You know, folks, when I write about conservatives and their crazy tropes, I try to be a good boy and give each one of their dispatches from the loony bin a good close read before making fun of it. True, those writers usually cleave to one or two of a pretty limited number of ancient rightwing nostrums — which I really should get down in a chapbook sometime — but, out of a habit of respect for my subjects left over from when those subjects were more worthy of respect (and, truth be told, out of respect even for the Drehers and Hinderakers and David Brookses of the world, for they too are children of God), I try to be specific about whatever particular absurd gloss each author is using to pull off Routine 12 or 7 or 21 et alia, and why it sux.
I have at times been accused by these people of misapprehending their points, willfully or out of ignorance; here, for example, Patterico (remember him?) predicts I will ‘lie,” presumably out of habit, about his extremely sane investigations of Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate (“I’m not sure this is the long form. This looks to be simply the original Certificate of Live Birth. We were told” blah blah blah).
But though their cavils often send me back to check my work and occasionally correct it, I seldom see any real cause for complaint — in fact, after all the times I have set the pica ruler against the line and found my measure true, I have come (honestly, I think) to the conclusion that nine times out of ten, at least, when they say I’ve distorted their POV, they means I have seen through their subterfuge or inept attempt to cloud the issue, and accurately and for them uncomfortably portrayed the message under the mess.
But I’ve been at this game a long time and have grown old in the traces; and whether it is because I have lost too many steps to keep up the chase, or because I've heard their bullshit so many times I not longer need to hear the long version, or because I have grasped the Tao and, being Perfected, need not exert myself, sometimes I just can’t, as the kids say, even.
For example, rightwing world is currently all abuzz over a speech Tucker Carlson gave on his TV show. Rod Dreher declares that Carlson should be President of the United States; David French first denounced Carlson, then praised him (on the grounds that at least Carlson was promoting good conservative misogyny). Even Jane Coaston at Vox affects to find Carlson's address "interesting."
The speech over which they and many dozens of other pundits are clucking is here, and it is bullshit — indeed, the usual Tucker Carlson bullshit, but with Big Ideas substituted for the usual dogwhistles.
For example, Carlson wants to know, after people like him are gone, “What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live? These are the only questions that matter." Normally this is where starts foaming about the dusky hordes, but on this occasion he lashes out instead at... materialism. “Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy?” he cries.
As longtime followers of conservative intelligentsia will have figured out, here Carlson is doing a Values thing; the bad conservatives only care about the market, but noble Tucker cares about the poor — now that authors like J.D. Vance have hipped him that a lot of those poor are white and living in red states.
Carlson doesn’t trot out his usual crudely racist gimmicks, bur he does variations on them in a manner more in keeping with his newly exalted station, e.g., “Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo. But working to raise men’s wages in Dayton or Detroit? That’s crazy.” (No, I don't know what the real-life correlative to this is, either — maybe the Clinton Foundation?)
But I’m already wasting more brain cells on this than it deserves. Carlson’s yak is not any kind of an argument, it’s just shtick — leaning toward one group of rightwing intellectuals (the Values Klan) against another (the Free-Market Country Club). It may be very important to pencil-necks who imagine their debates and flame wars are deeply meaningful — like the “Reformicons” who pretended they had a hand in Republican policy just before Trump came in and blew them away with one of his farts — but to the conservative hoi polloi it means less than nothing, as Jonah Goldberg found when he attempted to do a Whither Conservatism thing at National Review inspired by Carlson's “anti-market populist'“ position:
Why aren't the Trump yahoos sitting quietly for my lecture? Was that a spitball?
I feel like the guy in I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: It took way too much reading and analysis to dispose of that than it deserved.
Oh and speaking of Fuck This Bullshit, maybe you saw Megan McArdle, since February of 2018 ensconced in a lifetime sinecure at the Washington Post, trotting out her old argument that paupers should be tempted to donate their kidneys to the deserving rich with money. I said what I had to say about this in 2009 (which McArdle found “unctuous” in the thesaurus, I mean at the time). I started to read her latest iteration of this libertarian, sociopathic (but I repeat myself) idea, and realized that I did not need to eat a bucket of shit to know that it is a bucket of shit, and stopped. That left me a few minutes of rage-reading, and many more minutes of rage-analysis unspent. And, wouldn’t you know it, I was soothed, not because I had abdicated responsibility for examining the issue — I remain interested in any sensible, good-faith argument about organ donation — but because I had stopped taking seriously a party who had already proven unserious — like my old friend who’d become an anti-Semitic, alt-right nut on Facebook. Increasingly, with people like McArdle, I feel like Lee Marvin talking to Angie Dickinson at the end of The Killers: Lady, I just don’t have the time.