Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Great Emancipator Versus The Great Equivocator

We interrupt our 10 year retrospective for some perspective.

And a Special!Surprise!Ending!

As readers know, I have long advanced a very-well-documented theory that all of the material about which David Brooks is consistently and horribly wrong -- math, history, foreign policy, economics, politics -- do not represent random, isolated fuckups, but are instead each part of a regularly repeating pattern of deception and fraud on a much grander scale and with a much grander purpose: each a small tile in a massive, tessellated mosaic of Fake American History which Mr. Brooks has been building up in plain sight, column after column, year after year.

Well, in the last week, Mr. Brooks has spoken of Lincoln.


And it is important to read both of those citations to understand exactly how radical Mr. Brooks' revisions are, how persistent he is in them, and how unfettered he is by petty, everyday worries about, say, being held accountable by his employer -- by any of his employers -- for using the platforms they loan him to deceive the American people.

This last Friday, David Brooks continued to lecture the gays on the virtues of shutting the fuck up and being patient when it comes to being permitted the same human right Davis Brooks takes for granted every day of his privileged life.  Because "Morality is a politeness of the soul".

This time, Mr. Brooks dragged Lincoln into it:
BROOKS: Well, the Indiana law, Jonathan's right, it goes further than the others. And if that was the argument that was being made, that it goes too far; we should scale it back, I'd be fine with that. To me, the issue is progress. It's like Abraham Lincoln. I'm not drawing the parallel. But Abraham Lincoln knew when to push abolitionism. It was clearly a moral right. But sometimes you got to push it gently. Sometimes you put your foot on the brakes, sometimes on the gas. It's a matter of, pragmatically, how do you move forward and make life easier for gays and lesbians who happen to grow up in rural conservative areas?
(Some pissy pedants noted the stark contrast between  the recently-divorced, heterosexual David Brooks' advice to the gays on combating discrimination [Don't be so pushy! You're making the god-fearing citizens of Sisterfuck, Arkansas nervous] and the Jewish David Brooks' advice on combating antisemitism [Fight! Fight!  Fight! And never let up for one fucking minute] but really, who listens to pissy pedants anyway?)

Anyway, as I recall from reading in my third-grade "Children's Golden Book of Andersonville Prison Camp Atrocities" many years ago (and from the scuttlebutt I have picked up living two miles from his tomb in a town where every third thing is named "Lincoln") pushing gently was the strategy Lincoln employed...right up until his enemies made it 100% clear that they were so uniformly and intractably hostile to the very idea of any change in the status quo, that they would rather destroy the country rather than permit him to govern it.

That's when this happened:

So while I might in theory support Mr. Brooks' call to send 600,000 federal troops into the Democratic People's Republic of Indiana to put down their insurrection, in practice I thing that might be going too far.

Unless Mr. Brooks was trying to make some other point about how Abraham Lincoln dealt with secessionists that I am too po' and dum to understand.

Which leads us to our second sighting of the Great Equivocator leaning hard on the Great Emancipator to make some ridiculous point in under a week.

In "What Candidates Need", Mr. Brooks writes a longing paean to the virtue of Abraham Lincoln

...a fundamental vision, a golden temperament and a shrewd strategy for how to cope with the political realities of the moment.

He saw America as a land where ambitious poor boys and girls like himself could transform themselves through hard, morally improving work. He believed in a government that built canals and railroads and banks to stoke the fires of industry

He could bob and weave as politics demanded, but his incremental means always pointed to the same transformational end...

He had the double-minded personality that we need in all our leaders. He was involved in a bloody civil war, but he was an exceptionally poor hater. He was deeply engaged, but also able to step back; a passionate advocate, but also able to see his enemy’s point of view; aware of his own power, but aware of when he was helpless in the hands of fate; extremely self-confident but extremely humble.

Lincoln’s skills as a political tactician seem like the least of his gifts, but are among his greatest. It’s easy to be a true believer, or to govern or campaign with your pedal to the metal all the time. It’s much harder to know when to tap on the brake and when to step on the gas.
and wonders why oh why we cant have nice preznits like that anymore!
We will not get a Lincoln. A person with his face could not survive the TV age. A person with his capacity for introspection could not survive the 24/7 self-branding campaign environment. But we do need someone with a portion of his gifts — someone who is philosophically grounded, emotionally mature and tactically cunning.
So, David Brooks has written a sad, sad letting pining...for the President he already has but did not want.

There is something so deeply pornographic about Mr. Brooks state of perpetual, contemptuous delusion that it almost defies classification.  Something so Caligulan about how casually he marches the past into the Colosseum of his imagination over and over again and butchers it over and over again, knowing that no one in his realm will dare to call him out for it.

