Midterm madness Archives

November 3, 2009

My man Doug Henwood says it all

Doug writes:

A year after being pronounced dead, now the Republicans are resurgent! Liberals will say that this proves that Obama must moveto the left, but Obama will tack to the right. This will prompt a spate of anguished blog posts and Nation editorials wondering why Obama is doing this.

You read it here first.

Actually, I think Comrade Al beat him to it. But hey, who's keeping score?

October 21, 2010

The Great Unteachables

Distant Ocean has the goods.

A serious effort to teach lessons presupposes an ability to learn. Incorrigibly stupid people can't learn. Neither can solipsists, psychopaths or Democrats, who routinely manage to combine all three qualities. I wouldn't waste my time on them. A spite vote has some passing appeal, but they read every vote the way they want to, regardless of intent. In short, as a method of signaling or teaching, there's no point to voting.

There is, however, something to be said for a "third party" vote that gives Robert Parry a full blown conniption. A bit silly? Sure, but I'm not so morally vain that I'd pass. There's also a tiny chance a genuinely decent person will sneak into some office or another and, once there, do a few, small, genuinely decent things. It's a wisp, admittedly, hardly the stuff of which revolutions are made, but at the very worst a vote for a good person is a respectful gesture. The Democratic purists may wish to foul themselves and run around shrieking for attention over that, but that's what they do anyway. And if my inbox is any indication of what portends, they're winding themselves up for another irredentist tantrum. Their tantrums make the Baby Jesus cry. That's a bad thing. There's nothing I can do about it, sadly, but it's also no reason to spite my "third party" friends.

I'm almost, but not quite, tempted to vote for the Republicans. The last time they had an electoral majority, Democratic Party supporters, though not the Democrats themselves, felt obliged to offer nuisance value opposition to Cat Food Commissions, bankster-coddling and crackpot hegemony. They didn't really mean it, but some of them were panicked enough to act like grownups. That's good practice, according to the developmental enthusiasts. It can become habitual and, eventually, thoughtful. But even in a very good cause, there are limits. No matter how much I'd like to see grownup Democratic Party supporters, I can't stomach the aggrieved triumphalism of Republicans. Where it's possible, I'll hug a meliorist instead.

December 11, 2010

Category Error Catechism

I come not to club Krugman, but to expose his critique of Obama as "shallow-end" dissent. Professor K. uses all sorts of shrill-sounding terms about Obama's presidency, even raising questions of morality and character. But he persists (willfully? unwittingly?) the notion that Obama is weak and a poor strategist, rather than fundamentally opposed to left/liberal/progressive policy. Such denialism is the essence of the "category error" riff.


Shrill in this context is a good thing, by the way. Many people are admirably shrill, right up until it's time for them to wade in over their ankles. Then, like all good people with laudably soggy socks, they start to recite the category error catechism.

The catechism is baseless imputation. There's no way to impute decency into existence. Obama and his flunkies hurl snide, nasty comments because they're snide, nasty people. They evince an arrogant sense of entitlement because that's what they have. They "failed" to push anything hinting at liberal meliorism because they're opposed to it, and they opposed it very effectively. Well enough, in fact, that it's bitten their expendable contingent. They're going to keep opposing it too, and when they're out of office they'll daschle off to their rich rewards.

The progression is so well-documented and so clearly demonstrated that after a while ingenuous imputation starts to look cynical. Appearances aside, however, it fits the definition of category error. Hence Vastleft's entirely apposite use of the term.

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