Politics: January 2008 Archives

Hope Killer


John Dickerson, with my comments in red:

Bill Clinton was so angry because it got ugly at the end in Nevada. [Whose fault was that?] Democrats may have cooled down their flash war over race and gender earlier this week, but by the time the vote took place Saturday, each of the two top campaigns was flinging some very ugly charges about the other. Bill Clinton accused the powerful Nevada culinary union of suppressing voters, claiming he'd witnessed it first hand. [If you follow the link, you will see that Clinton's accusations are somewhat ridiculous.] Obama's campaign manager in turn threw out some very charged coded language about efforts by the Clinton campaign to suppress the vote. "It is a sad day when Democrats start trying to suppress the vote of other Democrats," he said of push polls, robo-calls, and what he called "old-style say anything or do anything to win" Clinton politics. [1. What part of that is "coded"? And was it coded two sentences ago when it was Bill Clinton accusing Obama supporters of "suppression"? 2. Look at the first sentence of this paragraph -- Bill got angry. Why? Because he threw out dubious and in one instance demonstrably false claims and Obama responded with actual evidence of Clinton chicanery. Yeah, it sucks getting beat at your own game! I'd be mad too!]

Commence the hand-wringing. How do you put a party back together when Obama claims that Clinton wins only by winning ugly? [Well, you can start by not supporting the candidate who has an ex-president lying on the campaign trail for her and who is sending out her surrogates to slam Obama as a drug-dealing Islamist? And doesn't this beg the question of whether Obama's claims are true?] Historically, political parties find ways to put themselves back together, but Clinton risks looking like a hope killer if Obama's charges that she's succeeded unfairly start to stick. [This is pretty pathetic. First of all, it begs another question: has she? And why are Obama's accusation tearing the party apart? Isn't Bill Clinton slandering unions and lying about Obama's radio ads doing as much?] In addition to charges by Obama aides, the candidate himself was accusing Clinton of distorting his record [Question begged: Did she?] and saying anything to get elected in the final hours of campaigning. [Question begged: Is she?] Clinton's negatives are already high enough [High enough for what? Is there some ceiling on how much people should dislike an awful candidate?] This prospect of Clinton commanding a party stitched together like Frankenstein may at some point cause people to resist supporting her even if their doubts about Obama increase. [This is total BS. The Clinton's can say and do whatever they want, but when Obama calls them on it with evidence, he's endangering the party in an unprecedented way.]

I'm no Obama fan, as I've made clear in numerous posts over a couple of years here, but Dickerson here is shameless.

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Liberal Fascism


I'm no Jonah Goldberg fan and I have no intention of reading his book, but I think he acquits himself surprisingly well in this interview. He's pretty good at avoiding the interviewer's Gotcha! proof-texts about Mussolini, and I much appreciated this (ellipses in original):

Payne also says that a "fundamental characteristic" of fascism was "extreme insistence on what is now termed male chauvinism and the tendency to exaggerate the masculine principle in almost every aspect of activity." How does that fit in with contemporary liberalism, especially Hillary Clinton, who was at one point in the subtitle of your book?

It's a great question. I've actually thought a lot about that, and I wish I had quoted that thing from Payne, because I say at the end of the book that the classical fascisms of mid-20th century were essentially masculine phenomena. They fit in the Orwellian dystopian vision of the future, where you have the strong father figure. ... That was the vision of a more sexist time when leadership was inherently male. I think one of the things that marks contemporary liberalism is that it's much more feminine. And I think that's probably to the better; I would much rather [get] hugs than blows from a billy club.

But there's another dystopian understanding of the future, which we get from [Aldous] Huxley's "Brave New World." That was a fundamentally American vision ... [T]he vision of the Huxleyian "Brave New World" future is one where everyone's happy. No one's being oppressed, people are walking around chewing hormonal gum, they're having everything done for them, they're being nannied almost into nonexistence. That's the fascism in Hillary Clinton's vision. It's not the Orwellian stamping on a human face thing, it's hugs and kisses and taking care of boo-boos. It is the nanny state. That is a much more benign dystopia than "1984," but for me at least, it's still a dystopia. An unwanted hug is still as tyrannical or as oppressive -- not as oppressive, but an unwanted hug is still oppressive if you can't escape from it ... [O]ne of the biggest distinctions between what I'm calling liberal fascism ... and classical fascism, is that classical fascism was masculine and violently oppressive and today's liberalism is feminine and not oppressive but smothering with kindness.

