My camo pants have just arrived in the mail and my coded instructions from Julian Assange have all been decrypted (he hides them in Jimmy Fallon’s monologues).Â The Revolution is nigh!
True to my convictions, this will be a green revolution. That means my molotov cocktails are all filled with bio-diesel, my black hemp armband has been stained with soy-based dye, and my handbills proclaiming “A knife for every pig’s throat!” are printed on 50% post consumer paper.
Naturally, the forces of the status quo are gearing up to suppress the People’s will through their control of the Printed Matter Media Complex (PMMC, pronounced “poomk”). And just this past week, timed to coincide with the GOP’s fizzle of a convention, we were given the most full-throated denunciation yet Â of our beloved Chairman O, courtesy of Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and his cover story for NewsweekÂ Obama’s Gotta Go.
I have Â been wary of Niall Ferguson, a native of Â Scotland, Â since 2006 when I first read a fanciful essay written by him for Time magazine. In that issue, which commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Ferguson speculated on the course that the War on Terror would take by writing about it as though from the year 2031.
At the time, I thought the piece, The Nation That Fell to Earth,
a bit too comical and not nearly speculative enough. But more than that, it Â was loaded with the sort of Â toadying one finds in those of Her Majesty’s subjects that are still nostalgic for the Empire. Having no more holdings of their own, they swoon over the globe-spanning might of the United States, the nation that brought Japan and Germany to her knees, and took the Kurgan’s head in the Cold War.Â I was left with the impression of Ferguson as a suck-up, a brutish little sidekick to America’s Scut Farcas.
America better not let him down!
Those sentiments came flooding back as I read Obama’s Gotta Go,
aÂ veritable hypnotic spiral for seducing the undecided sliver of the voting public (the tiniest population ever to rule Washington since Israel) into voting Republican. It is a bill of particulars outlining the inditement against Barack Obama while skimming gingerly past everything that has been done to thwart consensus in Washington through four years of economic ruin.
Ferguson leads off his attack on the Obama presidency by reflecting on the warm wishes he extended to Barry upon being elected the first off-white American president, a culmination of Martin Luther King’s vision and “a cause for great rejoicing”. Four years later, with American politics caked in Rottweiller shit, Niall is free to speak his mind on the President’s wasted promise.Â That this promise was diminished at least as much by the efforts of a revanchist, knuckle-dragging right wing as by the President’s own missteps is a topic that Ferguson may visit in 2031, but certainly not now.
Ferguson laments over Barack’s squandered potential, illustrates through graphs the President’s “epic budget fail”, quakes over America’s diminished presence on the world stage and flows tears of Â joy over Romney’s choice of Tea Party poster zombie Paul Ryan for veep. Yet even after all that, Ferguson can barely squeeze out a drop of enthusiasm for the man at the head of the Republican ticket.
Not that one should be surprised that a conservative imperialist would be cool towards a second Obama term, but Ferguson’s arguments really demonstrate the way in which conservative thought now flies on autopilot, which is what happens when a movement swallows a party. The fact that in a sinking ship we all get wet the same way is lost on partisans. America doesn’t need a shiny new captain at the steering wheel. We need someone who remembers how a bucket works so we can start bailing water.
The conservative is an evergreen feature of any nation. Whether American, Iranian or Cuban, their self-appointed role is to shine bright the light of the last revolution. They keep the public imagination pickled in the brine of their
interpretation of the events that made the nation great. Sometimes, like Ferguson, they attach themselves to the revolutions of others (Hawkish lefty Christopher Hitchens was much the same way, preferring the dirty fingernails of American democracy to the moribund and classist post-aristocracy of England.)
So, while seeing Soul Brother Number One in the White House may freak out certain Southerners (who are also conserving their
failed revolution against the North), for more cosmopolitan conservatives like Niall Ferguson it is the fear of American inertia that isÂ aqua vitae
of their politics. After all, Niall didn’t skip over the pond just to see America turn into another England, or God help us, France.
“Iâ€™ve said it before,” Niall concludes in Obama’s Gotta Go,
“Itâ€™s a choice betweenÂ les Ã‰tats Unis
and the Republic of the Battle Hymn.” Ferguson reminds us that conservatism is also a martial philosophy. America must always be armed to the teeth to protect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of all who threaten it”,
as go the Starship Trooper-like ads for the Navy that are filling the airwaves in Obama’s Peacetopia. The conservatives are at a real loss when it comes to denouncing Obama’s war credentials, since on paper he’s done everything that should make a right-winger happy. The lights are still on at Gitmo, the CIA’s torture regime has officially been sanctified,
and the occupation of Afghanistan continues, with peripheral explosions daily in Pakistan and Africa. Sure, it is more battle hum
than battle hymn at this point, but the bombs are still dropping, right? Plus, Obama’s got Ghadaffi and Osama’s heads on pikes in the Rose Garden. What’s not to love?
