Friday, March 26, 2010

PANTLOAD AND THE PERFESSER DO AMERICA. Every once in a while some smartass tells me about something awful at Pajamas TV. That pisses me off, because PJTV wisely doesn't offer transcripts, which means I have to watch the fucking things if I want to keep up.

A few of you recently lured me to a chat between the Ole Perfesser and Jonah Goldberg. This promised the greatest team-up since Beavis and Butt-head, but alas, these two titans are not at their best. Nonetheless, some highlights:

• The Perfesser asks why "conservative intellectuals" like David Brooks have "not a lot of enthusiasm" for the totally awesome Tea Party movement. "There are different reactions from different people," muses Goldberg, "but you're right to generalize."

That could be the Shorter! But let's press on:

• Goldberg finds it "really bizarre" that Brooks compared the Tea Parties to the old New Left. Why, the New Left was "seeking to tear down existing institutions," says Goldberg, whereas the TP movement is "about restoration. There's a reason why they're buying all these books about the American Founding, why they're constantly talking about Thomas Paine and Don't Tread on Me."

That these alleged restorationists are attracted mainly to the most violent Revolutionary sentiments rather than, say, The Federalist Papers does not alert Goldberg to any contradiction, even when the Perfesser later elaborates that back in the colonial era, it was assumed that "if the government went too far, the people would just rise up in a body, it would be an organic thing" -- presumably like Shay's Rebellion, defeat of which began our long descent from the libertarian Valhalla of the Articles of Confederation to the Era of Big Gummint. (Or was it a false-flag operation?)

(BTW, do they know Paine thought Washington was an asshole?)

• Goldberg, in a semi-coherent ramble about the populism of the Ross Perot Reform Party, says that in '92 "the timing was just wrong because of Clinton and Bush I and the rest." Too bad there was no citizen journalist on hand to ask him the Tough Questions as to what he meant by that.

• The Perfesser gets down with The People! "The minute they do get interested in politics," he says, "everybody is basically saying 'why are all these ordinary Americans out there, shouldn't they just listen to their betters?' And actually that 'listen to their betters' is a lot of the tone I get not just from David Brooks but from a fair-number of sort of higher-level conservative intellectual types..."

The Perfesser quotes no examples of this, but as it's a matter of "tone," rather than actual words, he might have needed to express it via interpretive dance or his techno music, so it's just as well.

• "The Left," says Goldberg, "has bought into this idea that they have the monopoly on authentic protest" -- illustrated by a rant about "hippie kids" of the kind no one has heard since the days of Al Capp -- while conservative intellectuals are "trained to be skeptical of populism and mass-movement protest," which will certainly surprise anyone who's heard of Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13, the Moral Majority, etc.

Goldberg also chides the Left for being quick to call conservatives fascist, which I would find a charming piece of chutzpah if I had any faith that Goldberg knew what the fuck he was saying.

• After Goldberg claims National Review has always "had this internal debate about elitism vs. populism" -- Goldberg portrays William F. Buckley Jr. as a populist, which is like portraying Ernst Rohm as a scoutmaster -- the Perfesser pipes up, "I'm actually happy to be an elitist."

Well, of course he is -- after all, he's a Yalie and a tenured radical, and he's going to be among the elect for real when the Robot Rapture comes! But how's that square with his pitchfork Tea Party fervor? Simple:
I don't think the people running the country are an elite. I think if you look at it, they're not especially bright. They have no track record of especially good success.

What's happened in this country that's gone well over the last 50 years has mostly gone well in spite of the people running the country, not because of it. And so I don't think it's necessarily anti-elitist for groups of people to come up and say that the politicians and the journalists and the pundits are all a bunch of idiots because I think that's objectively a defensible position to take.

And I don't think that's anti-elitism. If you want to be an elitist, one of the things I think you have to be is an elite. It's like, you know, to be a diva, you're not actually just a woman who treats people badly, you're supposed to also be a woman who sings really, really well. And to be an elite, you have to be elite! You have to be good at something! And I look at Nancy Pelosi, or I look at, for that matter David Brooks, I think. what exactly are these people that good at, and I'm still waiting for an answer.
...says the guy doing a video in his rec room.

• "I think you make a good point," says Goldberg. Whereas "elite" is a meaningful term in plumbing, in politics "the word elite gets weird" -- because the political elite is really a "ruling class," or at least they are when they're Democrats, who are defending a "labor union-academic establishment and protecting their own interests to the detriment of society," in contrast to the altruistic oilmen behind George W. Bush.

• After a Perfessorial skein on his previous theme about how Politico is trying to work the "narrative" against the Tea Parties, Goldberg gently explains that Politico just likes to fuck shit up.

Corrected by Jonah Goldberg -- now that's a downfall! Fortunately for the Perfesser, the balance of the universe, and the ongoing cause of comedy, Goldberg immediately takes back the title of Clown Prince of Conservatism by offering as evidence of the Right's superior intellectual vibrancy the ongoing "healthy debate" between order and liberty as exemplified by... Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Next time they should get Goldberg all hopped up on Pibb Xtra before they turn on the cameras. The same basic idea worked for Chris Farley!

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