Still 'Crazy' -- And Proud of It
Conservatives induce a case of the vapors at the Washington Post.
Aug 31, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 46 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
Us right-wing nuts sure is scary! That's the message from the Washington Post. To put this in language a conservative would understand, the fourth estate has been alarmed once again by the Burkean proclivities of our nation's citizens. The Post is in a panic about (to use its own descriptive terms) "birthers," "anti-tax tea-partiers," and "town hall hecklers."
If, last Sunday, you spent a profitless hour reading the Washington Post (itself not too profitable), you noticed the loud yapping and desperate nipping at those who disagree with liberal orthodoxy. It was as if top management were a toy schnauzer accidentally mistaken for a duster and traumatized by being run back and forth through the venetian blinds. The wise and prestigious broadsheet institution was so barking mad that it sent three (Three! In these times of hardship for the print media! When reporters are being laid off right and left--well, mostly right--and stories are going uncovered from rapidly warming pole to pole! Three!) journalists to do battle with "The Return of Right-Wing Rage."
That was the subtitle of Rick Perlstein's section B leader. The title was "In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition." Perlstein wrote the book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus so you can intuit (or "grok" as Perlstein might put it, given his prose style) the contents of his article. Yes, Rick, right-wing rage has returned. It was up at my place for the weekend. But it's back, and it's not like right-wing rage ever really went away. It didn't, as you would say, Rick, "move on."
Accompanying the Perlstein screed was a sidebar by Alec MacGillis explaining how "health care reform is not that hard to understand, and those who tell you otherwise most likely have an ulterior motive."
All you town hall hecklers, calm down and go home. Never mind that Alec MacGillis is a rat, something that's evident by the sixth sentence of his piece: "Fixing [health care] could be very simple: a single-payer system." And never mind that his writing is more than uninformative, it is informationally subtractive. Read him and you'll know less than you know now about what the government is going to do to you and your doctor. Read him carefully and you'll know nothing.
But calm down and go home, because the Washington Post said so. This is exactly the joke that used to be told in the Soviet Union. An old guy's wife tells him to go to the butcher shop and get some meat. He goes to the butcher shop and stands in line for hours. Finally the butcher says, "We're out of meat." The old guy blows his top. He yells, "I am a worker! I am a proletarian! I am a veteran of the Great Patriotic War! I have fought for socialism all my life, and now you tell me you're out of meat! What kind of a system is this?! You are fools! You are thieves! . . . " A big man in a trench coat comes up to the old guy and says, "Comrade, Comrade, not so loud. In the old days you know what they would do if you said such things." The big man in the trench coat makes a pistol motion with his hand. He says to the old guy, "Calm down and go home." The old guy shrugs and leaves. He comes back empty-handed, and his wife says, "What's the matter, are they out of meat?" "Worse than that," says the old guy, "they're out of bullets."
So there was Rick Perlstein calling everyone to the right of Nikita Khrushchev a candidate for the state psychiatric ward with Alec MacGillis playing his KGB Bozo sidekick, firing blanks and honking his "End-of-life care eats up a huge slice of spending" airhorn. Then, to add idiocy to insult, the Post sent Robin Givhan to observe the Americans who are taking exception to various expansions of government powers and prerogatives and to make fun of their clothes.
Givhan writes a column called "On Culture," and this is what passes for culture at the Post: "Of the hundreds of thousands of style guides currently for sale on Amazon, not one . . . was prescient enough to outline the appropriate attire for those public occasions when good citizens decided to behave like raving lunatics and turn lawmakers into punching bags." Meeting with Givhan's scorn were "T-shirts, baseball caps, promotional polo shirts and sundresses with bra straps sliding down their arm."
I've never seen Robin Givhan. For all I know she dolls herself up like Jackie O. But I have seen other employees of the Washington Post and--with the exception of the elegant and, I dare say, cultured, Roxanne Roberts--they look as if they got dressed in the unlit confines of a Planet Aid clothing-donation bin.