Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Andrew Sullivan looks at the responses of John McCain and Joe Lieberman to the Times Square bombing incident -- McCain's call for the withholding of Miranda rights and Lieberman's call for terrorism suspects to be stripped of citizenship -- and writes:

Now recall that McCain and Lieberman were celebrated in Washington for their alleged maturity, wisdom, and elder statesmen experience. They are in fact adolescent hysterics, whose terrorized Manichean view of the world sees nothing but an existential struggle and the imperative to win it.

"Adolescent hysterics"? I don't think so. I think Sullivan is taking their histrionics way too seriously. I'd say they don't feel a thing they claim to feel, or mean a word they say. I think Cereal, commenting on one of my posts yesterday, comes a lot closer to describing what McCain, Lieberman, and other righties are doing, now and as a matter of habit:

...modern conservatism is simply incoherent. These people do not actually have any consistent beliefs other than "attack liberals" and "seek political and economic advantage by whatever means necessary." ...

These people are nihilists. They have no ideology - they simply lash out at and blame "liberals" in order to gain advantage and wealth. That's all they care about, and it's all they do.

My one quibble is that I think "nihilists" is too strong a word. I think it's more narcissism and solipsism than nihilism -- they want gain for themselves and they simply don't care what happens to the country. I don't think they think it makes any difference what happens to the country -- they'll be all right even if they keep demagoguing the country until we're literally in a civil war. (At this point I'm referring not just to McCain and Lieberman, but to Murdoch and the other media propagandists and to the leaders of the GOP and tea party.) They'd like to be the big dogs no matter what, and they'll do and say anything, however potentially divisive or harmful to the country, to get to that point, but they're simply indifferent to the effect it all has on America.

I think they're like the dealers in toxic securities on Wall Street before the economic collapse. Demagogic notions like a citizenship-stripping bill (or, for that matter, the entire notion that Barack Obama is a socialist-fascist) can be seen as the political equivalent of Abacus-2007 AC1 -- garbage sold to the public purely for the benefit of the seller. Palm this stuff off and you can make a huge (political) killing -- that's what McCain and Lieberman and Murdoch and Beck and the rest are thinking.

The Wall Street guys either didn't think a crash could come, or thought (correctly) that they'd be shielding from its worst effects; I think McCain, Lieberman, Murdoch et al. feel the same way -- if they goad the yahoos until we Americans are at one another's throats, they assume they'll just be able to retreat to the comfort of their own homes and ride the civil war out in peace. And they're probably right about that.


By the way, if Lieberman actually manages to ram through his citizenship-stripping bill, I hope you don't think that'll be the end of it. Righties will just start using that law as a jumping-off point. Shouldn't the State Department be adding a few groups we don't like to the terrorist-organization list, like, say, the Communist Party, or the Socialist International, or Greenpeace? And why limit ourselves to the State Department's list? That Weather Underground was a pretty nasty bunch of SOBs -- why is Bill Ayers still a citizen? And weren't he and the president of the United States best pals?

Oh, they're not going to stop if they get this. This will just be the beginning. They may not really be able to expand on the law (or even pass what Lieberman's calling for), but they're sure as hell going to use Lieberman's idea rhetorically, and build on it as well. Soon the notion that members of any radical group retain might their citizenship will be regarded as an outrage, just as civilian trials for terror suspects now seem to be regarded as an outrage. The goalposts are just going to move rightward.

Oh, sorry -- did I say "any radical group"? My mistake. This won't apply to groups like Hutaree. We'll be told that they're superpatriotic -- they love America, or at least the America of their own pipe dreams, so none of this will apply to them. The same for violent anti-abortion groups. It'll only apply leftward -- or at least the wingers will demand that it be applied leftward, and claim that any resistance to this "commonsense" notion is a sign that the government remains in the hands of lefty traitors.

No comments: