Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Illin' Chillin'

Please note that I am in Kazakhstan at the moment with a very slow connection, and therefore am working from memory of what I’ve read on the blogosphere recently. I haven’t been able to do much fresh research and can’t do much in the way of links. Therefore this post, along with any other political posts you get from me this week, is likely to prove nothing at all about Harriet Miers and a great deal indeed about how important it is to do your research and follow your own links. Ah, well, c’ést la vie, n’est-ce pas? By all means point out stupidities in the comments, but please be relatively indulgent about them.

I haven’t commented on the whole Harriet Miers debacle – and a debacle it is, if you’re a Republican, though different Republicans disagree on the precise nature of the debacle and on whose fault the debacle is. But it has been, to me, a fascinating couple of weeks, for several reasons. (By the way, Alexandra has been all over it with tons of links, definitions of technical terms like originalist and constructionist, etc. And is there anybody else in the blogosphere who would have responded to the brouhaha by producing high-quality photoshopped images of Dubya as Napoleon, the First Lady as Josephine, and just as a bonus Ann Althouse as Catherine the Great?)

Let’s start with the anger, shall we? ...continue reading...

I think Bush, along with most observers, has been stunned by the intensity and nakedness of the rage with which his appointment has been met by sizable chunks of the Right. But there is certainly amusement to be found in the reactions, if like me you are a cynic who prefers to be amused at human folly rather than enraged by it.

In what follows I assume that you are familiar with my distinction between arguments, debates and discussions. Also, I assume that you realize that anger always implies a felt moral claim: if I am angry at somebody, then in my heart I believe that that person owed it to me personally to behave differently than in fact he has behaved.

If you look at the conservative side of the blogosphere, you can see several groups of people.

1. People who are furious over the appointment – the Illin’.

2. People who think the appointment was a bad choice but aren’t particularly angry about it.

3. People who couldn’t care less, or else don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not.

4. People who think the appointment was a good thing – The Chillin’.

Now, that divides up the conservative blogosphere based on how they are reacting to the President’s nomination of Miers. But the conservative blogosphere is also reacting to the reaction of The Illin.’ Obviously The Illin’ don’t think there’s anything wrong with their reaction. But among the other three groups:

1. Some people couldn’t care less.

2. Some people think The Illin’ are behaving inappropriately but aren’t particularly upset about it.

3. Some people are as angry at The Illin’ as The Illin’ are at The Prez.

So, let’s look at the chronology here.

First, Bush makes this appointment.

Second, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, et alia, most of whom stopped trusting this President some time ago for other reasons, come to the conclusion that the political goals to which they are deeply attached, will not be served by this appointment. And, since they operate under the emotional conviction that Bush has a moral obligation to advance their political agendas, they react with fury, and thus come to be part of Malkin’s “Illin’” group.

Now, there is also a group of conservative pundits such as Hugh Hewitt, The Anchoress, PoliPundit, etc. – who trust the President and who think that the appointment is a good thing, and who thus constitute The Chillin’. But many of The Chillin’ come to the conclusion that the political goals to which they are attached, will not be the reactions of The Illin’. And since they in their turn operate under the emotional conviction that The Illin’ have a moral obligation to advance the political agendas of The Chillin’, they react with fury – but with fury directed at The Illin.’ Hugh Hewitt doesn’t seem to have reacted this way, but The Anchoress has to a certain extent, and if I remember correctly, My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is so furious she’s declared, in the middle of an f-bomb-studded tirade, that she intends to abandon the blogosphere entirely. (My apologies if my temporary inability to fact-check is leading me to slander an innocent lady here.) Call such people The Illin’ Chillin’ – they’re fine with Bush, but they’re enraged with Malkin & Co.

Alas, I look back and see that too much explanation has been required...the punch line is, in effect, too weak to justify the elaborate buildup necessary. At any rate, what I find amusing is that The Illin’ Chillin’...are doing exactly what they’re condeming The Illin’ for doing. The dramatic irony is what tickles me. Imagine that you’re on an airplane, and in the seats next to you are a mother and a baby, and the baby just won’t be quiet. And in the seats in front of that mother and fussy child are another mother, with a baby who also is making a racket. And suddenly the mom next to you leans forward and says bitterly to Mom Two, “Would you please make your kid shut the !@# up?” Now I ask you, if you saw someone do that, would you be able to keep from snickering?

