There has always been a strong populist strain in American politics that all the right people wish would just go away. From Matt Taibbi at substack.com:
Author Thomas Frank predicted the modern culture war, and he was right about Donald Trump, but don’t expect political leaders to pay attention to his new book about populism
The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism
Thomas Frank is one of America’s more skillful writers, an expert practitioner of a genre one might call historical journalism – ironic, because no recent media figure has been more negatively affected by historical change. Frank became a star during a time of intense curiosity about the reasons behind our worsening culture war, and now publishes a terrific book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism, at a time when people are mostly done thinking about what divides us, gearing up to fight instead.
Frank published What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004, at the height of the George W. Bush presidency. The Iraq War was already looking like a disaster, but the Democratic Party was helpless to take advantage, a fact the opinion-shaping class on the coasts found puzzling. Blue-staters felt sure they’d conquered the electoral failure problem in the nineties, when a combination of Bill Clinton’s Arkansas twang, policy pandering (a middle-class tax cut!) and a heavy dose of unsubtle race politics (e.g. ending welfare “as we know it”) appeared to cut the heart out of the Republican “Southern strategy.”
Yet Clinton’s chosen successor Al Gore flopped, the party’s latest Kennedy wannabe, John Kerry, did worse, and by the mid-2000s, Bushian conservatism was culturally ascendant, despite obvious failures. Every gathering of self-described liberals back then devolved into the same sad-faced anthropological speculation about Republicans: “Why do they vote against their own interests?”
Martin Sieff discusses “that extraordinary American combination of innocence, arrogance and ignorance.” From Sieff at strategic-culture.org:
We are now in the dubious position of “celebrating” – if that is the word – the 100th anniversary of US President Woodrow Wilson’s departure on December 4, 1918 on the liner SS George Washington for the Versailles Peace Conference where he was confident he would dictate his brilliant solutions that would end war in the world for all time.
Historians and psychiatrists – including Dr. Sigmund Freud himself who co-authored a book on Wilson – have endlessly debated whether Wilson was sane and just deluded or raving mad. Freud clearly inclined to the latter view. And he had ample evidence to support him. What is most alarming is that, as Henry Kissinger – significantly not born an American at all – points out, all US presidents either share Wilson’s ridiculous messianic fantasies or feel they must pretend to.
During the supposed dark age of the Cold War from 1945 to 1989, the recognition that the Soviet Union was at least as militarily powerful as the United States imposed the disciplines of realism and restraint on US policymakers. But since the Berlin Wall came down, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and the Soviet Union peacefully disassembled, that restraint has vanished.
Posted in Crime, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Government, History, Imperialism, Intelligence, Media, Military, Politics, Society, War
Tagged Arrogance, Harry Truman, Stupidity, Woodrow Wilson
From Charles Hugh Smith, at oftwominds.com:
The only thing as grandiose as this sense of entitlement is the hubris it engenders.
Here’s the American Disease in a nutshell: entitlement and power means you never have to apologize for anything. Public relations might require a grudging, insincere quasi-apology, but the person with power can’t evince humility or shame–he or she doesn’t have any.
What the American with power does have in nearly limitless abundance is a grandiose yet unacknowledged sense of entitlement and a volcanic sense of indignation. For the powerful feel entitled not to be questioned, and entitled to the supreme arrogance of never apologizing for anything.
Their indignation at being pressed to account for their decisions knows no bounds–how dare anyone question my actions? It’s outrageous! I don’t deserve this!
The most entitled and indignant couple in America might well be Bill and Hillary Clinton, famously crying poor while assembling a net worth in excess of $100 million.
Their resentment at being challenged to account for their actions is palpable. When questioned about his sordid encounters in the White House, Bill Clinton’s body language and tortured, seething responses spoke of a grandiose entitlement to get away with anything and everything. We could almost hear his inner dialog: “Nobody questioned Jack Kennedy’s multiple affairs–I deserve to get away with it, too.”
To continue reading: The American Disease