Friday, March 02, 2007

ARMY OF ME. Where have we heard this line of reasoning before? Ross Douthat defends David "Bobo" Brooks against the perfectly reasonable charge that Brooks uses his bullshit sociology (e.g., Park Slope moms are ridiculous because they don't dress their kids in potato sacks and feed them lard) as a stick to beat liberals. Douthat tries a couple of common tricks -- the "only kidding" dodge (implying, bizarrely, that Brooks' critics don't understand that Brooks' "Stepford Moms" reference "did not literally mean that most of the mothers in Brooklyn are stay-at-home Connecticut WASPs" -- as if cringing at an inapt analogy were the same thing as not getting a joke), accusations of librul shrillness (followed, as is the custom, by various slurs -- "mind-bogglingly idiotic" etc. -- against liberals). But his defense mainly rests on the idea that Brooks is really a centrist:
The theory that Brooks' cultural writings are intended as subtle political attacks on liberalism tells us more, I think, about the need to pigeonhole writers by their political allegiances than it does about Brooks himself... Difficult as it may be to believe, when Brooks "plays up his Bobo-ness," it's because he really is a Bobo, and when he "hints at progressivism" (by, say, writing columns praising Barack Obama) it's because he really is a centrist, not a hard-right pundit cloaking his "political attacks" in culture writing.

None of this means that he isn't a Republican...
I love that last bit. So you see, Osama Bin Laden is himself a Semite! Not to say that he doesn't hate Jews... Anyone who has read, oh, four or five David Brooks columns knows what he is. He's constantly beating up on liberals, constantly applauded by conservatives. But he and his claque wish him to be known as a centrist, and tell us that if we don't treat his attacks as well-meant, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger constructive criticisms by a member of the family, we're thought policemen trying to define "liberalism" narrowly (i.e., as something that is not conservatism).

You see this all the time with other "centrist" or "moderate" or "Whig" characters, such as Ann Althouse, whose blog is about 90 percent rightwing guff parfaited with treacle -- and the rest is complaints that liberals, whom she beats up regularly, accuse her of having a political agenda.

It's a means toward having it both ways, which is increasingly the only way these guys can stand to have it. As they wanted to bomb the hell out of Iraq and be hailed as liberators, they also want to be praised by their domestic opposition as well as by themselves, and so come up with "sensible," "true" or "classical" liberals to tell them how awful liberals are, a transaction that puts me in mind of Jack Nicholson and Rita Moreno at the end of Carnal Knowledge.

It figures that, at the same time, many conservatives have devoted themselves to figuring out how they can make "wet" Republican Presidential contenders into believable social conservatives:
...the nominee will likely be Giuliani or McCain or Romney. Instead of tearing them down and ruling them out, there's something to be said about making them be Right. And watching them as they are in the hot seat — with reporters following their every move — to see if they have their stories straight and know what they're talking. You'd have to be a damn good fake to fake it for the length of this process...
...and if you think these guys aren't "damn good" fakers, you haven't been paying attention.

Fake liberals, fake conservatives: That's really what it's about, I guess -- convincing others, and maybe themselves, that shit is ice cream. (Oops, I said a bad word. Disregard everything I just wrote.) Sometimes I think that whole "reality-based" thing is the only meaningful comment on American politics made in the past decade.

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