Anyway, it seems to me that his path to tieing fascism to liberalism is by using fascism as a sort of stand-in for statism. That seems problematic to me. Fascists and liberals are both obviously statists, but fascism tended to use statism in an exclusionary way -- "we are the Aryan nation," whereas most progressives are statist in a multi-culti all-inclusive way that tends to transcend the nationalism inherent in fascism. So I guess Goldberg is right that fascism is statist and liberalism is statist, but the uniquely horrible things about fascism had less to do with it being statist than with it being a rallying cry for one group of people to justify hating another group of people. Liberalism at its best doesn't do that. (Though I will note the obvious -- liberalism as practiced publicly is far from liberalism at its best, but then we'd have to say the same thing about conservatism, because people on every side of every debate are tempted to use their cause to rally people in hatred against the other, which sort of leads us to the uninteresting and obvious thesis that slightly fascist tendencies exist on all sides of the spectrum.)

But of course, those are just preliminary impressions based onthe interview and uninformed by the actual book, which I don't intend to read.

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The reassuring demagogue


According to Andrew Sullivan, McCain:

  • is "the most reassuring as a potential president"
  • is "demagoguic"
  • "has learned nothing from these past five years and even less from history"
  • is "clearly the Republicans' best viable candidate"

Thanks for clearing that up, Sully.

This leads me to inaugurate a series I will be running from now until the Illinois primary, entitled:

"Why I can't vote for any of these clowns."

Episode 1: The McCainiac

Boy, you gotta have sympathy for John McCain. He should have been the nominee in 2000, and has spent the 8 years since then (except for McCain-Feingold and immigration) kissing the rear-end of every Republican in the nation, telling everybody who would listen, "I am a conservative Republican." The hawkiest of the hawky hawks, he famously backed the surge* before it was popular, but gets no credit from the Limbaugh wing of the Republican party because of a handful of instances where he has exhibited independent thinking.

On the other hand, McCain did this all to himself. The "maverick" McCain relished being a media darling, but when you repeatedly give your party's base the middle figure, it makes it tough to ask for a promotion.

What about being pro-life? Well, he generally votes right on abortion, but Rick Santorum recently took a break from running EPPC's stupidest program (though I suppose I should give them credit for changing the name from the "America's Enemies" program) to point out that, off the Senate floor, McCain "fought against us to even bring [social issues] up." So he voted pro-life, but tried to make it so he wouldn't have to. I guess he saves all of his passion for planning 50-year occupations of Iraq, because occupying Arab countries works so well, doesn't it?

Furthermore, with regard to character, I know everybody says McCain's is unimpeachable, but every time I see him move his mouth, all I hear is condescending drivel. He doesn't sound sincere, he sounds like somebody straining really hard to sound sincere. The result is I don't believe a word he says.

So there you go, I won't be voting for McCain because he's at best tepid on those life issues he happens to get right but passionate about fighting wars we can't afford against countries that can't hurt us, and because I don't believe a word he says.

That said, if a war hawk has to win, I guess I hope it's McCain, because he's the only candidate of either party I can see as a competent commander in chief. I think his concern for our troops is genuine and if you're going to police the world, you can't have a Keystone Kop as your chief.

* I don't watch debates, but has any Republican debate moderator had the stones to ask if the surge's "success" isn't at least partly due to ethnic cleansing having been successfully carried out? Killing or chasing away all of the other sects in your neighborhood would reduce sectarian violence.

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Register to Vote!


Champaign folk -- you only have until the 8th if you're not already registered!

Here's how.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2008.

Politics: November 2007 is the previous archive.

Politics: February 2008 is the next archive.

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