Trump is all your fault.
Ross "Fucking"* Douthat needs to rehabilitate the Republican party at once to save his career. Because he is a smarmy little Snivellus Snape, he used his usual methods of persuasion: wishful thinking, elaborate world-building, and underhanded deception. His most recent deception is an elaborate lie that purports to explain why liberals are to blame for Trump, not the conservatives who voted for him.
Douthat spins a variation of the fantasy in which conservatives chose Trump because he is a celebrity. In his version of the tale, conservatives didn't choose Trump because they had rejected their elite after its serial failures to respond to their needs but still wanted an authoritarian leader who inflamed and pandered to their financial, class and racial anxieties. They chose Trump because of sex.
The sexual revolution, Douthat tells us, was comprised of two parts. The male sexual revolution was the freedom to prey on women sexually for the first time. The female sexual revolution was the pill and their inevitable exploitation by male predators. The female sexual revolution won out but ever since, liberalism has been inextricably intertwined with sexuality and therefore sexual exploitation. Wherever you see sexual exploitation, you will see Trump. Therefore liberals are to blame for Trump.
It is easy to forget that Douthat was born one month and three days before the 1980s arrived. He is 36 years old. He went to high school from around 1993 to 1997.
But his is an old soul, and he understands the ways of the past and mourns their, uh, passing.
A man who refuses to defend his country can still feel the thrill of patriotism, bought by the body bags of lesser-elite men. He can still be a Big Thinker and Leader Of Men without actually thinking or leading. Man is not free unless he is free to refuse to help his country and fellow countrymen. America is the Land Of Opportunity For The Elite, after all.
Some men, much poorer men who didn't go to Harvard, thought that they must live their conservative values when the country is threatened, and must in all duty and honor act to defend it. Other, wealthier men, felt that their skill set would be most appropriate for a Manhattan apartment, an intellectual profession, a virginal wife and dear little babies, and therefore, in their noblesse oblige, chose to lead by staying behind, and fight by turning on a computer screen.
The son of the granddaughter of the Governor of Connecticut doesn't put on boots and wake up at dawn and run and sweat until he's no longer the weak-fingered and soft-bellied son of privilege. He gets a job at National Review. Instead of joining the actual fight, Douthat grabbed the chance to go boating with greatness and be attended to by Buckley's servants. Douthat chose to take up the "pen" as his weapon in the Fight Against Muslim Fecundity which now consumes so much of his belated sense of urgency. His actions are ample proof that one doesn't need to experience white supremacy to miss it, or to miss the loss of sexual repression, fear and hysteria.
Because of his depth of soul and mind, Ross Douthat also understands to his very loins the mores and values of yesteryear. The Pill is older than Douthat yet he personally feels the mortal loss of "culture" it has inflicted on Christianity and therefore the world and everyone in it, conservative Christian or not. The Sexual Revolution promised the freedom of self-control over one's own sexuality, which as we all know was forbidden by the one and only Christian God, who said, "Lo, I shall create the biological urge to boogie down in (nearly) every man, woman, and beast but if they shouldst boogie down in a way not endorsed by Ross "Fucking" Douthat, they shall destroy My Culture and be sent to Hell."
Douthat achieved his party's goal of gross economic inequality but saving the economy isn't enough. He must once again take up arms against the enemy, his wife and daughters and women everywhere, to save his country and his God and his career. Their futures and happiness will be the price they are forced to pay for his freedom to create a false façade of piety while the New York Times let the Bush Administration tip-toe through the corpses, and while Trump threatens to sink the Republican party.
Despite his comparative youth and biologically determined (more or less) sex, Douthat is an elite and the elite are inherently moral. Therefore he is uniquely qualified to tell women that their desire to control their own sexuality has destroyed White Male Christian America. Now that White Male Christian America is dead, this rough beast Trump has been unleashed upon the land. Without the (preferably Catholic) church to repress sexuality, men and women have chosen to have sex. Since Donald Trump also chose to have sex, sex is to blame for Donald Trump. Since the Catholic Church would happily prevent anyone from having sex, they could have prevented the rise of Donald Trump and the decline of morality and therefore civilization, had they not been weakened by all the screwing.
