The View from the Cocoon of Denial and Epistemic Closure - Spectator Blogs

7 November 2012

William F Buckley has, alas, gone the way of all flesh but his National Review lives on and arguably remains the flagship journal of contemporary American conservatism. It certainly considers itself such. As the Republican inquest into last night’s election disaster begins, National Review offers a useful – and perhaps telling – glimpse into the contemporary conservative soul (American edition).

Here’s what its contributors have been writing today:

Mary Matalin:

What happened? A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice rather than a mandate for resurgence and reform. Instead of using his high office to articulate a vision for our future, Obama used it as a vehicle for character assassination, replete with unrelenting and destructive distortion, derision, and division.

[…] Unfortunately and unfortuitously, forces of nature bookended the general election: Our convention was compromised by one weather disaster and our momentum stalled by another. Two human hurricanes also radically altered the political atmosphere: Bill Clinton’s unique windbaggery constituted a campaign updraft, while Chris Christie’s deplorable and gratuitous gas-baggery infused the campaign with a toxic political pollution.

Grover Norquist:


Mark Steyn:

New Hampshire is overwhelmingly white — and the GOP still blew it. The fact is a lot of pasty, Caucasian, non-immigrant Americans have also “shifted,” and are very comfortable with Big Government, entitlements, micro-regulation, Obamacare and all the rest — and not much concerned with how or if it’s paid for.

If this is the way America wants to go off the cliff, so be it. But I wish we’d at least had a Big Picture election. The motto of the British SAS is “Who dares wins.” The Republicans chose a different path. A play-it-safe don’t-frighten-the-horses strategy may have had a certain logic, but it’s unworthy of the times.

Jeffrey Bell:

It would be surprising if the Obama administration did not interpret its victory as a mandate to complete the Europeanizing of American government.

Stanley Kurtz:

The college educated professionals at the heart of Obama’s coalition are products of an academic culture that not only leans far-left, but is dedicated to producing precisely the national political outcome that Obama represents. Obama himself was both a product and a member of the elite leftist university faculty.

In contrast to Reagan’s appointees Bill Bennett and Lynne Cheney, the Bush administration avoided public battles with the academy. Republicans nowadays tend to write off academia as silly and irrelevant. Meanwhile, our colleges and universities have been quietly churning out left-leaning voters for some time. Not all graduates go along, of course, but many do.

Higher education is also connected to the demographic roots of Obama’s victory. Prior to World War II, college was still the path less traveled. By the sixties, it had become common. Now years of post-graduate professional education for a large percentage of Americans have pushed back the age of marriage, increasing the numbers of single women so crucial to Obama’s coalition. The phenomenon of extended singlehood is at the root of the new social liberalism as well, not to mention the demographic bust driving our entitlement crisis.


Peter Kirsanow:

The electorate may well have shifted politically, and perhaps culturally. That will happen when we cede our institutions to the minions of  ”progress,” when our media is biased and political elites cowardly. But human nature has not changed and neither have the principles conservatives — Americans — hold dear.

Obama and the Left will be emboldened. They will continue their effort to “fundamentally transform” America. Indeed, now that Obamacare will go into effect in full, the transformation will take several giant, worrisome steps forward.

That’s why we must fight. Harder, smarter, relentlessly. While we must shrewdly assess what went wrong politically, we don’t have time for finger-pointing and recriminations. Those inclined can do so later.There are too many perils at our doorstep.

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

It’s hard to hold back a tsunami of secularism in a single election.

Politically, culturally, economically, this may, in fact, be exactly what some of us saw it as: a paradigm-shifting election. For those of us concerned about freedom as we have understood it, it only gets harder now. I’m not happy about the results of this presidential election, but is it all that surprising when one side marches confidently forward in the arenas of politics, in media, in culture, embracing, celebrating, insisting on, mandating a “new normal”?

The lesson is not to be less conservative. The lesson is not to be found in purging social conservatives. The lesson is in taking a look at how the radicals won: Yes, there was the fear element. There was the devil-you-know element. But there is also the fact that all of what they say seems plausible and even not all that radical, because it has been in our cultural milk. Because while they may obscure some of the details and make it all sound mainstream, at the same time they are bold and confident about the extreme positions they believe in. That’s what we’ve got to be.

