FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2023
Our blue tribe still needs Lester Maddox: Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay!
Last evening, the joy was general among the stooges who attend to our tribe's psychic needs on Our Own Cable News Channel.
As we watched them service our needs, we saw Stephanie welcome a "dear, dear friend" into the scripted discussion. (Increasingly, being mere "friends" is no longer enough.)
Others introduced favored panelists as "the great [INSERT NAME HERE]." We're prepared to assume that many such people don't like being introed that way.
Reassuringly, some panelists had been selected from among "our favorite reporters and friends!" We were dumbly told that we'd "get smarter" with the evening's first collection of stars.
So it went as our tribal stooges pandered to our own needs. On one lone program, former senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) briefly voiced a lonely word of warning about the evening's glorious news—but all in all, the pleasure was general across The One True Channel.
Why were the stooges so happy last night? Of course! The New York Times was reporitng that Donald J. Trump was on his way to jail!
Did the feds once manage to get Al Capone on an income tax charge? In this case, Trump was going to be hauled away on a charge which was roughly equivalent to the mistreatment of postage stamps in a public forum.
In the front-page New York Times report, you can read about the jumping-through-hoops which will be required to indict the former chief executive on the projected charge. But within our own tents, we need him indicted and shipped off to jail. The dirty little secret is this:
The corporate children who service our needs don't know how to win at the politics. The political problems we can't seem to solve must be handled through criminal means.
Has Donald J. Trump committed actual crimes? Except in the matter of the purloined and withheld classified documents, we can't say that the answer is clear.
That said, all across our tribal networks, we have tended to speak about little else:
We need the man to be a criminal. We can't quite seem to beat the guy on the basis of his apparent insanity and his routinely inane "ideas."
American politics is now being played on the field of abnormal psychology. Our journalists refuse to accept this fact, and our own tribe refuses to see that we ourselves, with our own rather vast psychic needs, are a part of this rather obvious problem.
In fairness, top experts say that it's bred in the bone. At times of high stress, we humans divide ourselves into tribes and insist that the Others are evil.
In this morning's New York Times, Jennifer Finney Boylan describes the way this phenomenon played out way back when she was in college.
Jimmy Carter, who Boylan deeply admires, had said that our nation needed something like a moral revival. In Carter's words, “piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”
That's what President Carter had said. According to Boylan, this is the way it played:
BOYLAN (3/10/23): As Mr. Carter scrambled, new voters like me began to think about alternatives. We wanted an American hero, not an all-too-thoughtful negotiator. California’s progressive candidate, Jerry Brown, had plenty of supporters on campus. So did Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. He came to campus to see his son Ted Jr. in the fall of 1979. The visit was a zoo. It was as if we had been visited by all four Beatles at once.
Mr. Kennedy’s campaign sputtered out as quickly as it was briefly lit, but the damage to Mr. Carter was done. Mr. Reagan stopped seeming—to some—like such an impossible joke.
That was when it occurred to me that the mirror Mr. Carter held up to our flaws was not the thing we wanted. We didn’t want a guide to bettering our souls. We didn’t want to sacrifice for the common good. We wanted to be defined by what we owned, and what we wanted to own was as much junk as possible. We wanted to be told that we were great.
In Boylan's assessment, we liberals—or was it we Americans in general?—weren't the moral paragons we wanted to think we were.
Or was it just the Reagan voters? Boylan's essay is unclear.
At any rate, whoever it was, we didn't want to sacrifice or fill our lives with purpose. We did want to own lots of junk.
We didn't want to listen to Carter discuss our possible flaws. At a time of substantial dislocation, "we wanted to be told that we were great," and so it plays today, again and again and again and again, even within our own blue tribe, with our utterly childish, multimillionaire tribunes never quite seeming to notice.
In fairness, experts say that these instincts are bred in the bone. Two Sundays ago, the psychic needs of our floundering tribe played out in Maureen Dowd's column.
In fairness to Dowd, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is about as hard to take as it gets (so far). In fairness to Greene, it seems that it runs in the family:
Her father believed in the "Taylor Effect." Once Greene herself became interested in public events, she signed on to "Frazzledrip," and things went downhill from there.
In the case of Rep. Greene, it's pretty much Very Few Dumb Ideas Left Behind. Especially from a blue tribe perspective, her statements will, almost surely, almost always be over the top.
Still and all, the tweet in question was about as tame as a Greene tweet will ever get. When Greene rather dumbly said that we need "a national divorce"—a whole lot of Democrats agree—Dowd hauled out a pair of S-bombs, eventually landing on this:
DOWD (2/26/23): “Marjorie Taylor Greene is following in the footsteps of racist old bigots like Lester Maddox and George Wallace,” [Gerald] Rafshoon said.
