Saturday, June 02, 2007

Silent But Fredly

It's not exactly a secret that political terms have become hopelessly debauched. The perennial example is the abuse of the word "liberal", of course, generally by inbred radio ravers, masturbating to the sounds of their own specious harrumphing between Husqvarna ads.

But what does "conservative" mean anymore? Neocon, paleocon, "social" and "compassionate" conservatives, and on and on. There was a point in time when I recognized certain precepts cribbed from Locke and Mill, and espoused by what would now be considered "paleocons", as reasonable in conjunction with a balanced perspective on the world. That is, personal responsibility can be mutually enhanced with a certain level of community responsibility, where everyone is theoretically happy and productive, or at least endeavoring to be.

I think Reaganism (or perhaps trudging through Atlas Shrugged in high school) set me straight about just how shallowly these self-professed students of Mill really felt about him, or about Hume and Scottish Enlightment, or whatever unfortunate historical shade they conjure to give the veneer of seriousness. Otherwise it would be too clear that they spend most of their productive time reading the sides of cereal boxes (see Goldberg, Jonah).

Their goal was and is to play on a toxic mix of people's fears, dreams, and carefully-clutched myths to keep themselves in power. Thus vast swaths of rubes were alternately riled and affirmed with the notion of dusky-hued welfare recipients performing an institutionally-mandated smash-and-grab on productive citizens -- which is precisely what those orators and their greaseball benefactors in the defense-contractor class were and still are doing, only with a far larger price tag.

So it should be no surprise at all to see Fred Thompson as the latest conservaclown to enter portentously into what used to be at least a nominally respectable and interesting process. Mind you, I still think that Thompson -- and Newt Gingrich, when he waddles into the fray in four or five months -- represent a sort of briar-patch fringe of acceptability. They're there either to corral certain demographics and then herd them off into more financially-viable candidacies, or simply to circumscribe the boundaries of comically hypocritical rhetoric, toeing a careful line of stupid in the dirt for even the most mindless ruminant to follow. (And let's face it, some folks like their stupid to be paint-by-numbers easy.)

It's a slightly more artful, stylized stupidity. Both Thompson and Gingrich are skilled orators, weaving colorful webs of pure horseshit, preaching the usual gospel of anti-Washington, anti-Hollywood, anti-liberalism boilerplate neither one seems quite ready to apply to their own lives. Of course, Gingrich's high-profile rambunctions eventually undermined any relevant moral standing he might otherwise have tried to evoke, unless you're just a complete potato getting your "news" and "facts" from closet-case evangelists or one of the Faux News fucktards.

But Thompson has not yet been afforded such scrutiny, though there's no shortage of evidence that, well, he's exactly the sort of Washington-fattened, Hollywood-corrupted cafeteria conservative he rails against:

So when longtime lobbyist and Hollywood actor Fred Thompson -- a man who once rented a red pickup truck in order to campaign in Tennessee as a man of the people -- indicated this week that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, we knew how the media would describe him: Authentic. Folksy.


But Chris Matthews and the Beltway pundit crowd don't encounter many actual working-class voters as they stroll the dunes of Nantucket. A wealthy lobbyist/actor who rents a red pickup truck to play the role of a regular guy strikes them as "authentic" and "folksy." Mark Halperin wrote this week that Thompson won his first Senate race "after driving his trademark red pickup truck all over Tennessee."

It wasn't "his" and he didn't "drive" it, of course, but the illusion of authenticity is all that matters to the pundit class. Thus a wealthy lobbyist in a rented pickup is folksy and authentic. (A Nexis search for "Fred Thompson and (Thompson w/20 folksy)" returns 40 hits since January 1. Several mention the red pickup; only Wonkette bothered to mention it was rented. The Washington Post assured readers that "[t]he signature red pickup truck from Thompson's Senate campaigns will be dusted off.")

