November 10, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CVIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Sisyphus was (is?) a wimp. Greg tempted me last week to once again slide up against the rough-hewn stone with the post-election rhetorical brain droppings of noted fecal-encephalite Richard Cohen, but I successfully resisted the siren’s song and shunned the always futile labor of tactfully traversing the tangled webs of deception so carefully woven by the Shelob of Sheboygan (yes, yes, I know he’s from New York, but Shelob of New York doesn’t scan), always knowing that another column, more insipid than the last, would be coming out in less than a week. Having instead put my energies since the election into paying work, riddling paper targets with extreme prejudice, home maintenance, and familial opportunities and obligations (I am the pater familias, after all), I felt quite chipper knowing that the monkey of a shrieking red-faced blue-state flunky was off my back.

And then today, Martin goes and suggests that I, the Scourge of Richard Cohen, would have to admit that yesterday’s bedpan contents comprise a “pretty good column.” Without challenging the necessity of “admitting” anything, eschewing the gamut of subliminal connotation that carries, let me just say that I shall do no such thing. I can, and will, be baited into bating this admixture of acerbic half-truths and semi-serious punditry as it so poorly deserves. And so, without stepping in further a doodoo, I shall take up my non-Herculean duties at least once more, suppressing the flashbacks of high school chemistry lectures on the difference between adsorb and absorb, and the fear and loathing that brings on, long enough to properly hold up to ridicule the dissembling Dupes and Dopes Of Campaign '04:

A phrase from a press release struck me:

Doubtless, with good cause. But isn't it amazing how clear everything has become after the election?

"In voting for George Bush, religious Americans were duped into voting against their best interests."

“And by best interests, we mean what we decide is best for you, the little people.”

The operative word is "duped," and it explains, almost by itself, why the Democratic Party is in the pits and John Kerry is not the next president of the United States.

Well, technically, John Kerry could still be the next president of the United States – in 2008. But don’t hold your breath or you’ll turn all blue-state, or something, waiting for it to happen. And as for the Democratic Party being in the pits, well, if you are open to some gentle advice -- stop digging! Or is Richard Cohen merely advocating that the Democratic Party needs to get better at fooling people?

Only a dope thinks these voters were duped.

Why do you think we call them dopes? (Man, this stuff just writes itself if you’ve lived through the same 45 years of PSA’s I have.)

The press release comes from an organization called "Retro vs. Metro America," which -- par for the course nowadays -- is also a book and a Web site and soon, probably, a breakfast cereal.

Or, Stix Hix Nix Blix-loving illiberal utopian statists. But don’t worry, those rubes in flyover country will never figure out the irony laden name.

It is Democratic, …

But, of course!

… and consists of some pretty impressive people, including the pollster Celinda Lake.

Hmm…, it doesn’t seem right after the election to have the words “pollster” and “pretty impressive people” in the same sentence.

And while a press release is, after all, just a press release …


… the one from Retro vs. Metro does represent the fairly common view that cultural conservatives have no idea what they are doing.

How commonly unfair! Thank goodness the cultural progressives are here to save us from the enemies of enlightenment.

For a little piece of heaven, they will sacrifice a better standard of living, health insurance and a chance to live their retirement in splendor.

Whereas, for a chance to engineer a little piece of heaven on earth, the sophisticated will sacrifice your freedom, your money, and your future. Splendor is so bourgeois.

In some theoretical way, this may be the case.

And when theory conflicts with reality, well, we know who trusts the exit polls more than the actual vote tallies, now don’t we Mr. Olbermann?

But in the real world, as they say, you tell me what Democratic program would have improved the economic well-being of your average family so that, even for a moment, it would have to weigh trading off a cultural conviction.

I can’t name any. Does that mean I win?

Is there a single American out there who really thought that Kerry's program to end or limit or whatever the outsourcing of jobs overseas was going to amount to anything?

Well, yes there are. Or is Mr. Cohen stating unequivocally that John Edwards was lying?

If so, that person should have been deprived of the right to vote on the grounds of insanity.

Um, ok. Though I have to admit that letting Richard Cohen decide who can vote, or who is sane does worry me a bit.

And tell me, is there anyone out there who thought you could narrow the deficit and fund all sorts of programs merely by eliminating the tax breaks President Bush gave the very rich -- people who make more than $200,000 a year?

Well, yes there are. But please, $200,000 a year isn’t anywhere near “very rich.” And anyway, being rich has a lot more to do with your assets than your income, though I would note that the real “very rich” like to punish those of us who may be earning a lot but can’t hope to compete with the assets they can live off of without ever having to work again. Helps to keep the hoi polloi out of the club, don’t you know?

I voted for Kerry, but I didn't believe that for a second.

Ok, but it’s us cultural conservatives that are all, like, stupid and everything.

So just how, precisely, were all these cultural conservatives duped?


It seems to me that they saw through the promises for what they were -- empty -- and voted on what mattered most to them.

In other words, cultural conservatives realized that John Kerry was, at best, an empty suit and voted accordingly. Whereas, Richard Cohen realized that John Kerry was, at worst, an empty suit, and voted accordingly.

They knew, just as we all know, that nothing in the Democrats' oh-so-moderate program was going to make much difference to them -- or, even if it did, it was not worth what they would have had to give up in exchange.

Whoa, dude! That makes sense. You’re freaking me out here.

Sometimes a voter may actually decide to vote against his or her economic self-interest.

Alas, this is the Democrat’s real problem, but until all those damned trees are cut down they won’t be able to see the forest. In other words, it’s not the economy, stupid! Sure the economy matters, but not so much when there are people trying to kill you, and another very large, and very loud, group of people are telling you it’s your own damn fault somebody wants to kill you, you freakin’ Jesusland morons! My personal economic self-interest demands that I be alive to have an economic self-interest. Or maybe, just maybe it could that a large swath of people in Middle America do not worship mammon over all else.

