February 19, 2008

"A good synopsis of the current state of American politics"

When Bill Kristol was offered a spot at the NYT, I mostly just hoped he wouldn't goof-up and disgrace us conservatives. I think this piece, Democrats Should Read Kipling, does us proud...

....Orwell offers a highly qualified appreciation of the then (and still) politically incorrect Kipling. He insists that one must admit that Kipling is “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Still, he says, Kipling “survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.” One reason for this is that Kipling “identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition.”

“In a gifted writer,” Orwell remarks, “this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality.” Kipling “at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.” For, Orwell explains, “The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.” Furthermore, “where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly.”

If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell’s argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics.

Having controlled the executive branch for 28 of the last 40 years, Republicans tend to think of themselves as the governing party — with some of the arrogance and narrowness that implies, but also with a sense of real-world responsibility. Many Democrats, on the other hand, no longer even try to imagine what action and responsibility are like. They do, however, enjoy the support of many refined people who snigger at the sometimes inept and ungraceful ways of the Republicans....

Well, it's true. Actually, I think that way myself. Of course you will think me a bit absurd, but when I blog I sometimes think of myself as sitting around with George and Condi, puzzling out real-world solutions to problems. And resenting keenly those who propose sweeping solutions or easy generalizations. It does make blogging more fun.

Posted by John Weidner at February 19, 2008 8:37 AM
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