The sclerotic Old Modernists at the New York Review
are really kicking up their heels these days. From the normally graceful pen of Bill McKibben, they ran a review
of Sub-sub-subcomandante Kos' book Crashing The Gates
(which should, of course, have been titled Hearing The Gates Slam Shut Behind You
The review is adorned by a very odd cartoon of Kos himself as a whey-faced, snaggle-toothed
mini-ogre, riding a creature with donkey's ears and an elephant's trunk. Apparently David Levine thinks politics ought to be about something more than heads or tails (or, for us Lefties, heads they win, tails you lose).
McKibben, however, treats Kos with great respect. Of Kos' sleepytime site, he remarks:
In my view, nothing more interesting has happened in American politics for many years.
... but unfortunately, he does not go on to add, as he should, that this undoubtedly true fact is the saddest
possible reflection on the state of American politics.
I haven't read Kos' book, and won't until I see it on a remainder table, but McKibben
quotes from it a bit. There's a little lame stab at oratory-porn in an account of a Howard Dean
speech to a gathering of Party cultists:
The crowd, a few thousand of the party diehards, was getting a close look at the men seeking the Democratic nod, and not liking what it saw.
And then Howard Dean walked on stage.
"What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"
That brought loud cheers from the delegates.
"What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?"
Soon the crowd was chanting "Dean, Dean," and that was before he unleashed his signature line: "I want my country back! We want our country back! I'm tired of being divided! I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore! I want America to look like America, where we are all included....We have a dream. We can only reach the dream if we are all together— black and white, gay and straight, man and woman. America! The Democratic Party!"
I must say I like the line "I'm tired of being divided." I'd've thought that a person who was divided wouldn't have
much time to get tired of it -- one thinks of drawing and quartering, a fate which, now that I reflect on it, doesn't seem completely inappropriate for a lot of Democrats, Dean very much included. But I digress.
Kos continues, per McKibben:
The crowd, they write, "was on its feet, the convention hall shaking from audience pandemonium, the speech serving as a liberation of sorts." Party activists "weren't alone in the fight. Not anymore. They had a champion and his name was Howard Dean. The call to arms by Dean was ideologically agnostic, purely partisan."
A liberation "of sorts," indeed -- a liberation into renewed servitude; Mckibben continues,
... most of [Dean's]supporters didn't desert the Democratic Party after his defeat. Instead, when the Dean campaign Web site went dark a great many shifted over to Daily Kos and they started to volunteer for John Kerry— not with the same affection they'd felt for Dean, but with much dedication. I spent the week before the general election in Columbus, Ohio, and virtually everyone I talked to who was out knocking on doors for Kerry had begun the year supporting either Dean or the other Internet favorite, General Wesley Clark.
And many of them didn't drop out when Kerry lost the election, either. Instead, they concentrated on Dean's race for chairman of the Democratic Party...
So let me get this straight: all these orgasmic peace-loving Deanites found themselves, as soon as the post-coital glow faded, led right back into the fold,
working their ass off for a war president wannabe and a fanatically dedicated war party.
I'm sort of surprised that McKibben takes all this silliness so seriously. I have a feeling that maybe it's
the techno-dazzle that's charmed him -- he's probably spent more time on the trail than surfing the Web. Otherwise, he would surely have noticed that Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is just Hubert Humphrey without the