The Drudge Report is hyping Uncle Pat’s latest Spenglerian opus, “End Of An Era: When MTV Began To Play Michael Jackson,” or some such. According to the Drudge summary, it looks like Pat went back to his studio with his producer with one goal: to recapture the punch and power from his halcyon days. Some chapters, like Crisis of the Catholic Church, are particularly riff heavy, recalling the pyrotechnics of his epic Houston 1992 stage show. Perhaps it’s akin to his last will and testament to posterity?
Prayers for her and all those killed and wounded. We’ve been lucky. It’s taken this long for one (as of this writing) from the fringe to act out. They’ve been given the dog whistle green light since at least February 2009.
It’s wrong for most commentators to blame the fringe alone, or talk radio, a few cable talking heads or Palin’s unfortunate web graphics. The urge to violence and its accompanying eliminationist impulses are a major fuel rod of the Movement’s nuclear reactor. Grover, for example, asked at this year’s televised RNC Chair candidate debates to each candidate, ‘Do you own guns?’ and they detailed how yes and how many. Galvanizing violent activity is the sub rosa Movement political life blood — from Newt’s calls for ‘destroying’ , ‘revolution’ and abolishing in 1994-1995 through 2009-2010’s behind the expulsion of all sources of cognitive dissonance into an illegitimate Other as way station to remorseless destruction. (Forget Carlson’s frat boy stupidity re Vick, that’s just dumb privileged white idiocy).
Obama’s flinching, weakness, caving and refusal to engage the Movement imposes another cost. His speech today fine for the moment. But he must create a national tone that imposes and *exacts* real political cost for Movement extremism. You’d think of all people the Boy King would see the need. They brought assault rifles to his own events. We doubt in the end he has the balls for setting tonal barriers necessary to exact a cost for extremism peddling, let alone understanding the fundamental need. Moments of silence are a necessary but woefully insignificant step.
An example of what not to do? More mewling from Eugene Robinson that the Movement and Republican leaders ‘must renounce and marginalize’ those calling for violence as the right thing to do. Or what? Worse than his usual banal cliches.
Had a temperature-check conversation with a Movement leader. He’s close to someone frequently mentioned as a 2012 presidential candidate.
We Non-Rightists are dismayed at Obama Premature Flinch Syndrome metastasize. He and colleagues in the professional Movement elite’s are terrified. Of their inability to control the forces they conjured. The Usual Suspect blogs and cable casts don’t get that.
We all see the obvious signs: (a) tea partiers denouncing corrupt Republicans freely in trad media; and (b) Values Voter tent pole personalities pulling out of CPAC or threatening to do so. What makes things different is the chaos is not limited to ‘Republican establishment’ figures. Professional Movement leaders now perceive themselves at risk, holding a wolf by the ears. Damned holding on, damned letting go. These Movement professionals ironically are accepting the Stiftung’s long-standing diagnosis of the Movement parasite outgrowing the Republican depleted host. Put another way, the Movement refused to be on the leash of the Ken Duberstein or James Bakers. Now, to their dismay they realize their leash is unwelcome, too.
We smiled as Movement professionals dismissed the recent RNC Chairman candidates’ forum as an irrelevancy – as the Stiftung long counseled. How funny and rich to hear Movement professionals express alarm at Citizens United — why, these groups are potentially ‘uncontrollable.’ Comical perhaps. The fear of the unpredictable future unknown real.
Internal, unreported political cannibalism beyond the public reports is always captivating. Plus, it’s odd to see the general sense that Obama ‘won’ the Lame Duck, gaining stature and ‘Big Mo’ in sober conversation among professional colleagues. This was not posturing for the camera.
True, non-RIghtists have reason to look askance at Obama’s 2.0 makeover. More subservience to the financial plutocrats? Check. More pull back on regulation? Check? Premature caving to Movement factions seeking to destroy the American social safety net? Check. And so on. Just remember, though, this time he is ‘just itching to fight.’ Ask him. One nonetheless would be surprised at how many thoughtful Movement professionals as of today predict an Obama victory in 2012 – and no easy way to let go the wolf of their own making.
