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Archive for August 18th, 2009

Roger’s Rules of Ordure

Posted by scott on August 18th, 2009

Over at Pajamas Media, Roger Kimball makes a plea for a dignified public discourse by comparing Obama’s town hall meetings to the Two Minute Hate from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Long time readers will recognize this as just the kind of fresh, but informed commentary one would expect from a serious critic and thinker, the co-editor of the New Criterion, and a man whose signature bow ties invariably evoke the gravitas of an Orville Redenbacher.


Channeling your inner Goldstein: Obama’s Renewable Two Minute Hate Fest

Readers of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will remember the character Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People. [...]

Every day at 11:00, work would stop as people congregated around the ubiquitous two-way telescreens for the ritual two-minute hate…

In his inaugural address in January, Barack Obama promised to put “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

I hope you’ve noticed how free from petty grievances, false promises, recriminations, and worn out dogmas public discourse has been since that glorious new dawn, 20 January 2009.

What, you haven’t noticed the promised political metanoia? Confidentially, I haven’t either. And I suspect at least part of the reason was dramatized by Orwell’s dystopian novel. The Obama administration and its PR enablers are addicted to blaming others for their own difficulties and failures.

Although Bush had eight years to fuck up the country, Roger has decided that Obama only gets eight months to straighten it all out — even though Roger has had over half a century to master that bow tie knot and hasn’t quite managed it.  I guess it’s sort of the same rule that applies with stabbings: if you shank some dude in the back, I think we can all agree that he’s morally entitled to point the finger at you.  But if he survives, and a year later he’s still holding you responsible for that lost kidney, well that’s just playing the blame game.

The President likes to refer the economic crisis as a “mess” that he inherited from George Bush. But how does explain that the deficit was some $400 billion under President Bush and is projected to be about $2 trillion — $2 trillion — this year?

He doesn’t explain it. He blames others, especially President Bush.

Exactly.  Say you’re standing at the top of a cliff, admiring the view, and George W. Bush comes by and gives you a push — that’s not fatal, people push kids on swingsets all the time, all he did was give you a little horizontal momentum.  If at some point subsequent to this incident you happen to wind up dead and broken on the rocks below, then I’m sorry pal, but your beef is with gravity.

What was unseemly in January is almost risible now. When will Obama take responsibility for failures that occur on his watch?

Well, Bush had been in office for a month longer when 9/11 happened, so presumably you think August is still well within the Presidential probationary period.

This is where Emmanuel Goldstein comes in…Orwell’s two-minute hate fests provide an uncomfortable analogue to the Obama administration’s amalgam of compulsory virtue and its inevitable concomitant: scapegoats. (Those who notice that “Goldstein” is a Jewish name might wish to ponder the Obama administration’s policies towards Israel.)

I must have missed the speech where Obama called Bush a “rootless cosmopolitan.”

For reasons I have never completely understood, George Bush is the scapegoat-in-chief, the Emmanuel Goldstein of the piece.

Maybe it’s because he traipsed around with “Commander-in-Chief” embroidered on every article of clothing?


It’s like Bush’s mom sent him to camp and didn’t want him to wind up wearing some other kid’s underpants.

I’m sure you’ve seen it in action. And no doubt you’ve noticed that it is infectious. Consider, if you will, the extraordinary reaction the very name “Sarah Palin” elicits.

I have to give Roger credit for cojones, or cluelessness, because he stops his column cold at this point to demonstrate the veracity of his political insights…by linking to a piece from last September, the bulk of which he spent gloating over McCain-Palin’s ineluctable victory:

What worries me is how the Left is going cope come the election. Their hysteria about Sarah Palin simultaneously shows that they know deep down that something has gone terribly wrong with Obama’s Children’s “Yes-we-can” Crusade and that they are unable to acknowledge the damage. Their hysteria signals both their panic and their blindness. I predict that on the morning of that fateful day in early November they are going to be like Pauline Kael the day after the 1972 election when Richard Nixon won 49 states: “How could that be?” a bewildered Kael asked. “I don’t know a single person who voted for Nixon.” The disillusionment this time will be even more bitter. I suggest that caring Republicans consider establishing emergency telephone hotlines and outpatient trauma centers in demographically susceptible areas–New York City, for example, Ann Arbor, all of the states of Massachusetts and Vermont, etc.–in order to cope with the shock that their burst bubble will undoubtedly cause.

I admit a certain curiosity about the tone of the Kimball household last November 5th.  Perhaps the residents adopted a general mood of good humored fatalism, I don’t know; but I’m pretty sure that at some point during the morning, while his eggs were cooling and his cup of cocoa developing a skin, Roger had the single most jarring revelation of his life, when he discovered that it’s nearly impossible to hang yourself with a bow tie.