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Sully Jr.


I got a good chuckle over Ross Douthat’s assertion that philosophy departments have been “purged” of moralists and metaphysicians, and his various attempts to salvage this bizarre hypothesis, including anassertion that the rise of high-falutin “theory” in literary studies, an emphasis on primary source research in history, and rational choice theory in political science are of a piece, and part of a larger deplorable trend. Still, one has to admire the creative way he sets about making the case that he got a sub-par education at Harvard. I’m so thoroughly convinced, I think I’ll pass on the book.

Today, via Yglesias, another unrelated tidbit from Mr. Douthat that confirms what I had already suspected: He’s apparently enrolled in some sort of correspondence course for success in punditry offered by Andrew Sullivan. One of Sullivan’s keys to being a successful pundit of the pseudo-intellectual contrarian right-wing variety is to pretend that the GOP is a party that is more or less sympathetic to your concerns, when it suits your interests to do so. Here’s Douthat taking these lessons to heart and making Sully proud:

PS — And yeah, I know: The sufferings of working class parents aren’t always the GOP’s top priority. (Though they should be!) But you go to war with the party you have.

Yglesias is far too kind when he calls this the understatement of the year. I suppose it technically qualifies as an understatement ( most Republican politicians, ceteris peribus, would probably choose less rather than more suffering amongst working class parents. But that ceteris paribus is absulutely necessary).

But the sufferings of working class parents aren’t just something the Republican party opposes in far too casual a manner. It’s something they use; through various forms of misdirection, to generate votes and support they couldn’t get any other way. It’s the raw material from which they mold a coalition based on fear. I could go on but it’s all been said before by those much more eloquent than I.

But Douthat’s sentence structure above suggests a fun game.

PS: Yeah, I know, (X) aren’t always the top priority for (Y). (But it should be!) But you go to war with the (What Y is a type of) you have.

The keys here are that X isn’t really a priority of Y’s in any meaningful sense, and any sensible person interested in X would turn to a different member of the set of things of which Y is one.

I’ll start.

Yeah, I know, a serious assessment of the progress made in Iraq (or lack thereof) isn’t always the top priority for Bill O’Reilly. (But it should be!) But you go to war with creepy, egomaniacal, falafel-fixated pundit you have.

Yeah, I know, first-rate vegetarian cuisine isn’t always the top priority at the Outback Steakhouse. (But it should be!) But you go to war with the restaurant you have.

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