AUTOPSY OF CONSERVATISM

Posted in Quick Hits on February 16th, 2009 by Ed

Here's a good but certainly not brief piece of afternoon reading: "Conservatism is Dead: an intellectual autopsy of the movement" from Sam Tanenhaus in the pages of The New Republic. It's an analysis, free of hubris or gloating, of the events and mistakes that have brought the conservative movement to straits more dire than its remaining elected officials are willing to admit or liberals will allow themselves to believe.

JACKIE GINGRICH GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on February 16th, 2009 by Ed

(note: primer on the FJM can be found here)

Proving just how far being born of the right person can go in the insular circle-jerk that is the right-wing media, one of Newt Gingrich's spawn has carved out a neat side career as a commentator of last resort. Jackie Gingrich "focuses on current events and political issues from a mom's perspective" in her weekly musings and is a serial filler guest on Fox News: her bio notes that she has appeared on the Mike Huckabee Show, Geraldo At Large, Fox and Friends, and Fox News (i.e., Fox News, Fox News, Fox News, and Fox News). Since there isn't a conservative columnist intelligent or original enough to do anything except piss and moan about the stimulus bill this week, I was like a kid in a candy store. More accurately, I was like an adult who loves dipshits in Crazy Pete's Dipshit Emporium and Go-Kart Track. Standing before the sea of detritus, I plunged in a gloved hand and pulled forth the greatest abomination: Gingrich's "The Best-Case Scenario."

Curious to learn about the future? Me too. Let's go.

This week marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Lincoln, one of our most revered presidents, was born in rural Kentucky and raised in Illinois. He is often held up as an example of how individual effort determines a person’s course in life.

He also is often held up as an example and mascot by the Republican Party. Let's play along and pretend that Lincoln, if alive today, would associate himself with that trainwreck.

While many people in his time might have viewed the education that he embraced as a waste of time, Lincoln spent every possible minute reading books. There are stories of how he would walk for hours to borrow or return a book.

Historians are unable to pinpoint exactly when this became grounds for exclusion from the GOP. But seriously, I'm sure Lincoln, Lindsey Graham, and James Inhofe would have lots to talk about. They could compare critical readings of the poetry of William Knox or Robert Burns, which was the deceased President's favorite pleasure reading. Abraham Lincoln: Private Life also notes his fondness of Poe, a drug addict who banged his 13 year-old cousin. Come to think of it, Poe would have made a decent Republican State Legislator in the deep south today.

Lincoln worked constantly. His law partner, William H. Herndon, noted in “Life of Lincoln” that “his ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.” Sustained individual effort, always working, is a far cry from where we are today.

I hope there's a cloying, oversimplified lesson we can learn from his example.

In his New York Times op-ed column “Failure to Rise,” Paul Krugman writes “America just isn’t rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years.” Krugman’s point is that “$800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn’t nearly enough.” Krugman wants more government intervention. He calls for more, more, more, from Washington, and concludes with a warning, “There’s still time to turn this around. But Mr. Obama has to be stronger looking forward. Otherwise, the verdict on this crisis might be that no, we can’t.”

I think we started a different column here. Cut-and-paste error, perhaps? In any case, I'm anxious to see how rapidly Mr. Krugman's PhD, 30 years of experience as an economist (including working for Reagan), and Nobel Prize wither under the Down Home, Main Street Wisdom of the Average Mom who just Happens to be related to a wealthy politico.

His approach put responsibility for the economy into the lap of the government. From his perspective, it appears as if the government has total control, and what it does will, in the end, determine what happens.

No, that's not even close to what he's saying. But then again, I never did understand Down Home, Main Street Wisdom! Maybe I need to have some cornbread and banjo music as I read. Something to make my reading environment more…folksy.

If we believed this, all individual effort would stop, we would no longer try to improve ourselves

Wow, we were speeding down Predictable Lane and took a quick right turn on Retarded. Hang on! I know this makes no sense, but hang on.

our nation would suffer from what Dr. Martin Seligman, the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, calls “learned helplessness.”

Learned Helplessness as a psychological theory doesn't apply here – not even a little – but since Wikipedia doesn't explain it very well I guess this is all we'll get from Jackie.

(David Brooks quote filler omitted) This past week’s conversations have reflected the growing belief among conservatives that the Obama administration’s policies are moving us toward a period of nationalism and government control that at some point will leave us looking like the British did more than three decades ago.

