Saturday, January 22, 2005

A Dialogue? Okay.

This oddly enough was a comment on a picture of a Venetian cat, but I'm pulling it up to the big board because it makes -- anonymously -- some interesting points.

Must every blog entry of yours include a sour grapes comment about Bush? I voted for Kerry myself, but this continual rending of flesh over an election is new to our history -- new since 2000. The man was elected fair and square this time, thanks to the Roe v Wade thinning of potential electorate. So let's bind up our wounds, shut our traps, carry on like adults, and do better in 2008. Pissing and moaning about the past is so European (and southern, may I say), and you know the bloody history of that continent as well as the generations of regional backwater existence where you came from. It doesn't sell well, either, and the next campaign cycle has already begun. Be a man, unless of course you're a woman. In which case, YOU know what to do.

Here's a criticism of the pleasure I take in regularly making gibes at the expense of the president in this blog. I would respond from two different angles.

1) What good does suggesting my general disrespect for the president do? I would answer probably very little, given the fact this blog has a very small audience of regulars. Most of them like Bush and his policies even less than I do. The notion that anything I have to say in opposition to Bush has weight, will contribute to some critical mass, some tipping point that will result in readers striking their foreheads with their hands and saying, "Hey. Now I am inspired and will begin some practical action to prevent the attainment of the Bush agenda" is fantastical. Having said that, since I enjoy knowing I am not alone in my visceral distaste for the man and his policies, I assume that's true of others. Years ago I read, probably in Psychology Today, that what people dislike may bind them together more strongly than their mutual likes. Therefore, I serve community. I assume that acknowledgment of shared antipathy may strengthen political bonds and contribute to concerted action, though I do not flatter myself that I am in a position to have much effect. But if I could I would. There is an energy in disdain, particularly comic disdain. The Right has shown us that.

2) What harm can it do? This is a better question. Well, my little gibes irritated a reader who says he is a Kerry voter but who wants to ...? Hate the idiocy but love the idiot? If the expression of contempt is an end in itself, an activity that diverts energy from problem solving, then expressing contempt is harmful to the cause which it claims to serve. I can only say that we shall see. If my political activity for the next four years consists entirely of expressing my contempt for Bush, if like Hamlet, I talk rather than act, then it's a legitimate criticism. If, as in the case of so many members of the Right, my vituperation feeds my will to act, then the criticism is wrong. Now, if the idea is that there's a mass of marginal Democratic voters who might somehow be pushed into the Republican column in 2006 and 2008 because I -- more to the point those who have an audience -- say mean things about Bush, I just don't believe that is true. The differences between the Republican and Democratic positions on a great many issues are stark. I don't believe such mild incivility as mine will move the balance one way or another in the mind of some undecided voter. I rather think many Americans hold your average moderate-to-liberal Democrat in contempt because we are so mild-mannered, so willing to turn the other cheek, so willing to listen to lies and nonsense and reply, yes there's some truth in that.

And a miscellaneous comment: My anonymous critic seems to suggest the savaging of presidents by their opponents is somehow new? You don't have to have read much American history to understand the depth of error in that statement. And the notion that Republicans don't draw energy from past political indignities supposedly suffered and past military glories supposedly forgotten and past social and cultural excellence supposedly trodden down !!?? Oh my. That's an awful lot of days to have missed class and not read the assignment.

As for the ad hominem attacks, in some weird way, I'm flattered.


Anonymous said...

Maybe more people are reading your blog than you suspect. Remember how close the governor's race in Washington was? Who's to say anything or nothing contributes at this point to a possible tipping point? Butterfly wings in South America last spring, New York under two feet of snow as I speak (it's coooold). Bill Clinton's election in 1992 is closer to the 1970s than it is to the present. Jimmy Carter's inauguration day is as close to Harry Truman's in 1949 as it is the one this week. FDR's time in Washington is about equidistant to Lincoln's and Barack Obama's. Watched something interesting couple nights ago. The same day of the inaugural, a gaggle of lefties gathered at the Cooper Union in New York to discuss with each other where to go now. One woman called the legitimately elected president of the United States a "creature who crawled out from under a rock". Another guy, this time from the audience, kept going on about the Diebold machines in Ohio. One writer was convinced that Socialism in One Country could be sold to the American people if the Left became just like the Right became after the Goldwater catastrophe in 1964. And all at once it hit me: the "progressives" had become the reactionaries. Watching these people react to Bush's battle cry for human liberty was like watching a group of old country club Republicans try to decide whether Bucky or Tucker would cast the Black Ball to keep the negro applicant out of the country club. There was no there there. There were no new ideas. What the more discerning among us are catching is that Bush is not going to go in some Christian Crusade to convert the Muzzies to the True Faith. He does understand that a key to reducing the tendency towards violence is to increase the choices available for people in the Islamic world. Why the Left, who inveighed so mightily against Pinochet, the Indonesian malfeasance in East Timor (the subject of countless Anthony Lewis columns), the Greek Colonels, the Apartheid regime of Pretoria, has a huge problem with this at first mystified me. Then, upon watching these reactionaries throw their blackballs, I understood that when you've run out of ideas you've run out of hope. That means we've also run out of the right to govern.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I am hard pressed to say anything tart about anyone who suggests I have more readers and more influence than I think -- other than to wonder what he is ingesting and, if it is a legal substance, to want some for myself. As for the comments: There are so many people so far left of me whose ideas about society are illogical and whose hopes for change are improbable. But to look at them and to suggest that they are the heart of the Democratic opposition to Bush is like looking at a convention of Jerry Falwell theocrats at Liberty University and suggesting they are the heart of the new Republican party. Indeed, I'd say the theocrats are closer to the heart of the new Republican party under Bush than a handful of bicoastal old socialists are. As for laughing at Bush's calls for liberty or whatever the phrase was, I applaud anyone who understands the hollowness of his rhetoric. Look at actions, not words. Look at actions, not words. On many many issues what Bush has said was true proved not to be true and what he said he would do -- look at the "thingness" of the act, not the descriptor -- he has not done. He deserves to be held accountable for his claims to the degree that they have proved illusory or delusional. Life is a matter of probabilities. Probabilities suggest that Bush's ringing words about liberty are just another advertising slogan. As for the Democrats "ideas," many of them are still good ideas. I'm going to read George Lakoff and see if he really does have some good ideas about the word package you have to wrap around good ideas to sell them to just enough swing voters to get our system back in balance.

....J.Michael Robertson said...
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