Charles A Donovan:

We may be on the verge of a new Babylonian captivity for religious conservatives. As we know, the story does not end there.

And, saving the best until last, David Gelernter:

We’ve seen an important (though far from decisive) battle in the slow-motion civil war the nation is undergoing: The blue states want to secede not from America but from Americanism. They reject the American republic of God-fearing individuals in favor of the European ideal, which has only been government by aristocracy: either an aristocracy of birth or, nowadays, of ruling know-it-alls — of post-religious, globalist intellectuals (a.k.a. PORGIs). As I’ve said before — many others have too — you can’t graduate class after class after class of left-indoctrinated ignoramuses without paying the price.  Last night was a down payment.

But we’ve won civil wars and preserved the Union before. We’ll do it again — if we face up to the fact that we need to replace our schools and colleges now; the grace period has lasted a generation, but it’s over. I know we can do it and I’m pretty sure we will do it. Americanism is too strong and brilliant and young to die.

Now, sure, this is a selective cull from today’s posts at the Corner. It ignores more thoughtful contributions from the likes of Jonah Goldberg and, actually, Victor Davis Hanson to say nothing of the always excellent Ramesh Ponnuru and Reihan Salam or Spectator-contributor John O’Sullivan. Nor, of course, does National Review speak for conservatism. Nevertheless, it’s hardly a marginal voice screaming from the fringe either.

And what these eight responses demonstrate is the extent to which too many conservatives believed their own propaganda. This is what it’s like to live in a cocoon. The apparent inability to appreciate why any sane person might contemplate voting for Barack Obama is evidence of, well, of the closing of the conservative mind.

Hence the recourse to fantasies of the sort that leave the average, sober-minded voter wondering just what kind of crazy juice you’re hooked on. Obama wants to make the United States a kind of France? Check. Obama wants to crush religious liberty in America? Check. Our colleges are indoctrinating yet another generation of sadly-impressionable young American minds? Check. (Bonus: perhaps it would be better and certainly safer if fewer Americans risked going to college!) There is a War Against Americanism and Barack Obama is the enemy general? Check. The media are hoodwinking poor, gullible Americans? Check. Universal healthcare is the road to serfdom? Check. The people, damn them, are too stupid to know any better and deserve what they get? The fools. Check.

If this were just emotional over-reactions spawned in the immediate aftermath of a shattering defeat too many conservatives had persuaded themselves just could not happen then it would be one thing and understandable. But it’s not that. Or not just that. This is what a large number of conservatives – including conservatives in elite positions such as those privileged to write for National Review enjoy – really do believe. And we’re supposed to be surprised that many ordinary Americans hear this stuff and wonder just what the hell it is these people are talking about? Give me a break.

When your rhetoric collides with voters’ sense of their own reality then you cannot or should not be surprised that voters prefer their reality to your imagination.

Note too amidst all this howling and wailing and gnashing of teeth how there’s no attempt to understand why Americans voted the way they did. No attempt to wonder why the Republican party offered such a paltry economic message. No attempt to ask why the GOP had no healthcare policy that would actually soothe justified concerns about both Obamacare and how an ordinary family on $50,000 a year might have better, more affordable healthcare.

Demographics are certainly a problem for the GOP. Everyone has known this date was likely coming for many years now. Nevertheless demographics are not destiny. At least they do not have to be. Demographics may be the new sexy but the answer to the GOP’s problems lies in policy, not just “targeting” chosen demographic groups with new and shinier baubles.

Fixing that is a tough and rock-strewn road but it’s a better place to start along the road to recovery than maintaining this kind of epistemic closure or the conviction that the United States is now hurtling along a road to some kind of socialist perdition.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Good thought.

  • Russell Seitz
  • RIRedinPA

    So the Democrats are the party of entitlements? Let’s review the pedigree of our last four Presidents and the recent GOP challenger:

    Barack Obama (D (actually a small R): Raised by a single mother and grandparents in the great swath of demographic known as the American middle class, earned everything he has through his own capabilities, intellect and drive.

    Mitt Romney: Son of an auto industry and former Governor of Michigan and Presidential hopeful

    George W. Bush (R): Son of a President, born into life with a silver spoon, mediocre student and failed businessman.