Look, if Ann Coulter wants to go off on Bush because she doesn’t like his choice – well, Ann doesn’t see anything wrong with blunt and caustic criticism of other people, and so far as I can tell she can take as well as dish out; she doesn’t mind the rough-and-tumble. (Similarly, on the left, Molly Ivins will blast away at her foes with no punches pulled and with every intent to draw rhetorical blood, but the best mea culpa I’ve ever seen a pundit give, came from Molly Ivins.) Coulter’s criticism of Bush may or may not be justified, and nobody expects charity from Ann; but none of that makes her a hypocrite, particularly. But if you’re using your blog to shriek like a fishwife about how people who shriek like a fishwife are evil...well, sorry, hon, but I’m going to have a very difficult time keeping a straight face.

More seriously, I saw a comment by one of The Illin’ Chillin’ that struck me with particular force. She complained that all this time, she has been thinking that she and her fellow conservatives were morally superior to the Left because Howard Dean and the folks over at the Daily Kos were so vicious. But now, here the Right was being vicious its own self, and suddenly she was smitten with fear that the Right wasn’t so morally superior to the Left after all. The horror! And her reaction was to be angry at the people on the Right who had gotten angry with Bush and thus threatened her sense that conservatives are nicer people than are liberals.

So may I please take this opportunity to say, with great firmness: you cannot determine a person’s character based on his political affiliation. To the people on the Left who are firmly convinced that conservatives are callous, heartless, greedy bastards whose voting habits are proof that they are morally inferior to you, allow me to say with cheerful indulgence: get over yourselves, dudes, and get a clue. To the people on the Right who are firmly convinced that liberals are promiscuous, immoral, godless, rude persons whose voting habits are proof that they are morally inferior to you, allow me to say with cheerful indulgence: get over yourselves, dudes, and get a clue. People are people. You give them what they want, most of them will play nice. If there’s something they want really badly, and you tell them they can’t have it, most of them will reveal their own personal Dark Sides. If liberals have seemed, over the past quarter of a century, to be more bitter and unpleasant than conservatives, that is not because conservatives are nicer people – it’s because it’s been a heckuva long time since genuine leftists have gotten what they wanted. They got rid of Tricky Dick and then Jimmy Carter turned to have the IQ of, well, a peanut. But at least he was genuinely liberal. And what has happened since then...let’s see.

They got obliterated by Reagan and had to put up with twelve years of Republican Presidents, and when they finally got a Democrat for President, he came along with a Republican House and turned out to be, on domestic policy, slightly to the right of Bush the First. For a brief moment it looked like he would establish nationalized health care, but the moment the polls showed that Americans were opposed to it, he abandoned the cause and put his genuinely liberal wife in the Not-Allowed-To-Speak-In-Public penalty box for, oh, about fifty years. Then the Republicans won in 2000 in the midst of the whole Florida thing, and in 2004 the hated and despised Chimpy McHitler, whose legitimacy the Left had denied for four years in large part on the grounds of his having lost the popular vote, got more popular votes than any Presidential candidate in history and settled in for another four years, this time with his party in nominal control of the House, the Senate, and the majority of governorships. Granted that the control, thanks to the general spinelessness of Republican Congressman, is all but purely nominal; but still, that’s twenty-eight years without a genuinely liberal President, twenty-eight years in which the influence of the Massachusetts-liberal-style Left has been in decline. And now Chimpy is putting his people on the Supreme Court, which is the last bastion of liberal power and which has long been the Left’s last-resort way to impose upon the nation such leftist policies as a majority of the nation’s citizens refuse to support.

Let’s let conservatives have the kind of thirty-year run that liberals have had, and see how bitter they get. Until then, perhaps conservatives should not congratulate themselves on their moral superiority to liberals on the grounds that “the Left is so bitter and uncharitable.”

UPDATE: Not that I'm denying that Daily Kos & Co. are pretty bitter and uncharitable and unpleasant. Ran across a great quote today from a commenter at

I'm a newbie, by the way, dipping my toes into the blogging world because of the Miers nomination. I guess I would qualify myself as a moderate Democrat, but I have to say that I enjoy reading the right/moderate blogs more, if only because I don't come away with the feeling that if I disagree with someone, they will hunt me down and boil my pets.

LOL, that's about as good a description of the Kos Kids atmosphere as I've run across in weeks.


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