Nowhere in Mr. Brooks' histories do we find either the Confederacy as it actually existed or it's depraved ancestor descendant*, the Modern Republican Party.  There are no parties or factions or causes or provocation in Mr. Brooks' costume drama -- only Lincoln, floating saintly and detached and emotionless and perfect through Mr. Brooks Whigland Adventure Kingdom.  Nowhere in Mr. Brooks' pleasant ride through this Fake History of America does the tour bus ever reach Gettysburg or Antietam or Cold Harbor or Fort Sumter or any other mile marker at which the Confederate's fanatical opposition to even incremental change grew so great that they had to be destroyed with fire and sword.

Once upon a time, Barack Obama was naive enough to buy into Mr. Brooks' "floating above all" strategy, hoping that if he sacrificed enough of the principles and programs of the people who elected him, built his signature healthcare initiative on a framework provided by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and cheerfully acceded to every batshit Conservative whim, eventually the fever on the Right would break.

Eventually Roger Ailes' pod people would magnanimously permit the Black Democrat from Chicago to govern the country which had elected him as its leader.

Of course, the flaw in this plan was that there was no fucking chance in Hell it was ever going to work, as anyone who did not spend the 1990s passed out in a puddle of their own ideological sick could have (and did) see coming.

Unfortunately, "passed out in a puddle of their own ideological sick" is the job description of the Very Serious People who make up the rules for American political media as they go along, so among the natives of the peculiar village where President Barack Obama took up residence, it was an article of unquestioned faith that the road to Bipartisan Utopia was paved with Medicare cuts, Social Security cuts and Democrats shutting the fuck up and graciously doing what Republicans told them to do.

So, as literally hundreds of the individuals pointed out in the NYT comment section never Mr. Brooks reads, Mr. Brooks got exactly the Modern Lincoln he wished for.  And as Mr. Brooks' Republican party rose up as one to destroy him...Mr. Brooks busied himself whinging on about Catfood Commissions and austerity and finding new clutches of Independent voters who supported his Common Sense agenda under every cabbage leaf.

Finally, in 2011, after the GOP had spent three years heaving ever larger cinder-blocks into traffic for the expressed purpose of destroying his presidency, it began to dawn on the POTUS that, just maybe, the Dirty Hippies had been right about the Right all along.

And, when, very gently, Barack Obama began to "tap on the brakes" of his policy of appeasing crazy people...

...the humble, reticent, "morally polite" David Brooks Completely. Lost.  His. Shit.
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.

So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.
Your Special!Surprise!Ending! is a reminder that when the Great Equivocator starts waxing poetic about the Great Emancipator, hold onto your wallets.  Because this is not the first time Mr.  Brooks has wrapped himself in Lincoln's winding cloth in order to use Honest Abe to scold the gays militant secularists for being mean to the god-fearing citizens of Sisterfuck, Arkansas without whom Mr. Brooks' Republican Party would cease to exist.

In fact, it was nearly 10 years ago, on a night very much like this one...
Thursday, May 05, 2005

Maybe if I hide behind this guy...

...you won't notice what a tool I am. 

A little bit of Today in Bobovania, and then I have a few things to say:
Stuck in Lincoln's Land
On Sept. 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln gathered his cabinet to tell them he was going to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He said he had made a solemn vow to the Almighty that if God gave him victory at Antietam, Lincoln would issue the decree. 
Lincoln's colleagues were stunned. They were not used to his basing policy on promises made to the Lord. They asked him to repeat what he'd just said. Lincoln onceded that "this might seem strange," but "God had decided the question in favor of the slaves." 
I like to think about this episode when I hear militant secularists argue that faith should be kept out of politics. Like Martin Luther King Jr. a century later, Lincoln seemed to understand that epochal decisions are rarely made in a secular frame of mind.
Today, a lot of us are stuck in Lincoln's land. We reject the bland relativism of the militant secularists. We reject the smug ignorance of, say, a Robert Kuttner, who recently argued that the culture war is a contest between enlightened reason and dogmatic absolutism. But neither can we share the conviction of the orthodox believers, like the new pope, who find maximum freedom in obedience to eternal truth. We're a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics... 
The key to Lincoln's approach is that he was mesmerized by religion, but could never shake his skepticism. Politically, he knew that the country needed the evangelicals' moral rigor to counteract the forces of selfishness and subjectivism, but he could never actually be an evangelical himself.
As the great historian Allen C. Guelzo argues, Lincoln favored the classical virtue of prudence, which aims at incremental progress and, to borrow a phrase from Lincoln, at making sure that politics doesn't degenerate "into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle." Lincoln came to believe in a God who was active in human affairs but who concealed himself.
Another is that while the evangelical tradition is deeply consistent with the American creed, sometimes evangelical causes can overflow the banks defined by our founding documents. I believe the social conservatives' attempt to end the judicial filibuster is one of these cases.
Well, it’s heartening to hear Brooks beating a false premise like the bogeyman of “militant secularists” twice in one column, while allowing as how he’s really only “a little nervous” about the politics of Evangelicals. And I must say, hearing BoBo’s public alas-and-alacking about the state of his tortured soul trapped – trapped, I tell’s ya! – in the sad and lonely little ‘taint created by an utterly and despicably false dichotomy is, by turns laughable, despicable and predictable. And it affords one yet another opportunity to see with gamma-ray clarity yet again what a wormy Accomodationist he really is.

