WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2023
Is our own tribe a part of this problem?: How will President Biden be remembered in fifty years?
Disconsolate experts widely insist that there may be a next fifty years! Assuming those experts are wrong about that, how will Biden be remembered?
At the start of today's New York Times column, Bret Stephens asks that very question. In our assessment, his answer is exactly half right:
STEPHENS (2/1/23): A half-century from now, Joe Biden’s presidency will be remembered, as most presidencies are, with a short summary sentence. It will read: “He defeated Donald Trump, and ____________.”
It won’t be the infrastructure bill, the rate of inflation or the Inflation Reduction Act—which, so long as China, India, South Africa and other countries continue building huge coal-fired plants, probably won’t lead to a major reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions. It won’t be Hunter’s emails. Nor will it be whether he served one term or two.
What will matter in 2073 is whether he reversed the global tide of democratic retreat that began long before his presidency but reached new lows with the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If Biden can turn it, it will be a historic achievement. If not, much darker days will lie ahead.
In our view, Stephens is exactly half right. The existential crisis at hand involves the "democratic retreat that began long before [Biden's] presidency."
That part of Stephens' assessment is right. But in this column, Stephens focuses on the "democratic retreat" taking place around the globe.
We'll suggest that we should focus instead on the astonishing democratic retreat taking place right here at home. With that, we turn again to Tucker Carlson—but also, to the failing performance of our own blue tribe.
Last night, Tucker was at it again, right straight out of the box. "Democracy" doesn't begin and end with the occasional use of a ballot box. "Democracy" is very hard to maintain in the face of behavior like this:
CARLSON (1/31/23): For three years, the U.S. has lived under a permanent government-designated Covid emergency. At this point, looking backward, no one can agree on what the point of it was. Certainly nobody got any healthier, that's for sure.
At this point, Biden has the functional IQ of office furniture, but his instinctive viciousness remains intact.
So Biden, the second he got into office, wasted no time at all in blaming Americans for a virus that China created. And then, in using the pandemic to pit neighbors against one another. It was the cruelest and most divisive thing any president has ever done to his own country. If you've forgotten what it looked like, here you go.
At this point, Tucker played tape of Biden announcing an emergency rule requiring vaccination against Covid or the weekly showing of a negative test.
After playing the tape, Tucker offered this paraphrase of what Biden had said:
CARLSON: Our patience is wearing thin, Americans. If you won't take an untested experimental mRNA shot from a company that has bought immunity from Congress against future lawsuits, you are a selfish Neanderthal. Worse, you're a killer. You're literally—literally—killing your own neighbors. The only good news is you will soon die yourself because you deserve it.
That's what Joe Biden said. The president said that to his own people. And it was, of course, a lie. Leaving aside its potentially terrifying side effects, the shot did not work as advertised. Sorry, it just didn't. It did not prevent people from dying. It did not even prevent them from transmitting or getting Covid themselves. And that's why vaccinated people still wear masks.
Everyone knows this, but Joe Biden has never admitted any of it...
President Biden told his own people that they would die because they deserve it!
Along the way, he did "the cruelest and most divisive thing any president has ever done to his own country." It was a part of his "instinctive viciousness," a certain cable star said.
That's the way last night's program began, and things went downhill from there. In the second segment of his program, Carlson began explaining why the whales are dying off the coast of New Jersey and New York.
(Hint: It's because of Joe Biden.)
Also, he interviewed Captain Bob Snow. Snow almost crashed an American Airlines jet because of an incident of cardiac arrest caused by his forced vaccination—his forced vaccination by Biden.
It's like this every night. On Monday night, Carlson had interviewed a slightly goofy small farm chicken farmer. Based on alleged events at his small farm, the fellow was able to explain where all the eggs have gone.
Is it true that democracy dies in the dark? That, of course, is a figure of speech, but "democracy" simply can't function with people like Carlson broadcasting material like this to millions of people each night.