    Bill Clinton (D): Raised by a single mother in lower middle class Arkansas, Rhodes Scholar, once again, everything he became he earned on his own.

  • d9rich

    Mr. Massie’s last paragraph tells me that he has not accepted his own thoughts from his very informative article. I believe that what he does not accept is the fact that the thoughts of the radical right mind, around the world, is hard-wired. It is not a matter of choice like that of a reasonable moderate conservative. In other words the radical right cannot possibly come up with any type of adjustment to their philosophy because any adjustment to their philosophy would be a betrayal of their hard-wired views. I used to wonder; why are all the despots of history so similar? Do they some how leave secret texts to be given only to future adherents? That can’t be! They must be born that way. Maybe at some point on the plains an ever fearful tribal member was useful in looking for the crouched animal but in today’s society there is no need for fearful people who want to rule by yelling FIRE in the theater. The radical right does not have the ability to comprehend that most people do not want to elect someone to run a government that believes in ruling people, not governing them.

    I believe the radical right to be a genetic variation of normal human beings and that long and serious consideration should be given before placing them in positions of authority.

  • Brad R.

    Epistemic closure goes both ways, and your failure to acknowledge that in your article displays that. As a disenfranchised moderate voter, I believe the partisan goggles are the cause of the state of our once-great country, not “Republicans” or “Democrats.” We are where we are because both sides are so hellbent on their own superiority that we, the people, ignore the fact that nobody gets anything done. How often do you hear a Liberal hold one of their Liberal (or vice versa) elected officials accountable for irresponsible or reprehensible behavior? Practically never. A horrifying amount of our country believes their party can do no wrong. It’s very sad.

  • Vera Kwaayesnama Skorupski Sko

    The reason For Mitt Romney’s loss is simple. While blaming the democrats for division they resulted into trying to turn one race against another, people of differing sexual orientation against another. And they thought they could leave women barefoot and pregnant. All groups have come too far to turn back now.

  • ian807

    The real reason Obama was elected? Fewer people are buying the conservative message.

    Government intervention wrecks the economy? Tell it to the Chinese.

    Nationalized healthcare is the road to serfdom? Millions of UK and Canadian citizens beg to differ.

    The constitution? Liberty? Tell it to a man shivering in the dark in New York City as he gets up at 3:00 am to find gasoline so he can get to the job so he can continue to have insurance to pay for his next cancer treatment. The constitution may not be the first thing on his mind. Health care just might be, however.

    Free market capitalism lifts all boats? Tell it to an unemployed recent college grad who would have had a job had not Goldman Sachs so thoroughly purchased their own regulators. Tell it to the 50 year old engineer who was forced to train his replacement in India.

  • Mimihaha

    I think we could stand some Europeanizing.

  • John Corrigan

    I am a Democrat, I voted for Obama. To those gnashing their teeth, I’d like to point out this was a close election – and Gov. Romney almost won. To win Gov. Romney would have had to overcome numerous challenges starting with a poisonous primary. But I believe this election was primarily about the economy, and he did not take the opportunity to break with Grover Norquist and propose a conservative, believable, mathematically possible economic policy. However, in fairness to Gov. Romney, it may not have been possible to do so, and still win the nomination. In the end enough voters decided to stay the course with the President, because I think they just did not know what the alternative was.

    • Disgusted

      It was a close election – however, demographics and underlying cultural shifts suggest that the trend is moving away from these extremist Christian/Republicans. There is going to be a hard core of them that remain, and they do vote. The challenge for the majority of the country, that isn’t driven by extremist religious rhetoric, is to stay involved with the political process and not let them take it over… again.

  • JonathanU

    The Republicans spent the last four years telling how Barack Obama was exploding our deficit, all the while pretending that George W. Bush’s two wars, his massive tax cut for the wealthy, his massive prescription drug benefit, his addition of two million employees to the federal payroll, and the recession that, under his leadership, unregulated banks left us with, all had nothing to do with our budgetary woes. Then, Mitt Romney, their nominee, offers a plan including $5 trillion in new tax cuts and $2 trillion increase in yearly defense spending over the next ten years. And they will offset the additional expenses and decreased revenue by eliminating PBS, and perhaps FEMA, and cutting some unspecified loopholes somewhere.

