Ed Kilgore brought my attention to a rant by Matt Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon, Dialing It In. Basically, Continetti is upset that President Obama is continuing to have a good time and not spending all his time wringing his hands about all the fake scandals that Fox News and idiot writers at the Washington Free Beacon are obsessed with. It’s really quite a silly article.
This is especially true, when you consider that this is almost a journalistic genre. Around the same time in Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Richard Restak wrote an OpEd arguing that Reagan wasn’t suffering from senility, “[I]f the president can be faulted for his mental performance, it is entirely likely that the flaw results not from dementia but from laziness.” And note, this was when Reagan was embroiled in a very real scandal: the arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. But what’s a journalist to do? You write the same stuff over and over because these websites aren’t going fill themselves!
What struck me was Continetti’s imagination of what the president talks to his liberal friends about at these cocktail parties that he goes to rather than dealing with the fact that Susan Rice said something that turned out to be wrong on some Sunday news shows. Get ready for the unleashing of the conservative id:
Let’s leave aside the stupid political talking points. I know that both Democrats and Republicans do that kind of thing when they are together. The focus here isn’t on politics. It is on cultural signifiers. Eric Ripert and the litany of television shows that appeal not to liberals but to urbanites. Continetti is doing the regular guy conservative rap, but in reverse. Instead of “I’m into fast cars, guns, and big boobs” he gives us “They’re into Volvos, lattes, and sushi.” How does he know they talk about The Wire and Mad Men and Homeland and House of Cards and Orange is the New Black? Because all his friends are into them. After all, he’s the Columbia University graduate who has worked for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Financial Times. I’m sure he watches those shows. I’ve only seen a single episode of House of Cards and none of the other shows. I’m sure he has eaten at one or more of Eric Ripert’s restaurant. I’d never heard of him before. How can it be that he is the real American and I’m the America-hating liberal?
That’s the thing about conservatives: they are elitists. The majority of the rich vote Republican except in California and New York. They drive more Volvos, drink more lattes, and eat more sushi. A big part of their appeal to poor is this kind of social identification, even though it isn’t true. And someone as smart as Continetti knows this. But he’s more than willing to spew this nonsense to other conservative elites at the Washington Free Beacon, which I assure you is not read by blue collar workers in Mississippi.
Notice also the implication that Obama is out of touch. This is coming from a political movement that when it isn’t talking about keeping women pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, is only interested in how much more money can be given to the rich. But no, it is Obama who is only listening to Ezra Klein and Michael Tomasky and Ta-Nehisi Coates and EJ Dionne—all men who have been rather critical of the president. But again, these are urbane intellectuals, and the point is to associate Obama with the not-real America—with that place that Sarah Palin does not represent.
This is what we get from a fairly serious conservative journalist. And it highlights what I wrote about last week, Hopeless Search for Honest Conservative. Because Matt Continetti is smart—there is no doubt of that. But he is not honest. He knows exactly what he’s doing. And it is indicative of the total vacuousness of conservative intellectual thought. They have nothing but made up scandals and claims that Democrats are out of touch because they watch the same television shows the Republicans do.