Varifrank is one of the best thinkers/analysts in the blogosphere. If I could I’d blogroll him twice. There is no one who can match him for content, style and authenticity. Very little of what he writes is for effect — and that itself is a major virtue in any writer.
Today we have this gem, taken from a list of things Varifrank says he learned from Katrina:
|I don’t know when it happened, and I don’t know how it happened but at some point people stopped watching sports and started watching party politics. Katrina and its after effects is where “political bashing” stops being funny. I think the corrosive nature of our politics helped contributed to the deaths of thousands by making people who should be working together suspicious of each other.|
|Remember, the Civil War started first as a culture war. Try and think of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” as a new strain of “Lincoln Derangement Syndrome”, then go to Gettysburg and see where it might all lead.|
|If we don’t step back from the edge, we could find ourselves in a second Civil War. We might be forgiven for the first Civil War, but we will never be forgiven for the second Civil War.|
He has more to say on that topic, but this one stopped me in my tracks. Trolling around the other day, I’d been commenting somewhere (where? Find it) on a comparison between Bush and Lincoln. Ah, here it is, in the form of a response to a particularly deranged assault on Bush which appeared the other day in Shrinkwrapped’s comment section. Generally speaking, Shrinkwrapped has excellent commenters (she said modestly); you see very few trolls and most of those responding to his contemplative posts are quite thoughtful themselves. However, as the Baron is wont to admonish me from time to time, there are ticks everywhere, even in Eden.
Shrinkwrapped’s post concerned the necessity for maintaining a sense of perspective regarding Katrina. This makes his commenter’s venom all the more dissonant. Reading him, you get the impression he’s tone deaf. Here’s an excerpt, just so you understand what worries Varifrank and why he’s right to be concerned:
|We must be clear. Bush is no Johnson or Nixon. This president is not simply the least competent ever thrown up. He is also the most pathological. Every shred of evidence of the man and his rule, every witness, leak, and gesture reek of it. Freshman psychology students and amateur therapists smell it instantly. To quote a distinguished analyst who’ll remain anonymous for the sake of his Republican patients:|
|George W. is a narcissistic personality. He is self referent. He sees things only from his point of view–and by extension sees and represents the America that reflects it. He is able to create a seamless ball into which nothing else can penetrate. As with other narcissistic personalities, he lives his entitlement and grandiosity–in his case even seeing himself as fulfilling God’s wishes on earth. He does not need to check any other reality. He knows that what feels right to him is right for everyone. The rules do not apply to him (college, the reserves, etc)–only to those who need rules to do what is right. Unlike Senator Frist, I tend not to diagnose in absentia, but with George W., all of us could go on and on.|
|On and on is how the pathology will be manifest in the torment of Iraq. It hardly matters how vested Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, the Generals, corporations, media claque, complicit Democrats. Bush is enough. The cowardice and blindness, craftiness and stupidity of the war policy, and of the whole myth-encrusted and corrupt mentality around it, will persist so long as Bush and all who used and accepted him remain in office. Despite the seeming death of politics, we have never known a crisis and opportunity more political. The moment cries out for politics fought as never before.|
|Not for more wailing at how venally awful it all is, marveling at how the reactionaries did it, as if Churchill’s British spent the autumn of 1940 shaking their heads and endlessly writing one another about how it happened Nazis were at the gate. There is no time for that. The poet is right. For this generation of progressives, time’s accomplice is death-senseless, generations-haunting death in Iraq, and all the other deaths of body and spirit inflicted by America’s misrule at home and abroad. What to do is plain.|
|Fight now. Fight everywhere. Take the battle first and foremost to where power lives.|
|Progressives must contest all 435 House seats and all 33 Senate seats up in 2006, along with every governor, legislator and local official not unequivocally against the war and more, everywhere a Republican or a compromised Democrat presumes to govern.|
Amazing stuff, and that’s only a piece of it. The author received a stern rebuke from Shrinkwrapped, who points out the egregious behavior of the so-called psychiatrist who would (a) diagnose from a distance, or (b) know the person and thereby violate the boundaries of his profession.
What is of concern here, however, is the absolute certainty of the author. There is only one reality and that is unequivocal pacifism. Any other view makes one “compromised.” The fervor is matched only by the hatred of this person for his President and anyone who stands with him; you can hold your hand against the screen and feel the heat of his intense desire to see everyone but those who think like him out of power.
His vitriol brought to mind the kinds of things they used to say about Lincoln. They made fun of his wife, his appearance, his leadership, his speech, his social standing, his handling of the war. With Lincoln Derangement Syndrome, it was no holds barred. There was nothing one could say that was considered too scurrilous or below the belt when it came to lashing out at the loathsome Lincoln.
