Saturday, February 26, 2022

In Which I Despair of the Rebranding (h/t Charlie Pierce)

Every few months for the last several thousand years or so, as Conservatism has plunged inexorably downward to new depths of depravity and madness, some sanctimonious, Edmund-Burke-quoting lad -- usually David Brooks -- has invariably squinted deeply into the darkening horror and sworn that he could make out the glittering outline of a Bright New Future  for American Conservatism that is just over the horizon.

Here is one such stool sample from The New York Times of April 12, 2018 -- 

A Renaissance on the Right 
By David Brooks

What’s bad for the gavel is good for the pen. The Republican Party is in the midst of a cataclysmic transformation. But all the political turmoil is creating a burst of intellectual creativity on the right...

-- about which I wrote here, "...And a Doughy Pantload Shall Lead Them".

And for the last several thousand years, these sanctimonious, Edmund-Burke-quoting lads have been proven to be utterly and uniformly wrong.  Of course the fact that these predictions are always proven wrong hasn't stopped these sanctimonious, Edmund-Burke-quoting lads from making them, or even slowed them down appreciably.  After all, perpetually holding up the shiny Fool's Gold promise of a Conservative renaissance tomorrow, perpetually postpones the need for any serious introspection or atonement today.  

Well today's predictor of great things to come is a human named Heath Mayo, about whom I had never heard until he cropped up on The Bulwark podcast Friday.  Mr. Mayo is spearheading a "Conservatism Cannot Fail, Conservatism Can Only Be Failed" (h/t Digby from 2006) conference in (where else) Washington D.C. this weekend.  Speakers are, well, basically the staff of The Bulwark,  Also Liz Cheney (pre-recorded) and Adam Kinzinger and an a handful of third-tier, fourth-tier and no-longer-tiered Republican pols.  A few right-wing think tank creatures.  And that's about it.

The event has three sponsors.

The Bulwark (surprise!)  

Adam Kinzinger's Third Way grift, the log-line for which is:

Mission: Defeat Toxic Tribalism

America is not the fringe, yet the extremes are holding us hostage.

And an outfit called The American Values Coalition, which bills itself as a:


-- for: 

Americans who value family, tradition, and integrity have been abandoned by both major political parties and ignored by most of the media. 

So if you're planning on attending, get yourself oiled up and ready for a veritable orgy of self-righteous Both Siderism at The National Press Club this weekend.

During his pitch on The Bulwark podcast, Mr. Mayo checks all the usual boxes.  Conservatism is fundamentally fucking awesome, but sometimes misapplied.  Reagan was fucking awesome, but we're not living in the 1980s anymore.  And list of platitudes and banalities that may as well have been picked up at the William Buckley Fortune Cookie Factory estate sale. 

It all reeked of injection-molded earnestness, but I did find it interesting that, somehow, Mr. Mayo came to mention the very subject that The Professional Left Podcast discussed at great length on this week's episode.  The fact that Conservatism as an ideology is inherently oppositional.  It can't function without an enemy to hate. And Mr. Mayo wishes for it to be otherwise.  For Conservatism to somehow figure out a way be about what it's in favor of instead of  always defining itself by what it's against.

Well good luck with that.

Then they touched ever so lightly on the subject of race.  Specifically, some anonymous Liberal's comment that Conservatism had been used as a fig-leaf for the Right's racism.

Sykes used the scorn in his voice as he read the comment to make it clear that he scoffs at the very idea.

Mr. Mayo allowed as how the commenter may have a very small point.  Not that Conservatism itself is racist.  Of course not!  That's crazy!   But that the misapplication of Conservatism by some misguided souls make have had that effect.

Well dear readers, after 30 years as a beanfield hand in the service of Team Evil, for one moment Charlie Sykes appeared to be grudgingly willing to admit some bad actors may have abused some of the ideals of Conservatism to do some racism at some point.  

Mostly he sounded like the mortified parent of a teenager who'd been busted driving a stolen car, doing 102 mph, dead-drunk, through a Hospital Zone, trying to explain to the judge why it wasn't really his kid who was the problem.  He'd just fallen in with a bad element!  And the booze wasn't even his!  And he'd only borrowed the car!  Honest!

But as halting and painfully provisional as it was, after 30 years as a Hate Radio celebrity, Charlie Sykes acknowledged that race might be an issue that Conservatives need to work on.  