First of all, conservatives came to this conclusion about Obama 12 months ago. In fact, they came to this conclusion 50 years ago and they just update the name. Second of all, "this past week's conversations" lets us know that the best part of Conservative Commentary is about to rear its misshapen head: the Columnist Making Profound Conclusions Based on Some People He/She Talked To.

This past week, I was e-mailed a link to a video clip of Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York.

You know, people who fancy themselves Real Columnists don't admit that their research and ideas come from forwarded chain emails.

“And let me say this to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny, yes porky amendments, the American People really don’t care,” he said during a debate on the stimulus bill.

Well, that sounds about right. I've already been among the chorus of people who have pointed out that if this works, nobody is going to give a flying shit what was in the bill. The 30 Republicans who will be left in the Senate in that event will be appropriately critical, though.

My son Robert, who was standing by the computer and overheard Schumer, corrected him with “The American people DO care.” If a seven-year-old understands that the American people care, well then there is hope.

When pressed for details, Jackie Gingrich's Fucking Seven Year Old stated that his conclusion is based on a multi-year panel study of a broad sample of American adults aged 18-64. Tune in next week for another column based on the wisdom of a second-grader. Enjoy them while you can, though, because this kid is going to be a highly-paid Republican operative within six months given his preternatural understanding of public opinion and politics. This might explain why the upcoming Palin 2012 campaign will take such a curiously strong stance against Megatron.

The best-case scenario is one in which Americans decide that they do care, that they are optimistic, that they can change their lives, try something different and create their own future.

Make your own future, you lazy bastards. The world is just full of opportunity! If you can't find ways to make money in this economy (home demolition expert? suicide hotline counselor? rogue superhero named Forecloser?) then you deserve your lot in life.

This would require they understand how current policies would affect the future

And anyone who fails this requirement becomes a conservative pundit.

and act to stop them

So, to recap: it is imperative to accept Jackie Gingrich's Expert Opinion of what havoc these policies will cause and then stop them. Well, we've tried it the Democrats' way for about 3 weeks. It is time to stop them and give beleaguered conservatism a shot.

My mother told me yesterday that her ladies investment club members grappled with how to respond to the uncertainty.

Don't tell me you didn't see at least one more relative being quoted in this pile-of-shit column. We had the seven year-old, who took a break from playing with Legos to dissertate on public opinion, and now we have her elderly mother, who for no reason whatsoever I am going to assume shits her pants intermittently, explosively, and without prior warning.

The members were trying to determine whether to continue to make monthly contributions to their investment fund or to stop payments until some time in the future, when the crisis has eased. She recommended they continue.

This is fuckin' fascinating, Jackie. its level of fascinatingness exceeded only by its relevance. If Mother said so that's enough for me. When an expert like the woman Newt Gingrich divorced speaks, you listen.

“Right now,” she told them, “someone who has been laid off of work is in their basement inventing the next big thing. I believe in the American people.”

Good luck with that! Rock-solid investment advice, straight from the top.

My hope is that there are lots of people in their basements inventing, and not on their computers answering offers to help them get their portion of the stimulus package.

Everything good is invented in a basement. This is one of the rules governing the universe of Republican Fantasy America from 1951. Norman Rockwell characters everywhere, heading down to the Town Square to have an old-fashioned fountain Coke before heading back to their basement laboratories.

As a side note, people with computers do not invent things.

The cure for the British disease of the 1970’s was Margaret Thatcher. “We want to work with the grain of human nature, helping people to help themselves – and others,” noted the 1979 British Conservative Manifesto.

Well, Maggie's free these days. Maybe we can press her into service again, assuming for a moment that the economic malaise of the 1970s was in any way similar to the current one. I'll give Jackie a pass on the ludicrous assumption that Thatcherism cured anything except Britain's chronically low unemployment rate, which tripled during the Thatcher years.

“This is the way to restore that self reliance and self confidence which are the basis for personal responsibility and national success.”

The 28% of British children who were in poverty (a fivefold increase) when Maggie departed just didn't grasp the idea of personal responsibility, I guess.

If we really want to honor the great presidents of our nation,

I don't! I want to emulate random members of Jackie Gingrich's family.

let’s each of us emulate them by becoming little individual engines that know no rest, working toward personal responsibility and national success.

Good show, Jackie. Good show. Now. After this lecture I'm dying to know; what do you produce, Jackie? What is your contribution to our national success? Writing ridiculous shit like this? Or are you just using this as cover while you create the Next Big Thing in your elaborate basement Inventorium? Perhaps Jackie is just one more member of that enormous American "business" class who are so good at telling other people what to do that they don't need to do anything themselves.

Tags: ,