The ”funny” part is the vision I get of Brooksie as Jabba the Hutt – BoBo the Hutt – all seventeen tons of him, crying his faux glycerin tears over the complete bogus alternatives he has carved out for himself. Do I continue to glut myself on the radical clerics in my own party that seem, perhaps, once in a while, a trifle, a jot, a soupcon extreme in their honorable pursuit of their religious ends? Or must I starve myself off and die on the thin soup of the “bland relativism of the militant secularists.”

BoBo asks, given these two equipoised and equally distasteful alternatives, whatever shall I do? And we ask how oh how did BoBo the Hutt get so Orca-fat feeding on such empty Straw Men?

The predictable part is BoBo snaking around in the weeds, reductively and absurdly positing the world into two bad camps and then trying to stake out some heroic middle ground where all the reasonable people live. And hoping someone, somewhere will step into this asinine bear-trap.

Sorry, mon petit overpaid and underpower slice of NYT bourgoise headcheese, but no. No, no, no, yet again no and yet again your toxic little opinion need to be fumigated lest some poor child accidentally swallow it and end up at Ontological Poison Control having to get their frontal lobes pumped.

And yet again, New York Times, is this month-old slice of room-temperature trichenosis-laced pork the very best you can off the American public when it comes to incisive thinking? Jesus Haploid Christ. What happened to you, man? I remember when it used to be about the music…and real, actual jour-nal-ism.

Yes, BoBo, the world is divided, but between reasonable people – of all religious persuasions and of none at all – and of irrational, superstitious, Armageddon-luvin’, Fundamentalists. The political party who’s ass you oil and lave and snuggle is owned and operated by the latter types, so how about a quick test to see which one of us if chock so full of shit that it’s squirting out of our tear-ducts like feculent Play-Doh Fun Factory logs…and which one of us isn’t:

Name me 15 influential leaders of the Democratic Party that by any reasonable definition fall into this absurd silo you have spun out of whole cloth called “militant secularists.” And not obscure academics, but people who command real electoral power. People who move voters to the polls. People who give platform speeches and show up on the short list of Democratic Leaders when Charlie Rose or George Stefanopoulis are booking guests.

15 Democratic Party leaders, in other words, who are enemies of “People of Faith.”

And while you’re making that list, I’ll name 15 leaders of your party who are intolerant, hate-mongering theocrats. Superstition-touting extremists. Your opinion leaders. The ones who get out the vote for your candidates and without which you cocksucking Cocktail Party Republicans would never win anything.

And also while were at it, exactly how many “militant secularists” think-tanks are there cranking out Democratic policy papers and talking points?

What exactly is the “militant secularists” Progressive equivalent of the 700 Club? Of Bob Jones University? Of Hate Radio? Of Jesus-Hate-Radio? Of Jerry Falwell’s Lynchburg Church? Or hadn’t you noticed that the last two Democratic Presidents could out-quote most any pastor when it came to citing scripture.

Jesus Hammersack Christ, BoBo, even according to a Fox News poll from last year, “Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles.” So exactly where is this army of secular immoderation hiding?

Yet again, BoBo The Hutt has pulled a fantasy of a menacing, aggressively secular, God-hostile goon-squad entirely out of his ass in order to pretend that there are two sides to the issue of “Intolerance”, so that he can drag the “middle ground” another thousand miles in the direction of the Middle Ages.

Yes, BoBo, there are people like me who want to keep the public square secular for the same reason that the Chicago Park District may give a permit to use the same space to a bunch of cops on Friday, a Gay's for Genome Research Fun Run on Saturday, and the Church of Mary, Queen of the Universe Pancake breakfast Sunday morning. That’s why it’s called the “Public Square.” If you want a space dedicated solely to one religious point of view or one interpretation of scripture…I believe they call those places “Churches”. And Synagogues, and Ashrams, and Temples.

