Dem Convention Offered a Terrifying Re-run

I watched an hour or so of the DNC convention wanting to see, in all honesty, Joe Biden go sprawling in pile over his own misshapen words. I suppose this is a little like going to an auto race in the hope that you will get to see a wreck. But not quite like. Maybe it’s a little more like wanting to watch a criminal whipped in public. Either way, I was disappointed. I lacked the necessary endurance. I didn’t even make it through the pre-game show.

I’ve gotten used to watching Donald Trump speeches, which are mainly clumsy litanies of his administration’s real accomplishments. He exaggerates at times, and doesn’t speak with anything resembling precision, but the gist is on the mark. He has done what he promised, and more, despite long odds and brutal headwinds. If his speeches are a bit repetitive it is perfectly understandable. Only a handful of people in the national media will report his successes, so he has too recap all of them, every time, to reach a reasonably large audience. For presentations of administrative triumphs, they are reasonably watchable. They have the novelty of being predominantly populated with events in the real world.

What the Democrats have to say is not even in the same universe of discourse. They speak almost exclusively of dreams.

Apart from a few minutes of insultingly sophomoric manipulations of Mike Pence’s name by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, everything I saw in the slice of the convention I happened to watch was of a kind. It had nothing to do with facts, excepting insofar as it ignored or contravened them.

The left describes a pretty world, midway between theology and science fiction. Their convention appears to be a kind of moral poetry recital where one celebrity, political or otherwise, after another speaks in turn.

Jon Meacham, who has made a career of apologizing for being born a southerner, literally proffered up an incoherent rhapsody about the nature of the soul. Oh my. He then cited, by way of support I suppose, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” – one of Martin Luther King’s less provable assertions, more recently co-opted by Barack Obama.

YouTube screen grab

Ordinary virtue isn’t really virtue anymore. It has been totally reimagined by academics and deconstructionists into a sweet and sticky blue-tinged ooze.

Typically, in the olden days when men were men and women were not all righteously indignant, journalists took up residence in the gallery of political conventions, ensconced behind a modest table. From time to time they would offer a bit of commentary. On a good day they would relate the rhetoric back to some actual policy or other, and on a bad day they would vapidly theorize about the football game of internecine party posturing.

Those innocent days are gone. On PBS, Judy Woodruff sat before larger than life-sized television screens, alternately being pounded or soothed by the performances of pundits or some rapper I don’t know. She looked like an elderly stork who had wandered into a Las Vegas show and felt compelled, for reasons known only to herself, to appear to enjoy the experience. I have little pity for her awkwardness. Nevertheless, such hideous spectacles, denuded of ideas but with the maudlin dial cranked all the way to eleven, are not good for the soul. Or at least not for the soul as I understand it, with all due deference to Mr. Meacham.

Thomas Sowell explained this entire process very admirably in his book “Intellectuals and Society”. What I saw paraded in all of its nauseating glory was exactly what Dr. Sowell describes as “the vision of the anointed.”  What we witnessed is the most alarming kind of vanity – the total self-absorption of our political class with the beautiful righteousness of their spectacularly unhelpful and quite dangerous ideas. When one puts the dream in front of the evidence – sees peaceful protestors setting fire to buildings and blames opponents for economic calamities one has engineered oneself – it is only a short step to the gulag or the guillotine. Ted Kennedy said in 1980:

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

He never said the dream would not crack skulls or burn American neighborhoods to the ground. By 1980, such events were already very old news. He never said the dream will never kill.

Marxism is a hideous monster with a beautiful skin. It produces very consistent results by very consistent methods. If you read the books on twentieth century history that the best and brightest haven’t managed to burn yet, you will find that this has all been done before; it isn’t new, it is not as it appears, and it will end not in utopia but oceans of misery and mountains of corpses. The gaffes of one senile old man are funny but the fanaticism of a million social justice warriors isn’t. We’ve seen red guards before. Moreover, the stoking of the fires of racist rhetoric never ends in justice. It ends in street violence. No one wins. Setting people at one another’s throats after training them like so many of Pavlov’s dogs isn’t pretty – but it is how “the dream” gets implemented every time. There are few things in the world more destructive than a beautiful idea. Life’s funny that way.

