Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everyone liked.
They left that to the Bee Gees. -- Wayne Campbell.

Really, I thought I'd had my fill of the N8r-b8ing the last ten days or so. I guess I genuinely am simply surprised that anyone is still fretting over Big Bad Ralph's refusal seven long years ago to understand his place in the food chain, and just leave the Serious Parties to their Serious Discussions. Such as whether Algore wore too many earth tones, or whether a south-of-100-IQ political carny like George W. Bush even had any business whatsoever being fielded as a candidate to run a Serious Country.

But people are still fretting over such things, and God bless 'em, I guess. I certainly understand where The Editors are coming from, and no one loves a gross-out get-into-granny's-panties political metaphor more than I, but it was strange and discouraging to see how quickly the discussion turned into, yes, another round of Nader-baiting. Let's be honest here, the whole point of Nader's candidacy was to hate the game, yet seven years later here we are, still hatin' the playa, even though he has long since been rendered ineffective, while the game trucks on as mighty as ever.

The truly irritating thing about the whole Hillary-responds-to-Pace issue was how something so inconsequential managed to get traction by the candidate's own ineffectual response. What is the complicated fucking problem here? Pace has a right to speak his mind; the candidates have a right to speak theirs. There were a variety of ways Hillary could have gotten a sensible centrist handle on this right from the get-go. None of them would have required catering to some imaginary biddy who is probably going to pull the lever for Fred Thompson (that nice fella from Law & Order) or Sam Brownback (that nice fella from Domino's Pizza) anyway -- unless, of course, Pat Buchanan (that nice fella from Palm Beach) is on the ballot again.

Taibbi sussed this one out right away.

Still, within that comment Hillary managed to call gays and lesbians "patriotic," and she also seemed to come down quite unequivocally on the right side of the nature-nurture question about homosexuality, making sure to identify homosexuality as "who you are," not "who you choose to be." With that statement alone, she basically alienates every born-again Christian in the country. Which makes it all the stranger that, when Tapper asked her if homosexuality was "immoral," she answered as follows:

"Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said. "I'm very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can."

Let me get this straight. Hillary Clinton wants the most powerful office in the world, but she can't make her own decision about the morality of homosexuality? She's got to "leave that to others"?

Let's unpack this a bit. First, the "nature vs. nurture" canard, the eternal question for Serious Thinkers who never seem to want to confront a more central question -- what if, for some people, homosexuality is a choice? What of it? Who gives a shit, besides the usual hand-wringing ninnies? Do consenting adults still have the right to "the pursuit of happiness", or has Cheney wiped his ass with that section of our founding documents as well?

Concerning oneself with whether gay people are "born" "that way" or "choose" it -- it's nothing more than a time-wasting knuckle-shuffle on your piss-pump, podna. There are only political reasons to be dicking around with such questions, and fundamentally, either you believe it's a human rights issue or you don't.

But Taibbi's essential point is correct -- Hillary first dropped just enough rhetorical boilerplate to gin up resentment among the so-called Edith Whitehead vote. Fair enough. It should have been all downhill from there, a smooth coast to a polished finish. When asked whether she, Hillary Rodham Clinton, agreed with General Peter Pace that homosexuality is immoral, all she had to say was "yes" or "no". Again, she had already laid the groundwork for a simple conclusive answer. Instead, she punts on first down.

How's this: "While I certainly feel that General Pace is entitled to his own opinion, official military policy is not generally, as I understand, constructed around personal morality. The current policy against openly gay servicemembers is officially supposed to stem from concerns of unit cohesion. If General Pace has commissioned or wishes to commission a formal study to confirm or debunk that assertion, I endorse such an effort. As far as a question of my own personal morality, no, I am not conflicted or concerned by the existence of homosexuals. I have what is known in some circles as a 'life'."

That supplants her milquetoast dodge with a firm, unequivocal answer on the question of "morality", and pushes the issue forward in a politically utilitarian way. "Unit cohesion" was also why blacks were kept in segregated units until the late '40s, but if proponents of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy wish to solidify their claims, then they have an opportunity to either shit or get off the pot, and no one has to extend their precious political neck for anything resembling actual principle.

Jesus, if this is what it's going to be like on the small potatoes (and don't for a second think that any of this, starting with Pace's statement, is just a coincidence; it's a fucking wedge test for the conservatard claque), can't wait until the heavy questions start rolling in.

I finally got around to getting An Inconvenient Truth via Netflix, and we will be watching it in a couple of hours (please, don't spoil it for me), after I get some black & tans going. Now, it occurs to me that the reflexive Nader-baiting all of a nonce stems from seemingly practical, utilitarian concerns about political realities. It's a cynical notion that claims that the best way to play the odds is to gratuitously cater and genuflect to the most regressive elements in our society. That they do it with their fingers crossed -- or better yet, never quite get around to saying exactly where they stand on something -- is said to be the height of political sophistication. Al Gore is the sine qua non of this carefully-tended school of thought, the prize orchid in the hothouse of poaching demographic slivers with soothing homilies.