    Then the Republicans say we just want hand outs. That we want “things”. Apparently they take the American electorate for fools.

    And they wonder why we did not vote for them…

    • RIRedinPA

      Well said. I will never forgive the GOP for the George Bush presidency.

  • pellyrevisited

    Too many fringe groups at work with crazy republicans.

  • blakeadamssooners

    “William F Buckley has, alas, gone the way of all flesh but his National Review lives on and arguably remains the flagship journal of contemporary American conservatism.”

    This is nonsense. William F. Buckley along with former editor Jeffrey Hart, would have nothing to do with National Review in its current form.

    As for this latest electoral debacle, the problem is with the Republican Party — period.

    The heart and soul of Conservatism is libertariansim.
    Ronald Reagan.

    No Republican presidential nominee since Reagan believes this. Not one. There is no evidence the Republican Party believes it.

    You have a party that is off track and has been for some time.

    A Republican nominee has not broke 300 electoral votes since 1988 — and the 1988 result was not due to the person running at the time, but to the man finishing his second term.

  • jim filyaw

    as the great historian, c.v. wedgewood, observed in her book on william the silent some seventy years ago, “…there are some minds no argument can move.” until we accept that these people have no meaningful contribution to make to the national discourse, they will continue to enjoy currency far beyone their value. its not marxism, socialism, collectivism, or any other ism they need fear; their real opponent is the calendar.

  • RaflW

    “Onward” really sums it up. In reading each of the eight above, and much else on the web in the past 24 hours, what I see is a Republican party very actively plugging it’s ears and singing “la la la la” really loud. They actively do not want to know that they are pushing unpopular policies.
    I seriously diliked Mitt Romney. He was, in a cunning but unethical way, admitting as such with his flim-flammery. Had he spelled out his policies in much detail at all, he would have lost by a landslide rather than just solidly loosing. He knew the GOP has nothing to offer. But it was his time to run, and the clown-car of GOP primary candidates clearly show that other Republicans capable of understanding the times, issues and electorate sat this our out.
    I think it will have to get much worse for Republicans before it gets better.

    • JimmyD

      When you diliked him, did he like it?

  • David Branch

    Wow, they really don’t get it, do they?


  • Tim Alevizos

    I love Mary Matalin’s comment, but the more interesting one is from Mark Steyn, who wrote: “The fact is a lot of pasty, Caucasian, non-immigrant Americans…are very comfortable with Big Government, entitlements, micro-regulation, Obamacare and all the rest — and not much concerned with how or if it’s paid for.”

    He illustrates perfectly the cluelessness of his party. His only explanation for Romney’s loss in New Hampshire is its citizens’ “comfort” with what the Democrats are proffering. He won’t even consider the possibility that their votes owed in any part to discomfort with what Romney dished up. Zero introspection. Zero insight or intellectual honesty. And he’s supposed to be one of their thought leaders.

  • eannie

    The Republicans proved themselves to be supremely out of touch. I just kept hearing things that just did not jibe with my sense of things. I have no television and I live on a small island, so I my information is acquired by reading and listening to the radio. I never saw even one political ad and I never heard one either. However, Obama seemed to be able to get things done. I knew that he arrived in office at one of worst moments in the financial history of America. He was the first president in 5 decades to get universally mandated health care made into law. His opponents were nasty and vicious beyond anything I had ever noticed before. etc. And in the end when Romney dissed 47% of the population, I realized he considered me a peasant. Now instead of respecting the coalition that used their power of the vote to express their feelings, Republicans are still calling us freeloaders, and they are threatening to take their marbles and go home. Power is a very hard thing to lose. But I think they have.

  • BillRees

    This is a remarkably arrogant article, Alex.
    Of course the writers in the National Review are going to draw immediate conclusions from Romney’s defeat, and no doubt some of them will appear to go overboard in their dread of what Obama’s victory means, and what lies in store.
    But I suspect that you could look at the Democratic equivalent and find some similar articles, albeit written in a triumphalist mode, that also predict a transformation in American society of just the sort that the National Review writers fear.
    I wish the quality of writing in The Spectator, or in the Spectator blogs, could be half as strong as that you find in the National Review.

