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The asemic style of conservative politics


As outlined in the book of the same name, the paranoid style of American politics requires a philosophical rigor that contemporary conservatives simply lack. There’s a baroque grandeur to the pattern of perceived slights that’s admirable in its own way — as if a master archer decided to “paint” a pointillist self-portrait one arrow at a time. The style of contemporary conservatives is equally absurd, but it lacks the pointless beauty of paranoia — it’s akin to child who tosses a handful of bird shot into a lake and finds in the resulting ripples a fair resemblance of himself. By insisting his reflection is the result of his “artistry,” he communicates that he fundamentally misunderstands the nature of causality.

Put differently: if he pissed on a mirror he’d crow about the transmogrifying powers of his urine.

Because he’s not paranoid — he’s an idiot. He’s out there kicking a watch to prove to David Hume that God designed the world to exist. At The National Review, for example, Stanley Kurtz recounts reading a book by James Kloppenberg in which Mike Kruglik “recalls that Obama had a special interest in the work of the radical historian Howard Zinn” in 1985. I had to add the date because Kurtz didn’t want to sully Kloppenberg’s account of Kruglik’s twenty-eight year old recollection of Obama’s “special interest” with its proper context. Had he done so, Paul Mirengoff of Powerline wouldn’t have been able to draw attention to “The Obama-Zinn Connection,” nor would he have been able to transform Obama’s “special interest” into overt “fan[dom],” and if he couldn’t call Obama a “fan” of Zinn, he couldn’t link to The National Review‘s “summar[y]” of “Zinn’s errors and distortions.”

This isn’t paranoia — grandiose or otherwise — it’s the self-fulfilling stupidity of three kids kicking a turtle they’ve mistaken for a watch who think they’re proving God and Samuel Johnson right. They’re not exactly sure how they’ve done so, but they’re damn sure that they have because it looks just like them.

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