Napoleon Obama Administration: Write a letter to the DNC. Right now and tell them that, what time do you think it is? March 2010? Good. Write and tell them after the year long health care effort, we broke the Movement. Tell them that we won the war 2010 mid terms! We won the war the 2010 mid terms! Wellington Mitch McConnell: It appears we’re losing the war. Give me more fillibusters, or give me Marshal Blucher Tea Party turnout! Napoleon Obama Administration: McConnell is beaten. He’s bled to death. Now, now the Old Guard unleash Brand Obama and on to the Dream Act! Wellington McConnell: I am abandoning my scruples. I want what is left of us here! Every Republican says NO! If the Fox Nation and Tea Party don’t turn out now, they’ll break every bone in my body. Uxbridge Sam Brownback: Good policy, Wellington, McConnell. Wellington McConnell: If there is anything in this world about which I positively know nothing, it is responsible governance.
Non-Rightists: Yo Obama Administration,
Blucher the Movement is in the woods. Look out! The Movement is in the woods! Napoleon Obama Administration: I made one mistake in my life. I should have watered down the agenda even more! Blucher: De Mint Raise high the black flag my children, no pity, no prisoners. I will shoot any man I see with pity in him. On, on my children! Wellington McConnell: Now Ailes, now is your time !!
Democratic base and Independents: It’s the Movement, run!
Napoleon Obama Administration: Why do you all stand there like frightened children? You call yourself hope and change? The Movement is too late. Too late. The Old Politics are beaten, don’t you understand? Where is your faith? The Old Politics are beaten! I’ve been in this position before with Hillary during the primaries. I lost New Hampshire to Clinton and won the battle back again in South Carolina! Marshal Ney David Axelrod: Stand with me !!! Are you the non-professional Left? Stand with me! Are you believers in Brand Obama? Don’t you know me? I am David Axelrod. Axelrod, ineffective spokesperson for the Obama inner circle !!
DNC Operatives: The Movement intensity is here !!! The Obama Brand has broken!
Uxbridge Sam Brownback: My God, I’ve given up my Senate seat and am now governor of Kansas. Wellington McConnell: My God, Sir, so you have.
Beltway Conventional Wisdom Obama, you must water down your policies more! You have to triangulate. You must agree with McConnell. You must move to the Right!
Sergei Bondarchuk’s stunning Waterloo. Spectacle made real before the brittle cheats of CGI. When Bondarchuk filmed, he commanded the 7th largest army in the world at the time. Plus Orson Welles as a sardonic Louis XVIII. Highly recommended — regardless of your views on 2010.
Our initial post on WikiLeaks generated thoughtful responses from many readers. We highlight two here. (Elsewhere it’s called ‘Diary Rescue’). The goal is two part. First, to help current and future readers search for and find this conversation. Second, Hunter, Tbilisi and the others offer considered, structural observations about America today, and how we got here.
Each comment follows separately below. Other comments in the link supra helped develop these two as well. We recommend, for example, AnxiousModernMan’s initial synthesis and summary.
We’re talking with old friends from the Movement’s glory days (1970s through Reagan I) to gauge reaction to the Tea Party fringe, RNC irrelevancy and Obama’s well-publicized troubles. These are the kind of friends who together at CPAC we watched a certain congressman who ran for president denouncing the Panama Canal Treaty work the YAFF CPAC party suite. With slurred speech he’d disappear from the suite for 35 minutes at a time with a wide eyed, gushing patriot. She was so eager to halt Soviet subversion of Baskin Robbins. For policy work, of course.
These are Values Movement types, closer to Uncle Pat (but uncomfortable with his obviousness) than the Warlord’s Christian Socialism. Today’s Movement schism is well known. We all saw briefly a public glimpse. Paladins such as the lugubrious Bill Bennett went after Beck post-CPAC. Much more knife fighting continues behind the curtain. Our unscientific sampling includes both long time political operatives and money. They are convinced Obama is on track for re-election in 2012. The health care summit and Rick Perry’s win and talk of secession are factors. But other reasons resign them to 8 years of Obama.