By the way, we forgot to let you sample what he said about Michelle Obama. As it turned out, that was the focus of last night's opening segment. Some of it went like this:
CARLSON: Take three steps back. Barack Obama, the former president, is weighing in directly on America's latest fake hate crime. And you have to wonder why.
He's not doing it for himself. Obama is retired at this point. He's living on Martha's Vineyard with all the other rich white people. He's doing it for his wife. His wife, who's never had a real job and apparently is feeling kind of restless, approaching 60. And that's why you may have noticed that, six years after leaving Washington, Michelle Obama is back in the news. She's got a new book and a media tour and even a federally funded hiking trail named for herself in Atlanta.
Why has she emerged in this way? Well, there might be a reason. In fact, if you didn't know any better, if you were visiting this country from a foreign land trying to figure out what's going on in the U.S., you might mistake what Michelle Obama is doing right now for the beginnings of a presidential campaign. So first, you have a manufactured white racism panic.
We're skipping the parts about menopause and Michelle Obama's thighs.
No part of last night's program conforms to anything resembling the journalistic and intellectual norms which developed and took hold over the past several thousand years.
The biggest star on "cable news" has gone completely off the rails within the past year. His program now is pure id, or it's whatever lies beyond pure id, and his viewers can't tell.
His viewers can't see that he's gone off the rails. Political systems resembling "democracy" are going to die as a result of such breakdowns.
Question! Does Captain Bob Snow possess even one tiny clue about the cause of his alleged cardiac arrest?
On last evening's program, there was no sign that he does.
Also, does the current Nassau County Executive possess even one clue about why the whales have been dying? There was no sign that he does.
How about that slightly goofy small farm egg farmer? Does he know have any idea where all the eggs have gone?
We think you know the answer! But none of this matters on this crackpot "cable news" program on the thoroughly crackpot "cable news" channel as an abandoned child's remarkable meltdown continues.
Stephens is certainly right in one way. If anyone's here fifty years from now, they'll be living in the aftermath of the way we've addressed this "democratic retreat," which is more like a retreat from traditionally understood norms of intelligence and sanity.
Carlson blows the bugle for that retreat at 8 P.M. each night. The mainstream media, and the other major organs of our own blue tribe, almost wholly ignore the specifics of his weird nightly meltdowns.
No, Virginia! Almost surely, you can't have anything like a "democracy"—you can't expect to maintain a functioning nation—in the face of an onslaught like this. This morning, though, were leaving you with a question, one we'll explore tomorrow.
Our question goes like this:
Is it possible that our own self-impressed blue tribe is also a part of this problem? In addressing your important question, we'll return to Monday's column by Charles Blow—and we'll return to the truly stupid mugging and clowning performed by Rachel that night.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our own blue tribe frequently gives Tucker Carlson the rocket fuel he apparently sniffs just before he goes on the air.
Experts say it's much too late for us to fix this state of affairs. "It's all anthropology now," these disconsolate scholars all tell us.
We end with one final point:
Carlson's opening monologue was pure id last night. We recommend that you read the transcript.
As the later Wittgenstein said in a totally different context, it's virtually impossible to address the poisoned fruits of such a moral and mental breakdown. Here's the passage from Philosophical Investigations which we have in mind:
106. Here it is difficult as it were to keep our heads up—to see that we must stick to the subjects of our every-day thinking, and not go astray and imagine that we have to describe extreme subtleties, which in turn we are after all quite unable to describe with the means at our disposal. We feel as if we had to repair a torn spider's web with our fingers.
It was like he had to repair a spider's web with his bare hands! Wittgenstein was speaking about the gigantically fractured logic of the western world's greatest philosophers, but the principle applies here.
It's very hard to address the web of The Crazy which Carlson now spins every night. The question we leave you with is this:
Is it possible that the major tribunes of our own tribe are also a part of this problem? Should we physicians within our own tribe consider healing ourselves?
Tomorrow: Blue Monday