Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Fox Nation flags this Charles Krauthammer quote from last night's convention coverage on Fox:
If I hear one more story about people walking eight miles in the snow without shoes, uphill, both ways, I'm going to start longing for a little Clint Eastwood spontaneity out here.
Really, Chuck? That bothered you? That's odd. I could have sworn Republicans believed above all in the value of hard work and individual effort.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans believe they own hard work and individual effort, at least rhetorically, in the same way they believe they own patriotism (which is why they keep trying to expunge the death of bin Laden from Barack Obama's record as president).

For a while, I was starting to think that Republicans believe only CEOs and entrepreneurs qualify as hard workers -- if you "merely" show up for work every day and bust your butt, and never start a business, you're the new welfare queen. I think that's true to some extent (see, for instance, Michelle Malkin's snippy comment that "Romney types, of course, are the ones who sign the front of the paycheck, and the Obama types are the one who have spent their entire lives signing the back of them"). But I think the overarching GOP message is that it doesn't count as hard work if, at the end of it, you didn't emerge as a Republican. You're not supposed to believe you got any help from society ("We Did Build This!"), and you're not supposed to believe you owe a damn thing to anyone else in society (Kurt Andersen, on Twitter, notes the "Dopiest & most childish line" in the Republican platform: "Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen's freedom").


If you watch the full clip in which Krauthammer uttered that (carefully rehearsed) soundbite, you notice that Barack Obama, in Krauthammer's imaginings, is a mirror-image version of a Republican. Republicans hate government and vigorously champion free enterprise -- therefore Obama must hate free enterprise and vigorously champion government. Krauthammer can't write Obama's hard work and ambition out of the story, so he says that Obama's hard work was so that he could rise to the top and crush freedom. He also thinks we liberals and Democrats can't bear the thought of Barack Obama being ambitious, or hard-working, or successful, so Michelle, in her speech, had to create a distorted picture of him in which he wasn't any of those things:

All the other speakers will talk about what Obama does -- the achievements and the legislation and whatever, and the political implications. Her whole task was to say why, and her answer was: why? Because essentially he's a saint, because of his upbringing and because of his emotions and because of his humanity, he does all this because he cares.

And the brilliance of it is this: it drained Obama of any either ideological motivation or any having to do with self-interest or ambition, which I think is sort of the more plausible explanation.

He's a man who's highly ideological, a man of the left who sees the role of government as ordering -- reordering society in a way to make it more just as he understands it, also extremely ambitious, a self-made man who makes himself out of nothing, rises out of nowhere. But all of that, in her telling, doesn't even exist. The only reason he does what he does: he cares about women, he cares about immigrants, he cares about the poor, he cares about the unemployed, he cares, he cares, he cares. She told the story of a Gandhi -- and you know, looking at scene, looking at how he's conducted himself in the presidency, and particularly in the campaign, with ruthlessness and determination and drive, it's not quite a plausible story.
Um, Chuck? That's nuts. We know Barack Obama worked hard. We know he has "drive." We just don't think that's incompatible with empathy, or the belief that government can help people fulfill their potential. Government and personal achievement: for us it's not either/or.

That's incomprehensible to the right.

1 comment:

Victor said...

Manichean's can't compromise - EVERY thing is an either/or.

And, Chuckles the Toadclown, Obama may be many, many things - Liberal, he ain't.

We Liberals would know one when we saw one.

And one would think that Conservatives would know one of their won when they saw them, too.

But oddly, these same uncompromising Manichean's, are trying to compromise Mitt and his record, with their own Conservative beliefs - trying to fit a square, but ever shape-shifting block, into a round ass hole.

Is it any wonder they're all suffering from cognitive dissonance?