The Pundit’s Whine

| October 29, 2010 | 2 Replies

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I try to ignore Glenn Beck.  I think he’s pathetic.  All he can do is whine about things he quite often doesn’t understand.  For instance, his latest peeve has to do with being bumped out of line by science fiction.  Yeah, that’s right.  Glenn Beck’s book Broke has been number 1 on Amazon for a while and it apparently got beat out finally by a science fiction anthology.

His complaint that this is from “the left” is telling.  First off he’s trying to make it sound like some profound philosophical issue, that a science fiction collection outsold his book on Amazon.  (He also noted that the Keith Richards autobiography bumped him as well and please note the twist he gives that.)

Why the Left?  Is science fiction a left-wing thing?  I know a lot of SF writers who style themselves right-wing, libertarian, conservative, etc.  Some of them are very good, too, and I have read some of their work with pleasure.  Unless they were writing from an overtly political stance, I found no reason to call them on their “rightishness” because they outsold another writer’s work that might have been a bit leftish.  This is just a silly complaint and displays an obsession with partisan politics or just immaturity.  This is, of course, Glenn Beck we’re talking about, who seems to find more reasons to evoke Nazi similes than any other pundit I know of and has occasionally shed tears over the abuse he sees our great country enduring from the left.

But this is ridiculous.  Because isn’t this…I mean, Glenn, isn’t this just the free market making itself heard?  Your book can’t stay number one because that would belie the whole principle of competition you claim to believe in.  Everybody who works hard and honestly should have their shot at being number one for a little while and this anthology is a poster-child for hard work and perseverance because, well, it’s self-published!  It doesn’t even have a major (or minor) publishing house behind it!  It got there  all on its own, man!  This is the flower of the free market!  David whupping Goliath’s ass!  This should make you proud!

No, he berates it because it has to do with death or the culture of death, which he equates with left-wing politics somehow.  And for good measure drags Keith Richards into the whole death equation.

If the Right wants to know why people on the Left or even in the Center have no patience for them, this is ample explanation.  The expression  “Get a life” comes to mind.

I recall listening to Rush Limbaugh once trying to trash U2 on the air and managing to demonstrate his utter cluelessness and inability to deal in metaphor.  Is hyper-literalism symptomatic of right-wing thinking?  It must be, because literalism is where they get all caught up and their incompetence shows.  I listened once in complete dismay to Pat Robertson condemning the film Trainspotting for its “glorification of drugs” and I sat there dumbfounded wondering how on earth anyone could see that film as a glorification of drugs.  I remained baffled until I realized, based on a couple of other articles from fundamentalists and right-wing pundits, that in their view the mere mention of drugs, regardless of context, is glorification.  Somehow they could not see a film that takes a serious, unvarnished look at drug abuse as perhaps critical of the lifestyle.  I suppose because there was no father-figure character preaching in the film.

But it showed me another problem.  The possibility that an audience might empathize with the characters—not approve, because clearly in the case of Trainspotting approval is virtually impossible, but understand.  These are human beings, with a problem, certainly, but human beings all the same and maybe they deserve some sympathy, some help, some understanding.

Understanding is not what they want—only condemnation of that with which they disapprove.

Upon Obama’s election and his early attempts to reach across the aisle and his calls to work together, Rush Limbaugh made a broadcast in which he declared that he did not want to understand, to cooperate, to reach across the aisle, to work together.  He flatly refused the idea that common ground could be found.  While I’m sure there are some far Left ideologues who feel the same way, I hear very little of that from most of the Left.

Let me be clear, I’m talking about the mouthpieces here, and by extension those who fawn over them.  I’m talking about the Hannitys, the Becks, the Limbaughs, the Robertsons, the Savages.

They have no depth.  No perspective.  They in fact seem to have no sense of proportion and certainly no grasp of anything but the plainest equations of Us versus Them.  Their comparisons are absurd and frightening, their intransigence at times borderline obscene, and the culture they would see dominant is inarticulate, graceless, and vapid.  Like their last president, W., they “don’t do nuance” and it shows.

I can deal with conservatism.  I can even sympathize with some of it and agree with certain aims.  We spend too much, often regulations seem arbitrary and ill-conceived, and the tax structure is a Rube Goldberg agglomeration of bad compromises, loopholes, and penalties badly in need of revision.

I cannot deal with humorless, puddle-deep, anti-intellectual, squeamish petulance masking as political philosophy.  The Tea Party candidate for congress in Texas who declared that armed insurrection in the case that the midterm elections don’t go their way is not “off the table” does not impress me as mature patriotism—which I’m sure it was designed to look like, the moronic conflation of the willingness to violence with a twisted idea of “adult”—but as the posturing of a ten-year-old in a schoolyard showdown ala the Duke facing down the bad guy.

It is possible that these folks have been there all along, but when we had a Soviet Union and a global communist conspiracy to fix their attention we didn’t notice them so much.  Since the Soviet Union collapsed and the only thing responsible government should have done was go around cleaning up the messes left over by all the proxy wars we’d fought with them since the end of World War II, these folks have had really nothing to vent their conspiracy-obsessed, uptight, puritanical faux-patriotism on.  It took a while for them to build an empire of disinformation and fear-fostering on the multitude of petty gripes and cultural shifts they rigorously and doggedly label Liberal or Left, even when those labels have nothing to do with the subject being so condemned.  9/11 was a gift to them, finally something to fix their attention on and get people stirred up to a rousing level of hyper-adrenalized nationalism—the politics of aversion carried to almost virtuoso heights.

At the end of the day, in all honesty, I have to admit that I cannot join with these people not so much because I disagree with their politics—I do, but not completely, and I find much that could feed a useful dialogue in some of their saner examples—but because I dislike them as human beings.  I don’t know if their deep conservatism has made them such feckless mooks or if their culture blind puritanism has made them conservatives, but however it worked, the result is, to me, repulsive.  They seem compelled to slot people all the time, in this category or that; even when something goes the way they think it should, if it does so for the “wrong people” they’re unhappy; and they have no sense of irony.

Really, Glenn.  You got bumped out the number one spot on Amazon and it’s because of the Left?  Get a life.

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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Culture, Current Events, Humor, hypocrisy, ignorance, Media, Writing

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (2)

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  1. Miles McCullough says:

    I must be one of the far lefties, because as far as I can tell, every single conservative policy unfairly and inefficiently privileges the wealthy, while liberal policies promote efficiency and the common good of all. And Obama-style moderates fall somewhere in the middle, of course.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark: I agree with you that they manufacture enemies, and they don't seem to know any other way of trying to make us need them. It's a powerful tactic with an impressive track record. http://dangerousintersection.org/2006/11/10/terro

    And it's a lot easier to drum up fear of the "other" (they are now busy adding China to their long list of enemies) than making the trains run on time or daring to say no to outrageous ambitions of the financial sector.

    I find it depressing that so many people find the "strategy" of the Tea Party to be coherent. I can only hope that they don't really, but that they are spellbound by the "news" of a media that loves conflict.

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