… this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
- David Brooks, The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus, New York Times
It’s entirely possible politicians and social media should never mix.
Jeb Bush took a moment out of his ongoing tickle-fight with Donald Trump to brag a little:
The man who would be president is bragging about Fantasy Football: Ha ha! Look how good I am at this make-believe thing! I should have formed a make-believe league! I’m really good at make-believe!
I went back through Bush’s timeline to see how often he makes similar Look At Me I’m A Regular Joe tweets.
His official @JebBush account has sent out roughly 2400 tweets since it came online in February 2010. Every one of those messages are geared towards Bush’s political agenda. Given that, if you look at “Can’t help bragging about my fantasy football team” in context, the message is pretty obvious: his skill at some silly game somehow makes him a better choice for president than his rivals.
Which is hilarious ...
… right up until you suddenly realize Fantasy Football is actually a pretty accurate metaphor for the current state of the Republican Party itself and may indeed be a valid criterion for the guy who would rule Conservatopia.
Once upon a time (all good fantasies start with “Once upon a time…”), conservatives were serious men in white shirts and brush cuts. They were scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, and steely eyed veterans.
As staunch conservative David Brooks says in his column in the New York Times,
By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.
Like Brooks, that’s the conservatism I grew up with.
That’s the kind of conservatives my parents were.
Those are the conservatives I remember and the ones I miss.
Once conservatives, as a group, were those who believed in science (who often were scientists), they were the engineers, the teachers, the doctors, the scout leaders, the steady steely-eyed vets. Men like my dad. Once upon a time, they were the practical pragmatic men who landed Americans on the moon and brought them safely back home again – while the liberals of the time were dreaming their long-haired red-eyed hippy dreams in The Age of Aquarius.
Now don’t get me wrong here, certainly they got it wrong as often as not, those old conservatives. There was war and ideology and inequality, of course there was – same as today. But once upon a time, conservatives in large part were the people who doggedly shoveled shit against the tide and did their best to keep the nuts from working loose and the wheels from falling off.
As Brooks so succinctly put it: they used to be people who knew how to nurture and run things.
Conservatives used to believe community was something other than an armed camp surrounded by enemies.
Conservatives used to believe in reform not revolution – and in fact it was the liberals who were the bomb throwers, the revolutionaries, the reactionaries, the ones who raged against The Machine and raised their fists in protest of The Man, the starry-eye pot-smoking dreamers who were always lost in some unwashed fantasy.
Intellectual humility? Humility isn’t a trait I’d associate with modern conservatism, intellectual or otherwise.
Maybe especially the intellectual part.
A respect for hierarchy? Precedence? Balance? Order? Have you met the Tea Party? The ones waving their assault rifles overhead and praying to their small angry god for bloody revolution? The ones who see shutting down the government as some kind of victory for freedom and liberty? Who would gleefully burn the institution of government to the ground and sullenly squat in the ruins clutching their bibles and guns? Prudent, measured, responsible, those are the very last things I’d call the raging bloody caterwauling coming from what passes for conservatives today.
This is a party whose best candidate for President is a bombastic self-aggrandizing Reality-TV host whose primary claim to fame is a bunch of shady New York real estate deals and who thinks running the country is like managing an Atlantic City casino.
Think about that.
Really think about it.
In what world is Donald Trump even a contender for President of the United States let alone conservatives’ most popular choice?
In a world where being a conservative means absolute contempt for the very institution of government, a sneering dismissal of intellect and science and education, an unabashed hot-eyed hatred of more than half the American population, a near religious worship of guns and violence and war as not only a solution but the only solution to every problem, a philosophy of hopeless despair and cynical pessimism and an endless pervasive obsession with the supposed End of Days, well, in that terrible world, it turns out Donald Trump might very well be the best choice.
Brooks, who I’ll remind you is a conservative, goes on to paraphrase Max Weber’s Politics as a Vocation. In Politics, Weber lays out the essential qualities of a successful politician, those being passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion. Thus, Brooks expands, a politician needs passion to inspire action, but that heat must be tempered by cool responsibility and a measured sense of proportion which are necessary to make careful and reasoned decisions in a complex and dynamic world.
If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the “boastful but entirely empty gesture.” His work “leads nowhere and is senseless.”
Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.
If I were to sum up the last six years of the conservative caucus, “a boastful but entirely empty gesture” might be the exact words I’d use.