There did used to be a time when the public square was indeed non-secular; when it was owned and operated by one faith, one dogma, one creed. Those days are usually depicted in wood block illustrations along with the Black Death and The Inquisition: A global, religious totalitarian state that no sane person of any faith would want us to return to.

In other words, Jerry Falwell’s idea of Heaven on Earth. And Pat Robertson. And Bob Jones. And Randall Terry. And Tom DeLay. And Don Wildmont. And James Dobson. And Rick Santorum. And Sam Brownback. And Peggy Noonan. And Alan Keyes. And, Jiminey Christmas BoBo, did’ja ever notice that each and every one of these Heroes of Ignorance and Intolerance are all in the same political party?

So how’s your list coming along anyway…?

Lastly, how dare you conflate Martin Luther King with the theological Lepers that lead your political party? Seriously, how fucking dare you?

The direct spiritual forebears of the likes of Jerry Falwell were preaching pro-slavery, pro-Jim Crow while the forebears of MLK were chattel of those people. Being beaten, raped, murdered and sold at will by those people.

The direct spiritual forebears of the likes of Pat Robertson chanted and stoned the followers of MLK as they tried to exercise their rights to eat and live and learn as free citizens.

The Virginia trial judge in Loving v. Virginia who, like his modern-day brethren, used God to shield intense, inbred bigotry, wrote this about interracial marriage: “"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Substitute “gay” for “race” and tell me with a straight face (OK, small pun intended) that any religion that is as fanatically preoccupied with the bedroom habits of consenting adults as Conservative Fundamentism, is not by its very nature an insult to the idea of Civil Rights. Second verse, always the same as the first.

So refresh my memory. When exactly was it that Conservative Evangelicals were slaves?
Or an oppressed minority?
Or lynched by the hundreds?
Or denied the right to vote? Or own property? Or marry whom they chose? Or read and write?
Or were denied access to every other civic institution by law, so that they literally had no other place to rally than in the church?

Are you actually comparing the fake “victimhood” of this NeoConfederate Theological Claptrap that was created out of the violent White Male Privilege backlash against the Civil Rights movement, with Martin Luther King? A multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt empire built on a virulently hateful, defiantly ignorant ideology that has its own media, its own satellites, its own sophisticated technological infrastructure, its own political party, a substantial number of judges and now owns the Federal Fucking Government…with SNCC? With Rosa Parks? With Emmett Till?

Unless you have completely overdosed on the kind of Moral Relativism that your ilk is supposed to abhor, saying that a Segregationist thug in the pulpit preaching hate is somehow comparable to an Honorable man in the pulpit preaching peace is beyond contemptible. Conflating those whose perversion of the Gospel all-but-explicitly advocates the bombing of Women’s Health Clinics with the memory of those who had their churches and children bombed for daring to vote is beyond contemptible.

And doing it on the pages of the NYT?

How do you live with yourself?

* Thanks for the catch


OGIC said...

I enjoy your blog and the Professional Left Podcast, both of which nearly always lead me to think about the subjects you address. But in my capacity as "officious twit," today I must point out what I believe to be an error, when you state:

"Nowhere in Mr. Brooks' histories do we find either the Confederacy as it actually existed or it's depraved ancestor, the Modern Republican Party."

"Ancestor" is the wrong word here; I think you want "descendent."

In making this mistake, you are in the company of the highly successful writer J. K. Rowling, who, at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, has Dumbledore tell Harry:

"You can speak Parseltongue," said Dumbledore calmly, "because Lord Voldemort -- who is the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slitherin -- can speak Parseltongue."

Think of it as another opportunity to demonstrate how we liberals differ from our conservative counterparts, by recognizing and correcting a mistake.

Alex Malecki said...

Just this one post was worth my recent donation. Fucking terrific.

keith gargus said...

Good work Driftglass, one of your better takedowns of the execrable Bobo.

Frank Shannon said...

Excellent. I wish you were writing for the Daily show.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Brilliant indeed.

blackdaug said...

Tell it brother.

blackdaug said...

There is a line in the most recent Lincoln movie that fairly rings in my head these days, when states are passing "Religious Freedom" laws and unarmed black men are still being back shot on a weekly basis:
Lincoln is speaking to the Vice President of the Confederacy; paraphrasing "Might we not discover that we gain new freedoms by doing away with some of the old..such as .."the freedom to oppress".
Isn't that the really the fundamental battle cry, the new rebel yell, of the (R-America) Neo-confederates now occupying this country:

Give it back! We must have the freedom to oppress!