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Nature's aristocracy

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday October 30, 2008 08:24 PM

Sometimes it's the small things that keep us going.

During this endless, and unspeakably tedious, Presidential campaign -- which seems to have been going on since the Devil was a small boy -- a certain ennui creeps upon one, like the symptoms of hemlock ingestion as described by Socrates' jailer: first your feet get cold, then the sensation moves upwards, and when it gets to your heart....

About the time the chill reaches to my navel, I find that it helps to pay a visit to Daily Kos. Laughter, you know, is the best medicine -- as the Reader's Digest used to say.

A completely unrelated search there turned up a comment by "bob zimway". Bob seems to live somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, and his observations are as earnest and tedious as you might expect. What caught my eye was the tagline of his comments:

The Best finally have conviction.
Veterans of freshman English will recognize this as a reference to Yeats' most-quoted poem -- at least, I hope it's the most; God forbid the Lake Isle of Innisfree should hold that distinction:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Ole Bill at his most muddled -- though eloquent and evocative, with it, as always. Sometimes the poor man, like Peggy Noonan, was Ovid's vox et praeterea nihil -- a voice and nothing more. But what a voice.

Bill's aristocratic pretensions were silly enough, lord knows, but Kosnik Bob's are a godsend -- funny enough to drive that hemlock chill back down to my lower thighs. The "Best" -- note the capital letter -- now have conviction! (Presumably this miracle, unachievable by Yeats himself, has now at last been wrought by the Obama magic.)

Aristo-Bob apparently thinks he's one of the "Best" -- and so, I dare say, do many of his fellow Obamaphiles. Here we see the inmost secret self-warming flame of the core Obama demographic: these folks think they're smarter, more moral, more sensitive, more enlightened, more "progressive" -- in a word, better -- than the average bear. They're the real believers -- not a huge group; not the people who will really put the man over; but the people who get that inexplicable psychic income from their fanship.

Poor devils. If they weren't so odious, I'd feel sorry for 'em.

Comments (12)


Doug Henwood pointed out, or someone on his list did, that "the best" in "best lack all conviction" doesn't refer to sensible, progressive, democratic-minded people, but to the aristocrats Yeats admired. "The worst", similarly, refers to the mob, the people, the ragtag many.
So the whole quote is a vile attack on democracy, following Neitzsche and right intellectuals like Ortega y Gasset.

Of course that reading is not inconsistent with your description of the middle class Obamaphiles.


In other words, Yeats preferred keeping the Demos (people) from as much Kratos (power) as possible.

"Yeats preferred keeping the Demos (people) from as much Kratos (power) as possible..."

...just like Joe Biden.

Peter Ward:

Perhaps it's encouraging the Yeats wrote at the twilight of aristocracy; i.e, analogously, Bill's comments are symptomatic of of the twilight of "liberalism".

The claim that "the Best" have conviction is I think one made in denial or ignorance...most of the best seem as pathologically insecure are ever, to me.

MIchael Hureaux:

Yeah, that Bobby Z is the good ol' northwest school all right. Quietly vicious and pretentious to the last drop.

Son of Uncle Sam:

He's everything the Mark of the New World Order isn't w/ hints of the beatles and everyday american relevancy of being in the desert on a horse w/ no name. I found it unfortunate there was no article on required thumb prints for check cashing, however, his interest in the preservation of marine life Convicted me to commandeer, on customer quality issues, a McFish and piss all over it. I heard a Union Iron Worker once say,"...all you get on the west coast is Jesus freaks and queers." Just so happens that was a line delivered by the late James Coburn in Affliction, equally as poetic and ignorant.
But I like the sound of it, The best finally have conviction. It's versatile, sort of like navel battle or naval battle.

MIchael Hureaux:

One more hit on that west coast thing and I'll leave it alone. I came back out here with my wife for the environment, but I was pretty sure the sillyass qualities of the "left" in Seattle hadn't improved. In fact, it's actually gone backwards, devoured by the social engineering fantasies of software millionaires and their acolytes.

These days, I feed the birds and tend my garden. The quality of discourse is much higher, what you see is what you get.


"these folks think they're smarter, more moral, more sensitive, more enlightened, more "progressive" -- in a word, better -- than the average bear. ...Poor devils. If they weren't so odious..."

the lone and level sands stretch ....


seneca a gloss of yeats by henwoods left end kids

henwood's list ???

kos for orange melon heads
and wingless fence crows

even amerika's
kulack mob
deserves a better
lap top auxiliary


"mere anarchy"

there i is where i'd strike the blow
--if a blow is to be struck---

....mere billy ???...mere

clio's clenser mere ????

Son of Uncle Sam:

That pompus bastard, the best finally have conviction! Wesley Clark never had a chance!

Son of Uncle Sam:

Who the hell puts stock in a poet, that iron worker/movie quote w/ J.C. was on to something. I'm waiting to read em' on a block buster about needles in Halloween candies

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