Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 30, 2002
POLITICS: Laughing Right
Following up on the thoughts in my Bruce post of yesterday, I ran accross this article on Slate arguing that the Left has grown boring and dour while the Right has all the fun. Of course, the author works from a piece that picks on The Nation - which was never exactly National Lampoon to begin with, given the difficulty of finding Stalinists with a good sense of humor - and compares it to The Weekly Standard, which isn't even the most entertaining of right-wing screeds, not even close. Jack Shafer notes hypersensitivity as a leading cause of this humor impairment, but the fact is that postmodern, oppression-is-everywhere dogma and sackcloth-and-ashes environmentalism are the real culprits. The Left lives in terror of optimism; heck, the entire liberal establishment rests on the idea that the civil rights movement is proof positive that some things, only the federal government can accomplish - yet that same establishment would die rather than admit that any progress has been made on race relations since 1955, since that would prove that maybe the dark, sinister powerful forces don't impose their false consciousness on everybody after all.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a different form of dishonesty that the Left didn't create but commonly uses to its advantage: inauthentic emotional one-upmanship. The incomparable Mark Steyn has the goods on this one in his plea to separate the genuine grief and righteous anger of September 11th from the phony, it's-so-sad sap that surrounded the death of Princess Di. While I may rail, as I did below, against people who rip Bruce Springsteen for his emotionalism, there's a world of difference between Bruce's heartfelt emotion and, say, a croon from some boy band over lyrics some staff composer churned out for them, and it's the same thing here. We can feel our own pain. Sometimes, pretending to feel someone else's is just bunk.