Monday, March 22, 2021

Mutually Assured Destruction

“‘Owning the libs’ is a way of asserting dignity,” says Helen Andrews, senior editor of The American Conservative. “‘The libs,’ as currently constituted, spend a lot of time denigrating and devaluing the dignity of Middle America and conservatives, so fighting back against that is healthy self-assertion; any self-respecting human being would … Stunts, TikTok videos, they energize people, that’s what they’re intended to do.” 

 “I can envision a time where [pro-Trump Florida Rep.] Matt Gaetz could pin a picture of [Democratic New York Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to his own crotch, and smash it with a ball-peen hammer, and he’ll think it’s a huge success if 100,000 liberals attack him as an idiot,” says Jonah Goldberg, editor-in-chief of the anti-Trump conservative outlet The Dispatch. “It’s a way of taking what the other side criticizes about you and making it into a badge of honor.”

You can’t really deprive that nonsense of oxygen.  It has its own supply.  It also sounds very much like the fears of many leftists about how conservatives control the world and denigrate and devalue what leftists hold dear, and need to fight against.  With pretty much the same tools, too.  Gotta energize the people, Donchanknow?  And we pretty much take what the other side criticizes about us and make it a badge of honor.  Or, as Politico puts it:

And in a world in which polarization driven by social media has equipped every smartphone-wielding American with a hammer, every political dispute looks like a nail.

Ain’t it the truth? 

To be fair, the Politico article reaches back to Irving Kristol and Joe McCarthy for the beginning of “owning the libs,” and ropes in William F. Buckley on the way to Rush Limbaugh.  But Kristol’s son is now an anti-Trumper, and Buckley’s “Firing Line” is now hosted by Margaret Hoover, who doesn’t even try to “own the libs.”  And Limbaugh?  He was losing stations and listeners long before he started battling cancer.  His heyday was when Gingrich invited him to the House to enjoy the fruits of Limbaugh’s labors. Sure, “owning the libs” is not sui generis in American history; but neither is it invincible and forever.  It’s just pretty much what, when it’s all they have left, this is what American conservatives resort to.  And I’m not sure how well that’s gonna work: 

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  And while Politico points out that Dan Bongino is carrying the banner of Kristol and Limbaugh, Twitter points out that nobody’s as impressed with Bongino as Bongino is.

Those “assertions of dignity” don’t have that much voter appeal.

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