What I am about to show you comes from a lengthy NYT article to which I will not bother to link. It represents the Achilles Heel of libertarianism and all nonfoundationalist public philosophies -- the very sweet, in a dumb-as-rocks sort of way, idea that whatever 'consenting adults' like to do 'in private' is okay 'as long as it doesn't hurt anybody.' By that standard, pushed to its absurd but inescapable conclusion, if everyone committed suicide in their bathrooms America would be a fine, laudable place, a beacon of freedom, or, at any rate, just another society beyond judgment, full of people making their own choices. What a load, of course. We have got to get it through our thick skulls that decadent, bent, self-indulgent cults of kink can help wreck a culture just as much as oppressive government regulations -- maybe even more -- and that coming to terms with this fact does not require of a person that they turn at once to prevent such public perversion by means of oppressive government regulations. As if the below doesn't speak for itself:
For those who feel that B.D.S.M. porn, or any porn, is toxic and
reprehensible, the fact that at least some of it is being produced by
thoughtful, educated young people might only be more troubling — a sign
of how deep into respectable society it has reached. Then Cambria’s
point would be more terrifying still: as such material stitches itself
more tightly into the mainstream, through both its consumers and its
producers, it strengthens its own legality. It makes itself unobscene.
Acworth, for his part, seems to find hope in some of the developments
of the last decade, signs that some unfortunate misunderstandings are
being righted. I asked him what he would think if one day he could walk
and find racks of constrictive leather corsets. “I think it would be
great,” he said. Though at that point, he added, in a world so awash
with kinkiness: “I’ll probably stop making money. But I won’t mind
that. A life goal will have been completed.”
...is a country mile away from 'Landed Country Gentleman,' the type of person I really think should be running for President, and whom I would be especially inclined to vote for, but nevertheless it describes, as Reagan speechwriter Clark Judge tells the Telegraph, Fred Thompson, the man whom the suave and imperious Daniel Larison thinks is likely to be a dud in every regard except bringing the utter finality of a poetically just curtain crashing down around the campaign of Mitt Romney. Though quite persuaded I'm wrong, Larison civilly credits my counterjudgment as being, by implication, an idea a reasonable person could have -- leaving me with the feeling of a French royalist watching that morning's guillotine fall apart into large but harmless pieces as the result of some inexplicable malfunction.
Thus high on critical life, I'm going to pursue this line even further. Larison's idea is this town isn't big enough for two pretenders, with Romney pretending to be conservative and Thomspon pretending to be a legitimate candidate for President. Now it's true that playing Ulysses Simpson Grant is an automatic and horrendous blot on a man's presidential cv. But Thompson does so in a film called Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which sounds like it has a brave's chance in Dakota of actually doing the patriotic duty of reminding Americans what Grant and Co. did with that terrible swift sword after freeing the slaves and decapitating the South. Legitimate candidates, as Romney himself has shown, are made, not born. One can amass tons of cash, dedicated supporters, a national network, a telegenic persona, and a track record of flips toward conservatism -- and still fall prey to regular mockery and insult in the Public Blogs. What on Earth makes a Legitimate Candidate these days -- a long, consistent record of policy achievement? I'm not sure that's even why Calvin Coolidge made it into the White House.
People get elected President for weird reasons not of their devising, and they get nominated primarily in the modern age by party coronation. As luck would have it, Bush has laid so many eggs from such a great height upon the Party that he has cracked open its own crenellated barnacular crust. If people can actually be moved by Fred Thompson to wade through this seven-year-wide trench of sadness, disappointment, half-assedry, and general contempt, I promise Larison and Julian Sanchez and John Tabin and Hugh Hewitt (to take a big-tent sampling) that Fred Thompson will snap Rudy Giuliani's campaign like the bones of a snitch's toes. McCain's numbers, as I've already indicated, are 'safe' at rock bottom, and Romney's numbers seem likewise to reflect a core of support which, unless it is blind as a cave-fish, knows and has heard the indictments against their guy and simply don't give a damn. The only reason why this might operate against Mitt under a Thompson entry scenario is if Romney's support is entirely composed of die-hard conservatives who would rather have their sixteen-year-old daughter bring home a black lesbian than they would vote for Guiliani or McCain.
