So I checked the SiteMeter (still no Instalanche) and then I checked Memeorandum and saw an idiotic headline, Angry White Men Have Real Grievances, which was doubly idiotic in that it was on a column by E.J. Dionne, whose absolute uselessness probably explains why the Washington Post felt it could get away with hiring Michael Gerson to write a "Republican" column.
Dionne and Gerson: An even match, a absolute stalemate, the resistible force and the moveable object, the journalism of ignorance and inertia.
What is it that so irritates me about Dionne and Gerson? I look at Dionne's biography:
Before joining The Post in 1990 as a political reporter, he spent 14 years at The New York Times, covering local, state, and national politics, and also serve as a foreign correspondant in Paris, Rome and Beirut. Dionne began his column for The Post in 1993. He is a University Professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. . . .Ah, that's it: The ambition to Change the World, to Make a Difference, the stultifying seriousness of his journalistic sincerity, the Politics of Earnestness.
Dionne received the American Political Science Association's annual Carey McWilliams Award in 1996 for a major journalistic contribution to the understanding of politics. In 2002, he received the Empathy Award from the Volunteers of America, and in 2004 he won the National Human Services Assembly's Award for Excellence by a Member of the Media.
From which, of course, derives his uselessness. It's rather jangling to imagine somebody so ultra-sincere, so horribly priggish, working for 14 years as an actual reporter. But he was, after all, working for the New York Times, which may explain everything.
For someone who once worked as a political correspondent, Dionne doesn't actually seem to know much about politics. He's got his Change the World agenda, and everything he sees is filtered through that peculiar lens:
The effort to understand where Obama hatred comes from has been one of the few growth areas in the American economy.But the phenomenon isn't particularly mystifying: After 12 years of GOP congressional control, the electorate did one of their period "throw the bums out" moves in 2006, elevating Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to the top, putting the Democrats in control. Then, in 2008, the voters completed the housecleaning, electing Obama to the White House.
Now buyer's remorse is setting in. A substantial number of voters seemed to believe that Obama would bring to Washington a large supply of magic pixie dust, which he would sprinkle hither and yon to create Good Jobs, Peace, Prosperity and Social Justice.
Some nine months in, a lot of those people are baffled to discover that we have a pixie dust shortage. The "angry white males" of the Dionne headline are basically Republicans who didn't vote for Obama, and now they're saying, "Hey, you morons, we tried to tell you this guy was hosing you, but you wouldn't listen!"
How many people "hate" Obama? I don't know. Dionne talks about "too many racist signs at rallies and too many overtly racial pronouncements in the fever swamps of the right-wing media," but I spoke at two Tea Party rallies in Alabama -- of all places -- and don't recall any such signs. As for the "fever swamps," I suppose that Dionne means talk radio and Fox News, but cites no examples of the "overtly racial pronouncements" which alarm him.
Dionne's a worry-wart, is what he is. His natural posture is of thoughtful hand-wringing, and we're not really surprised when he goes off on an Australian tangent:
This is not a uniquely American problem. Last week I caught up with Australia's deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, who was visiting Washington for a conference on education. Though Gillard diplomatically avoided direct comment on American politics, she said what's happening here reminded her of the rise of Pauline Hanson, a politician who caused a sensation in Australian politics in the 1990s by creating One Nation, a xenophobic and protectionist political party tinged with racism.Has E.J. been to Australia lately? Has he interviewed any Hanson supporters? For that matter, has he been to any of these Tea Party rallies and talked to any of the protesters?
What is Dionne actually up to with this column? He's offering excuses to his fellow liberal elitists, who are increasingly perplexed by the failure of the Pixie Dust Theory. What is slowly dawning on the elite is that the American people aren't quite so stupid as the elite always imagine them to be. They can learn, those voters, even if the process is too often difficult, painful and slow. I tried to explain this shortly after the election last year:
Perhaps the most brilliant thing about Barack Obama's successful campaign was its vagueness. In offering himself as the all-purpose Change We Can Believe In, Obama gave believers a blank slate and a tacit license to project upon him their deepest longings.If there are, as Dionne tells us, some substantial number of "angry white males" who are perpetrating "Obama hatred," they're wasting their time.
Not that there were no specifics. His promise of tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans and tax hikes for those earning over $250,000 had a statistical specificity that Obama's Republican rival never matched. And those who recall Obama's Democratic debates with Hillary Clinton will remember intense disagreements over ultimately forgettable details of their health-care plans.
Details, however, were not the Obama campaign's strongest selling point. Rather, Obama succeeded by capitalizing on the kind of boundless Hope that prompted a Florida woman, Peggy Joseph, to her memorable declaration after a late-October campaign rally: "I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car; I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he's gonna help me."
What is needed is not anger or hatred, but patient explanation to the Peggy Josephs that they've been scammed, hustled, burned by Democrats who have done what Democrats have always done: Promised voters the moon, stars and sun, without any real intention of delivering on the promise.
The answer to this kind of Pixie Dust nonsense is not for the Republicans to try to steal the Pixie Dust formula, offering their own magical policy panaceas. Rather, the GOP needs to speak the brutal truth: There are no pixies and no magic.
There are no panaceas. We can neither return to some mythical edenic Golden Age nor are we marching toward some future Utopia of perfection. Decades of trying to vote ourselves into Heaven-on-Earth have created the very problems -- e.g., the actuarial nightmares of Social Security and Medicare -- which today's promise-'em-anything Democrats claim they'll fix.
"Grow Up, America" would be an accurate slogan for what the nation really needs. It wouldn't be a popular message, but it would be a true assessment of what ails us: A childishness, a politics of wishing, of which the naivete of Peggy Josephs was but an extreme example.
Well, you won't get any such cold cynicism from the earnest hand-wringing columns of E.J. Dionne. And it's probably for the best. Better foolish sincerity than cynical wisdom, and I probably need to find something more tranquil for bedtime reading than Songs of the Doomed.