A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 :::

Speaking of Psychological Disorders: 
The Left's Obsession With The Mere Existence of the Right
The blame-it-all-on-Palin frenzy is quickly becoming uninteresting, and conservative comments on it are following close behind.  A Mind That Suits can’t quite wean himself, though, so some extra thoughts follow this post. 
What A Mind That Suits finds interesting is a mindset that is confined almost exclusively to the Left.
Several years ago, an old college friend was in town and he and A Mind That Suits lifted a glass to yesteryear at the posh hotel where his client was putting him up.  His wife called, and, after checking in on family matters with her husband, she wanted to say ‘hi.”
Her first words:  “So how is it, living in Bush Washington?”  One guesses that she was referring to the capital of Bush America.
Somewhat stunned, A Mind That Suits stammered that life in Washington never really changes, which is true.  The beloved uncle of A Mind That Suits, the great political novelist Allen Drury, never tired of saying so, and it should go without saying.  But it doesn’t, so A Mind That Suits said it again.
This points to an important difference between conservatives and “progressives.” 
Conservatives believe the world has one, hard, permanent reality, with human activity at best etchings in the sands of time that lie on top.  It is conservatives, after all, who refer to the police and military forces as the “thin blue line” between civilization and barbarity.
For the left, reality is a social construct brought into existence by words.  They have nothing in common with Americans who disagree with them, but are fellow citizens with foreigners who do.  They are essentially different from their fellow Americans, because they use different words.  Therefore, the mere presence of Bush in the White House changed the nature of America.
Don’t think so? 
Imagine—or rather, try to imagine—a conservative writing anything analogous to this gem after the Democrats are thrown out of office:
 “I was nervous until they finally called it on Election Night,” Krugman says. “We had an Election Night party at our house, thirty or forty people.”

“The econ department, the finance department, the Woodrow Wilson school,” Wells says. “They were all very nervous, so they were grateful we were having the party, because they didn’t want to be alone. We had two or three TVs set up and we had a little portable outside fire pit and we let people throw in an effigy or whatever they wanted to get rid of for the past eight years.”

“One of our Italian colleagues threw in an effigy of Berlusconi.”

“I put out some coloring paper and markers so that people could write stuff on it and throw it into the fire. People really felt like there was stuff they wanted to shed! I had little hats and party whistles.”

(So said the mighty Paul Krugman in a profile in the New Yorker.  For a further account, with apposite commentary, go here.)
One has to wonder how these people can function, much less get tenure at a prestigious university.  Why were they afraid to be alone on election night in the country with the second longest unbroken tradition of the peaceful transfer of power?  (Not wishing to break the flow with a lemma on the peaceful transfer of power, A Mind That Suits encourages readers to stick around for the endnotes.)
To return to the larger point.
Early in Bush’s first term, there arrived a sort of emotional disturbance that came to be known as Bush Derangement Syndrome, the lunacy that seemed to settle on progressives at the mere mention of George W. Bush.  A Mind That Suits has long felt that W. actually enjoyed the effect he had on people, which goes a long way toward explaining the more infuriating things that he did.
But please note:  A Mind That Suits said “infuriating.”  W. did things that made him furious.  Waiting until there was  a Democratic Congress he enjoyed bum rushing before increasing troop strength in Iraq comes to mind.  So does giving the federal government a dominant role in local school systems.  Add to that ignoring the budget.   These things made A Mind That Suits mad, and sometimes deeply embittered, but never insane.
Leftwing opponents of Bush went insane.
Leftists have also a tendency toward what I call “you-do-it-too-ism.”  Or "so-do-you-ism."  Or perhaps "neener-neener-neener-ism."
He noticed it many years ago when, surrounded by liberal friends, he commented on how liberals seem to think Europe does everything better, and one liberal spoke for all when she said, “Oh, I think conservatives do it, too.” 
At the time, it is true, some of the ancient writers at National Review were given to opining for the Glory That Was Europe, but they were referring to a Europe many long years gone.  Plus, even then, they were marginal.   William F. Buckley himself was practically made from apple pie (although with only the very rarest and best apples), and his younger writers were all the same. 

Except perhaps Joe Sobran, but that is getting into too much detail.
The point is, when smelly average people, who, you know, worked for a living, began to protest the very real prospect of the permanent impoverishment of their grandchildren and the gutting of the American character by overreaching government programs, the Left began to refer to “Obama Derangement  Syndrome,” as if conservatives were struck by an ailment similar to their own.
Except they weren’t. 
No conservative, no real conservative, believed that the election of Barack Obama represented any real change in the nature of America.  Most certainly, the idea of a Black man as president filled them with no dread whatsoever. 
Rather, conseratives saw the realization of their dream of a colorblind society.  They pointed with some pride to the entirely uneventful election of an African-American as president.  It showed that America was not the racist hellhole of leftwing fantasy.  They also pointed out that such an event was unlikely in another country.  Perhaps a complete novelty was possible, such as the election of Alberto Fujimori in Peru, but it is rare that a member of a large, well established minority in another country ever wins the support of the majority. 