But wait. If I was such a man, who came out for Romney early in the knowledge that his was the only well-oiled campaign machine in town with even a putative conservative at its head, would I suddenly grow giddy and irresponsible upon witnessing the 'cash-poor' and 'dilettante-ish' entry into the race of a former Senator whose biggest accomplishment appears to have been turning around Law and Order? Or would I wait, patiently watching for Thompson's conservative credentials to grow, patiently observing the effect Thompson has upon Rudy and McCain, actually, in fact, waiting for the primary season to play itself out under something vaguely resembling the circumstances for which it was intended?
I suspect that's what would happen. Romney supporters have the least incentive to dash for Thompson. They know their candidate is no establishmentarian like America's POW and doesn't get the free pass and benefit of all doubts like America's Mayor. They crave a real conservative but they hate fickleness, and they won't go for Thompson unless he respectfully and legitimately persuades them in gentlemanly competition that he's better than Mitt for reasons which don't boil down, in their minds, to character assassination. McCain supporters, on the other hand, will realize soon that Thompson is basically a John McCain figure twenty years younger, only a maverick with regard to personality, not politics. Which, coincidentally, is what we all thought we were getting with GW Bush, and, in the end, we couldn't even get a real cowboy. One of the more deliciously American ironies of Fred Thompson, in Reaganesque fashion, is that no one's more authentic in the United States than a manly actor. (Even when that manly actor's most deathless words are 'girly men.') As for Rudy supporters, when they start to realize that they picked their man because he's inspiring, patriotic-acting, and knows how to make an entrance, they will sneak out the back door like FBI plants at a mob wedding and slip full of panting relief to Thompson. If, that is, Thompson can actually roll this thing out with an ounce of Washington support. If the Telegraph piece is any indication, he can. I hope that he does.
Because this race needs a shot of tequila and a slap on the ass, and because we all need to stop being such worryworts about switching horses before we even hit the stream, I'm going to do Fred Thompson the incredible favor of throwing the weight of my vast political machine and ponderous intellectual heritage behind his not-quite-yet-run for highest office and ENDORSE FRED THOMPSON as a CANDIDATE for Presidential Candidate of the United States. Let the hat-throwing begin!
I admire the humanely reflective moxie with which this guy conducts his trash archeology of people's inner lives. Yet it's all so irredeemably of-the-moment, a living embodiment of the kind of thing a twentysomething works up into a paperback lit fiction indie hit, appropriately quirky and schlub romantic and dedicated to the proposition that everyone is secretly yet not-so-secretly-if-you-know-how-to-look messed up. And that the closest we can come to salvation is falling semi-wistfully, in a moment of heavily contingent heavy commitment, into one another's survivors' arms. With what studied effort our culture makes poet-heroes out of those who self-consciously shrug and throw themselves in with the preterite as a lifestyle act of performance art psycho-solidarity. Interesting, touching, human, but also banal, disappointing, anticlimactic, dumb. Sorry.
White House officials said Rice briefed Bush on the matter early
yesterday before he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The
president "was saddened and disappointed and wished Dr. Tobias and his
family well," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. --WaPo
Saddened and disappointed. Saddened and disappointed. No sex, just massages. Saddened and disappointed. (During that Abe meeting, incidentally, the President intimated his absolute conviction that the Japanese "will be better off when they eat American beef.")
The AP continues to get sloppy. I can't imagine it's ever been this bad:
The "Bomb Iran" title isn't
original, McCain said, noting that the parody stemmed from the
Americans were being held hostage in Iran many years ago. Like most
things I do, it certainly was not original—unfortunately," McCain said.
Errors like these are not even offset by bonus points for making McCain look even less thrilling than he himself makes himself appear.
