Michael Gerson’s excellent column!


We’ll extend his concerns: Michael Gerson was a major speech-writer for George W. Bush.

In this morning’s Washington Post, he joins conservatives who are rejecting the vision which emerged from Candidate Romney’s trip to Club 47.

Joan Baez wasn’t at the club that night; in absentia, Ayn Rand was giving a reading. After a deeply sympathetic portrait of America’s modern working class, Gerson joins those conservatives walking away from the things Romney said:
GERSON (9/21/12): [A] Republican ideology pitting the “makers” against the “takers” offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class.

A few libertarians have wanted this fight ever since they read “Atlas Shrugged” as pimply adolescents. Given Romney’s background, record and faith, I don’t believe that he holds this view. I do believe that Republicans often parrot it, because they lack familiarity with other forms of conservatism that include a conception of the common good.

But there really is no excuse. Republican politicians could turn to Burkean conservatism, with its emphasis on the “little platoons” of civil society. They could reflect on the Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, and solidarity with the poor. They could draw inspiration from Tory evangelical social reformers such as William Wilberforce or Lord Shaftesbury. Or they could just read Abraham Lincoln, who stood for “an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”

Instead they mouth libertarian nonsense, unable to even describe some of the largest challenges of our time.
"Nonsense" is a strong word, especially so in the ninth month of a presidential year.

On balance, we tend to agree with Gerson’s guess; we’ll guess that Romney was mainly pretending that night, aping the rough unfeeling talk he has heard from the base. But as Gerson says, there’s no excuse. His remarks were impossibly foolish. And he was encouraging others at the club to whistle those same foolish tunes.

We strongly recommend Gerson’s column. We especially recommend his portrait of the challenges facing many members of our collapsing working class.

Gerson smacks his own team around. What the heck! We’ll extend a similar challenge!

Gerson pummels his fellow conservatives for their lack of social concern. In a similar vein, what can we say for a tribe which walks away from the lives of low-income kids, the way we liberals have done?

Please don’t say we haven’t done that. It’s abundantly clear that we have. We walked away from black kids decades ago. As a group, we've never come back.

Go ahead—read our ongoing series about Gail Collins’ inexcusable book. Gerson asks why his fellow conservatives can’t sympathize with young people in working class Ohio—young people who face deeply challenging stations in life.

We will second that emotion. We liberals quit on black kids long ago, as Collins’ ridiculous conduct in her book makes clear all over again.

In many ways, Collins is pandering to the tribe, as Romney probably was. She’s throwing us our comfort food, responding to our desire to laugh at those stupid red state people.

In the process, she makes it clear that low-income and minority children are there to serve as our toys. Their accomplishments must be disappeared so we can all laugh at George Bush.

So we can laugh at (white) Texans who assault their girl friends with frozen armadillos! We want to laugh at shit like that. In deference to that liberal desire, those children in Texas can hang.

Collins may not know she's doing that. But the rank stupidity of that book stands at the end of three decades of liberal disinterest. That book is a disgrace to “liberal” moral and intellectual values.

We’ll ask the same questions Gerson asks:

What has made our team so uncaring? How do we get ourselves back?

Rapid Robert shows us the way: Randall Jarrell said this poem was hard. We have no idea.


  1. You're on a real roll today, Bob. Harold Meyerson and this guy?


  2. Gerson says "Human worth is reduced to economic production..." -- but more accurately in Romney's narrative human worth is reduced to Federal Income Tax paid, which is even more reductionist; and not only reductionist, but a bad measure to boot.

    1. Sh!t.

      Most of the time R-Money and crew reduce human worth further still: you have merit if you are a "job creator." The working person can hardly get a mention most of the time.

      But apparently, at least some working stiffs are not counted among the moochers, parasites and scum -- but they still aren't the true worthies of our society. That honor is reserved for hedge-fund managers and other "wealth creators."

    2. I'm pretty sure that those who work for the government are also considered takers notwithstanding the fact that they work and pay taxes.

  3. Bob holds Michael Gerson in higher esteem than do I, but I admit that sometimes he makes sense.

    Like Robert Samuelson and Thomas L. Friedman, Gerson appears to be a neocon that was "mugged by reality" somewhere along the line.

    Many, many right wing extremists cherry-pick the pronouncements of libertarians without ever delving deeply enough in their ideology to uncover the inherent contradictions.

    Gerson hints at the truth. Romney's "ideology" is absolutely mutable. He is truly Mr. Etch a Sketch.

    Last night Bill Mahr posed a very good question to the undecided voters, essentially; " What the fuck have you been doing for the last two years that you can't see a difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney?"