We know how much right wingers love their revenge fantasies. You know, the masturbatory daydreams in which all of America – no, let's say the whole world – comes back on their hands and knees groveling for Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and the John Birch Society and Joe McCarthy to save them. They look at the results of the last few elections and ruefully point out that We'll Be Sorry for our naive folly, reminding us that we will look back on 2001 through 2008 as the golden age of the American Empire. I understand the psychological causes of this kind of juvenile fantasizing. Like the kid with no social skills on a playground, Republicans have to compensate for their near-complete inability to relate to other human beings by telling themselves that soon the entire public, most of which thinks Republicans are incompetent assholes, will have a change of heart and declare the GOP the most popular kids in school. If you're Dick Armey, it makes perfect sense that you need to tell that to yourself. I understand the value of protecting one's ego with delusions.

This, on the other hand, is just stupid.

Perhaps the Brits give us even less credit for intelligence than we deserve as a nation, but the headline-as-premise "Bloodless President Barack Obama makes Americans wistful for George W. Bush" breaks new ground in the art of projecting one's own desires as public opinion. His premise is not, to his credit, that George W. Bush was a better president or even an adequate one. It is that Bush was more exciting. He was clearer about his goals and preferences. He was more "real." It was easier to relate to him. He governed with emotion, and Americans want to see some "fire in the belly," as the author calls it. All of these statements are both true and completely ridiculous.

Yes, Bush made clearer decisions. But they were terrible decisions. Repeatedly, and almost unfailingly. He "shot from the hip" or whatever stupid metaphor you want to use, but that is merely a positive spin on the act of making decisions without thinking them through, without considering the consequences, and with little or no information. People who can't tell their ass from a hole in the ground did find him very easy to relate to because he can't figure out the difference either. He governed with emotion because he lacked the brainpower to govern otherwise. All of these sexy, exciting characteristics led us to the brink of ruin.

Say we have two basketball players. One is a master showman – dressing flamboyantly, diving around the court theatrically, passionately berating the officials, and generally making a great drama of everything he does – who can't make a shot to save his soul. The second is as drab and unremarkable as one can be and he makes shot after shot reliably in every game. Fans might get a kick out of the first player, but which will help you win the game? So even if the author's premise is right (and it isn't, given the mountains of polling data showing that no one is wistfully recalling the last eight years) it would be a damning critique of the public and its inability to tell style from substance. Or to realize that substance is indeed the more important of the two. Yes, Obama is cold and technocratic; Bush was fiery and passionate. The former is cold and technocratic about good ideas; the latter was wildly passionate about terrible ones.

17 thoughts on “QUIET YEARNING”

  • Peggy nailed this in comments on the last post regarding the importance of certainty over being right. I would add that it's not just a weak populace who want a fearless leader / con artist, but also a populace who are aware, at some level, that they haven't the knowledge to make an informed decision, and move based on emotional whims, rudderless. It's part of how flag pins became planks in the party platform. Spare me the issues; what color necktie did he wear?

    Moral complexity causes migraines and self-doubt and occasionally regret. Better to live by the corollary: ignorance is bliss.

  • Not all of America is populated by simpletons. There's a lot of them and I'm sure they miss Smirk whose stupidity made the rest of them think 'I'm a regular Joe just like dubya'.
    The author of the (s)hitpiece you refer to is just another media whore waving the faeces stick to sell a few rags.

  • In Britain there are right-wingnut wackaloons that make Palin look sane. Of course there are those in the Republic Party (or as I now call them the Death Party) who think the reason McCain lost is because he wasn't far enough to the right. That's all wishful thinking on their part and I hope they keep thinking that way. They are the ones that say, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!!"

  • I particularly like the portentous and faintly sinister reference to an "enemy within" in reference to Fort Hood (and the misspelling of Nidal Hasan's name). I wouldn't take this crap too seriously, though; the Telegraph is a hard-right rag whose editorial budget has basically been gutted in the past few years, taking all the quality journalism with it.

