Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Unscrewing the Inscrutable

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, January 20, 2012

So then. Let us have a little chat, you and I, about the exuberant Newtlove that is popping up in some quarters. Whence cometh it? I would like to identify the point of origin first, and then give perhaps something of an indication of what I think of it.

The meme that is circulating, mostly in Newt's head, is that he is a great debater, and we need someone on that stage who could smoke Obama in a presidential debate. And I do grant that smoke would be involved, along with other acrid smells, but I don't really think a debate with Newt would result in Obama's second term aspirations departing from him with a whoosh.

Why do some think that Newt is a great debater? To pose the question is to ask me, to use Mencken's phrase, to unscrew the inscrutable. They think it for the same reason that others think Obama is a great rhetorician, and still others think the musical soundtrack from The Little Mermaid is great art.

But here is my stab at it. We have had politicians who are limp-wristed and indecisive for so long that we now think that anyone who has articulated a clear point of view in a manner that looks prepared to stand by it (for five minutes on either side) has actually argued for it already. Another way of saying this is that Newt is combative with liberals, and that is why some folks like it so much. Everybody loves a show, and Newt is a gorgeous mountebank. In the theater of drab that our press-release approach to politics has become, he is a saucy fellow.

John King of CNN wilted under Newt's bombast, but that is not the point. The point is whether or not he needed to wilt. King tried ineffectively to defend himself against Newt's attack by saying that it was another network that had done the interview, and it was one of those things that was "out there" with people "talking about it," gotta ask, journalistic duty, etc. Newt, in bellicose mode, wasn't having any and said to him, on the contrary, "your network decided to lead off with this question, and it was Disgraceful, Appalling, Reprehensible," or whatever words of high dudgeon he used. "How dare you bring moral indignation into a presidential debate! I'll show you moral indignation." The audience was at first agape, and then it roared to its feet. Is he not whacking a liberal? What's not to like?

Despicable is not serial adultery. Despicable is asking about it.

I don't think we have seen the like since Woodrow Wilson was a blastocyte. Obama is certainly arrogant, working that little tiptilted-nose-attitude thing of his, but his hubris is an arugula salad kind of pride. Newt works day and night in the great kitchen like a master confectioner of conceit, with one of those thirty gallon stainless steel mixing bowls, making tray after tray of the peanut brittle of brag.

I don't think I could watch an Obama/Newt debate without constantly looking around for the little car that the 13 clowns were going to tumble out of. This is the circus, isn't it?

We are dealing with a high vulgarian, living well above the tree line. We are dealing with an ego of field rank, looking around for Wellington. We are looking at a flyblown reputation, masquerading as something else -- but we should remember that shiny is not the same thing as clean. This is a merchant of buncombe, with everything in his shop priced to move.

If a Newt administration were to find its ideal historian, we would have to fill that role with a cross of Rabelais, Hunter Thompson, and H.L. Mencken.

The one question that has not yet been asked, and perhaps needs to be, has to do with that $1.5 million tab of his at Tiffany's. It has been too easily assumed that the jewellery was for his wife. But perhaps he needed to save up a little bling for the Obama debates?

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