Women are killing God and Western Civilization with their rejection of His Holy Commands Though Not His Actual Commands Which Don't Mention Sex, and once again Douthat must press a computer button, tell Consuela to stop playing peek-a-boo with the baby and fetch him a cup of coffee, por favor, and go to war.
IN a different campaign or era, it would have been a race-altering moment; in this one, it was barely a scandal. There was Melania Trump, the potential first lady of the United States, posing stark naked in ’90s-era photos published by the New York Post — and then in the next day’s edition, canoodling lipstick-lesbian style in bed. Yet the press yawned, her husband’s latest outrage overshadowed it, and it only stayed a story because the date of the photos raised questions about the future Mrs. Trump’s immigration status.Obviously, this is liberals' fault. Conservatives voted for the blowhard with the bombshell nude model wife (for now) because liberals destroyed public decency. Naturally, the conservative party had to abandon all of its supposed deeply held principles, upon which their party platform is based and which were formed to be pleasing to God, in response. If women hadn't debased the culture by agreeing to have sex, thereby setting forth a chain reaction that led to the breakdown of society, conservatives wouldn't be forced to be hypocrites and vote for the stiffiner's husband.
This election was supposed to be a referendum on Hillary Clinton, long a polarizing figure because she seemed to embody the cultural transformations of the 1960s — the liberal, feminist, working-mother spouse of the first boomer president.If it weren't for Trump and therefore liberals, Douthat could have spent the year slowly raking Clinton over the coals, pastor-izing about the minutia of Bill Clinton's sexual history and blaming Clinton's feminism for driving her husband into another woman's arms. Instead, he spent it attempting to defend the indefensible and in increasingly more unctuous tones insisting that racism shouldn't be a barrier to leadership or policy, except for Trump, of course, who is actually liberal because he appears to like having sex.
But in the year of Donald Trump, the religious conservatives who fought many of those transformations find themselves reduced to a hapless rump. The best have retreated to rebuild; the worst have abased themselves before a sybaritic, irreligious presidential nominee.Douthat wants us to believe that the religious conservatives are now the Trump rump, the Ass's ass, the Blowhard's Blowhole. (TM) He does not want us to realize that far from keeping back the tide named Trump, the religious right has been supporting Trump. The facts ruin his fairy tale in which rampant promiscuity made Donald Trump popular, not his wealth, abrasiveness, and authoritarianism. The facts also kill his attempt to scapegoat liberals, so he ignores them.
So in word, deed and his wife’s “artistic” shots, it’s Trump rather than Clinton who has confirmed the full triumph of the sexual revolutions.Douthat is probably shifting awkwardly in his seat at this point and tugging at his sensible slacks.
I say revolutions, plural, because Trump is a reminder that the 1960s happened in stages, with different figures and worldviews shaping its social shifts. As John Podhoretz wrote in a shrewd column, Trump and Hillary are both children of the ’60s — but of its opposite ends, the Brat Pack era in Trump’s case and the flowering of boomer liberalism in Hillary’s.As everyone has pointed out, Douthat meant the Rat Pack, not the Brat Pack, who are now all in their fifties, I believe but won't look up. Evidently his editor wasn't old enough to remember the Brat Pack either, let alone the Rat Pack, who were an off-shoot of a group of even cooler entertainers in the 1950s. When Lauren Bacall is your den mother, you don't sass a lady. Or blame her for your own ideology-driven errors in thinking, or the self-debasement of your party.
But Douthat has certain feelings about sex that he wants everyone else to indulge, and certain plans for restoring power to the Republican party. We could discuss which came first, the squeamishness or the political expediency, but in the end it doesn't matter. (That's what political fanfic is for.) Douthat uses sex as a political weapon.
Much of what seems strange and reactionary about Trump is tied to what was normal to a certain kind of Sinatra and Mad Men-era man — the casual sexism, the odd mix of sleaziness and formality, even the insult-comic style.The belief that women's sexuality belongs to men, the authoritarian mix of public immorality and private prudery, even the casual cruelty and public exhibitions of privilege. All of these-the belief that women have a subservient role to me, the authoritarianism, and the maintenance of the hierarchy through public morals policing--are integral to conservatism.
