Friday, May 19, 2017

Graydon Carter vs The Land West of the Hudson

Graydon Carter has done many good things in this life.  Pinning the term "short-fingered vulgarian" to Donald Trump's ass forever.  Co-creating "Spy" magazine.  Giving the inimitable James Wolcott a place to work his magic.

Many good things.

And then he goes and does something so remarkably dumb that we are called once again to remember that while New York City of one of the Great Cities of the Earth, parts of it can also be an insufferably parochial parsonage that has hilariously rigid and ridiculous ideas about how the rest of us live out here where Stegosauri and Butter Cows battle to the death on the Great Plains of America, as herds of bison thunder down I-80's median strip as far as the eye can see.  Where friendly Red Indians guide riverboats laden with vital beaver hats, Sears & Roebuck dentures and Palm Pilots up and down the mighty Mississippi.  Where Applebee's salad bars routinely appear and disappear like so many Beltway Brigadoons.  

And where bare-knuckle, hard-scrabble Midwest Irish writers know perfectly well that "Beltway Brigadoons" doesn't make perfect sense in this context, but goddamn it, it sounds right, it feels right, so fuck your uptown sensibilities, Carter!

So what am I talking about?

Well, this: Mr. Carter's tidy little summary of the administration of President Stupid's 100 day nosedive from a grubby, gibbering, racist fluke to the End of Days.  
Far and away the most unfit man ever to hold the nation’s highest office, Trump has crammed so much into his first few months that most of us have trouble keeping track of the quotidian acts of executive mayhem. He has no foreign or domestic policy to speak of—he bases most of his decisions on what will play best to his base out there among the Twitterati. He cozies up to dictators and fellow strongmen, flattering them and giving them unwarranted credibility, while running roughshod over traditional allies. He has signed executive orders that attempt to slash decades of advancement in educational, medical, and environmental protections. The torrent of hate that Trump has so cavalierly unleashed has moved attacks against Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, and African-Americans from the margins toward the mainstream. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center report spikes in hate crimes and bias-related incidents since Trump’s election. And he has stuffed agencies with Trump loyalists—stooges, really—hired on the basis of their fidelity to the president rather than their qualifications. At the same time, whether through negligence or ineptitude, or both, he is letting vital positions necessary to run the government go unfilled. A hack of unprecedented scale hits 150 countries, and, still, top cyber-security jobs remain vacant.
Which was all well and good until near the very end when Mr. Carter takes a sudden, sharp turn into David Brooks territory.  Because you know what's worse that tossing out a wormy apple?  Taking a big bite out of what appears to be delicious, ripe apple and finding half a worm staring back at you.  (Yes, I know perfectly well that "worms" -- whole or half -- don't "stare", but until you're my editor, Carter, and you're paying me a tidy sum for the use of my bare-knuckle, hard-scrabble Midwest Irish sensibilities, keep yer gob shut while add emphasis to what you wrote so everyone will know to look there!):
It’s hard not to sympathize with the plight of Trump’s “fans,” as V.F. Contributing Editor Lili Anolik likes to call his followers.
Yes, it is, once you have actually talked to them face-to-face for 25 years
In Joan Williams’s book White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, Williams lays out the values that the great swath of U.S. voters prize. They include hard work, community, self-reliance, and interdependence—all attributes that helped build this country. That these Americans—the nation’s backbone—would hitch their wagon to a man so at odds with all of those values (along with many more, like modesty, honesty, fairness, fidelity, generosity, and general decency) is a mystery, and a testament to how out of touch the Democratic Party has become.
First, yes, the Democratic Party has much work to do, but to write such a thing and not bother to mention Russian hacking, billions in free media handed to Trump on a silver platter, the last-minute Comey turd-in-the-electoral-punch-bowl or the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote very, very bigly smacks of laziness.

And, second, it is actually no fucking mystery at all as to why Ma and Pa Kettle and Joe Lunchbucket jumped on the Trump Train and will never get off.  You see, Ma and Pa and Joe and tens of millions of their friends have been letting a guy named "Rush Limbaugh" take a dump in their skulls pretty much every day for the last quarter of a century.  


These fine folks have also pledge their undying loyalty to a teevee network run by a recently-dead lady-molester named "Roger Ailes" who spent many years and millions of dollars rewiring the minds Ma and Pa and Joe and tens of millions of their friends and turning them into paranoid, aggressively ignorant. re-programmanble meatpuppets.  

In fact, if you ever cross the Hudson and come out this way, stop on by, Mr. Carter.  We shall drink moonshine from clay pots as it the custom in these parts, and I'll put "A Face in the Crowd" on this electromechanical wonder I have called a "videocassette recorder machine" and let Elia Kazan explain exactly how the Republican Party works in glorious black-and-white.


bill said...

"Yeah, yeah...what does it matter?"

Well it's just that our Reagan Detour, amplified by dittoheads and both-siderists, now has us in another quadrant of the universe, light years away from anything resembling organic. Our history's been corrupted without "acceptable" backup. Numbers no longer make sense. Inertia has us locked out of anything remotely related to correction.

"We're on the wrong road!"
"Yeah, but we're making good time"

Speaking hippie is an alien language. We can't have education or healthcare, or medical marijuana because the military alone stands between us and the monstrous world we've created. We've marginalized and/or falsely discredited anyone who has been trying to call bullshit on the bullshitters.

This is our reality. Join or fuck-off. Fuckity, fuck, fuck fuck...

"Why do you have to be so vulgar?"

HenryFTP said...

You've crystallized a thought that has been bedeviling me of late -- why did we have the long time delay between Lonesome Rhodes and Trump? As a child, I can remember how scary the Goldwater "Extremism in Defense of Liberty Is No Vice" movement was, together with the KKK, Philadelphia, Mississippi and George Wallace -- may have been a bit too simplistic in the plotting, but the attitudes were simmering just below the respectable surface of American politics. Sure, we had broadcast television and the FCC Fairness Doctrine, but newspapers were, if anything, more predominantly conservative than they are today (the Evening Star in Washington was a bigger paper than the Post until the early 60s, the Herald Tribune was at least competitive with the Times, even in New York, and the LA Times and Chicago Tribune were not only Republican but well to the right of the Eastern Establishment GOP, to say nothing of the Hearst papers). Looking back from the bizarro world perspective of today, it almost seems miraculous that the country managed to break free of the bonds of its unsavoury past and make as much progress as it did.

bluicebank said...

What you said, Drift.

There is no mystery as to why most GOP voters had no problem voting for the likes of GW Bush and D. Trump. The reasons are many, so the only difficulty is identifying which ones combine to explain the thing.

Suspect reasons like economic stress don't work, since it's falsified by poor Liberals who don't vote for idiots. But lack of education and failure to develop critical thinking skills is the fulcrum upon which all else pivots.

Unfortunately, if one doesn't have at least a starter kit of critical thinking skills before leaving high school, you're probably fucked for life. And such explains the Right's attack on modern education (such as it is). Teach a kid the dark arts of informal logic and he ain't going to stay on the alt-right farm after hitting 18, but head to the city and never write home.