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    Dumdums in Paradise

    Instapundit links to David Brooks’s latest repellent column, in which he uses the old trick of repeating the same self-abasing apology over and over and over in the hopes that his audience will say, “Well, gee, don’t beat yourself up over it; it wasn’t that big a deal”:

    Being a sap, I still believe that the president’s soul would like to do something about the country’s structural problems.* I keep thinking he’s a few weeks away from proposing serious tax reform and entitlement reform. But each time he gets close, he rips the football away. He whispered about seriously reforming Medicare but then opted for changes that are worthy but small. He talks about fundamental tax reform, but I keep forgetting that he has promised never to raise taxes on people in the bottom 98 percent of the income scale.

    ***

    The president believes the press corps imposes a false equivalency on American politics. We assign equal blame to both parties for the dysfunctional politics when in reality the Republicans are more rigid and extreme. There’s a lot of truth to that, but at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think. The White House gives moderates little morsels of hope, and then rips them from our mouths. To be an Obama admirer is to toggle from being uplifted to feeling used.

    The White House has decided to wage the campaign as fighting liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I’m a sap.

    Why, yes, you are! And a ninny. Not that that’s anything new. Years ago, someone (I think Diana Mertz Hsieh, though I can’t seem to find it in her archives) made the point that a lot of people who congratulate themselves on how “moderate” they are are trying to prioritize several conflicting things at once. Packaging themselves as friendly and accommodating means they don’t have to make hard decisions about priorities or look for the flaws in their own logic. It means they can think they sound saintly, rather than moronic, when they bleat things like “I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country.” Which stale ideological debates? Those in which each of the two major parties is at pains to show that the other has a worse record of pork-barreling and pandering to beneficiaries of major entitlements? Okay. I’m happy to call that one a draw.

    But then we still have the debates over how much earnings the government should commandeer and spend, whether the government should try to pick winners and losers in industry, and how best to exercise our role as a superpower. We may get sick of discussing those things, but they’re only “stale” if you wish the opposing side would just shut up and accommodate you already.

    Also, hovering in there is the unsavory implication that those who let themselves be duped by Obama are still superior because they were motivated by caring too much. Brooks ends, after all, with yet another “I’m a sap,” not “I’ve learned my lesson and won’t let sentiment get in the way of my principles again.” This is the sort of thing I’m seeing a lot of here in New York: acknowledging that one was a sucker for Obama’s rhetoric but concluding that, really, it’s better to be hopeful, optimistic, willing to take chances, willing to believe…than to be a crabby, cynical libertarian like some other people in the room.

    Sorry—no sale. I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who agonized over their vote in 2008, recognized that they were making a necessary compromise, and decided that Obama’s excesses would probably be reined in by the rest of the Washington machine. I feel no sympathy whatever for people who were more concerned with affirming their own ability to dream than with looking reality in the face. (And yes, I know that Brooks may not be a naturalized citizen and may not have been able to vote; his cheerleading was offense enough.)

    * And you thought repellent was too strong a word, didn’t you?

    8 Responses to “Dumdums in Paradise”

    1. Julie says:

      Wow, you’re really a cold soldier, man. A scathing, unprovoked attack on a gentle, sober soul such as Brooks? A thorough tongue-lashing to the magical pixie dust realm of Obama voters? I suppose you also hand out dental floss on Halloween and go around telling children that there is no Santa Claus?

      (seriously, this was wonderful)

    2. Sean says:

      I do. It satisfies my black heart to hear innocents weep in pain. You should hear them on Easter by the time I’m done learning ‘em about that bunny malarkey.

      But seriously, thanks. :) I dashed this off yesterday after reading Brooks’s column, and then I got busy and figured I wouldn’t bother posting it.

      But then I remembered: I’ve heard several people try to rebrand their love jones for Obama this way recently, and they’ll get away with it if there’s no push-back, even from sites with four readers.

    3. Sarah says:

      * And you thought repellent was too strong a word, didn’t you?

      No. I thought vomitous might be more apt though.

      (And before Julie asks, yes, I often tell kids to get off my lawn, and yes I think those under twenty should get whipped twice a day for going around being young. :))

      On the interesting side, recently at a large writers party where my family and I were PROBABLY the only non-pixie-dusters… er… Obama voters in the room, only three people didn’t pile on Obama. And Dan was one of them just because he hates talking politics. So a lot of rubes are self-identifying.