Bush Derangement Syndrome is just as ugly, primitive, and appalling. Shrinkwrapped takes this commenter to task and tells him to back his assertions with facts. Otherwise, he says, this is merely “partisan vitriol.” That seemed about right to me. Here is my response in the comments:
|I vote for partisan vitriol. Projection, perhaps? I could maybe buy the assertion that Bush is the most narcissistic etc., were it not for the images that have been seared –seared, I tell you — of Clinton talking on the phone whlie Monica was under the desk on her knees. Gawd. And *Bush* is narcissistic?|
|Wait. Maybe the new meme is narcissism because Bush’s SATs were leaked and he scored higher than Gore or Kerry. He’s also more educated than either of them, though less intellectually inclined. He reads for information; it’s not his scholarly pursuit.|
|“Stupid” and “slacker” don’t carry their own weight anymore. And since there are no bimbo eruptions, no selling the Lincoln bedroom, no leaks or scandals, then it has to be something hidden. What better than narcissism? What could be more unprovable than that?|
|The families of soldiers who have met with Bush find him warm and sympathetic. He cries easily, he has life-long close (and private) friendships. He visits church across from the White House unannounced, same as his visits to Walter Reed. There is no publicity and the press isn’t allowed in.|
|Eventually Bush will be compared with Lincoln in some ways: his folksiness, his grit in an unpopular war, his determination to act with integrity, his care for the soldiers, and the bitter hatred and paranoia the chattering classes of both eras directed against their leader.|
|Lincoln never had the personal happiness Bush possesses. His melancholia, the loss of his beloved son, then dying in office ended it for him. Bush will leave eventually, go back to the farm with his dogs and Laura and pester the girls to get busy and make him a grandfather so he’ll have someone to take fishing.|
|Meanwhile, he will simply have to endure the mindless blather of vague reforms like those suggested by your previous commenter.|
|I’m sure it goes right by Bush — it can be real handy, that there narcissism: it means you don’t even hear those “progressives.” I think that may be my favorite new word, the best one since “pro-choice” appeared.|
I hope Varifrank’s concern is misplaced, but in my heart of hearts I fear he is merely prescient:
|I found it striking how at a time when people were dying, the most important thing on some people’s minds, both left and right was how it might effect Bush. I would never have predicted that a month before Katrina. Last I checked, Bush isn’t running for anything, he’s won both his Presidential elections, and will never run again, why the preoccupation with his poll numbers? He’s not going to leave office until his term is over. With solid control of both houses of congress for the foreseeable future and a rock solid cabinet, there will be no impeachment, so what is to be gained here?|
|And what is to be lost? Civilization itself.|
UPDATE: Here is Neo-neocon’s response to this post. It has been moved here because it is disturbing and because it demands our concerned attention.
“…In early June I wrote a post about the parallels between the rabid hatred of Lincoln and that of Bush. Here it is. It turns out that the press’s hatred of Lincoln was definitely a factor in motivating Booth’s assassination of him. And here is an excerpt from the London Examiner published after the assassination:
‘It must be remembered that atrocious as was Booth’s deed, his ‘sic semper tyrannis’ was literally justified by the facts. The man he killed had murdered the Constitution of the United States, had contradicted and set at naught the principles under which the States came together, had practically denied the competence of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, and overthrown all for which Washington fought and Patrick Henry spoke.’
This is not only chilling, it is criminally libelous. Or slander. Or whatever sin you care to debate when someone is not satisfied that a politician with whom they disagreed is assasssinated. They further damage a dead man who was murdered by a a coward who ran away. They distort with hyperbole that with which they disagree. Like the fury of the commenter on Shrinkwrapped, they spew a murderous rage that isn’t even satisfied with the death of their opponent.
This kind of infantile need to spoil and annihilate must stop. The MSM, in what is obviously a very ancient meme, is responsible for the death of many. If they do not stop their idolatrous, meticulous attention to every whack job who comes down the pike spewing hatred that mobilizes causes to which the MSM is sympathetic, then they must be held responsible for what happens as a result of their attentions.
I welcome suggestions — not diatribe, but real, practical suggestions — as to what might be done to change the direction, momemtum and aim of this train trying so hard to run Bush down and to harm our country. To unseat him or to kill him — they don’t seem to care which. If their adulation of Cindy Sheehan is not proof of that perfidy, then nothing is.
If nothing else, we could turn off the news. That’s a small but significant beginning. Just because the MSM attends to Ms. Sheehan and her ilk, it doesn’t mean we need to do so. Having given up TV news twenty six years ago, I promise you won’t miss it. Having given up NPR about four years ago, I can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re not being sniped at anymore.
Meanwhile, get a good biography of Mr. Lincoln. If you’re used to listening to the news in the car, get a history book on tape or CD instead.
There is nothing so effective as making something irrelevant. Think of it as by-pass surgery. Do-it-yourself-by-pass surgery.