As always, I'm not entirely sure what the fucking problem is with these people. I'd hate to think that Tweety Matthews spends his time sitting up in Nantucket beating his teeny meat to the notion of Fred Thompson chomping a cigar, telling Michael Moore to fuck off instead of openly debating him, and renting a fucking pickup truck to troll amongst the goobers who are fooled by such antics. But that's apparently what people like he and Helpy Halperin (another unctuous douche posturing as a serious reporter) do.

I think another problem is that, as their fame and money tend to distance themselves from whatever working-class roots they might have had, as well as actual working-class people now, they reflexively, instinctively conflate all these "folksy" tropes with some sort of Man O' The People personage. Fred Thompson spent years raking in money as a fucking lobbyist, then rented a driver and a red pickup truck to become senator for Cooter's Gulch -- a job which he himself has alluded was too much work, then went back to Hollywood and carved his niche as the NASCAR circuit's thinking man. And married hisself a trophy wife twenty-five years his junior. How the fuck does all that become "folksy"? It's like watching a white person who's uncomfortable around black people, lamely trying to ingratiate himself, transparently grasping at cultural straws. Yeah, sure, I'll bet Tweety down wit' da Fitty Cint too, yo. Jesus, it's pathetic. Perhaps they can't be themselves because they don't know who or what they are anymore.

Fred Thompson's a man of the people all right -- people like Tweety Matthews. People who understand fundamentally that they have long ago abandoned their working-class roots, but need to keep up the appearance. It's the same as the nonsensical genuflection to "social" conservatives, people who apparently are so enamored of the sacred institution of marriage, every one of their leading candidates has been married multiple times. Thompson has made no bones about his marriage interregnum, when he chased pussy, and minded not at all when it chased him. Fine and dandy, but let's not pretend that it has fuck-all to do with any sort of honest description of "social conservatives".

Probably the most strained exhortation against even the notion of gay marriage has been the cliché of the fantastically-promiscuous bathhouse queen, naturally conflating to a blanket assumption of the promiscuity of gays in general; this injunction apparently does not apply, even retroactively, to Bachelor Fred. The problem is not that he fucked a lot of women, the problem is that he acts like he and his prospective constituents have some sort of moral high ground in spite of it.

Again, none of this is a surprise, of course -- it's to be expected in a cultural climate where smart people write books, and stupid people interview them, write about them, talk about them -- and ultimately convince other idiots to vote for the wrong man. Their stupid little orthodoxies are never challenged, because the paychecks of all the players depend heavily on merely maintaining the pretense of it all.

You want more of the same, just six inches taller and with a more authenticated drawl, then Fred's your man. I still don't think he's serious, he's just there to rake in some launderable dough and galvanize the retard vote, but obviously stranger things have happened. Regardless, it would be nice if for once self-professed "moderates" like Tweety would get off their fucking knees and report fully and honestly on these people, instead of getting all swoony and exposing their daddy issues for all to see. Shit, I'm embarrassed for him.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it's an excuse for neutered cats like Tweety to reminisce about how much fun it used to be to have a cock.


cieran said...

Good question:

But what does "conservative" mean anymore?

Confucius suggested that the rectification of names could remedy the lack of political order and the general failure to deal with reality that plagued early Chinese culture.

(sound familiar?)

The GOP could use a dose of such a cure, and I'd suggest starting by rectifying the name "conservative", because the modern republican party isn't conserving anything. It simply doesn't deserve this good word.

The term "authoritarianism" is infinitely closer to what typical republicans want. The various GOP presidential debates demonstrate this desire for authoritarian rule, so let's rectify the names accordingly, stop saying "conservative", start saying "authoritarian" instead, and thus tell the truth about the GOP for a welcome change.

Heywood J. said...

Exactly, they're authoritarians, not conservative at all. They are clearly and resolutely for the expansion of potentially oppressive state power. And like all authoritarians, they don't bother with the niceties of saying so, they keep it in the context of "security", until people are baying like underfed dogs for it.

We used to have media commentators to help sort this shit out, but aside from Olbermann, I have no idea who would be willing to step up and recognize these security thugs as such.