I like following politics. I really, really do. I like it too much, in fact, and as a consequence I devote far too much of my time to reading blogs and wire reports, mulling over the likely extent of your post-convention bounce, and counting the number of words issued by one Andrew Sullivan about your opponent's probably-false-but-who-really-cares POW stories. As a result my mythical dissertation remains just that, and my wife and son grow louder and louder in their worrying about my job prospects. I have, in short, something of a problem, and I need you to help me fix it.
So please, please listen to James, and pick Joe Biden as your running mate. There is nothing in the world I hate more than watching that arrogant, loud-mouthed prick ramble on and on for dozens of words at a time without pausing for a breath, and if the Alito hearings taught me anything it's that a solid ten minutes of drowning in his shtick will make Kant start to look like Seinfeld. If there is anyone who's going to get my head buried back in those books, it's Biden, and you're the one who can give him the forum to do just that. While I clearly can't promise you my vote, I hope my undying gratitude will suffice.
We've all seen the clip. But who dares to herald the future it foretells? It is only a matter of time before celebrity management, our thirst for having it all ways at once, and the demands of democratic politics converge to make more-perfect-Paris candidates as natural in Tomorrowland as the Celebrities of Sacrifice were in Postwar Yesterday.
The social position of 'celebrity' confers a major disadvantage and a major advantage: an image problem combined with a willingness to do whatever it takes to mitigate it. That increasingly means a performing acts associated with a bigger heart and a bigger brain -- like caring about politics as our most powerful means to alleviate suffering, and memorizing the lines necessary to at least match political celebrities on believability. Paris Hilton is clearly more articulate about energy than George W. Bush: she's a professional and a quick study. While Bush can barely manage in a suit at the Presidential desk, Hilton can hold forth -- or do something like a lifelike replica of holding forth -- on offshore drilling in a cutaway onesie and heels. If the marginal benefit of having a leader who's the brains of the operation keeps diminishing, why not go for the gold-plated bimbo? All she has to do is perform well, and Hollywood culls the weak.
There is no reason why the natural needs and talents of celebrities will not flow together with the natural needs and talents of machine politics...none at all...as Ahhhnuld knows well enough. But the Terminator was a test model, as any fan of the Terminator saga knows...and as any Terminator fan knows, the way deep and eternal truths of human destiny are known by the prophets who preach them, the evolutionary arc of the killing machine goes from man to androgynous mercury blob to gold-plated bimbo. Or, rather -- because the gold-plated bimbo has evolved, too -- gold-plated, well-spoken, bi-but-married-a-guy symbolic sexpot.
Concerning the now-infamous 'citizen of the world' remark, on July 24th I called that phrase
meaningless — the world is not a polity, so citizenship in it is impossible [...].
the only way to close the relationship with a stranger is to make friends. Not to to ‘make citizens’; not to ‘make brothers’. This is crazy European talk — the discredited language of the bloody French and German experiments in various kinds of border-busting solidarity.
"citizen of the world" and "global citizenship" are, strictly speaking, nonsense. Citizenship is defined by legal and loyalty attachments to a particular political entity with a distinctive regime and culture. Neither the world nor the globe is such an entity.
Berlin was the wrong place to vow to "remake the world once again." Modern Berlin rose from rubble that was the result of the last attempt at remaking "the world."
1. BBC News provides a little practical therapy for the workaday world. Their captions: priceless.
2. Life after Stevens in Alaska: will Palin spearhead a vanguard of new-generation-cons?
3. McCain's new strategy for sinking Obama is, as Marc Ambinder suggests, dreadful. For it to succeed, it must be cruelly, brutally hip and funny. The Bush people who have come on to implement it are sometimes cruel and often brutal but will never, ever be hip and funny, and if McCain lets them have their way with his campaign, he is doomed.
4. Saletan thinks zoning fast food megachains out of poor, fat neighborhoods is just awful. My question: what right do you have to a McDonalds in your neighborhood?
1. Theground game is changing in Iraq. Policy convergence is appropriate. As I've said, the choice is not between empire and defeat. I supported the surge because it was good military tactics, but good military tactics had been nested within rotten political strategy in Iraq almost since the outset. (Predated by, even.) My support for a ninja-like stealth reverse surge, a parceled and staged withdrawal in times and places of our choosing, now seems like a prescription of prudence and normalcy.
