Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cynicism Telegraphed

Just as you'd been thinking how welcome it would be to read a sexily contrarian commentary stating that the craven, chickenshit compromises of President Obama and Senate Democrats is the fault of the people who elected them, Chris Hedges steps forward with the sexy:

I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in Dostoevsky’s “Notes From Underground.” They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky’s depraved character, have come to believe that the “conscious inertia” of the underground surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses.
Uh, no. It's blindingly obvious, even if not sexily contrarian, that the gravest danger we face as a nation is from the knuckle-dragging, theocratic, bigoted, anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-intellectual, warmongering, Mammonite far right against which the liberal-left counterpunches have been too insubstantial and pusillanimous.

As for that cynicism that "cloaks cowardice," that "inaction and empty moral posturing," that "self-adulation and self-pity," Hedges helpfully telegraphs precisely that:
I am not disappointed in Obama. I don’t feel betrayed. I don’t wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney.
Indeed. It could well have been Cynthia McKinney, Santa Claus, Parker Posey, Omar Bradley, Leonardo DeCaprio, King Henry VIII, the guy who holds the boom microphone on the set of Oprah, the Barnes of Barnes & Noble, Bartleby the scrivener, any random old red barn -- who gives a shit who the socialist candidate for president was? Whoever it was, it was someone conducting a pointless goddamn stunt, siphoning off energies and resources, however slight their sum, for the sake of accomplishing something just short of nothing. Oh wait, in fairness, I'll wager they "raised issues the mainstream candidates wouldn't raise" or some feckless horseshit of the sort. I'll even grant the probability that they passed out some fantastic, incisive pamphlets that were, in their way, more worth reading than the pro-Jesus pamphlets more commonly handed out on city sidewalks.

Hedges's empty, self-pitying, self-adulating cowardice that cloaks cynicism (or vice-versa) continues:
I learned to dislike liberals when I lived in Roxbury, the inner-city in Boston, as a seminary student at Harvard Divinity School. I commuted into Cambridge to hear professors and students talk about empowering people they never met ...
Oh dear Flying Spaghetti Monster I can't bear to quote the rest, which, fortunately, was hackneyed garbage before it left Hedges's keyboard: across the Charles river in Boston, far from the abstraction-weeded fields of Harvard Yard, Hedges encountered humble, noble, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth working class types -- sometimes their very sweat fell upon his cloak! -- and came to admire the shit out of them. They fought hard, drank hard, worked hard; they didn't use fancy words, drop Dostoevsky's name, or waste everyone's patience finding ways to mention the time they'd spent pursuing advanced degrees at Harvard.

This bit unhorses me:
At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.
I could read that charitably, but as Chris Hedges is already established as a wanking joke with a keyboard, I will not: self-esteem?!? Sweet Jeebus in blue jeans, he really wrote that? Anyone concerned with self-esteem -- their own or anyone else's -- who is not a high school guidance counselor, social worker, or battered women's shelter volunteer should back away from the keyboard, take a good long look at his life, and re-think his politics, ideals, and aspirations.

Sigh.

Lest I allow cynicism to mask fecklessness, I say the following: candidate Obama made certain commitments -- here's a good enough list -- that I expect him to meet. I expect him to follow through on those commitments or fail in the valiant, relentless pursuit of them. I don't want to hear any more goddamn speeches, excuses, or jaded, easy, lazy protestations of "Obama was always just another plutocrat." No. No he was not. He was no Bernie Sanders, but the president we have is not the candidate for which we donated, worked, advocated, and voted, and I refuse to concede "that's just how it works."

That's how it fucks up, not how it works.

If current trends continue -- the relentless pursuit of pleasuring people who are lying right-wing plutocrats -- Obama and similar back-sliders will continue to see the liberal-left cohort of voters abandon them. Our votes, time, dollars, and advocacy will continue to wither away. We will get, in that case, not some popular green-labor-socialist uprising led by Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, Cynthia McKinney, and their seventeen fellow party members, but President Sarah Palin or the equivalent. We will get that and we will fear and despise it, rightly, as something substantially worse than a weak-willed President Obama, as rotten and disappointing as that has become in too many aspects of public policy.

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