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Monday, February 13, 2006

Conservative anger

Lots of people are talking about Glenn Greenwald's post on the cult of Bush. I'm not, since this is a blog about Minnesota politics and not national politics, but I can't help but notice these things, especially since his post is driving a lot of traffic my way due to l'affair Powerline. So I'll take a break from this state to discuss this.

Glenn's post is very interesting and very poignant. It is pretty shocking to see former conservatives give up everything they have previously believed in for an ignorant, not-very-conservative President. What's up with that? Who knows? What I haven't seen discussed, however, is the raw anger from a lot of these conservatives.

Obviously, my experiences with John Hinderaker represents an example. But it is hardly confined to Powerline. Lots of the top blogs on the right are full of angry people. Michelle Malkin, obviously. Captain's Quarters. Hugh Hewitt. Glenn Reynolds maybe not as much as most, but perhaps. I really don't read any of these blogs, but I have seen lots of examples of their irrational anger. LGF doesn't really count, nor does Ann Coulter, who is a performer, not a serious pundit.

Why are these people so angry? I understand one brand of conservative anger: that of the poor white male, who works hard but barely gets by, and thinks that he is being kept down by affirmative action and the actions of liberal East Coast elites. In other words, the people who would have voted for George Wallace in another time. I certainly don't agree with it, but I can understand it: it is hard to be worker in this country who makes low wages and has only a high-school education, if that. It's only going to get harder, mainly due to Republican policies.

But what about John Hinderaker? Michelle Malkin? I am sure that Hinderaker has far more material possessions and success than I do. He is no dummy: he graduated from Dartmouth and Harvard Law. I'm sure that his law practice isn't hurting. Malkin, despite her racism, is a successful columnist whose works appear in more than 200 papers around the country, a successful book writer, and a speaker. Again, I am sure that she does not suffer from want. The same goes for the rest of those angry conservatives.

So why the anger? They live in a time when the politicians that they support control everything. They are personally successful. They are famous in a way that most people will never be. A lot of them get paid a great deal of money to do what they do. But even so, often times they are angry to the point of irrationality.

If anybody should be angry, I would think that it would be people on the left. However, the major bloggers on the left just aren't as wildly angry as their counterparts on the right. Sure, everybody can find something to get worked up about, but its hard to see Josh Marshall or Duncan Black going off on people to the extent that conservatives do. It's just not their personality.

Frankly, I don't have any answers to this; I am just tossing out the question. Perhaps it relates to the fact that the believer is never so fanatic as when he most doubts his beliefs. Could all of these people simply be angry because deep down they don't believe the "accomplishments" that Bush et al have brought to this country? Or is it something else?


At 3:26 AM, February 14, 2006, Anonymous chris said...

Have you read "Waiting for the Barbarians," by J.M. Coetzee? It is a really extraordinarily good book, with some relation to the topic.

The title of the book is based on this poem: http://cavafis.compupress.gr/kave_32.htm

Some people are just natural followers, like The Rocket, or whatever he's calling himself now, and some people just, psychologically, can't function in a world where enemies aren't constantly bearing down on them. All of which makes it very easy for leaders with despotic tendencies to manipulate them.

At 9:39 AM, February 14, 2006, Anonymous SousyHawk said...

I attended a Thomas Frank lecture in Des Moines awhile ago, and I think he described it best: the conservative pundits know how to tap into a vein of populist anger that has existed in this country since the beginning.

Frank compared the Coulters/Malkins, etc. to the writers of leftist popular fiction that he collects ("by the pound on eBay") and claims that he can put down one of these seething 1920s writers and pick up Coulter without missing a beat. (Except the "capitalist swine" and "copper barons" become "the liberal elite" and the "Hollywood set", etc.)

Here's what I consider to be rather sad/funny at the same time: for a movement that once spent a lot of time mocking the "culture of victimization", it's patently obvious that the modern movement conservatives embody victimization. On one hand, you can listen to someone like Rush Limbaugh lambast some "poor emotional liberal group" for pushing their own victimhood, then turn around less than five minutes later and whine about "Hollywood pushing their values on us!" or some other nonsense.

For another example: note the use of 'ribbons'. The Limbaugh listeners of the world once enjoyed mocking the "Hollywood Elite" for wearing ribbons at awards ceremonies to promote a cause of some type.... now you can happily buy the same symbol of a ribbon at any grocery store to "Support the Troops", "Remember the Pope", etc. - yet no one mentions a thing about the motiviations of these people.

It's an odd country we live in at times.

At 11:04 AM, February 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anger can be poorly disguised fear.

Some are cowering so deeply, that they would give away our rights, freedom, prosperity, property, government and children, just for a fleeting, false promise from the administration that it will protect us.

Just how much of a coward would someone have to be, to give away someone else's children to save their own skin?

At 1:23 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

I don't really read any of these blogs, but I'm going to comment that all the authors are angry.

Oh yes, yes, THAT makes you a credible source.

Have you not really read any books you'd like to review?


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