Monday, January 08, 2007

Against Mock-Stoic Muggers

Many of the people who are angry at or even hate Mr. Bush have very good reasons, and they are not making arguments for anger but are making impassioned arguments against an abominable and awful administration. If those arguments put off many “moderates” and the like, it is because our political culture has almost certainly become too pathetically nice and has been completely sapped of the kind of vigour that once made politics the sort of rough-and-tumble affair in which decent men would not have wanted women to participate because of its harshness.

Nowadays we have the ludicrous Speaker of the House having photo-ops of children holding the Speaker’s gavel and the President talking about how much he cares about this or that suffering group. The endless appeals to bipartisanship, the constant flow of saccharine rhetoric and the nauseatingly cheerful ranks of professional politicians tell me that our political culture is so far from being flooded with anger that it isn’t even funny. For those who, like Mr. Wood, think we live in an age of considerable political anger and fear its culturally destructive effects, I will point them to the bizarre enthusiasm for Barack Obama, who always offers the sickening “let’s bring people together” pap and embodies the tiresome ”I understand your valid concerns” style of disingenuous politicking. [...] Personally, I regard this treacly, meaningless kind of political appeal as a far more serious threat to the quality of our political discourse than legions of bitter Kossacks shouting themselves hoarse with contempt for the GOP. The Kossacks and the like may not have much to say, but they do say something. Politicians operating in the Obama style have nothing to say and actually seem proud that they deal in such empty banter.
Daniel Larison

On occasion I wonder what Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary, would deride in modern life were he expanding his lexicon today. My favored entry for "extremist" runs:

"Extremist: a person disdained by major political and media figures."

Prompted by the above attack on mock-stoic muggers, I invent another entry:

"Angry Man: Person whose face cannot display an airbrushed smile for the television cameras."

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