2. Although I'm against large numbers of noncitizens living lives of permanent residence in America, I'm always looking for ways to defuse a battle royale with uberlibertarians. One way to do this is to look at the numbers Kerry Howley has provided us and say -- okay, so if we import and export, on a staggered basis, half-decently-sized cohorts of non-migratory foreign workers (presumably stable human beings with skills), we get such a bigger bang for our and their buck that we can scale down some of our less effective attempts, public and private, at bettering the lives of others? Attempts like foreign aid and Gerson-style intervention? This sounds like an excellent idea. Bringing a modest crew of disadvantaged strangers here to America, as sort of a one-time gift of friendship that keeps on giving when they return home, would allow us to feel better about ourselves while having to do it on a far more face-to-face basis...and without gallivanting all over the world to gratify our sense of messianism. A win-win.
3. Ross returns from the Bat Cave to hint that Burton's Batmans are better than Nolan's because they don't labor to transcend themselves. Sounds like a veiled attack on Obama-style politics. Hmm. Actually, I haven't seen Nolan's Batman yet. But in talking with my maniacal friend and Lawler-beloved movie guru Peter Suderman, over a fat lunch of coconut shrimp and gin & grapefruit, we agreed that a film which tries to hold the audience to account for thrilling to evil is better than a film which soft-pedals the truth about wickedness -- even if that certain hypocrisy in offering a thrill later to be damned is unavoidable. We concluded that George Romero is perhaps best at this trick, which indeed isn't a trick when done well as much as it is a reckoning with what's bad in human nature, and an attempt to raise our souls through mortification, like Kafka. Dangerous business, but necessary.
4. If Obama really does pick Veneman, the main effect will be to force moderate Republicans and RINOs into an even tougher spot, including McCain himself. Deep right types will flip their lid, smiting anyone in the big tent who looks even a little crosseyed, and everyone will be forced to choose a side. On the other hand, liberal Democrats will have to reckon with the possibility that Obama really does have the largest ego of our times.
5. The widow Thompson, Anita, writes on the Dalai Lama. I will bite my tongue. I report, you decide.
Who invented this moronic gesture? Yipster huppies who watched The Office and Boiler Room one too many times? People who hate handshakes? And the waves of brine-like human shrimp who let themselves drift in a red tide of hapless conformity.... Grotesque. Yglesias knows where the hands have come to on the clock of cool:
Via Frank Rich's column, a USA Today article on the growing prominence of the terrorist fist-jab greeting in business circles that scores very high on the unintentional comedy scale. If Obama wins, I think this could wind up being like JFK and men's hats.
We are killing the handshake, one of the immortal outward expressions of American genius of all times, for no better reason than boredom. The fist bump is a farcical and inappropriate way of sealing deals and a borderline insult as a personal greeting. There is no way to judge a man's character by his fist bump. Phonies and fakers receive even greater a pass than the used car salesmen of yesteryear, who at least had to develop strong wrist muscles and suppress the DTs.
Amid the madness of an Obama presidency, the worst thing to come would be the nationalization of fist-bumping under a giddy, mandatory rubric -- not of Hope and Healing but of a white-bread 'sense of entitlement' to some fifth-rate parody of being Down. Better that Gnarls Barkley were voted into the White House, or Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. Then, at least, the tension would either dissolve into an American Apparel-style cuddle party or explode into a long-delayed public pogrom of pent-up accusations and scores to be settled. Either a brave new world where the real post-racial boogie goes down, or a spasmodic, interminable return on the Democratic side to the zombie reflex that has animated Republican politics since Reagan was fed to Ford, only to rise again; Bush to Reagan, and ditto; Dole and Kemp to Bush, to come lurching back with a chokehold on the party as firm as on any ball point pen; and finally McCain to Bush...
...and who next but Romney, only the latest and greatest contender to come back with the new moon, properly trained in the art of sucking up losing like sucking out brains...?
Another political quiz, another ranking as a pinko libertarian -- not hard enough core to really count as the real thing, but too weird to register as a straight-up conservative, progressive, or neocon. (Such are the categories.) And so it continues for those who love cultures that make both liberty and nonfoundationalist politics practicable -- yet aren't willing to enforce those cultures by federal law...