In an Oct. 26 column I cited Jewish voters as an example. As a definable group, they are among the wealthiest in the country, and yet time and again they vote overwhelmingly Democratic. In the 2004 election, Bush got only about 20 percent of the Jewish vote. In that column, I cited the power of culture, which is not simply inherited, like hair color, but can be the product of thought as much as tradition.

Is there a point here? And couldn’t it be made without the simplistic caricatures of the good Jew who earns lots of money but thoughtfully assuages his guilt for doing so by spending his money (and my money) on those less “fortunate” than he, and the money-grubbing “very rich” Republican who thoughtlessly would rather see people starve than part with the ill-gotten gains he has achieved by exploiting the downtrodden?

Most Jews are not voting Democratic out of mere habit.

Oh? Many of my Jewish friends seem to think they are.

They are making a conscious decision to forgo an economic benefit for something that matters more -- a cultural imperative for social justice.

I’m not entering this fever swamp. The miasma has taken its toll on me already. But you gotta love the track record of those cultural imperatives.

They believe in social welfare programs.

So do I. But believing in social welfare programs is not synonymous with advocating unconstrained and unaccountable spending on every hare-brained scheme that is proposed. Especially those whose unintended consequences are ignored, despite overwhelming evidence that they have had deleterious effects on families, self-reliance, and independence.

They believe in redistributing wealth (some of it, anyway)…

Especially mine, apparently. It really bothers me that people are so anxious to spend my money to do their good works. Here’s a real kick in the ass – find the first blue state in this list of which states are the most charitable with their own money. Here's a hint, don't look in the top half of the list.

… and they believe firmly in civil rights and civil liberties.

And, of course, I don’t. Is that it Dick?

What are these rights worth?

Well, that depends on what you … wait for it …, value.

Anything you can name, because history teaches that without them even the pursuit of happiness is futile.

Wow, so it’s not all about money and economic self-interest then. If only we had known.

It behooves Democrats to understand that Christian conservatives can make the same, hard choices.

You mean Christian conservatives can be as smart as the Jews? Isn’t it sad that Richard Cohen believes he has to tell Democrats that?

Of course, real economic privation can change the equation -- would you rather have a job or stop gay marriage? -- but barring that sort of choice, culture wins out.

But, of course, cultural conservatives are all about barring choice. Although I have trouble imagining a scenario that has someone choosing between a job or stopping gay marriage.

That does not mean that liberals have to feign agreement or abandon their values.

Of course not, but naturally those cultural conservatives should.

When it comes to gays, for instance, the Republican Party has engaged in unconscionable demagoguery -- and the president knows it.

Yeah, the Democrats have a patent on unconscionable demagoguery – and the president better damn well start respecting it. After all, John Edwards has a lot of free time on his hands.

In the short run, gay rights may be a losing issue, but this is a matter of human rights, not to be traded away.

Privileges, Dick, not rights. People who think and act like Mr. Cohen have so debased the concept of human rights that it has little meaning left for me anymore, but I’m too tired to go into it any further at this point. And while all gays are human, not all humans are gay, whether we are swapping anything or not, not that I was aware anyone was offering you anything in return for gay marriage.

With all due respect to the voters of most of the states, on certain issues, I'd rather be right than red.

And we all just know that red is wrong. A profound sense of one's moral superiority is such a tricky thing, eh Dick?

Still, what matters most is attitude, a mind-set that does not convey the message that people who vote the "wrong" way are dupes.

Oh, I don’t know. I think the Angry Left has plenty of attitude. Note that Dick didn’t say the Angry Left is wrong to think that these morons voted the “wrong” way, just that they shouldn’t convey their true feelings so that they can be properly “duped” next time.

These people know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Yes, you see they don’t vote the “wrong” way because they are stupid or deceived – they do it because they are evil!

It is the people who insist otherwise who are the true dupes in this case -- not of some political candidate, but of their own wishful thinking.

In other words Angry Left Democrats, you’re stupid.

Posted by Charles Austin at November 10, 2004 10:30 PM

A scourge! A scourge!

The election must really be hitting Richard hard. He wrote a virtually self-scourging essay.

Posted by: Jon at 10:17 AM

True, he tries on the hair-shirt, but it's not his style, and so he puts it back on the rack. Poor Richard, even when he tries the inner snotty schmuck emerges. Pray he keeps it up, he's indispensable.

Posted by: luciferous at 10:33 AM

Admit it; you feel better now, don't you.

Posted by: greg at 01:30 PM

Unbelievably hilarious. I guffawed, because that was pretty much my reaction. Cohen carefully tying himself in a knot to support his beliefs about his own cultural and moral superiority while simultaneously demonstrating how much more intelligent he is than those Michael Moore fans.

And you know what? The war on terrorism is an economic issue. Continued attacks on our soil are going to be very, very bad for our economy. Amazingly, my drooling fundamentalist cretin friends down here in GA even pondered that fact and voted accordingly.

Posted by: MaxedOutMama at 03:24 AM

"... behooved Democrats" - well, their symbol is the donkey, so maybe there's a little more (Moore?) to this "hooviness". It seems like we're hearing alot of braying after the election about some stubborn belief that the red states don't know what they're doing and that they need the enlightened urbanites to steer us right.

Yeah, keep braying. I'll keep praying.

That was another good scourging from you. I tried one on a Leonard Pitts article from Monday, and he's gone off the deep end too.

Posted by: MarcV at 01:38 PM