In short, the person of Barack Obama, his mere existence, caused no trouble for conservatives at all.  Many kind of liked it.  (See Peggy Noonan's thoughtful, if rather left-brained, reverie: What I Saw At the Innauguration. A Mind That Suits saw much of the innauguration first hand, and thoroughly enjoyed himself.)
Perhaps this was why the faculty at Princeton did not want to be alone on Election Night: their prejudices were about to be shattered.  They need not have feared: their prejudices proved to be made of sturdy stuff.

It was Barack Obama's policies that infuriated all conservatives and a fatefully large percentage of independents.  Those policies were explicitly designed to change the character of American society, and thoughtful people didn’t like that idea at all.  (See one iteration of the oft repeated thoughts of Charles Krauthammer on this whole question.)
Very far from going nuts, disgruntled conservatives went and got educated.  They began reading all those doorstopper-sized bills and comparing them to the Constitution. For help articulating why they were so concerned, they turned to the great thinkers of the past for guidance.  They seem to have stopped at Friederich A. von Hayek and Milton Friedman, both of most happy memory. That is fine, but they need to fill in the gap between the Federalist Papers and the Schools of Austria and Chicago, starting with Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville.
The process began when they showed up at meetings and asked reasonable questions.  When they were told to sit down and do as their betters told them, they began this long and fruitful process of learning. 
And editing.  Any nuts that attached themselves to their protests were quickly banished.
One can see the same bifurcation in the differing attitudes toward antagonistic media.
Conservatives deride the MSM, to be sure, but they point at specific instances of bias and misreporting.
I have never seen any leftwing critic of Fox News bother with evidence.  It is the mere existence of Roger Ailes and company that drives them to paroxysms of rage.  Not only that, because they report things leftists would rather see go away, Fox’s use of words to report them makes those things real.  If Fox didn’t say them, they would go away, and all would be peaceful in faculty lounges throughout the land. 
Again, not convinced?  Read this post-election gem from longtime Washington Post writer Dana Milbank.   It deserves a longer treatment, and indeed, a longer treatment was what A Mind That Suits was going to give it until family matters intervened. 
For starters, Milbank ascribes to Fox News and the Republicans a coziness that in fact is a feature of “traditional media” reporters and the Democrats.  He also credits the Chamber of Commerce with spearheading conservative efforts in 2010, when it was in fact Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove.  There’s a lot to be said about this piece, but suffice it to say that it is the funniest thing A Mind That Suits read about the election.
One could go on, but the whole issue can be summed up thus: 
The left yammers on about how the right seeks to identify different groups as “the other” and marginalize or “disempower” them.  This is one more example of “you-do-it-too-ism.”  One need look no further than the current rantings about Tucson for confirmation.
On leftwing rage at the existence of conservatives:
A Mind That Suits is working on a painfully slow computer, but Jonah Goldberg at National Review unearthed an excellent quote from John Dos Passos's introduction to Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.'s, Up From Liberalism on the disproportion between what conservatives say and do and the violent rage with which liberals react.  He attributed it to the natural consequences of that Nietschean beast, the Will to Power.  When he tracks it down, A Mind That Suits will share it with his readers.
On the peaceful transfer of power:
Britain got there slightly later, in 1811, when the Prince Regent, the future George IV, ceded to Parliament all the power that his father, George III, had claimed for the monarchy in exchange for a fat pension with which to entertain his mistresses.  This proved, in retrospect, that the herculean efforts of the brilliant George III were but a holding action.  One can--many people have--go into the Freudian reasons the son of such a strong man was so feckless, but it was simply true that George IV gave up everything. 

But then, one cannot really expect much of a man whose family called him "Prinnie."
The United States started two generations before, with a relatively bloodless revolution and the establishment of a system that allowed the election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson’s Republicans (now Democrats) took over from John Adams’s Federalists. 
The succession of such peaceful transfers, of course, was not unbroken.  Or rather, the succession itself was unbroken, but keeping it that way was not peaceful.  The Founders punted on the question of slavery, almost guaranteeing a Civil War, which proved, alas, that war is in fact the answer  to some things.
On the Left's failure to cite specific instances of what they complain about:
If you want some fun, ask a particularly irate leftist what specifically the Tea Partiers are demanding.  A Mind That Suits had one say they wanted to preserve only the tax cuts for "the rich," but normally they strip gears.  Very funny.
One more reaction to the reaction to the Tragedy in Tucson:
One can only look on in wonder:  despite mounting evidence that Jared Lee Loughner is a paranoid schizophrenic who scared everyone around him, the Commentariat of Your Betters has been insisting ever more loudly that it is all Sarah Palin’s fault.  The Washington Post even dedicates precious pixels to analyzing whether the graphics on her PAC’s website were gun sights—as seems obvious—or surveyor’s, as a Palin spokesman declared.
Lamely, in the eyes of A Mind That Suits.  Palin should stick by her metaphorical guns, as did recently elected Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.  He famously had the anti-coal cap-and-trade bill shot in one ad—not a  re-enactment, but an actual gunshot to that stupid legislation.  He said there was nothing wrong with it, and it did not inspire violence.  Good man.  Palin’s spokesman’s evasion only gave longer legs to the story.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 5:11 PM



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