The Magazine

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
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Perlstein, for all the highness of his dudgeon, doesn't catch the nuts saying anything very nutty. The closest he gets to a lunatic quote is from a "libertarian" wearing a holstered pistol who declares that the "tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of tyrants and patriots." And those are the words of lefty icon Thomas Jefferson. I myself could point out the absurdity of protestors' concerns about government euthanasia committees. Federal bureaucracy has never moved fast enough to get to the ill and elderly before natural causes do. And what's with those "birthers"? Why their obsession with a nonentity like Obama? How about John Adams with his Alien and Sedition Acts choke-hold on the First Amendment? Or Jefferson? He could tell his Monica Lewinsky, "I own you," and he wasn't kidding. Or John Quincy Adams, pulling the original Blagojevich, buying the presidency from Henry Clay? Or that backwoods Bolshevik Andrew Jackson? Or William Henry Harrison, too dumb to come in out of the rain? Not one of these scallywags was born in the United States of America--look it up.

But Perlstein couldn't be bothered. Instead he resorts to lazy fallacies of post hoc ergo propter hoc and argumentum ad verecundiam to try to prove that the Obama administration is a wise and prestigious political institution because nuts are attacking it the way nuts previously attacked other wise and prestigious political institutions, such as Adlai Stevenson. Even with the force of illogic on his side Perlstein cannot make his case. He tells about Stevenson speaking on United Nations Day in 1963. "Then, when Stevenson was walked to his limousine, a grimacing and wild-eyed lady thwacked him with a picket sign. Stevenson was baffled. 'What's the matter, madam?' he asked. 'What can I do for you?' The woman responded with self-righteous fury: 'Well, if you don't know I can't help you.' "

And I can't help the Washington Post. Why is the paper intimidated by dissent that's tame even by Adlai Stevenson standards? Not that the Post has ever been exactly a "profile in courage." (A little joke there about the propensity to endorse anything with a Kennedy stuck to it.) No doubt it's always alarming to the know-it-alls when ordinary people decide they'd like some say in ordinary life, when regular folk tell the know-it-alls to take their fishwrap and go blog themselves. And the Post has been extra jumpy since it got caught trying to pimp Washington's power elite to K Street lobbyists at a pay-to-play bun fight in the publisher's manse. Personally I thought this was great--the first time the newspaper had shown any respect for the free market system since Eleanor Roosevelt was a pup. But terror, like the Post, is not a thing of reason. Dread lurks in wise and prestigious institutions across the land. Rick Perlstein has a phrase that gives poignant expression to this fear and trembling: "America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendency."

Oh, it's a crazy tree. And the taller it grows, the crazier it gets. And I roost upon the tip-top branch. Ye of the Washington Post, Don't park your SmartCar under my perch.

P. J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.