Birthers and truthers, endless futile attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act knowing the attempts were futile, unending obstruction, threats of legal action against the president, death panels, government shutdowns, Jade Helm, sequestration, green eggs and ham, dire prognostications of God’s wrath for one damned silly thing or another, and an endless parade of imagined Nazis – this bizarre fantasy world is what the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has become.
It has become so bad, so utterly ridiculous, John Boehner – the very embodiment of boastful empty gestures learned at the knee of Newt Gingrich himself – that John Boehner gave up his job as Speaker of the House and announced his resignation from politics altogether and republicans can’t find a replacement. That’s right, the GOP has become so insane, so utterly rabid, so completely prone to eating not only its own young but its wizened elders as well, so entrenched in this bizarre fantasy they live in, that nobody wants the job other than fringe extremists who are so extreme even their fellow extremists won’t allow them near the gavel.
Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) announced today he intends to start impeachment proceedings against President Hillary Clinton.
I’ll just pause for a moment so you can fully appreciate that bit of fantasy.
Yes, that’s correct, Brooks (Mo, not David), wants to start impeachment proceedings against Hillary Clinton.
Just incase she’s elected president next year.
Disheartened by the fact that his party's partisan
witch-hunt, er, I mean the Totally Non-Biased House Permanent Select Committee On How Hillary Clinton Personally Murdered Four American Heroes In Benghazi And Drank Their Blood While Smacking Her Lips And Laughing Maniacally MuWAHaHAHahaHA has failed to produce any actionable evidence of wrongdoing, and looking at the staggeringly shitty selection of candidates currently offered up by his own party, Mo Brooks concludes Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
And he may be right.
Especially since as previously noted, it appears out of 300 million Americans, Donald Trump and the associated assortment of religious nutters, science deniers, homophobes, misogynists, birthers, truthers, and Ayn Rand groupies is the very best conservatives can do.
These braying jackasses are literally the best conservatives can do.
And they suck so bad at being conservatives Hillary Clinton is, in point of fact, a better conservative in the traditional sense as defined by David Brooks up above than anything the GOP can manage at this point.
Worse, this is the third time in a row for Republicans.
They don’t like any of their options in 2016, they hated Romney, and they couldn’t stand McCain.
Given that, it’s a good bet Clinton has a better shot at the White House than any Republican.
So, reasons Mo Brooks, conservatives better get proactively started on impeachment proceedings now.
Specifically Brooks thinks Clinton should be impeached for
[H]ow many lives she put at risk by violating all rules of law that are designed to protect America's top-secret and classified information from falling into the hands of our geopolitical foes who then might use that information to result in the deaths of Americans [...] And in my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she's sworn in is the day that she's subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
Who the hell talks like that? Outside of some badly written fantasy game, I mean? Could have. Might use. Note the affirmative declaration of that last sentence, she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. She has. Not alleged. She has.
At this point, I am forced to wonder if they’ll dredge up Colin Powell to tell us about how the NSA found yellow cake uranium and mobile germ labs hidden in the Clintons’ basement.
Committed high crimes and misdemeanors. She has.
This despite the fact Clinton hasn’t even been charged with anything, let alone convicted. And just never mind multiple Republicans freely and openly admit the various Benghazi committees exist at this point specifically to attack Clinton’s presidential aspirations and not to find any alleged “truth” regarding what happened in Benghazi. Mo Brooks doesn’t even bother with the illusion of rule of law or the constitutional right of innocence until enough congressional fishing expeditions finally manage to dig up an unsanctioned blowjob.
They couldn’t impeach Barack Obama, no matter how hard and how often they tried, and it infuriates them, it gnaws at their guts and at their manhood.
Now they’ve begun to fantasize about impeaching Hillary Clinton on her first day in office – despite the fact that not only hasn’t she won the office yet, there’s good reason to wonder if she’ll beat Bernie Sanders (or Joe Biden) to the Democratic nomination.
It’s pretty obvious these people exist in the same league as Jeb Bush’s imagined football glories.
Then again, I suppose it follows.
After all, these are the very same people who came up with the idea of preemptive war based on a manufactured fantasy and a boogeyman who existed only in their fevered minds.
Given that, I suppose preemptive impeachment against some fantasy president isn’t all that far fetched.
These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.
- David Brooks
Footnote: I highly recommend you read David Brooks entire article. It can be found here.