Anguished Missive the First forges the well-trod iron path of the ivory-tower historian, squaring the usual tropes of classical historical theories and the misgivings of the founding fathers against the current cultural dynamic.
Fair enough, except that the fact was that every hardlined pioneer began their trek with the hope of getting rich (aside from your garden variety Great Awakening god-bothering loons), and the government's reach was limited by the size of the country and the constraints of the day. The moment any territory showed a sign of being a profitable venture, it was duly annexed; the idea that there was some underlying libertarian motif is silly. This is a fairly prosaic reduction of human nature, a rhetorical momentum-gathering device.
Well, the WASPs thought they could take it with them or something, and conflated ritual abuse with familial bonding. "Decadent" does not necessarily require the usual connotation of "hedonistic sybarite" when "unconscionable hoarding" will do just as well. What the leisure class lacked in public displays of sexual excitement was more than made up for in indefensible greed.
I've made the point many times that people in general and Americans in particular have perverse relationships with food, money, and sex. They binge and purge on those things, and feel guilty about it later, engaging in other destructive behaviors as a result, instead of just enjoying all those things in moderation. I don't mean it as a moral injunction, merely to point out how wasteful and dumb it can be at times for a great many individuals. But genetically uptight worshippers of Establishment mores such as Bobo almost always view these issues through the prism of the Sixties.
It is considered practically a given amongst such moral guardians that the sex-and-drug libertines of the Woodstock era eroded some great moral bulwark that had been erected up to that point. They seem to think that people weren't getting high and/or having indiscriminate sex until 1967, rather than that they were simply a bit more circumspect about those things until then. It drove them crazy that those damned kids didn't have the decency to feel guilty and ashamed about what they were doing, invoking Mencken's classic observation of a puritan being someone who was inconsolable that somewhere out there, someone might be having a good time.
Yes, and? It's not as if they weren't actively encouraged to indulge in those distractions by the very same self-styled moral guardians -- that is, Bobo's own Republicans and movement conservatives -- who were fleecing them, and not trying very hard to disguise it. They chose to focus on the perils of sexual licentiousness, because to call attention to financial licentiousness or consumerist depravity would have been bad for business.
The dangers of societal permissiveness are more grave and more profound than whether someone gets or gives a blowjob outside the sacred circle of marriage. Time and again, Bobo fails utterly to even perceive this, much less understand the role his own party has played in their own downfall.
This is the insularity of the sinecured pundit -- they genuinely do not get that the studied cynicism that they have purveyed for well over a generation has stuck with people who not only don't know any better, but are proud of that fact, make a point of staying in that zone and taking up permanent residence. I recall once linking/excerpting something by Gertude Himmelfarb wherein she tacitly admitted that the whole "America is Jebus' Favrit Nation" schtick was just something to keep the rabble in line, that neither she nor her claque in the opinion-mongering movementarian smart set really believed in the Judeo-Christian deity, so much as they recognized the political utility of encouraging mindless fervor from that crowd.
But that's where cynicism can really bite you in the ass, ideologically. When you have deliberately cultivated this deep-but-narrow swath of morons to do your bidding, not only do you ultimately push out anyone with an IQ over 90, but you force yourself to cater more and more to this political golem of boobism you've constructed. The Republicans heartily encouraged a climate of proudly anti-intellectual licentiousness, made it an issue of freedom and liberty to consume as much as possible, to be gluttonous and dull-witted, to self-actualize by spending every fucking night watching random idiots sort their sock drawers on reality shows, to be heedless of the consequences, and to characterize anyone who raised an eyebrow as practically a traitor.
A true moralizer would have taken issue with the notion that excess, waste, sloth, greed, and ignorance were anything short of reprehensible; the conservatard attitude was that to even suggest that such things were shameful was un-American. So activities such as smoking, eating to obesity, and watching hillbillies drive in circles all day were not just silly pastimes with obvious externalities, they were expressions of freedom. Turn on, tune in, drop out indeed.
They could at any point have made an effort to engage sensible, reasonable people and encourage a climate of intellectual rigor and honesty, and deliberately chose to go in the exact opposite direction. They may not have really meant it as such, but they have no right to be surprised that the people who were dumb enough to fall for that nonsense chose to take it literally and make it a way of life.
It's unclear by Bobo's weak tilt at "slightly educated snobs" whether he means the usual bien pensant limo-lib suspects, or effete snipe-hunting twaddlers like himself. It doesn't matter -- utlimately it's all a bunch of half-assed attempts to chicken-egg the current toxic stupidity back to some First Principle. Again, though, you can't just pump people full of dumbass juice for 20-30 years, and then suddenly climb some high horse of moral rigor because of the lack of prudence that you helped drum into their paper-thin crania.
Yes, poor Republicans, always getting rooked by the "media mythology". Why, it's sad when you think about it, because despite being obstructionist at every turn, despite heckling and taunting Obama even when he comes up with a halfway decent idea, despite having spent the last year doing absolutely nothing other than being a reverse rubber stamp because that's all they have left, they really just want what's best for the country. They've been trying their durndest, only to be thwarted at every turn and taken advantage for their well-meaning naïveté.
Bobo really has lost touch with his party. He seems to think they're trying to return to some sort of Dick Lugaresque vision of moderate, principled, somewhat informed conservatism. He doesn't get that the sideshow has taken it over, that it's just a giant clown car powered by Palin and Bachmann and the screams of small children. The Republican party stands for nothing other than fucking Barack Obama over at all costs, and empowering every dipshit and yahoo with whatever scare tactic their astroturf elves can conjure up.
Whatever Bill Buckley may have meant for the movement in his heart of hearts, his ideological descendants continue to regress, devolved to knuckle-dragging oafs whose sole mission is to stand athwart common sense and decency and scream "Death panels!"