Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Smile when you say that

"When you call me that, smile," says The Virginian, drawing on a fellow card-player. From a copy of the first edition in the holdings of the Toppan Rare Books Library, American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.

Shorter David Brooks, "Are We on the Path to National Ruin?", New York Times, July 12 2016:
I've never really understood how fascism could have come to Europe, and we're not close to that, though we're closer than we've ever been, which might suggest that we are close; but then again I've never really understood how a nation could rise as one and completely turn itself around. So one of the two is bound to happen, right?
He's on the road again—still journeying into the heart of whiteness, apparently, because he's got another dateline, this time from San Antonio. Though the only thing he has to report from San Antonio is something he got out of an article in The Atlantic, which isn't something you normally have to travel to Texas to see, even if you don't use a computer:
Here in San Antonio, there are cops who know how to de-escalate conflicts by showing dignity and respect.
I think he's got that somehow garbled, too, because the Atlantic article isn't about San Antonio police de-escalating conflict in any general sense (such as might apply to not shooting black people dead for no good reason) but about a program that trains them specifically to deal with the mentally ill, and I don't see anywhere on a quick reading where they "show dignity", whatever that means (I imagine he meant to say that they show respect for the dignity of members of the public, but the article mentions "respect" only, twice, to refer to relationships between officers, and doesn't use "dignity" at all). Though it sounds like they're pretty respectful in fact, and that's really very nice.

The article, incidentally, is by none other than his old research assistant Anne Snyder, so that's worth the price of admission right there. She can still write rings around him, as you can imagine. Even more so than before, with some real-life material to work with.

There's a little Cokie's Law poison mixed in with the lament about our catastrophic times—
Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction. It’s very easy to see this country on a nightmare trajectory.
Cunning how he uses "remind" there. He is literally trying to implant a false memory in readers who concluded last week that HRC is a habitual liar (wrongly, I think, as you know), that they'd been certain of it all along. He's really such a turd sometimes.

And then he's off on the Progressive Era, when they averted fascism by confronting it before it was invented, marked by such important events as President Arthur's reform of the civil service and the composition, by Teddy Roosevelt's pal Owen Wister, of the 1902 novel The Virginian, which created cowboy mythology, which was the most Progressive thing ever.
Theodore Roosevelt went into elective politics at a time when few Ivy League types thought it was decent to do so. He bound the country around a New Nationalism and helped pass legislation that ensured capitalism would remain open, fair and competitive.
I'm sorry, Brooksy, but I'm not letting you appropriate my Progressive Era, when America's workers began making their voices heard and fought often successfully among other things for the right to strike, the eight-hour day, and free silver coinage, and direct election of Senators, and women's suffrage, and the ruling class began collaboration in the reining in of capitalism through all the regulation they could muster. And income tax and the Federal Reserve. And Prohibiton (Boo!). Binding folks around the New Nationalism sounds disgusting or sadistic.
A new leadership class emerged, separately at first, but finally congealing into a national movement.
Congealing into a movement, that's a neat trick.

Needless to say, plenty of Ivy Leaguers in Teddy's day went in to electoral politics (the concept of "elective politics" calls to mind somebody who scorns the required issues like economics and international relations and campaigns instead on medieval love lyrics, the material culture of the great apes, and pep band). I don't feel like really researching this, but a list of members of Yale's Skull & Bones society from the 1860s through 1890s yields 13 members of the House of Representatives, eight senators, four governors, one lieutenant governor, one mayor, two state legislators, and a president (Taft), and that's just a rather exclusive minority within one school. I don't know what factoid from what biography he's misinterpreting here, but he's wrong. Duh.

It doesn't matter at all. Driftglass has more, of course, and makes more of an effort to be coherent. Some days I can't bring myself to care.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Never Ben Better said...

"He's really such a turd sometimes."

I'd delete "sometimes". What a turgid dog's breakfast.

Peter Janovsky said...

For Brooks, the New Deal was just chopped liver, I guess. Guess he doesn't want to offend Amity Shlaes.