    • Chad Hill

      You might try looking for yourself, Bill. What you find might surprise you. To save you the time, here’s a representative sample, from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones (with whose reputation I assume you are familiar):

      “I’m unaccountably exhausted this morning. … Maybe I’m just loathe to face up to the next four years, which promises to be an awful lot like the past two. I don’t think Obama’s second term will devolve into scandal, as so many other second terms have, but neither do I believe that Republicans will back down from their all-obstruction-all-the-time agenda. It’s going to be four years of faux drama and trench warfare, and that just doesn’t seem very appealing.”

      • BillRees

        I hope he’s right, but I’m not sure he is. I’ll think you’ll find that a lot of the legislation Obama has pushed through allows him to bypass Congress by issuing executive orders. The checks and balances put in place by the Constitution will be very cleverly avoided. The one thing this election should teach us is not to underestimate Obama, whose desire to transform American has not been hidden and will now be put into practice.

        Winning enables him to do that, but I’m on the side of the people who don’t welcome what he’s likely to do.

        • Sprechen Zatoichi

          Someone forgot their crazy pills!

  • Rahul Kamath

    Isn’t Mary Matalin still married to James Carville? Don’t they talk to each other?

    • JimmyD

      Yes, but then they have incredibly angry make-up sex.

      • Sprechen Zatoichi

        I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, a lot.

  • FF42

    Based on your quotes doesn’t look like the toxic partisanship is going to wash away, which is what I think American voters really want.

  • Beefeater

    “And what these eight responses demonstrate is the extent to which too many conservatives believed their own propaganda.”

    Too many? How many would be the right number? And how perverse that conservatives should believe their own propaganda, when liberals believe their own propaganda and liberals won! I am sure many of us were thinking that more Democrats believed the Democrat propaganda than Republicans believed Republican propaganda. Hence the Democrat electoral victory. But not many of us – is it the advanced state of conservative epistemic closure? – actually understood that, by your reasoning, had fewer conservatives believed their own propaganda, there would have been more Democrats voting Republican! Or more Republicans voting Democrat! Blaming the Republican loss on the mental deficiency at not having Democrat views (sanity) is rather kicking the horse when its down, isn’t it? But it does bespeak epistemic openness. It suggests that next time, Republicans could be Democrat winners too – by voting Democrat. Come to The Smart! Hallelujah!

    • Honeyboy Wilson

      Sea kelp.

    • JimmyD

      I don’t buy your assertion that liberals believed their own propaganda. I think they anxiously checked Nate Silver and Intrade leading up to the election, donated and volunteered when they could, and bit their nails just as much as anybody. We wanted, you know, *information*.

      It ain’t our side that hates facts. We’re not the ones denying climate change, evolution, or saying that women have magic vaginas that can cast out rapists’ sperm (but only *legitimate* rapists – wink!).

      By the way. Somebody needs to feat the bees, and I’m glad you’re up to the task.

      • rose

        Message to the current GOP. Quit blaming everyone else. You need to look to yourselves and your current policies. The election results are the voice of the people. Can’t we just get along, Kiddies?

      • Beefeater

        People are the only facts in politics, Jimmy. Winning elections doesn’t turn opinion into facts, or promises into truth, or campaign propaganda into reality. Majority opinion isn’t correct, it just gives power to a leader. Elections give power to the party which can fool most of the people some of the time. A lot of people are fools – they believe in science-by-consensus, or God’s authority, or IPPC and UN consensus-authority – but they still vote. Atheist-free-market-individual-libertarianism (including the freedom to contract for an abortion, self-euthanasia and to create a civil union with another adult) is the least faith-based, most inclusive, least privileging, least intrusive political idea and it is most likely to gain power through the GOP. As there are only two parties, each has a portion of misfits. I prefer God-botherers to God-like global controllers.

        The picture of voters biting their nails and wanting *information* is affecting. I trust they satisfied themselves before voting. Does the information from one side that the other side’s information is not “specific”, or a lie, satisfy the requirement? I would like to see a study of when the decision as to how to vote for is made – at the point a voter believes he has sufficient, too much or too little information and on which candidate.

        I deal with Spooner only as a fee beater, not as a bee feater (some sort of flee circus impresario?).

