September 4, 2004


Passionate Conservatism: Karl Rove's Republicans swerve right on the way to the middle (Rick Perlstein, September 3rd, 2004, Village Voice)

Liking Mr. Perlstein as much as we do, despite political differences, it's a disappointment not to be able to find a coherent thought in this essay to excerpt. So, just a comment on the subhead: Right is the middle.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2004 9:00 PM

"[We] have to face the fact that there are some dumb kids. It's time to give just a few of them coloring books, some crayons—press on to what we can save."

Krayon Kidz For Kerry!

Posted by: MB at September 4, 2004 10:24 PM

I think the point is that Republicans lie---and they always lie---because of their inherent vileness and their (especially vile) desire to be elected.

But Democrats lie because of higher virtue and their (especially virtuous) desire to be elected.

In essence, Democratics don't really lie (but if they do, it's for the greater good---certainly not for vile reasons).

P'raps the only rejoinder is, "sow what ye reap" (or is that reap what ye sow?)

Some solace may be had in the fact that the American people will vote for the candidate it deems best. And may the best man win. (Though if it should happen to be Bush, the only possible reason would be that the American people were duped by the vile Rove's machine, despite the best efforts of the truth-seeking media and Michael Moore.)

But then, we'll be able to enjoy four more years of learning (from the virtuous) why Bush should be assassinated.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 5, 2004 7:42 AM

Here's an excerpt. Unfortunately, it was excerpted into the circular file by the editor. I would love to hear how people try to defend it. For that matter, I would love to see a defense of Arnold claiming the polls were against Bush going into Iraq, and an explanation about why it isn't "coherent" to point out that this is mendacious propaganda.

Tuesday was compassionate conservatism night. Arnold Schwarzeznegger was scheduled to rhapsodize about the immigrant dream, Laura Bush to wax gauzy about the man she calls "Bushie." At the Laugh Factory eight blocks away, on the other hand, it was "GOP Comedy Night," and the comedians apparently didn't get the compassionate conservatism memo. Jokes, argued Sigmund Freud, are best understood as a response to anger and frustration. If you want to learn what the Republican rank and file gets angry and frustrated about when they're not reading from Karl Rove's script, the Laugh Factory turned out to be a useful place to be.

*"To my fellow immigrants listening tonight, I want you to know how welcome you are in this party,"* Arnold said later that night at the Garden.

"I want to take that torch off and put in a finger, right like that!" gestured the MC about the Statue of Liberty.

*"It doesn't make any difference if, like me, you couldn't even speak English until you were in your twenties..."*

"Islamic prayer in Spanish," said comic Julia Gorin. "That's the next step."

The First Lady: *"We are determined to provide a quality education for every child in America."*

The MC: We "have to face the fact that there are some dumb kids!...It's time to give just a few of them coloring books, some crayons--press on to what we can save."

Steven McDonald, the hero cop shot in Central Park in 1986, on AIDS: *"Here at home, President Bush has committed record levels of support to fighting the disease. Internationally, President Bush has marshalled an army of compassion..."*

For wacky Julia, who wears a cameo of "my Georgie" around her neck, AIDS is nothing but a pet cause of Hollywood activists. Want to know why they're so eager to find a cure? "They can't keep their legs shut."

The MC kills with a Cosbyesque riff--"What' the hell is a 'time out'? The only time out I had was when I was unconscious for three and a half minutes!" Then loses the crowd when the next line rushes out too loud and fast, like a 12-step confession instead of a joke. ("'Time out' was for my old man to switch hands"). Then he composes himself. He produces an image of what his mother would do if he, who only had a stick to play with instead of an X-box, complained that he was bored. Punchline: "She would have stuck the stick up my ass!"And now the audience is his again. The only joke that yields a bigger laugh is Gorin's Valley Girl squeal about why John Kerry should be glad Empress Hillary didn't install herself as running mate:

"He would have gone the way of Ron Brown, Vince Foster, and Buddy the dog."

Those Democrats!

