Sunday, September 3, 2017

All Our Base Are Belong to Sam Bee

Does Ross Douthat read The Rectification of Names? Redux.

The heretic Pelagius and his learned opponent St. John Chrysostom, depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1459, via Wikipedia.
Last time I thought he was borrowing my two-headed calf. This time Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, seems to have picked up ("Right-Wing Books, Wrong Answers") on my preoccupation with the execrable Trumpist wormtongue Dinesh D'Souza, and specifically the idea that that repellent poisonous newt has something in common with an apparently respectable Republican who angrily opposes Trump. But where I was thinking of former senator John Danforth and the party's misreading of American history, the Monsignor is picking on current senator Jeff Flake and the party's economic policy:

D’Souza’s book embodies the outrageous right-wing style that Flake’s book condemns. Which makes it all the more striking when D’Souza, the Trump-defending huckster, comes around to many of the same economic policy prescriptions as Flake, the Trump-abjuring would-be statesman. Whether in the name of honorable libertarianism or frenzied, “I’m not saying they’re Nazis, but they’re Nazis” anti-liberalism, the senator and the demagogue both
think that conservatives need to … cut social programs in order to cut taxes on the rich.
(And an "I'm not saying, I'm just saying" crack for good measure.)

I'm having trouble finding any statements on tax policy by D'Souza more recent than 1999, though The Economist pulled out this delicious bit in 2010—

If Obama shares his father's anticolonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more.
(So many prime bits of D'Souza idiocy there: Barack Obama Sr.'s support for Kenyan independence from Britain was a bad thing; some unidentified people pay "close to 50%" and Obama Jr. wants those imaginary folks to pay more, instead of feeling that way about Willard Mitt Romney, last reported paying 13.9% of his adjusted gross income in federal taxes; and there is some logical connection between your views on US taxation and Kenyan independence.)

The fact is D'Souza has never had anything in particular to say about policy of any kind, and even less now that he's devoted all his time to calling people (Muslims, immigrants, and Democrats) names—D'Douthat is just making it up for his own rhetorical purposes. I'm not saying he's a liar, I'm just saying.

Douthat doesn't have anything to say about policy either, for that matter, beyond complaining that Flake's ideas aren't going to get any votes (links to Pete Spiliakos and to Reihan Salam, who in turn links to himself in February 2016, offering a mishmash of what he thought at the time might be popular—half-Trumpian proposals on immigration and entitlements, a very passive-aggressive "truce" on Obamacare, and acting Very Serious about the deficit).

Oh, and Trump has the same unpopular policy ideas himself now (Douthat affects not to know that every tax proposal Trump has offered in the past two years has massive tax cuts for the very wealthy so that there's nothing new about it at all, and that he's always been billed as anxious to cut social programs as long as they're not for the elderly), and Douthat doesn't think that affects his election chances at all:

the G.O.P. has two options. It can follow Flake’s lead and be a high-minded party of small-government principle, disavowing bigotry and paranoia — and it will lose elections, because purist libertarianism plus supply-side economics is not a winner in the current crisis.
Or it can follow D’Souza’s lead (and Trump’s, now that his populist agenda seems all-but-dead) and wrap unpopular economic policies in wild attacks on liberalism. With this combination, the Republican Party can win elections, at least for now — not because most Americans can be persuaded that liberals are literally Nazis, but because liberalism’s intolerant and utopian tendencies make people fear the prospect of granting progressives political power to match their cultural hegemony.
That's right. It's all those dratted liberals' fault. See, we've already got cultural hegemony in the form of the ruthless dictatorship of Samantha Bee (I'm not making this up, check out the link!), and the people groaning under this cultural yoke are in terror that it could get worse, if Adrian Vermeulen is right (check out the other link!) and we're exactly like communists:
Communism and liberalism feature an odd and distinctive combination of historical determinism and radical Pelagianism. The eschaton of radical freedom for all is inevitable, the forces of History will sweep toward their ultimate victory—and therefore it is essential that every good citizen accept liberalism (communism) in his heart and promote it publicly, eagerly detecting and shaming bias (class interest) and intolerance (oppression). 
Because, under the Queen Bee's cultural hegemony, we're all determined to spread this radical Pelagianism
the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid
—that's right, because of the way we're brutally forcing people all over the country to think they might be capable of making moral decisions and of learning to be unbiased and tolerant, the fearful populace is ready to believe D'Souza's "wild attacks" against us.

Revealing that the whole point of the Monsignor's exercise here has been not to discuss D'Souza and Flake at all, but to attack liberals himself, the wicked folk who got Trump elected in the first place (Republicans obviously couldn't have had any role in something like that), with our crazed Samanthite devotion to the concept of freedom for all. As you see, Douthat's attacks on liberals, unlike D'Souza's, are not one bit wild. Just a little... um... peculiar.

Bee, the huntress. That arrow was aimed right at the heart of civilization.
Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

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