Conservatives, like liberals, do not know quite how to cope with Â Obama on matters of muscle-flexing, which is why the topic has been downplayed completely during this campaign. Sensing no way to successfully navigate the shoals of Obama’s Peace Through War
doctrine, Niall plays the only card he can, by turning the issue around on the liberals.
Remarkably the president polls relatively strongly on national security. Yet the public mistakes his administrationâ€™s astonishingly uninhibited use of political assassination for a coherent strategy… Yet somehow it is only ever Republican secretaries of state who are accused of committing â€œwar crimes.â€
Didja get it? Robotic warfare, a Brad Thor wet dream made flesh, is under Obama a reason to question our ethics. Only not too
harshly. After all, war is still the force to fight that dreaded inertia.
[Drone warfare] symbolizes the administrationâ€™s decision to abandon counterinsurgency in favor of a narrow counterterrorism. What that means in practice is the abandonment not only of Iraq but soon of Afghanistan too…Only when both countries sink back into civil war will we realize the real price of Obamaâ€™s foreign policy.
Ferguson does illustrate a salient point, that liberals swoon under the imagined integrity of Democratic leaders whose policies are indistinguishable from the Republicans, presuming a”peace movement” in the liberal ranks that lurks somewhere at the bottom of Loch Ness. But there it is, the nub of the conservative paradox: they want the liberals to critique Obama for those things they themselves applaud. Only, they cannot applaud, because the violence doesn’t go far enough
. Robots are no substitute for a meat
war fought by anyone stupid enough to have enlisted with the National Guard.
Romney, of course, is hardly the candidate to advance a new, robust war policy. How would such grand wars be paid for?
The shekels sure won’t be coming from the Man With the Invisible Tax Returns. Niall, like America herself, simply got nothing out of this past decade’s warfare, and can only lament the end of the sugar rush.
Ferguson’s conservative contradictions compound upon themselves. Here is Niall in October of last year, writing of what he hopes will be an eye-openingÂ “Oh Shit” moment
You donâ€™t have to be an Occupy Wall Street leftist to believe that the American super-rich eliteâ€”the 1 percent that collects 20 percent of the incomeâ€”has become dangerously divorced from the rest of society, especially from the underclass at the bottom of the income distribution.
But in Obama’s Gotta Go,
Niall suddenly remembers which side of the class divide he’s on:
Welcome to Obamaâ€™s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable returnâ€”almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50â€“50 nationâ€”half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.
Who are receiving most of those checks, by the way? Only the people the Republicans have the least incentive to piss off: the elderly and vets. Least amongst those receiving benefits are the people Republicans see in numbers ten times greater than they exist in real life: welfare recipients, those “unrepresented” on tax returns. And unrepresented in a lot of other ways, like at the voting booth, if the Republicans can have their way.
For conservatives, the nation’s periodic foundering on the rocky shoreline of reality is a consternating experience, yet one that animates them all the more. Conservatism is the religion of reaction, the politics of hindsight, and the fear that stirs the mob. It is also perverse, Stalinesque even, in it’s ability to accuse others of what they themselves have done and will do.
There is a multi-pronged PR strategy underway, for instance, to convince voters at this late date that it was the intractable, rage-filled Kenyan who failed to meet the soft-hearted Republicans half way while the economy burned, even as it is revealed that the GOP began an official plot against the President on the very night of his inaguartion
. The Birthers, Breitbarts and vagina cops are being Windexed off of the Republicans’ collective memory as surely as the last president has been.
Then, people like Ferguson say that what Obama really lacks is “business world” experience, say, the kind that a private equity CEO brings to the table. Meanwhile, the onion of Bain Capital gets peeled daily to reveal not only its contempt
for every level of genuinely productive
capitalism, but that it is also one more pig at the trough of taxpayer bailouts!
And still the Republicans are shameless enough to run a “we feel your pain” strategy with a candidate so beyond economic hurt that he may as well have Novocain coursing through his veins.
I’ll get into Obama and what will have to be done about him in good time. One thing is for certain, however, and it is that the Â monocle through which conservatives like Niall Fergusson see recent history needs to be smashed. Medicare, Social Security and everything else that has kept events like our current depression from kneecapping the working public are all being renegotiated, people. Who do you want on your side at that table, when it comes time to ask the billionaires to pony up? Another