        • JimmyD

          It sounds like we agree on the desired outcome. If you are proposing an atheist, science-informed, free-market version of the GOP, I’ll sign up as soon as they tone down the crazy.

  • Kadzimiel

    The brutal fact is that these pundits make the GOP sound like a party exclusively for those suffering from senile dementia, rather than intelligent and responsible citizens.

  • Carlos Solis

    A bunch of crying conservatives. Get over it! you lost.

  • h4x354x0r

    Busy repairing cracks in the echo chamber, instead of peering out through the cracks at what lies beyond. If this is really their ultimate response, the midterms are going to be another severe beating.

  • Baron

    Alex, congratulations, you got it right, you may like to offer a hand to the Met Office.

    When you have the time, do enlighten Baron on two things.

    You say: “The apparent inability to appreciate why any sane person might contemplate voting for Barack Obama is evidence of, well, of the closing of the conservative mind”.

    Will you tell to someone who has an open mind why any sane person should have voted for the messiah after the record of his last four years? Was it the economy, the unemployment record, the trillion bucks borrowing with little to show for it, the foreign policy everywhere but particularly in Libya, the ability to play golf more than any other holder of the office had ever done? What was it then?

    You also say: “No attempt to wonder why the Republican party offered such a paltry economic message”.

    And the economic message offered by the man that won was what? The only thing Baron remembers is his saying “the best is yet to come”.

    • Argon

      Alex’s point made. Thanks!

    • Terry Calhoun

      You’ve been watching Fox, haven’t you? Giggle.

    • JimmyD

      Ok Baron – by the way, don’t let anybody tell you it’s not awesome to refer to yourself in the 3rd person… rappers and pro athletes shouldn’t be the only ones – here goes:

      * His (Obama’s) record was actually pretty good. Killed Bin Laden, saved the auto industry, made some pretty decent progress in advancing the repeal of state-sanctioned bigotry (e.g., DADT), and in general improved America’s standing in the world. Not perfect, especially not w/r/t the economy, but what do you realistically think anybody else could have done? (I said realistically, not Fox Newsistically.)

      * Foreign policy. Whew, do you really want to go there? Iraq? Torture? Hello? I know Benghazi didn’t turn out to whip most of thinking America into the froth the nutters hoped it would, but I’m going to tell you a secret right here on the Internet: we got Qaddaffi without the loss of a single American soldier (DON’T TELL ANYBODY). Pretty good, right? Compared to a few thousand to get Saddam (plus a few trillion, but who’s counting :-().

      * Golf? Seriously? Bush “cleared” enough “brush” to *build* a freaking golf course. He was on vacation when he got the memo 9/11 was about to happen. Also, mansions in La Jolla don’t throw their own dinner parties dontcha know (just speculating on that one).

      * You and I agree on one thing (well, two if you’re counting that we both think referring to yourself in 3rd person is awesome): the best IS yet to come. Hillary 2016. Believe it.

    • David Branch

      Excellent. You are the kind of idiot we Democrats need.

      Don’t stop believing!

  • Twm Owen

    Romney lost out to his own healthcare policy, which he bizarrely disowned. Proves that Republicans just didn’t seem to engage with the real issues confronting voters – just, as stated here, their own imagined worse case scenarios.

    • Troika21

      The incredible thing is, “Obamacare” was not just Romney’s idea: it was actually the GOP’s preferred alternative to the Clinton health reforms in the 90’s.

      • Barry_D

        “The incredible thing is, “Obamacare” was not just Romney’s idea: it was
        actually the GOP’s preferred alternative to the Clinton health reforms
        in the 90’s.”

        Actually, it wasn’t; it was *offered* that way, but once the Clinton plan was defeated, the GOP dropped it like a hot rock.

        • Daniel Francis

          Which tells you again why the GOP lost. If you listen to GOP rhetoric in the 1990’s they sounded like they were sincere. Like it really was a true alternative But then they changed their mind on a dime when their real goal, stopping Dems, was achieved. Any group that does that sort of thing repeatedly will not be trusted.

  • Kevin

    we’re supposed to be surprised that many ordinary Americans hear this stuff and wonder just what the hell it is these people are talking about?

    …and that is just with regard to the expression, “epistemic closure”.

