Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stuff I Wish I Had Written

Over at the old Bushwatch, there used to be an exceptional writer named Kent Southard. I used to read his stuff regularly, but he seems to have dropped off the planet sometime around 2004 and I can’t locate him anywhere else on the Internets. I don’t know if he died or what. He was living in pretty deep poverty when last he wrote, and now seems to be suffering another fate that is common to great writers, obscurity (The last words the essayist William Hazlitt ever wrote were in a note to his friend, “Can you lend me a few pounds?” it said, or words to that effect. His friend loaned him the money, but Hazlitt was dead before it arrived. He’s now spoken of in the same breath as Samuel Johnson and Orwell as one of the best English writers. Both of them were flat broke most of their lives as well. Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be essayists.)

At any rate, Southard was working right in the heart of the Bush years, and to read his writing is to be mentally transported back to that sinister era, but with a perceptive and amusing guide. Here’s a sample from 2002. His step-parents, both conservatives, have just seen an image of Tom Delay on TV and are horrified, prompting Southard to ask if rank-and-file Republicans are true nature of the ghouls and cretins who really control their party :

I would imagine that she, like so many, would be hard pressed to identify by sight, position, or influence, such names as Grover Norquist, Richard Pearle, and Karl Rove. I would suspect she would find the person of Grover Norquist disturbing as well, with his nervous, pinched introversion, a portrait of Lenin in his living room; would no doubt be shocked that he shared an office with a Muslim charity that was just raided by the FBI as a money-raising front for terrorists; would express frank disbelief that a virtual who’ who of the conservative movement meets at his office every Wednesday morning — everyone from Congressional staff to representatives from the White House, to Rush Limbaugh’s people, to the NRA — to coordinate strategy and disseminate talking points. This man probably has more real power among conservatives than George Bush, yet to know who and what he is, is still very much a matter of insider baseball.

Richard Pearle is very curious as well. He's not a government employee, on no government payroll - he's on retainer by the Heritage Foundation, one of the hobby-toys of Mellon fortune heir Richard Mellon Scaife. Yet Pearle maintains an office in the Pentagon, he is a presence in our foreign policy efforts abroad. Pearle is one of the core group of influential conservatives who are demanding an invasion of Iraq. He revealed the depth of his expertise recently in conversation with journalist David Corn, when he dismissed Pentagon objections to his belief that Iraq could be conquered with only 40,000 troops. “Those Army guys don’t know anything.” he said.

Karl Rove, like so many other of these key conservatives, is rarely caught on camera, and for a similar reason. Rove has a countenance that, if sepia toned and set above the proper uniform, could fit without further modification into any group shot of 1930's Brownshirts. It has the same coldness, the same closed expression and impenetrable, unsmiling arrogance that we used to recognize as the antithesis of everything American. Rove has been at George W. Bush’s side for Bush’s entire political career; apparently it’s been long recognized that Rove is ‘Bush’s brain.’ Pre-9/11, it was reported that Rove set the when, where and how of the White House agenda, and currently he’s distressing Colin Powell by interjecting himself into foreign policy. Rove is the central policy power of the administration, his values are what find their way into policy, yet, again, his identity is hardly known.

The reason why these people aren’t widely known is readily indicated by my step-dad’s wife’s reaction to Tom DeLay - their mere appearance is enough to send children screaming from the room and cause spontaneous abortions in the livestock.

The link only takes you to the main page of his writing. You have to scroll down for that essay, which is called “The True Face Of Conservatives Behind Bush.”If you’ve got a few spare moments, you can read lots more starting here.

It’s funny, but I used to always think the same thing, particularly after the first time I ever heard Grover Norquist speak. He is creepy and nerdy and smug and snotty and soft and effeminate, the very antithesis of all the masculine virtues conservatives claim to love. He’s the guy you could easily imagine fondling infants, or at least stealing their pudding when the other adults weren’t looking. He gives you the disturbing impression that something vital is lacking from him, some essential core of, oh, I dunno, humanity? If the average truck-driving, gun-toting, Obama-hating, super-macho Larry the Cable Guy conservatives who live on the mudsill of life ever encountered him in public, they’d probably give him a wedgie. Of course, they would never see each other in public because Grover Norquist doesn’t travel in the same circles as those kinds of guys, and that’s because Grover, like so many brave libertarians, was born rich. He’s an Ivy League pansy who’s never lifted anything heavier than a crocket mallet at an outing with the College Republicans.

And his name is Grover, which was also the name of a puppet on Sesame Street.

The sheer physical repulsiveness of leading Republicans is noteworthy. I don’t say this in a partisan vein. I’m simply stating it as an objective fact. From the ventriloquist dummy lines on Mitch McConnell’s chin to Paul Ryan’s Eddy Munster-like widow’s peak, we’re dealing with some seriously high concentrations of ugly. Someone ought to do a study.

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