I watched an hour or so of the DNC convention wanting to see, in all honesty, Joe Biden go sprawling in pile over his own misshapen words. I suppose this is a little like going to an auto race in the hope that you will get to see a wreck. But not quite like. Maybe it’s a little more like wanting to watch a criminal whipped in public. Either way, I was disappointed. I lacked the necessary endurance. I didn’t even make it through the pre-game show.

I’ve gotten used to watching Donald Trump speeches, which are mainly clumsy litanies of his administration’s real accomplishments. He exaggerates at times, and doesn’t speak with anything resembling precision, but the gist is on the mark. He has done what he promised, and more, despite long odds and brutal headwinds. If his speeches are a bit repetitive it is perfectly understandable. Only a handful of people in the national media will report his successes, so he has too recap all of them, every time, to reach a reasonably large audience. For presentations of administrative triumphs, they are reasonably watchable. They have the novelty of being predominantly populated with events in the real world.

What the Democrats have to say is not even in the same universe of discourse. They speak almost exclusively of dreams.

Apart from a few minutes of insultingly sophomoric manipulations of Mike Pence’s name by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, everything I saw in the slice of the convention I happened to watch was of a kind. It had nothing to do with facts, excepting insofar as it ignored or contravened them.

The left describes a pretty world, midway between theology and science fiction. Their convention appears to be a kind of moral poetry recital where one celebrity, political or otherwise, after another speaks in turn.

Jon Meacham, who has made a career of apologizing for being born a southerner, literally proffered up an incoherent rhapsody about the nature of the soul. Oh my. He then cited, by way of support I suppose, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” – one of Martin Luther King’s less provable assertions, more recently co-opted by Barack Obama.

YouTube screen grab

Ordinary virtue isn’t really virtue anymore. It has been totally reimagined by academics and deconstructionists into a sweet and sticky blue-tinged ooze.

Typically, in the olden days when men were men and women were not all righteously indignant, journalists took up residence in the gallery of political conventions, ensconced behind a modest table. From time to time they would offer a bit of commentary. On a good day they would relate the rhetoric back to some actual policy or other, and on a bad day they would vapidly theorize about the football game of internecine party posturing.

Those innocent days are gone. On PBS, Judy Woodruff sat before larger than life-sized television screens, alternately being pounded or soothed by the performances of pundits or some rapper I don’t know. She looked like an elderly stork who had wandered into a Las Vegas show and felt compelled, for reasons known only to herself, to appear to enjoy the experience. I have little pity for her awkwardness. Nevertheless, such hideous spectacles, denuded of ideas but with the maudlin dial cranked all the way to eleven, are not good for the soul. Or at least not for the soul as I understand it, with all due deference to Mr. Meacham.

Thomas Sowell explained this entire process very admirably in his book “Intellectuals and Society”. What I saw paraded in all of its nauseating glory was exactly what Dr. Sowell describes as “the vision of the anointed.”  What we witnessed is the most alarming kind of vanity – the total self-absorption of our political class with the beautiful righteousness of their spectacularly unhelpful and quite dangerous ideas. When one puts the dream in front of the evidence – sees peaceful protestors setting fire to buildings and blames opponents for economic calamities one has engineered oneself – it is only a short step to the gulag or the guillotine. Ted Kennedy said in 1980:

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

He never said the dream would not crack skulls or burn American neighborhoods to the ground. By 1980, such events were already very old news. He never said the dream will never kill.

Marxism is a hideous monster with a beautiful skin. It produces very consistent results by very consistent methods. If you read the books on twentieth century history that the best and brightest haven’t managed to burn yet, you will find that this has all been done before; it isn’t new, it is not as it appears, and it will end not in utopia but oceans of misery and mountains of corpses. The gaffes of one senile old man are funny but the fanaticism of a million social justice warriors isn’t. We’ve seen red guards before. Moreover, the stoking of the fires of racist rhetoric never ends in justice. It ends in street violence. No one wins. Setting people at one another’s throats after training them like so many of Pavlov’s dogs isn’t pretty – but it is how “the dream” gets implemented every time. There are few things in the world more destructive than a beautiful idea. Life’s funny that way.