    4. Julie says:

      There is a lot of Obama piling-on going around, and I admit that I’ve been finding a certain sick enjoyment in it. But, you’re right, people like Brooks need to be taken to task by the four of us who read your site. I do feel a little sympathy for the true-blue liberals who voted for Obama thinking they were voting for one of their own. My mom is one such, and the other day she said something like, “I hated everything Bush did, but at least you knew what he stood for, and it all came from some coherent, guiding logic. It was all totally wrong, but you knew what to expect, you knew what he stood for, and he did it and took responsibility for it.” I had to give her a hug. That’s some serious disillusionment. Which leads one to wonder…what exactly are the Republicans going to do to mess this chance up? Tune in at 11!

    5. Sean says:

      Sarah, yes, I know Instapundit’s been kind of tracking it for a while, but I really do get the sense in my own circles that things are reaching a tipping point.

      Julie, as you say, the GOP has lots of time to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and will no doubt at least come perilously close. What your mother said about Bush is very interesting, and I agree. I’ve had lefty friends saying for the last few years, “Well, promiscuous Obama worship is no worse than promiscuous Bush worship used to be.” To which I always reply, “Huh?!” Bush was a compromise candidate from the word “Go.” He was partial to coziness with big business and big on government spending for his own little favored subset of social-welfare causes. No one expected Bush to be a free-market president, and conservatives were in the main very principled about complaining when he went for big-government solutions (without griping about how they’d been had).

    6. Connie says:

      WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

      You have at least FIVE readers, one of ‘em just takes 2 months to get here.

      I wish I could say that I get some sort of twisted pleasure out of the whining from Obama voters who now realize that he was nothing more than an Affirmative Action candidate, but I already knew that. I get NO pleasure from Obama’s presidency, of any kind, PERIOD. It’s all misery, all the time. Their discovery is just too late for everyone. I can’t despise them because they were stupid and duped, but I can find a little room to hate the conservatives who stayed home to “teach the rest of us a lesson.” That lesson has caused endless agony for thousands and thousands of Americans, maybe millions. It has gotten hundreds killed around the world in the election of a weak American figurehead, and caused instability that will take decades to reestablish. It is very likely that it will cause a world war of Biblical proportions.

      None of this can be stuffed back in the bottle. None of it can be “un-done.” The money is spent and the milk spilt. The businesses that were lost can’t be unlost. The families who lost their homes will never again find the security they once had, and the children in those families will never get back the same feelings of sleeping safely in their own beds, even if it is the same bed in an apartment somewhere Foreclosure is a horrible thing for children. BTDT. The job losses will ruin relationships/destroy marriages. It didn’t have to be this way.

      I could sit around blaming every single Obama voter, but I would have to blame them each differently, in different ways, but in the end it is a disaster for us all, and the mess will be around for decades, requiring that the whole world participate in the clean up. For example, Jimmy Carter launched the uncertainty in the Middle East by mishandling Iran, and that resulted in the Trade Towers falling. It will be many decades before we know just how much damage Obama has caused, and how much of a “lesson” we’ve been taught by his 4 years in office.

      I just hope “the lesson” will end soon. The only thing I know with any certainty in this mixed up, surreal world we’re living in today is that, so far, Obama is the worst president in history, bar none, beyond any measurement anyone could design. Four more years would make him the double-double-triple-infinity-times-a-gazillion worst president in history.

      Things are so crazy that nothing surprises me anymore. Even Obama winning reelection would not surprise me. I’d just hide under the covers for another 4 years… which brings me back to the beginning… which is why I’m a month late reading this blog post. It’s not safe coming out from under the covers. Life in American today is like a constant state of whack-a-mole.

    7. Sean says:

      Connie! Glad to hear from you, even if you’re not in a good mood. In fact—and I mean this in the nicest way—you’re fun when you’re not in a good mood.

      I wouldn’t ever have voted for Obama, but I really did hope for the best-case scenario: he’d have to triangulate toward the center, a la Clinton, and he wouldn’t be worse on state-power hypertrophy than Bush had been. Would have sucked, would have meant there was a lot to grit one’s teeth through, but wouldn’t have been unbearable.

    8. Your point on ideological debates is very true and very well put:

      “we still have the debates over how much earnings the government should commandeer and spend, whether the government should try to pick winners and losers in industry, and how best to exercise our role as a superpower. We may get sick of discussing those things, but they’re only “stale” if you wish the opposing side would just shut up and accommodate you already.”

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