In her tweet, Greene had complained about "sick and disgusting woke social issues." In the most primitive parts of our tribe's lizard brain, that meant she was a segregationist and a "racist old bigot," just like Lester Maddox and George Wallace of old!
Briefly, now, we'll tell you a secret about some modern GOP voters. We'll look at the state of South Carolina, one state to the north of Greene.
Way back in 1977, a 5-year-old girl named Nikki Haley wanted to enter the Little Miss Bamberg beauty contest.
More specifically, she apparently wanted to enter one of the Little Miss Bamberg contests. At that time, the town of Bamberg had two. We're relying on NPR for the latest telling of this fascinating story:
MCCAMMON (2/19/23): At age 5, Haley was asked, mid-competition, to bow out of the Little Miss Bamberg beauty pageant—which had separate awards for Black children and white children—because they had no category for her, she told the New York Times Magazine in a 2011 interview. After that, the town integrated its pageants and many other social activities.
For the record, the 5-year-old girl had been born right there in Bamberg. She was a Carolina kid from the start.
That said, her parents were Indian immigrants, and pageanteers couldn't decide which contest she belonged in.
Later, Bamberg integrated its pageant; the 5-year-old girl moved on. Thirty-three years later, in 2010, she was, at the age of 38, elected governor of the state, mainly by Republican voters.
We wouldn't vote for Haley ourselves. But in fairness, there's a term for that—major political talent.
Had there also been a change in the weather in South Carolina? This fascinating story moves on:
In 2012, Senator Jim Dewine, an extreme conservative, announced that he was leaving his seat in the United States Senate. As governor, Haley would name his replacement.
Governor Haley named Rep. Tim Scott to the seat—and good God! Given the way we score these things, Rep. Scott was a black guy!
(According to the leading authority on the matter, Governor Haley said this at the time: "It is important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat, he earned this seat for the person that he is. He earned this seat with the results he has shown.")
For the record, Senator Scott has gone on to win two statewide Senate elections. We wouldn't vote for Scott ourselves, but he has won those elections by wide margins, and he has mainly been elected by the state's Republican voters.
By our reckoning, the fuller story is even better than that. We take you back to the way Scott initially won his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives:
He won that seat in 2010, the same year Haley won her race for governor. He won his party's nomination in a run-off against fellow Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond—and Thurmond, who is no slouch, was and is the son of the legendary Strom Thurmond!
In this profile, we get a glimpse of the "racist old bigots" who now exist one state to the north of the almost always ridiculous Greene. They're such a bunch of racist old bigots that they somehow preferred Tim Scott over Strom Thurmond's son!
To us, that's an excellent story. But deep within the tortured minds of our clownishly atavistic blue tribe elites, facts like these don't yet exist—and when someone like Greene says something we don't like, we bring out our pleasing S-bombs and insist that she's Lester Maddox.
Also, she has to be George Wallace—the truth can be nothing else! According to bedrock tribal rules, it's obvious that she has to be, not simply inane, but also a racist old bigot.
It gets worse in the column by Dowd, but we prefer to excuse the next person she quoted. Concerning the story we've told today, our assessment would be this:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our own blue tribe is part of the syndrome which has plunged our national discourse into the realm of abnormal psychology over the past how many years.
When our disordered tribunes take the stage, it's still 1955, or it's often some earlier year. In a new piece for The Atlantic, George Packer limns it as shown:
PACKER (3/8/23): In a country world-famous for constant transformation, historical fatalism believes that nothing ever really changes. Mass incarceration is “the new Jim Crow”; modern police departments are the heirs of slave patrols. Historical fatalism combines inevitability and essentialism: The present is forever trapped in the past and defined by the worst of it. The arrival of the first slave ship on these shores in 1619 marked, according to The New York Times Magazine, “the country’s true birth date” and “the foundation on which this country is built.” Cruelty, inequity, and oppression endure in the American character not only as elements of a complex whole but as its very essence.
Also, the Others have to be Lester Maddox! No other ideas need apply.
Greene is pretty much always over the top. In fairness, it seems to run in the family—and also, she didn't write seven columns about Candidate Gore's profoundly revealing bald spot, the way a certain Pulitzer winner did.
Next week, we'll turn to the complaint the ridiculous Greene lodged in her infernal tweet. Also, though, the state of South Carolina may soon have two candidates in the race for the GOP presidential nomination:
One is the state's "minority female" former governor. The other would be the black guy the state keeps electing to the Senate.
We wouldn't vote for either one, but we're also prepared to suggest that they, and possibly even Rep. Greene, may not be Lester Maddox. But within the tortured psychic framework of our own atavistic blue tribe, that seems to be the only thing they can possibly be.
For today, we'll close with a plea:
Blue tribe with whom we always vote, please consider healing thyself! We might start by getting those multimillionaire corporate stooges off our own corporate air.