothing like the current focus on the 10th amendment. You had nothing like the current desire to get power out of Washington. And you didn't have the sense of radicalism that Obama has injected into the system, in the sense of drifting toward a socialized bureaucratic structure that runs the whole country.
Here's Gingrich, quoted in the February 17, 1993, New York Times:
Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the House Republican whip, welcomed Mrs. Clinton to Capitol Hill today. But in an interview, he said proposals being considered by her committee looked like "washed-over old-time bureaucratic liberalism, or centralized bureaucratic socialism."
And the December 17, 1993, New York Times:
On Tuesday, Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the House Republican whip, said the Clinton proposal would lead to too much central planning and could bring socialism" in the health care system. Mr. Clinton made light of that criticism today after listening to some of his supporters from the ranks of medicine.
And the Boston Globe, from December 2, 1993: "Gingrich [...] criticized Clinton's health-care proposals as being 'based on West German socialism.'"
Which should not come as a surprise to anyone who did not spend the 1990s with his head up his ass.  After all, this is the same Newt Gingrich who spent an enormous amount of time and effort developing and rolling out an entire Orwellian language training system for the Republican Party designed to standardize, routinize and ramp up the by-then-already-routine slandering and demonization of Liberals and Democrats to levels that would make a North Korean propaganda minister proud.

To punish him for his key role in helping to dumb Republicans down to the point where they will swear on the grave of Imaginary Reagan that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are geniuses, the Mainstream Media finds as many ways as possible to stuff as money as possible into Newt Gingrich's pockets, and to loyally re-re-re-re-rehabilitate his reputation every time he publicly shits the bed.

Shine on you crazy diamond!

Where was I?

Oh yes!  Just this, repeated for the hundredth time -- like most Conservatives, Mr. Sullivan has lost his capacity to look the past squarely in the eye.

Which is not surprising.

After all, for Conservatives, what awaits them in the rear-view mirror is downright terrifying. 


Anonymous said...

The problem is, once you can lie about anything, you can lie about everything. Honestly, we are at the point that Michelle Bachman can hold an infant in front of Newt Gingrich, who shouts "Kali Ma! Kali Ma! Shakti De Kali Ma!", rips out the child's still-beating heart, and they both devour it in front of the camera. After Michelle Bachman daintily dabs the gore off her face with a napkin and belches, she can turn to the camera and say, "The Liberal Socialist Gangsta Government of Barack Hussein Obama causes this beloved white Christian child [holding up bloody bones] to be devoured because of the Obamacare Death Camps! But I'm defending Feeeedom, like Jesus wrote about in the Constitution!"

And the morons would believe it.

So, really, why not?

They lie about history. They lie about politics. They lie about science. They lie about math. So why not just lie about every damn thing under the sun?

Sullivan? He's talking to the people who would look on that scene and say, "That's too far! The extremes like Michelle Bachman and Nancy Pelosi, what, with their weird... I guess Catholic? rituals...".

Sullivan is appealing to the last of the rats to jump the sinking ship. He knows they are OK with lies. Their "last stand" is birth control and pot, but the dog whistle politics that lead up to that didn't deter them. So... Sullivan has to stop short of sacrificing children to Ba'al in front of them. (Yes, I know, "Kali".) And he's OK with that. He wants all the selfishness and willful ignorance, but he doesn't want the bigotry turned on his household.


Anonymous said...

I think it was in this same post of Sully projectile vomit that he also suggested that these billionaire whiners got the idea to act like helpless victims from the 90's LEFT, who, obviously to Sully but completely unbeknownst to me (and I lived here too), were calling all minority groups victims, or something. I mean jeez, I don't even remember there being a LEFT of any note in the 90s.

Sullivan must have gotten an urgent message from the Club, saying he was woefully short on his Both Sides dues for the month and risked losing his membership. He crammed a whole shitload of it into that one post.

Anonymous said...

For a guy like Sully -- who made his bones as a good partisan soldier back in the good old days -- it is pretty self-serving to retreat behind a "the party left me"-excuse. It may be perfectly true that Sully reached his own gag-limit in the mid-aughts but his feigned ignorance about the nature of the GOP base is a pretty obvious CYA mechanism. It is pretty convenient to a certain class of centrist to pretend the modern-GOP is a special brand of crazy, rather than just a concentrated dose of the same old shit.

--Nonny Mouse

Anonymous said...

I have a maybe irrelevant question for you, Driftglass: Do you think Sully's historical illiteracy regarding American movement conservatives is genuine -- a product of his Tory blinders -- or feigned -- a cynically crafted mechanism (pathology) to avoid examining the company he's kept over the years? Or a bit of both?

--Nonny Mouse

Kathleen said...

I'm currently reading Dallas, 1963 and I highly recommend it. The book goes into great detail about the formation of the John Birch Society and the behavior of its members. The parallels between then and now are striking (including an account of the "mink coated mob" that attacked LBJ and Lady Byrd in Dallas). The big difference I see between then and now is that 1) there was no mass media channel like Fox News (though there were popular radio programs like HL Hunt's Lifeline) and 2) the media, Republicans, and JFK and RFK called the Birchers out for their extremist views and actions. Nonny Mouse's point is well taken. Anyone who considers him or her self as an educated observer of politics (like Sully, Brooks, et al) has no excuse for not knowing how far back and how deeply rooted Rethuglican evil is.

Neo Tuxedo said...

You didn't ask me, Nonny, but when Captain Bareback says, with his bare face hanging out, "I don’t recall Clinton being perceived as a socialist or howls of protest from the wealthy", he's either feigning ignorance or making an active effort to not recall it, because nobody who spent the 1990s here in Unistat, or indeed anywhere on the planet Earth, could've missed the squealing that my old friend the Beard Copilot once likened to a chicken caught in a tractor's nuts."

Anonymous said...

Neo Tuxedo,

You (and Kathleen) are right, of course. Whatever his motives, there is really no excuse for ignoring the heritage of the forces that are now ascendent in the GOP coalition.

I only wonder if it is his love of the platonic ideal of conservatism that blinds him or more cynical, pragmatic motives. In practice, the distinction hardly matters.

Although, now that I think about it, Sully's revisionist history of how Clinton was treated is pretty fucking funny given his attitude towards Hillary during the 2008 primaries. I recall his gut-level distaste for the Clintons was loud and proud. That's a pretty shallow memory hole.

--Nonny Mouse

Neo Tuxedo said...

"I only wonder if it is his love of the platonic ideal of conservatism that blinds him or more cynical, pragmatic motives. In practice, the distinction hardly matters."

He's an un- or poorly-reconstructed Thatcherite; based only on the words he's extruded, I assume it all comes down to fear that, if he admits he was wrong about anything he did in the name of fighting the International Communist Conspiracy, it will rise from the grave and retroactively conquer the world. (In the words of a great Irish playwright: "It appears the case is... was not so unusual.")

Anonymous said...

Neo Tuxedo,

That's funny; so you're saying that a Thatcherite regards all hippies as stand-ins for international Communism?

No wonder Driftglass loves Andrew Sullivan with the heat of a thousand suns.

--Nonny Mouse

Anonymous said...

I think my problem is that I'm still looking for some meaning amongst all the pathological rambling.

--Nonny Mouse