A conservative intellectual put it this way. Think Carter 1980 as preview for 2012. 19% interest rates, hostages in Iran, cardigan sweaters, malaise, Billy Carter and the Sovs crawling all over Afghanistan. The American people still did not abandon him like the Warlord in 2007-08. RWR from the Right had to use ‘aww shucks’ and ‘there you go again’ geniality to defuse serious reservations. Similarly, Obama’s in trouble. He likely could lose the Congress. His blessing. By triangulating against his Left [sic] and ‘Tea Party-esque Congress, Obama can do a Clinton. Micro initiatives like school uniforms and a Rahm punt or two. Picture Obama on stage with a Tea Party-Anger candidate. Obama wins hands down. No one sees a Republican with RWR’s ability to be both Movement radical and re-assuring.
Do these old time Movement veterans we talk with prefer an Obama win than endure the Tea Party mentality ascendant? Here’s our take: remember the old Jack Benny joke, ‘I’m thinking, I’m thinking’.
Paul Krugman succinctly sums up the relationship among Fox News, Rightist Talk Radio, political extremism and now murders. He says in passing, “And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.”
Here at STSOZ we’ve discussed and diagnosed the differences among the Movement, its various strands and ‘Republicans” since 2004. The Movement is the controlling parasite astride its enfeebled Republican host. The Movement’s reaction to Obama’s victory only underscores the point.
Seemingly bright ‘mainstream media’ still do not understand the dichotomy. Or its implications. They still treat ‘Republicans’ and Democrats as equivalent political actors playing the same game by the same rules for the same prizes. As long as relative neophytes view politics in this prism, the Movement wins.
What we here at STSOZ call the Movement within the conservative base always plays a different game for a different prize. The Movement may speak in normal political talking points from ‘Republican’ institutions. Yet is is not committed to Dahl-esque pluralistic politics. It has has never sought compromise or ‘moderation’. That’s because for the Movement, politics is existential warfare. Compromise is defeat.
Because Krugman et al. fail to grasp the fundamental difference between the Movement, the former Republican Party and the Democratic Party, talking heads refer to the Movement as the ‘Republican base’. As if somehow the Movement and its Manichean zero-sum nihilism is the same as the Democratic base. Say the the Sierra Club or unions. How one can be a professional political analyst and assume a base is a base is a base. Well, we live in truly decadent (technically defined) times.
It wasn’t always like this, of course. The Republican Party as an independent actor and entity was able to keep the Movement within bounds. But after Reagan, and especially the Bush debacle in ’92, the Movement learned to seize power on its own within and without the Republican Party. As a sign of their increased power, the Movement’s rage, paranoia, and conspiracy fever in 1993 seemed novel. By 1994 and certainly 2000 the Movement had completed its subversion of the Republican Party.
But perhaps there’s a more charitable way to think of Bush’s understanding of history: as a Hegelian. (Scott McLemee of Inside Higher Ed, for one, has offered an intriguing Hegelian reading of Bush.) Like Carlyle, who was influenced by his work, Hegel venerated heroes who steer the course of events. After seeing Napoleon ride into battle to defeat the armies of Prussian monarchy at Jena in 1806, Hegel famously described the emperor as “the World Spirit riding on a horse”—a great individual shaping history. But Hegel also believed the battle at Jena to represent, as Francis Fukuyama stressed in his influential 1989 essay, the “end of history.” History, Hegel argued, had an inner logic, a teleology, with the unfolding of liberty as the ultimate plan. For Hegel, Great Men like Napoleon don’t just happen to find themselves as emperor of Europe; they’re driven by an inner spirit that serves the aims of historical destiny.
The Stiftung long argued that Bush-As-Spirit-Of-The-Age is perhaps not entirely comically absurd. Christian Socialist Authoritarianism in the U.S. came from somewhere. True, the Movement’s various strands took advantage of 9/11. And true, they together routed and used the hapless Democrats as props and sock puppets until 2006. But the extent of the regime’s transformation of American social fabric, mores, politics and destiny was not wholly imposed top down. The Joe Kleins of the world didn’t and still don’t get it.
The Enlightenment was always a thin veneer in America before 2001. It’s thinner still in 2007.