I endorse this completely.

I just discovered the following post from a logician:

Honestly, it’s all just so fucking tedious. Why is American conservatism in shambles? Because it is a movement populated and led by miserable, repellent sociopaths who have managed, in eight miserable years, to wreck this country and effectively obliterate another. Unsurprisingly, there is no major part of the mainline conservative agenda that most Americans want anything to do with.

Sounds about right to me.

My dear friend T accuses me of joining the legions of Obamabots, to whom I too objected when the Maoish posters were floating about all over the place during the campaign. But, damnit, it’s nice to open the newsletter and see headlines like FDA approves human stem cell research and quotes — from Republicans like “It is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House,” rather than headlines like “Bush Closes Schools” and “Bush Starts Random-Ass War, Tortures People for Fun.” I seriously stopped reading the newspaper on January 21, 2001 — the first Bush regime headlines were too horrible.

So I’m feeling surprisingly happy about this Obama business, Biden and the rest of that aside. Absence of pure evil and malicious blank stupidity is… dare I say it… progress.

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13 Responses to “I endorse this completely.”

  1. ben wolfson Says:

    Yes, it was really terrible when someone with a good sense of graphic design started working in politics, wasn’t it?

    I am not sure I have ever encountered an honest-to-god “Obamabot” and have often been frankly mystified by the antipathy some have been capable of summoning up regarding their shadowy legions and sinister leader. (Like the people who are dead certain that unregistered voters commit lots of fraud and we need to do something about it!! I had a weird conversation—this is not complete and utter non sequitur territory, obviously—with someone this summer who was absolutely convinced, even though she acknowledged that she had no particular reason to believe this, and that voter-suppression tactics were much more obviously being practiced, that Something Had To Be Done to prevent Joe Schmoe from voting twice.)

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Ben, it is in fact terrible when candidates start relying on messianic imagery and personality-cult appeal in lieu of policy programs.

  3. ben wolfson Says:

    Well, just as soon as one starts relying on that, you let me know.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    Oh, come on Ben. You can’t possibly think it’s healthy for the crippled hulk of our democracy to fill a political campaign with attempts to portray the candidate as a semi-holy savior.

  5. Eric Says:

    “Unsurprisingly, there is no major part of the mainline conservative agenda that most Americans want anything to do with.”

    Which of course explains the 55 million plus votes for McCain/Pailn.

  6. Mike Says:

    Sounds about right to me.

    Me, too. And 8 years ago, I had much more in common with conservatives than liberals.

    Even though I disagree with Obama’s policy goals, there is something to be said for having adults back in the White House.

  7. ben wolfson Says:

    I really just can’t get worked up over this, any more than I could over the supposedly Soviet imagery in the poster’s for Obama’s speech in Berlin. It’s a problem that seems much more theoretical than real.—I say this as someone who’s no fan of the media-ization of politics, but let’s not kid ourselves that this is new.

    Lots of politicians, especially members of the out party, want to claim the mantle of reform- or change-bringers; if the out party has been really on the outs (seemingly willfully in this case, but), it’s only natural that a pol will want to additionally say: don’t get downcast, this is a real possibility, oh by the way give me your money and time. That, in this case, it should be accompanied by well-crafted imagery does not foretell the impending collapse of the republic. (I assume you’re talking about the “Hope” poster.)

    To me the iconic moment regarding whirly-eyed obamabots came in the tv news segment, which you may have seen, in which a reporter abuscaded some teenaged or early 20s-looking kid marching with a sign and harassed him about why he supported obama, clearly expecting him to be able to spout nothing but substanceless generalities—and the dude came out with, given the circumstances, a pretty damn cogent defense and explication of his position with reference to obama’s policy plans. (As they were then understood.)

    As for the claim that the campaign (and I take it you mean the campaign itself, not those who would be its hangers-on) was filled with attempts to portray Obama as semi-holy, well, what are you on about? The posters? That can’t be it, can it?