  • In the last days of W.'s presidency, a Beckian loon told me that "In two years' time, you're gonna be missing him so badly." I allowed as how that might be so, but only in the sense that after two hours of watching a Merchant/Ivory film, I might miss the four hour Bruckheimer-fest that preceded it. Shit movies by shit directors with a shitload of money have an exciting appeal that measured thoughtfulness and a sense of decorum do not. But seeing as I have to *live* in one of these two movies…ehhh, I'll take the arty snooze-fest, thanks. More tea, anyone?

  • Wife beaters also tell their women, when the latter decide to seek help and move out, that they'll miss their beatings. "If I beat you, it is because I love you." Anyway, there's nothing new about the fact that Beckians are fucked up in the head. Do they have a head, anyway? Many of them strike me as cephalopods.

  • Des – cephalopods have heads (In fact, I believe that cephalopod means something like 'head and feet'). Recent studies I'm too lazy to google and provide a link to have also shown that some of them MAY be capable of observational learning.

    So not all that much like the Beckians.

  • I disagree that Bush made terrible decisions. I don't believe they were necessarily his but that is an answer to a different question.

    Let's take a look –
    1 – Richest 400 families further enriched by about $1.5 billions each – check
    2 – Massive upward redistribution of wealth at every decile – check
    3 – Saudi royal family enriched by about $20 trillion – check
    4 – Sadaam dead – check
    5 – Massive oil company profits at the expense of working Americans – check
    6 – Iraqi infrastructure destroyed, keeping the iol in the ground – check
    7 – Middle East destabilized – check
    8 – Further impoverishment of the have-nots – check
    9 – Patriot act encroaches on basic American liberties – check
    10 – Military industrial complex wealth increases – check
    11 – Actual military severely damaged – check
    12 – So it could be displaced by mercenaries – in progress
    13 – Prison system privatized – in progress
    14 – Social Security Privatized – OK, even the Republicans like THEIR socialism, so – FAIL

    Now, I'll grant you, Shrub did not achieve all of his goals – I mean, I get my social security checks on time – but he sure accomplished a hell of a lot in eight fucking dismal years.

    Most successful presidency EVAH!


  • Beau: Yes, thank you. Cephalopods are entities whose head is attached to their feet, as it were. Kephas,-alos and pous,-odos, in the language of Aristotle. Gastropods is more like what I had in mind.

  • There is one problem with your basketball analogy. Of those two players, the one who couldn't make a shot would be run out of the league. Sure, he would create some nice headlines and eventually end up on a VH1 reality television show, but no real sports fan would have any time for him on the basketball court. We live in a country where the same person who could rattle off every member of the 1991 Chicago Bulls couldn't name all 50 states on a map. Our priorities are bonkers.

  • I find the idea that Obama is a serene Jedi Master and just isn't exciting enough to be more than a little retarded. He's drab but makes all the right shots? Right, like keeping Guantanamo open, continuing to torture innocent people and deny them trials, keeping silent about gay rights, maintaining a deceptively hawkish two front war, and actively participating in the corporatism of his predecessor is "making all the right shots?" You don't hide your political allegiances, but seriously, do you have any semblance of perspective?

  • Utopian Engineering is a game the left likes to play. Building the perfect society is like attempting to build a perpetual motion machine; it's impossible.

    Actually Socialist attempts to build these perfect societies has resulted in carnage greater even than what the National Socialists did.

    "Every time I think I want to become a Republican, they do something greedy. Every time I think about becoming a Democrat, they do something stupid." … J. Leno

    I think about the good old days when I killed commies, and I long for it again. It gives a rush like none other.

    Of course some babies were killed during that time; it was called "collateral damage". But killing babies is legal now according to the pro-abortionists. Also, the little ones grow up to be big ones. The end justifies the means, doesn't it?

    Who knows what is right? I guess it all depends on who's bull is getting gored.

    In the past, the Judeo/Christian ethic was the cornerstone of a civilized society; but that's all gone now. We make the rules as we go. Hmmm? Where are we going? I used to think the Nuremberg Trials exemplified a just and civilized society; but now I wonder. Was it right to have Russian war criminals condemning German war criminals?

    I'm glad that you've got it all figured out; or does the Kenyan have it all figured out for you?

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