Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Well Isn't That Special? WSJ's version of "Thanks Obama."

So far so good. The WSJ explains it all for the Congressmen who can still read:

This is the quality of thinking—or lack thereof—that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown. They picked a goal they couldn't achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn't sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.
And then, all of a sudden, its Obama's fault for letting the crazies go their limit.

President Obama called their bluff, no doubt in part to blame the disruption on the GOP and further tarnish the party's public image.
Begin comparisons to the inequeties of the Treaty of Versailles in Oh, I'm sorry, Lindsay Graham has already gone there with a pre-emptive self pity lightning strike.


  1. This comment applies to both this post and your next one, and I'm sure you can find many more in this vein…

    (1) It's always projection; (2) They like to cite ideology as if it gives them a pass for bad positions; and (3) boy, these sorts of arguments are getting more popular with them, huh?

    Michael Gerson made a similar argument in 2012 or 2011, essentially that it was terribly uncivil of Obama to offer an overly generous deal to the Republicans because they were slaves to their ideology and would have to reject it, and then they would look bad. (That meanie!) As I often write, most of the time, when conservatives say "freedom," they really mean privilege, and one of the key conservative precepts can be expressed as (directed at those they choose as their opponents), "You're not supposed to win." It's why their such gleeful bullies in power and such petulant whiners out of it. They see any election that doesn't go their way as inherently illegitimate. And self-described conservatives and libertarians essentially argue that they (and only they) should have veto power over all decisions made by a representative government.

    I'm trying to think if rightwing ideology provides absolutely anything of benefit to the world – and off-hand, I can't come up with anything. (Certainly nothing unique that can't be found elsewhere. And sure, individual rightwingers might do some positive things on a personal level, but the ideology? What can ya say? "At least it's an ethos"?)

  2. Brad DeLong has an interesting post up about a long ago conversation he had about charity vs. government sponsored health care. He alludes to Corey Robins' book on right wing thinking which I've been wanting to read. But basically what he describes is a highly localized, highly pathological, neo feudalist approach to human existence. People get what they get--if they don't have enough money to soften life's blows and, specifically, pay for medical care then they should take that as a judgement on their failings as a citizen and just die already, or go and beg for help from their neighbors and churches. Begging and its implied submission to the will of god/fate does not challenge the natural economic inequalities of the good society. In fact: it supports it since, (like tipping, there's that point again) it reifies power relations and enables the giver to assert his moral superiority over the receiver.

    Maybe this is too big a leap for a mere comment. In fact, since I started writing it I've forgotten the exact connection I wanted to make. Hm. I think its this: a feudal approach to society and government presupposes that persons are unequal and always will be. That certain persons are hammers, and certain persons nails, and if you are a nail your role is simply to endure the striking. Obama, in this version of reality, is a jumped up peasant, an outsider (certainly) to Texas style feudal politics. I think its no surprise that Texans, even fake Texans, led the charge in both the Senate and the House. Obama was, as you said, "not supposed to win" and his initiatives too are "not supposed to win." Because he is illegitimate as a political actor, being black/urban/educated/foreign/nonsouthern and because his policies would overturn feudal structures in which people are stuck in their places and exist on handouts and charity.

    They have, of course, explicitly made this argument many times. It is a standard trope on the right that Democratic Taxes that go for social goals are an illegitimate form of Charity and that they disable the Christian Charity that local good people would perform--that because they make mandatory what should be voluntary they are, in effect, anti Christian (the giver is no longer going to be rewarded for his charity since he was forced to do it. No free will. No recognition. No submission by the receiver.)

  3. Thanks for the tip on the DeLong piece (reading it reminded me of an experience I had many years back accompanying a family member to a conservative church).

    Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind is definitely worth a read. I'm sorry the Balloon Juice book club on it got killed. The book's a bit disjointed since most of the chapters started as standalone articles, but they share a common theme and some of the chapters are superb on their own. This post by Robin is probably the best overview. Meanwhile, I still need to read Albion's Seed, myself (although I've read a fair amount about it at this point). I've long held that conservatives/libertarians are pushing for a form of neofeudalism. But I'm still pondering the different strains of conservatism and how to accurately classify them.

    There's plenty to be written on all these subjects, and at some point, I hope to be able to do some of that… but you've got it well-covered! (Speaking of which, I've long been meaning to write a piece on the conservative fetish for hierarchies and the King in The Little Prince, but I want to do it in a way that doesn't sully St. Exupery.)

    Oh, also, related to one of the comments on your tipping post, I think Robin's post on animosity toward teachers would also be up your alley. (During my brief teaching stints, I ran into many parents who were very appreciative, but I also definitely witnessed the "hired help" attitude.)

  4. I should put up a link to the Brad piece on the blog proper, and I will since I don't think it will go out of date any time soon. Another book that I've been meaning to read, along with the Corey Robins, is a book which seems to be a bit of a knock off of Albion's Seed. I've come across it a few times but haven't read it yet--its called something like "11 regional political cultures." Sorry: here. Its Colin Woodward's "American Nations: Eleven Regional American Cultures." My guess is that he teases out the history of settlement and resettelment and cultural drift in these different pockets of American culture. It might be thought of as related to "The Great Sort" but less moronic and blinkered. Since I haven't read The Great Sort that is totally unfair of me but thats my impression of anything that starts far from the real cultural and historical roots of American identity.