Though of course the only time you saw that kind of anger on the convention podium it CAME from a Democrat--and the delegates gave it their warmest acclaim of the week. Which is all part of the hustle. If the bloodiest chunks are tossed out by someone who's not Republican, it can't be vicious partisanship, right? Even if the speech was the sheerest extrusion of rage since the days when Senator Joe McCarthy ranted and raved about Democrats as the party of twenty years of treason.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 5, 2004 10:18 AM


Would that they'd cut more--that bit hardly cranks up the coherence quotient. You're upset about some comedy club schtick? Man, the Left really is coming unglued.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2004 12:13 PM

So, no defense of the Republicans for presenting a half-dozen or so falsehoods in every speech?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 5, 2004 7:31 PM

I'm unaware of a single falsehood, but political speech requires them so no I wouldn't be upset.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2004 7:52 PM

You're unaware of a single falsehood? Did you read my article, or did you just characterize it as incoherent it without reading it? My favorite falsehood--I hear it all the time from ignorant Republicans but was surprised to hear it from the governor of California--was Arnold's claim that Bush, so stalwart, went into Iraq even though the polls said it was unpopular.

On the matter of who's ungled: I suppose you're unaware of this, too.

At what threshhold WOULD you begin to be disgusted with your party?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 5, 2004 10:18 PM

As a factual matter the war was not popular when he decided to go in:

That's what I mean by the Left becoming deranged. He went because he believes in the cause, not because it was politically helpful.

As to the other matter, I approve of beating protestors. I knew I was a conservative the day the hardhats in Manhattan beat the crap out of the protestors in the 60s. Someone who attacks a president at an important civic ceremony should be dealt with roughly.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2004 10:26 PM

According to the URL you provide, 69 percent approve of "military action to remove Saddam" and 26 percent disapprove. A classic "not-so": I can't figure out if you are lying, ignorant, or just hypnotized.

At least you're straightforward about one thing. I used to tell people proudly that my book has received good reviews from left-wingers and right-wingers. Now I can say it got a good review from a fascist, too. I've never called anyone that word in my life. Congratulations, you're the first--for approving of the kicking of a WOMAN who was SUBDUED BY THREE SECRET SERVICE AGENTS and already pinned ON THE GROUND.

You approve of the beating of protesters. Just left-wing protesters? Would you approve of the beating of conservative protesters, say, at an abortion clinic? If you only approve of beating those you disagree with, what you seem to be saying is that it is acceptable to press a political case by terrorizing your opponent. How is this not fascist? And how would a political order like the one you seem to approve of--one in which people pursue their case through violence--differ from Weimar Germany, in which the victor was the political gang with the strongest thugs?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 6, 2004 11:31 AM

That's the number you sift out of that poll? Boy, you're not even trying to be honest anymore.

It would differ because the side with the strongest thugs in America is democratic, not Nazi. If some nitwit wants to invade the GOP convention and attack a president they're hardly entitled to complain about their actions being responded to in kind. The protestors who disrupted John Kerry's acceptance speech were dealt with the same way.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2004 5:24 PM

I was there, but missed the protesters who disrupted John Kerry's acceptance speech. Explain.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 6, 2004 6:07 PM

My point exactly.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2004 6:36 PM

Orrin, PLEASE help me. "The protesters who disrupted John Kerry's acceptance speech": my research skills might be slipping, but there's not a single reference to this in any newspaper on nexis that I can find. How was Kerry's acceptance speech disrupted? And what IS your point?

Maybe my head was turned that exact moment in Boston. But I pledge to you that if you can adduce evidence that Kerry's acceptance speech was "disrupted," and no on covered this fact, I will try to place an article on the event.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 7, 2004 10:45 AM

It wasn't, that's the point. Only the Left behaves with such indecency. Then bitches and moans when folks react as it deserves. Your protestors try shouting down a political party and you call us fascists? Priceless.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2004 10:51 AM

Only the left behaves with such indecency. Hmmm. Note that this event is recorded with pride, with kudos all around:

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 7, 2004 11:13 AM

I don't recall Moore speaking at the DNC.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2004 11:40 AM