Sykes:  So, I...I think among the things that Conservatism, Conservatives historically have as really a blot, has been the, heh, record... one, uh, y'know...race has been one of the biggest blots on, uh, y'know, the... the Conservative record.  Getting...getting it wrong. and, um, y'know, perhaps, embracing or allying yourself with, um, some really deplorable folks.

So, OK, right?  I mean, baby steps are still steps, right?

And then in the very next breath:

Sykes:  On the other hand...

You know what's coming next, don't you?  You can feel it?  

Because by now we all know perfectly what comes next.

Because it's always what comes reflexively tumbling out of every Never Trumper's pie-hole whenever they're forced to brush even lightly up against their very inconvenient history?


Sykes:  On the other hand that does not mean that therefore we need to embrace the 1619 Project.  Or that we need to embrace Critical Race Theory.  Or that we need to accept kinda the racial essentialism of people on the Left.

But wait!  There's more!

Sykes:  This is what makes it so difficult.  Because everything is so polarized.  To deny deny racism ... the deny the history of racism...the reality is just complete delusional.  Is delusional and deeply immoral.  On the other doesn't mean that you flip over and embrace the "Everything I don't like is racism" and that every one of us should be judged by, um, by our racial identity.  

So, having checked all the "But Critical Race Theory!" boxes and deployed the usual legion of straw men, it was was time for Charlie Sykes to tie it up with a bow.  To bring it on home to the same Beltway media-approved safe space to which every single one of these goofs always retreats in the end.

Can you guess what that might be?

Sykes:  And...and so you have a debate that...

Wait for it....

Sykes: shaped by...

Wait for it....

Sykes:  ...the Extremes [on Both Sides].


And how is a dutiful guest who's summit is being sponsored by The Bulwark going respond to the host of The Bulwark podcast?

Mayo:  I think that's right...

And then comes more platitudes.

So if you've ever wondered why Never Trumpers keep demanding that Democrats Sister Souljah the shit out of Critical Race Theory because "independents" somehow believe its a thing...even though it is definitely not a thing, this is why.  Because propagandists like Charlie Sykes keep telling their audiences that it is a thing and that we on the Extreme Left are definitely mustering all of our Mighty Maoist Superpowers to force it down the throats of decent, God-fearin', Midwesterners like Charlie Sykes.

And finally, you find yourself despairing of this re-re-re-re-rebranding of Conservatism and detecting a strong odor of vintage 2010 No Labels grift-stank coming off of the enterprise -- 

-- well, you're not alone ("Here Comes Your 19th 3rd Way Shakedown".)

Both Sides Don't


SteveSteve said...

So is this conference being broadcast live on MSNBC? If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

So I gather that the gang is not going to be getting into their semis to join the Putin Caravan to bring the war to Biden? To open a second front, a home front. I personally thing Trump should ride into DC with them, in the lead truck. What a sight it will be.

I've seen a report on the internet that Moscow Mitch has called Putin to congratulate him on his smart attack.

Robt said...

Brooks really wrote this?

What’s bad for the gavel is good for the pen. The Republican Party is in the midst of a cataclysmic transformation. But all the political turmoil is creating a burst of intellectual creativity on the right...

In a transformation?
Like evolving out of the white cone head dress into the skin head NAZI life form? From Bending over for Putin and being ramrodded to taking a knee and opening wide, that kind of trans formation. Odd that he used "Trans".

In my professional Left Opinion. Diagnosis.

Brooks is suffering from Brain worms and they been dining for some time it seems.

Davis said...

I have never heard one of these guys explain why Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign near Philadelphia, MS with a speech about states' rights.

Robt said...


There are many American speaking people in Moscow. I identified about 3 areas of the city where my people who speak American are American in their hears and are being mistreated by Russians of Putin's regime.
To protect these people from genocide. I will send in an invasion of peace keeping forces of violent peace keepers to protect them.

If we happen to invade and take the entire country, Oops.
If I happen to cause 500 0/11 s all over the city and if civilians are killed. It won't be my fault.

It will be Sarah Palin's fault . She can see what Putin is doing from her porch. She kept her mouth shut and did not warn us.

devolve said...

I will be stealing the phrase "injection-molded earnestness" and deploying it hither and yon. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Luckily I've never had to reevaluate American Conservatism. Well not since 1973 or so when I realized that about 70% of Americans are fascists or easily swayed by fascist appeals. America is a fascist country. The problem came when Hitler went too far. I don't buy that politicians and havers of opinion are leading us down the 'conservative' road. Not at all. The political 'market' has delivered them the win.

Anonymous said...

So, is Heath Mayo the whitest name possible?

- Pretzelogic in Philly, PA