But while that male culture was “conservative” in its exploitative attitudes toward women, it was itself in rebellion against bourgeois norms and Middle-American Christianity.No, the male desire to explore their own sexuality while denying everyone else the same was perfectly in tune with bourgeois norms and Middle-American Christianity before the Sexual Revolution. When women could control their own sexuality, they rejected conservative norms and religious laws and started to even out the imbalance of power. Women didn't have to marry and have children to have sex. The old excuse for denying women opportunity to achieve independence, to prevent them from gaining power, went away.
The Hefner Man wanted sex without consequence, just as he had before the sexual revolution. He wanted to be cool, just as the Douthats of the world have always wanted to be cool. He wanted to have the right hi-fi stereo and pick the right fraternity and wear the right type of hat. Eventually he would marry a beautiful girl and have obedient children but right now he was free, white, 21, and on the prowl.
And if Hillary is a (partial, given her complicated marriage) avatar of Gloria Steinem-era feminism, her opponent is an heir of the male revolutionary in whose club Steinem once went undercover: Hugh Hefner.Douthat doesn't have much tolerance for "complicated" marriages. His is simple. He preaches that women should stay home and have babies while she works at her job as a reporter, according to earlier reports.
It was Hefner who fully embodied the male sexual revolt. Today he’s just a sleazy oldster, but in the beginning he was a faux philosopher, preaching a gospel cribbed from bohemia and various Freudian enemies of repression, in which the blessed pursuit of promiscuity was the human birthright. But really a male birthright, for a certain kind of man: The sort of hep cat who loved inviting the ladies back to his pad “for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”What is "bohemia"? It doesn't seem to be Bohemia. Could he mean bohemianism, the non-traditional lifestyle that trades the advantages of the dominant culture for deliberate (comparative) poverty to gain the freedom of choice, all of which are the opposite of the Trump lifestyle? If Trump cribbed his "gospel" from bohemianism, except for the free sex he's doing it very wrong.
It's strange that a Godly man like Douthat would refer to the stream-of-conscience ramblings and self-stroking as a philosophy or a sacred text. Perhaps he is unable to distinguish between the two, which must be a tremendous handicap to an intellectual thought leader.
Perhaps because of this mental handicap, Douthat decided early in life that anything he didn't like or couldn't have was liberal, no matter how absurd, for reasons too tedious to go into. Hefner was sexist and had free sex, the Sexual Revolution was liberal and had free sex, therefore Hefner was liberal and sexual equality was sexist. This is how the women of the Sexual Revolution created Donald Trump, not the conservative voters.
That was the ideal, at least. Trump, the thrice-married ubermensch who jokes about Megyn Kelly’s period, is the more usual reality. (So, albeit with more surface class, was the ultimate early-’60s man, the sex-addicted J.F.K.)Douthat will never have to worry about having surface class.
In summary, the sexual exploitation of women is liberal, liberals created Trump's exploitation of women by trying to end exploitation of women, and Douthat is utterly incapable of pulling off a successful trolling.
That obvious gulf helps explain why Hefner passed from a phenomenon to a sideshow, while a more feminist vision of liberation became the official ideology of the liberal upper class.Absolutely nobody thinks Hefner was any sort of a feminist. Because Douthat isn't very clever, he thinks he can claim that since feminists wanted free sex and Hefner wanted free sex, Hefner was a feminist. He might as easily said that it meant Hefner was a woman; that would make just as much sense. Douthat is supposed to be clever and was generously praised by his peers** when he was hired at the Times, but as we can see the bar for elite success, like the bar for Republican presidential nominees, is very low.
But only gradually and partially. The men’s sexual revolution, in which freedom meant freedom to take your pleasure while women took the pill, is still a potent force, and not only in the halls of Fox News. From Hollywood and college campuses to rock concert backstages and Bill Clinton’s political operation, it has persisted as a pervasive but unspoken philosophy in precincts officially committed to cultural liberalism and sexual equality.Now Douthat is slapping around words like they're fish on a counter, with no regard for what they are supposed to mean. Conservatives believe that when you win, I lose, so they concentrate on the fact that when women have sex, men often get to have sex as well. Therefore the ageless male belief that he is free to have sex as much as his conscience allows without societal punishment magically become the "men's sexual revolution," a nonsense term in this context.