Bollocks. I think we can all agree that, whatever misgivings many of us had about Gore's viability and worthiness for the role back in 2000, he has acquitted himself wonderfully. But how exactly has he gone about this task? By saying what he fucking well meant, for Christ's sake. Gore has found his issue, his mission, and has tackled it with guts and honesty. We can say now in retrospect that he could do that because he had nothing to lose, since he wasn't running for anything, but we didn't (and don't) know that for sure. Even with the extended primary and campaign seasons, Gore could very well wait until the end of this year, and then say he's in, and he'd be an instant front-runner. This in spite of him daring not to cower to the mossback vote.

I'm telling you, there is no upside to this tiresome litany of gutless incrementalism and puling half-steps. What if we piss off the Edith Whitehead vote? Well, fuck the Edith Whitehead vote, m'kay? I may not like what the Republicans stand for, but for the most part, I know what they stand for. That's why they keep winning the coveted senile-granny vote, because even people who don't fucking pay attention to anything know what these assclowns are all about. Whether or not they actually mean it is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Goddammit, if we can't just point at the enormous track record of failure and irrelevance six years of Republican incompetence has put us through, and explain to people how they keep voting against themselves, then exactly how are we being an effective opposition party? Why keep playing these stupid little finger-crossing games, for the sake of people who (as has been said of the Naderistas, but is much more true of the Bushies and swingers) apparently regard the voting process as therapy?

The difference is laid stark; there should no longer be such a need for playing footsie with boobism and slackjawed stupidity. Maybe when the "intelligent design" "controversy" comes up, the Democratic nominee can artfully parse how we should "teach both sides" of the "controversy", and how "both sides" have "valid arguments". It will be at that point that I officially say "fuck this" and throw my endorsement to Donald Duck. As Harry Truman once said, given the choice between a fake cartoon character and a real one, people will usually choose the real one.

Meanwhile, we are all quite resolute about traveling back in time to push Ralph Nader in front of a train so's he can't spoil 2000 for us, even though Fredo and his merry band of swing-voter goobers were the real problem there. Enough already. Get off your fucking cross, folks; the rest of us could use the wood.

[Update: Watched the movie, and came away impressed, feeling like it was everything I'd hoped it would be, and then some. It is by turns sobering, impassioned, serious, some injections of humor, and relentlessly fact-based. It points out the liars and mendacious boobs for exactly who and what they are. It does not attempt to dick around with finding some sort of middle ground with pud-pounding idiots such as James Inhofe, nor should it have. The mossbacks are entitled to their own opinions; they are not entitled to their own facts -- on anything. They do not deserve an inch of ground, nor are they in any position to bargain for it. I'd just as soon tie 'em up in a gunny sack and toss 'em into a ditch as waste time trying to find a way to work with 'em.]


john lenin said...

Well said all around.

I think that Nader is really just the focal point for the mainstream liberals' own dolschstosslegende. Maybe they felt a little envious at how the right can rationalize any failure by finding a convenient scapegoat and decided to get in on that action themselves. It's beyond rationality; it's just a lizard brain urge to kick someone smaller and weaker than yourself.

Heywood J. said...

Yeah, that sounds about right. And for me, the real irony is that I couldn't care less about people gratuitously kicking Nader for his apostasy. Indeed, as I wrote before, Nader himself seems to get off on being some kind of post-modern Savonarola, immolated by his own self-referential moral purity.

So it's not that I care about poor ol' Ralph being unfairly maligned. I just hate to see valuable energy and effort wasted (however pre-emptively) on such counterproductive activities.

They seem to be circling the wagons 18 months ahead of time to absolve Hillary for her rather tone-deaf responses and avocations. I don't applaud her sensible centrism because she takes noble and brave stands against flag burning and Grand Theft Auto. I think it's a fucking waste of time, and a hopelessly cynical attempt to rhetorically treat symptoms rather than causes. Forget the usual circular firing squad; that kind of shit's just a circle-jerk.

The lawyers in the crowd oughta remind themselves of a fundamental legal phrase, and run with that motherfucker: res ipsa loquitur. The Cheney administration's track record speaks for itself. The Democratic candidates need only to attack that record forcefully, and hang it about the necks of the Republican candidates. Force them to either endorse that record and promise more of the same, or to run for rhetorical cover.

If that's not cold-blooded political utilitarianism, I don't know what is. And it takes the Democrats out of having to cater to people's stupidity with their lame attempts to tack right on "social" issues.

I keep hearing how the Naderistas have to "grow up". Fair enough. At what point do the Edith Whiteheads of the world have to "grow up"?