  8. ben wolfson Says:

    I’ll agree that it would be nice if politicians set out their positions in elegant eighteenth-century rhetoric, carried free of charge in the daily papers, which we would all discuss in our various salons, just the way it happened in the days of “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”, but, you know, you can’t repeat the past.

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    The posters are creepy. But it’s not just the posters. It’s the rock-star style fandom. Doubtless many of the squealing kids could utter policy arguments too. But… were you at the Obama rally on campus during the primaries? I was. It reminded me of nothing so much as a rock concert, seriously — people were practically trampling one another for t-shirts, etc.

  10. ben wolfson Says:

    John Emerson, famous crotchety old man, went trolling around right-wing blogs after the inauguration concert looking for people comparing it to the Nuremberg rallies. True fact! I don’t think he found any, though.

    Seriously, though, you were just complaining about the campaign, and now about a bunch of college kids (of all things!). These are very different! I admit that I thought it was disconcerting when people at McCain/Palin rallies started calling out for something to be done about Obama, but that seems in a rather different class from wanting t-shirts (and no one was concerned about the masses of whirly-eyed Palinbots, except perhaps Rich Lowry’s immediate family).

    Again: if you don’t doubt that the squealing kids could utter policy arguments too, what’s the objection? That they were enthusiastic? This looks more like an aesthetic than a political-theoretical concern. (Similarly, I think in many cases the distaste people have for the hordes that descend on Wal-mart on Black Friday is, well, just that: distaste. It’s often forgotten that “incontinence” and “akrasia” aren’t the same, and the opposite of incontinence is keeping a stiff upper lip, which is, I think, primarily a class-based thought about What is Done and all tied up with aesthetic concerns itself.) I am far from decrying aesthetic concerns in ostensibly extra-aesthetic contexts! But the crinkled nose of the well-behaved isn’t a sign that democracy’s done for.

  11. Paul Gowder Says:

    Ben, the issue is the attitude citizens in a democracy ought to have toward their politicians if they are to keep control of the state (keep the bastards in line): an attitude of wariness and skepticism bordering on downright distrust. That, if I can borrow the sort of language Machiavelli doubtless used somewhere (do I have a copy of the Discourses around here? probably), is how the citizens keep their freedom. Citizens just need to remember who the boss is.

    And that is incompatible with squealing hero-worship. We are lucky — lucky! — that, from the evidence of the first week, Obama seems inclined to govern decently. Because he got basically no scrutiny during the campaign, just floods of over-enthusiastic supporters, many of whom could utter policy arguments but who were and are completely unprepared to hold him to them. And while they may have known his policy plans as they were then understood, they let him get away with having them very vague indeed, with buzzing back and forth during the campaign between the leftish side of the Democratic party (during the primaries) to, well, to Biden and Rick Warren and all that lot. Did his fannish supporters even notice that based on his behavior in the campaign you could have located his ideology, at various points, anywhere between Dennis Kucinich and Joe Lieberman?

    This is a disease that appeared in both the campaign and the supporters: it was in the campaign’s appeal to image over substance, which reached its zenith in those fucking creepy posters, as well as the policy vagueness; and in the complete lack of caution with which his supporters leapt into his halo-glowing arms.

    Aesthetics? Hardly.

    (I don’t think the Whack Friday objections are aesthetic either, but they’re not the same. At least my Whack Friday objections are based in good old Aristotlean/Millian perfectionism: it’s just bad for people to care that much about a bunch of consumer shit. That badness brings about ugliness too, but it’s not the ugly that’s wrong, it’s the complete warping of human desires to the whims of a bunch of fucking marketeers.)

  12. ben wolfson Says:

    Well, I agree with most of that, to be honest. I just think its being particularly applied to Obama is misplaced. We knew more where we stood with McCain, but not much more—and just think of Dubya’s 2000 campaign! (The earliest regarding which I have any real memory.)

  13. Paul Gowder Says:

    Fair enough! I find it particularly annoying with Obama not because it’s worse but because it’s the most recent example, and also because it’s my side — I hold out the hope that the left would be a little more reasoned than the maniac right.

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