Mr. Valenti soon became known, and for a time mocked, for his
unfailing loyalty to Johnson, if not outright idolatry of him. “I sleep
each night a little better, a little more confidently because Lyndon
Johnson is my president,” he once said in Boston, inviting guffaws
nationwide. [...] In 1966 Mr. Valenti took his talents for personal
politicking — and lionizing his bosses — to Hollywood, heeding the
request of Lew Wasserman and Arthur Krim, then chairmen of
MCA/Universal and United Artists respectively, that he take over the
Motion Picture Association. “If Hollywood is Mount Olympus,” Mr.
Valenti once said of his new liege, “Lew Wasserman is Zeus.” He became
the organization’s third president.
A timely reminder, as Republicans clamber to get out of the pit of boss worship, of the way we used to live.
I think that's what's nestled down at the bottom of the Thinking Blogger Award logo, and what an honor it is to get slapped with this glitzy, prestigious bumper sticker by the svelte and erudite Daniel Larison, D.L.P.C. Now, more than ever, paleoconservatism distills down to taste. Postmodern Conservative would appear to be, my friends, a blog which Makes Someone Else Who Blogs Think. And if I can penetrate into the Byzantine crenellations of the brain of a ... well ... at any rate, my duty now is to relay that the Award in question began here, and to virally spread the collective joy of intellectation, wit, and urbane snark. And of course sound aesthetic judgment. I have been issued the following commandments:
1. If and only if you get tagged, post links to 5 blogs, in no clear order, that make you think, 2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme, 3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).
There are of course hordes of other accolades I could offer, some nepotistic, some qualified by very sporadic posting rates, some so well-established that awards are superfluous. The five presented here show a slight but inevitable tilt toward the style, tone, and content of academics, but the clutch of these 5 does a fair job of capturing in just a morning's surfing what on Earth it is one ought to be concerned about for the rest of the day, or, occasionally, week. And if that isn't making a person think I don't know what is.
Thinking Blogger: Not necessarily a contradiction in terms!
Advantages. How can it get them? There is no shortage of ways. What has Russia got to lose? Nothing. What is the best way to fix this? Ironically, I think, the answer is a strategic relocation back toward apparent multipolarity. The question is whether or not we want to expend the effort required to zig rather than zag. Because right now the zag appears to be a sag. It is worth bearing in mind that even a moderate success in Iraq, now defined, will not alter the nature of our relationship with Russia or China. Or, I wager, India.
After watching -- on YouTube -- the 'debate' amongst the 'elite' eight Democratic candidates for President, I feel vaugely qualified to suggest that not since Eugene Debs has such a forthrightly old left position been staked out in mainstream American politics. The joint performance of Gravel and Kucinich was a testament to the unsettling power of common sense and common argument -- proof of its genius as well as its shortcomings. But with Ron Paul making a genuine run for the Presidency, the anti-war profile has risen to a level that forces itself into prime time, going more deeply and seriously than it has gone (no stilts, no carnivals). Certain truths about the true nature of the toll that war takes, and precisely upon what it takes its toll, are beginning to come, again, to light. World War Two was a most unnatural model for understanding what war is. Ben Stein's recent public remarks on Iraq before the Fund for American Studies -- before Fred Barnes, no less -- begin to dovetail in my mind with the righteous wrath against war captured in a certain book I've mentioned here called Charisma. A great moment will come when 'progressive' politicians and partisans come to realize two things: both how regressive are some of their deepest instincts, and how little the rest of their progressivity must change given the recognition of their urge to intensify certain interdicts. If the Democrats abandoned their own cultural vanguard, they would sweep into power on almost a Franklin Rooseveltian level. The only problem confronting them would be that the social welfare system in the United States is structurally unworkable and tied so tight to political porkmaking that it cannot be fixed without scrapping it. And yet I heard, for the first time, live Democrats copping to the colossal waste pouring through the Health State. Two Trillion a year puts even War Spending deep in shade. Is the Bush legacy a bizarre new realignment, or an even deeper retrenchment under Clinton II?