    Do yourself a favour and watch the Jimmy Kimmel street interviews of articulate Americans who describe in detail why they believe Obama won a debate that had not yet taken place.

    • raincntry

      It’s one thing to interview average people on the street and see that they are out of touch. The folks cited in the post are alleged conservative “intellectuals”. They should know better as they, again allegedly, are intelligently studying and analyzing the situation. These posts show that they are, at best, no smarter or better at reading what happened than the average person in Kimmel’s interviews was at interpreting what hadn’t happened.

      That should be a frightening reality for the republicans, if they could ever face reality.

    • Brad R.

      Over 50% of interviewed university students (sample size something like 5,000) couldn’t identify Eric Holder, John Boehner, or JOE BIDEN when looking at a picture of them.

      Those people vote. Sad reality.

  • Troika21

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I sense feeling of entitlement.

    • Baron

      Trika21, sir, in just one short sentence you’ve wrapped up and served the essence of the election not only wittily, but correctly, too, you, sir, are a star.

      • bubba

        baron i think you got the joke backwards

    • Jeremy Nathan Marks

      Yes indeed.

  • CraigStrachan

    “Grover Norquist:

    To the sweat lodge.

    • Baron

      listen, my blogging friend, it that’s you idea of wit, Baron’s glad you in the other boat.

      Still, you sound you come from the land of the haggis and an incomprehensible language, an earlier compatriot of yours, one Alexander F Tytler, an 18th century Scottish thinker observed that “the average age of the world’s great civilizations is about 200 years”. They go, he said, “from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and from dependence back into bondage.”

      Baron reckons the election of the messiah has pushed the Republic firmly into the dependence phase, it may last a decade or a century, who can tell, nevertheless you are to embrace the entitlement culture for real as you and others move to ‘the best that is yet to come’..

      Where would you put the land of the free then?

      • CraigStrachan

        Och, we’ll be just fine, so we will.

        • wallbangr

          Wallbangr loves any schmuck who refers to himself in the third person. Wallbangr thank Baron for validating this brilliant and self-righteous mode of communication. Heretofore, Wallbangr afraid to use the third person voice for fear of being confused for caveman or bad Native American impression. How. Norquist’s sweat lodge pique Wallbangr’s attention. Wallbangr willing to overlook Baron’s ignorance since it is negated by his ingenious use of third person caveman/injun voice. Consider this Wallbangr’s passing of the peace pipe

          • Baron

            Pipe accepted (if it’s filled with Balkan Sobranie so much the better), will you please talk to Baron in English from now on?

      • eannie

        Instead of trying to plug events into your antiquated set of categories, why not start entertaining the idea of a stake holder economy? This particular form tends to bring about, high employment, healthy and well educated workforces, high quality of life, innovation, and prosperity. Advance along the learning curve and see that life does not have to be zero sum. Obama was not elected by people who consider him a Messiah. He was elected by people who felt respected their abilities and wanted to do everything possible to give them a chance to succeed.

        • Peg Robinson

          Ok, here’s where we hit one of those “epistemic closure” walls. To many in the GOP they are the one and only party that could appeal to “stakeholders.” That’s in part because they have a very specific view of who qualifies as a stakeholder. They count the investment class and the small-business owner. They count people with some form of investment in the founding of the US, which usually seems to mean a triple-whammy of race (white preferred), religion (the evangelical modern version of Puritanism), and originalist interpreters of the Constitution and other founding documents. Property owners, starting with a home and moving up through various other real estate and material holdings. And, while often not overtly stated, men–preferably heads of household. Oh, yeah — and ideally he’s seen military service and risen to officer rank. These are the people they feel have skin in the game: an investment that deserves repayment. Everyone else is to some degree counted as a hitchhiker, freebooter, parasite, or dependent. Further, the overwhelming perception is that what’s good for the stakeholders will ultimately be good for the dependents and “takers.”

          The ideal “stakeholder” American would be native-born of native-born parents. He’d be a white investing-class male business owner who’s married to a supportive and respectful wife, who has several kids (ideally sons, ideally old enough to be proving they’re going to also become stakeholders in their own time). He’s a pillar of his church with authority over some aspect of the congregation. He owns his own home — better still if he owns substantial property and has entrepreneurial ventures. He accepts originalist interpretations of the Constitution, literal interpretations of scripture, and respects chain of command. He believes that by being all these things he is doing what God wants of him, and that God will reward him — and that God is already rewarding him by making him all these things.