Douthat hopes to convince women they are being used for men's lust when they have sex, a tremendously cynical attempt at manipulation. He has no problem attempting to harm women's self-image to gain a little more political control. It's not like they have agency anyway. He also hopes to further cement the association of liberalism and sexism. Wherever men maintained power over and exploited women, liberals are responsible. For conservatives to hold political and social power, women must be blamed for exploitation and cultural degradation.
It has also endured by going downmarket in the culture. If you watched “The Girls Next Door,” the TV show about Hefner’s ménage, you noticed that the Playboy mystique was emphatically not a joke in the lower middle class environs that produced his centerfolds and their most adoring fans. Like Trumpism, Hefnerian values have prospered in the blue-collar vacuum created by religion’s retreat, community’s unraveling.Douthat is wealthy. His parents are wealthy. Thanks to their deliberate and wildly successful efforts to create gross income inequality, the rich have done very well off the recent suffering of the poor and middle class. He would far rather that the poor sit down and think good and hard about how their community has been unraveled by Hugh Hefner than see them think about the plants that moved abroad, the shops that closed, or the houses that that foreclosed. He would rather see women shamed and controlled than see the Republican party and White Male Christian Americans lose power.
Meanwhile Douthat sits in his (no doubt) leather chair, pulling at his, uh, pipe and ruminating how much longer he can blame women for their own exploitation and liberals for the rise of Trump. If women hadn't killed God with all their fucking, Hefner and Trump wouldn't have made it past the Knights Of Columbus Slut Shaming and Inquisition Squad.
Then finally, among men who were promised pliant centerfolds and ended up single with only high-speed internet to comfort them, the men’s sexual revolution has curdled into a toxic subculture, resentful of female empowerment in all its forms.Liberal sexytime also created Men's Rights assholes, the sexually frustrated, the porn industry, and male loneliness. Behold the power of the unrestrained vagina.
This is where you find Trump’s strongest (and, yes, strangest) fans. He’s become the Daddy Alpha for every alpha-aspiring beta male, whose mix of moral liberation and misogyny keeps the Ring-a-Ding-Ding dream alive.And most of all, the Sexual Revolution created Trump.
There aren’t nearly enough of these fans to win him the election. Steinem’s revolution (Clintonian complications and all) should easily beat Hef’s at the ballot box this year.Both liberal sides did it.
But the cultural conflict between these two post-revolutionary styles — between frat guys and feminist bluestockings, Gamergaters and the diversity police, alt-right provocateurs and “woke” dudebros, the mouthbreathers who poured hate on the all-female “Ghostbusters” and the tastemakers who pretended it was good — is likely here to stay. With time and Christianity’s further decline, it could eclipse older culture war battles; in the pop culture landscape, it already does.I picture Rod pursing his lips, snapping his fingers for Consuela to come trotting, and ordering a brandy as he drops his coup de grace.
Ten years ago, liberals pined for a post-religious right, a different culture war.
Be careful what you wish for.There are many ways to respond to the wonder and glory that is Ross Douthat, but a wedgie cuts right to the chase. If you see Douthat, give him a wedgie for me. If he's going to blame liberals for conservative actions anyway, we might as well give him something to complain about.
*His middle name used to be Gregory but he fucked that up.
Ezra Klein: Congratulations to Ross Douthat, who will be replacing Bill Kristol at The New York Times. It's a great choice for many reasons, but what I've come to appreciate most in Ross's writing and look forward to most in his column is his deeply held and well-defended faith.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ross Douthat is going to work for the New York Times as a columnist. Ross and I fight under different flags. But I expect he'll be at the Times, what he always was here--a swordsman of great caliber and greater honor. Here's to him. The roster won't be the same once he's gone.
Kevin Drum: Marc Ambinder reports that the New York Times has hired his Atlantic colleague Ross Douthat as an op-ed columnist. This is basically to take Bill Kristol's place as their #2 conservative columnist (alongside David Brooks) and it seems like a pretty good choice to me for a couple of reasons. First, Ross has a fluid, intelligent writing style that's well suited to the 800-word op-ed format. Second, he fits the post-Bush zeitgeist: he is, at core, a conservative Barack Obama.
Matthew Yglesias: I’d say congratulations are in order to Ross Douthat, the new hire at The New York Times. Dumping Bill Kristol in favor of Ross is a very smart move—probably the smartest one (Virginia Postrel?) the Times could have made—and will generate a conservative column that progressives will have reason to read and take seriously.