Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cracking Open The Conservative Mind

Ross Douthat ruminates on the closed loop of the conservative mind, and points out that before the creation of a right-wing noise machine, conservatives had more policy successes. He lists those conservative success as:

[...T]he American Right managed to lower taxes, slow government’s growth to a crawl, whip inflation, and deregulate important swathes of the American economy, among other Reagan-era accomplishments.

They did manage to lower taxes, and continued to use lower taxes to win many more elections, except for those which followed the inevitable financial turmoil that resulted from Republican financial policies. They did not slow government's grow, as the tea-baggers will tell anyone who will listen to them. They did "whip inflation," as globalization lowered prices of consumer goods. And they certainly did deregulate--we are enjoying the fruits of both globalization and deregulation right now.

[...C]onservatives had a real intellectual advantage in the days when they had to engage with the mainstream media instead of more congenial outlets, and that in the age of Fox News they’re giving this advantage up.

It's so cute when conservatives talk about how smart they are compared to liberals. The party that prizes belief and conformity over intellectual freedom and scientific rigor is not capable of proving its intellectual superiority. Unfortunately for both parties, most people don't make decisions based on intellectual arguments anyway. They have emotional reactions based on psychological needs instead. The only advantage conservatives have is that people like lower taxes.

This little bit is accidentally interesting, though.

In one of the exchanges that rippled outward from last week’s debate on National Review Online, [Mark] Levin exhumed an old David Frum post from 2005 praising Levin’s earlier book, “Men in Black.” I was less interested in the “gotcha,” though, than this line of Frum’s from five years back:

I’m reminded of something that John Podhoretz said many years ago: The great advantage that conservatives have over liberals is that we are bilingual. We can speak our language and we also know theirs. They however even now still don’t know ours and cannot be bothered to learn.

Conservative Big Media is many things, but bilingual isn’t really one them. And a less bilingual conservatism is a weaker conservatism, I suspect — no matter how high Fox News’ ratings go.

Liberals have always been reluctant to use conservative language to talk to conservatives. They think that pretending to conform to ideals they don't hold is dishonorable. To conservatives, nothing is more honorable than paying lip service to something you don't believe. It's a sign of faith and unity, both core principles in conservatism. Liberals should be using the language of faith, since that is the language of morality in the US. It will expose the core hypocrisy of Republican morality and force them to go on the defensive for once. Most important of all, it will be immensely entertaining to see the Right explain why they don't live up to the ideals they want to shove down others' throats.

Here's one especially good example of conservative hypocrisy doing its little dance of the seven veils. Kathryn Jean Lopez has a new BFF: Miss Janine Turner, star of stage screen Lifetime movies, found herself in a delicate situation. One of her relationships ended when she became pregnant, and Turner found herself a single mother. Ordinarily that would be a very, very bad thing; a Hollywood actress who engages in extramarital sex and has a child out of wedlock. But Turner is a conservative, and was able to convince herself that it's okay for a nice Baptist girl from Texas to get knocked up after all!

This is not how I envisioned the drama of my life, the joy of bringing a child int the world, but life presented itself to me in this way. Yet I have thanked God every day that I'm a mother, even if a single mother, because God has blessed me with sweet Juliette. And I have never, for one moment,doubted that God designed Juliette to be born, no matter the circumstances. God wanted Juliette to be here. God sees eternity in perspective.

And why did God give her this miracle?

If my life had been picture perfect then I might not have reached out to God the way that I have ardently and consistently done. Consequently, I have enjoyed a rich friendship with God, and so has my daughter. God has taught me to hold my head high. I'm on my knees in praise every morning and every night. God is great.

Now, that was easy wasn't it? Your child is special and a gift from God. Yours was practically sanctified by God! Other illegitimate children are a symbol of society's decline, however. Other families need a father and mother, you don't. Other pregnancies are punishments for sins; yours in a blessing. Other women were sluts and got knocked up; your pregnancy was "presented" to you. God wanted you to screw around, get pregnant, and be abandoned by your boyfriend, because it would draw you closer to him. (Although she refused to name the father, everyone in Texas knew who he was and in fact Turner later added his last name to her child's name.) What a great guy!

Using the language of faith to expose conservative hypocrisy would not only be successful, it would also help reveal to the public a valuable source of entertainment in this unhappy times.


Downpuppy said...

It's not about policy, it's about power.

Douthat & the other 3rd rate clowns that try to put an intellectual veneer on I Got Mine tribalism are dispensible tools.

Gotta really stick their heads in deep to avoid seeing that.

Lurking Canadian said...

The only advantage conservatives have is that people like lower taxes.

I disagree with this point. The evidence strongly suggests that large numbers of voters also like stomping brown people in the face.

satch said...

I've often thought that whatever success conservatives have in the ol' Marketplace of Ideas(tm) has little to do with the actual merits of their arguments; rather it's because their message resonates on a gut level with what a fair number of Americans want to believe about themselves. American Exceptionalism is so flattering and comforting: We're a nation of hardy, self-reliant pioneers; we send our brave sons and daughters to war only to free others, never for imperial gain; our love of justice and fairness is a light unto the world ( no attention those Negro slaves and massacred Indians); our businessmen are so honest and hardworking that we don't require regulation of the marketplace; our god is so loving and just that...jeepers...who WOULDN'T want to become a Southern Baptist? And on...and on... If that's what it takes to help the Janine Turners (and I really liked her as Maggie in "Northern Exposure") make sense of their lives...fine. But when they start trying to cram their delusions down my throat (hey... I might as well get some mileage out of their throat-cramming metaphor), well, I just have to set SOME boundaries.

Ken Houghton said...

Let's see: Turner has been working in television since she was 18, has done movies, and spent five years as a regular on a show that did well then and in syndication/DVD.

In short, she's made at least mid-eight figures over her career: conservatively, about 1,000 times the median annual household earnings. And I'm probably low by at least a factor of 2 or 3.

Short version: she can buy all the help raising Juliette she wants or needs. And apparently did, since her bio also doesn't show taking time off during her and Gauntt's daughter's younger years.

A rich woman who buys help and doesn't let having a child interfere with her career. Glad to see conservative values abide.

Mr. Wonderful said...

Here, because I love you all, is what I wrote as a comment to Douthat's blog piece:

Douthat repeats legends and myths as facts. Speaking of which: it is farcical to even call the political forces on the right "conservative." They're corporatist Republicans, period.

Every tenet for which conservatives supposedly stand were triumphantly ignored during Bush--starting with the means by which Bush was put into office. Add to that nation-building, unfunded wars, domestic spying--but why go on? Even Douthat knows the list. Even JONAH GOLDBERG, god help us, knows the list.

Actually the entire Republican Party knows the list and has been exerting might and main ever since W waved good-bye to pretend it doesn't exist.

As for Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, etc.--if the right is bilingual at all, it's because it speaks both fluent demagogue and college-level mendacity. The right's 'intellectual superiority' is one of its more entertaining delusions, as endearing as watching a child make a muscle and announce that he is Batman.

From "Reagan lowered taxes" to McCain saying he's "never been a maverick," the challenge for the Republican Party these days is to find those memo pads on which someone (presumably) jotted down the actual truth about the last thirty years. Without them, they're stuck not knowing the difference between what is really so, and the combination of propaganda, revisionist history, and knee-jerk cant that currently dominates the right-wing "mind."

Kathy said...


Kathy said...


Batocchio said...

McMegan's latest is calling...

I'm betting she watched All the President's Men and rooted for Nixon.