          This, for what it is worth, is also pretty close to the original limitations for who could vote or hold office in the US. Limitations that did not stand for long — but which were indeed part of a long thread of political understanding within American tradition.

          This definition of who’s a stakeholder goes a long way toward explaining why it’s so hard for the core pundits and key community leaders to get their heads around much of the modern American citizen’s political and cultural profile.

          A wage-earning, apartment-renting lesbian female of color with an illegitimate daughter; a woman with no church, whose only religion is Santeria, and who would hate running a business? She has no skin in the game. She’s not a stakeholder in America: she’s a dependent. Some folks would really prefer she not even have the vote. If she does vote, she’s supposed to be smart enough to realize that supporting the stakeholder and the entire stakeholder system is to her advantage, not to her disadvantage. She’s ineligible to fill a stakeholder role, but she’s going to live a good life shoring the real stakeholders up and living under their wing.

          • eannie

            Actually a good example of a stake holder model would be Germany. Stake holder means in fact that all sectors of the economy, corporate, worker representatives and government are required to sit down together and iron out the parameters of wages, benefits etc. This form of governing(a new concept to americans who are used to dividing thinking between “capitalists” and “socialist”) delivers in many nations, low unemployment, a good social safety net, innovative companies, educated work forces, and sound economy. It is a better way of representing all interests in an economy, without pitting one citizen against the other and making judgments on their lifestyle or belief system(as you seem to be doing).

            • Peg Robinson

              Oh, I agree. Your version recognizes we all have skin in the game — and responsibility to build a structure that benefits us all. But between the American loathing of anything that even remotely reminds them of communism/socialism and the way stakeholdership is understood, it’s a long reach to get where you’re going.

              (grimace) I’ll tell you the truth: some days around this nation I expect the radical right to start arguing that old bromides like “United we stand, divided we fall” and “all for one and one for all” are just covert communist slogans being foisted on a naturally independent capitalist society. I got into a really depressing conversation with someone once who argued passionately that early Biblical Christians were fiercely committed to capitalism and didn’t believe in communal sharing. And when I pointed out pretty much all of Acts they backpedaled by saying that the system discussed then was intended only as a very short-term emergency fallback until God could establish proper capitalism.

      • Barry_D

        “Alexander F Tytler, an 18th century Scottish thinker observed that “the
        average age of the world’s great civilizations is about 200 years”.”

        Right. Rome, Greece, China, India, Europe, the golden age of Islam…….

        I guess that there’s a reason I’d never heard of this guy before.

        • RIRedinPA

          Don’t forget Egypt, the Summarians, Mayans, but I am pretty sure what Tyler meant by that was Britain, France and Spain, maybe the Dutch, epistemic closure is not confined to just this century.

      • biomuse

        The good working order of people’s bodies cannot be SOLD to them and that sale then dressed up as though it were a free market transaction. Free markets aren’t coercive, with no opt-out condition; the need for health care, on the other hand, is nothing but coercive. Without health care, you can’t reliably participate in the labor market, because the substrate on which that participation rests – one’s body – may just cease operating correctly at any time, especially if you’re disincentivized to seek preventive care.

        Do you think this may have something to do with why inserting the profit motive into health care management empirically produced, not market efficiency but, instead, LESS efficiency in outcome?

        This relentless Manichaean framing – that we face a choice between either 1) absolute isolation of the individual from any mutual dependency on government and 2) The Gulag, has been considered by the electorate, and rejected. It has been rejected because it’s a bunch of shit. Risk dispersement is how insurance works, fundamentally. And you want everyone to believe instead that it means the end of the world.

        The GOP either needs to learn to see shades of gray again or face continued shellacking, because most citizens don’t lack that ability.

        • Beefeater

          If yours is an example of “shades of grey” thinking by most citizens, I fear that you are all in a dense fog and will be knocked down by the great big red bus that you can’t see coming.

          • biomuse

            How blissfully free of argument, or even of content, is your “reply,” such as it is. Physician, heal thyself.