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Today In “Sucking Up to the Nitwits Who Destroyed The Gulf Coast” Wingnuttery


Although it would be nice to think that Col. Mustard was a crank outlier, Roy has been doing a good job of rounding up people who believe that the Constitution should be correctly understood as enacting Sarah Palin’s Facebook posts. (The Trainwreck Media hack who goes on and on about how Obama is a tyrannical threat to the rule of law and the Constitution before conceding that “BP may have been under no legal constraint to follow Obama’s dictate” is definitely my favorite.)

This is all silly enough. But then he found this example of ante-upping from reasonable, moderate, thinking man’s conservative Reihan Salam:

Shakedowns [like this perfectly reasonable argeement to ensure that BP will actually compensate the victims of its disastrous ineptitude rather than just giving its money to executives and shareholders] have a long and undistinguished history.


During the westward expansion of the United States, the federal government “negotiated” with sovereign Indian nations in a similar spirit. European powers engaged in a truly extraordinary shakedown of China during the 19th century, forcing a then-vulnerable empire to accept the spread of opium and surrender treaty ports like Hong Kong. Resentment of the West lingers still.


It should go without saying that demanding money from BP is not quite like a playground full of schoolyard bullies kicking a kid when he’s down. For one thing, BP isn’t terribly sympathetic. But that’s precisely the point—the Muslims who were burned alive in Gujarat in 2002 weren’t sympathetic to those who victimized them either.

I remember being assured by many otherwise sharp people that Salam was a thinker who had to be Taken Seriously. Then I read his extensive analysis of the wrongthink in a mediocre Chevy Chase comedy, so that was the end of that. (If I recall correctly, I was subsequently assured that this was in fact an 11-dimensional satire of…something, which will perhaps be the defense mounted this more recent and much more indefensible exercise.) I have, however, long thought that Douthat was the most overrated of the young reactionary thinkers praised by many liberals for no obvious reason, but I may have to reconsider that.

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