ARISTOTLE NEVER MET CHARLES! Krauthammer shrieks and screeches and wailsand disproves a famous old bromide: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2009
Aristotle never met Charles: Man [sic] is the rational animal!
This basic concept lies at the heart of western self-understanding. (Its often tracked to a musing by Aristotle.) This concept is deeply lodged in western cultures most basic pictures of the world.
In our view, this concept tends to keep us from seeing the way our species actually fits into the larger chain of being. On the upside, its one of the ways we get to shower ourselves with self-praise. (Not to brag. But did you know that we were made in Gods image?)
Are we really a rational animal? Charles Krauthammers column today argues against this notion.
The Posts op-ed page has been awful this week. Krauthammer smears the icing all over the cake. In the future (if there is one), embarrassed scholars may avert their gaze from columns like this, much as we are sometimes embarrassed by the ludicrous thinking and conduct of our own near-term ancestors.
Charles, who writes like a madman today, is discussing Copenhagen. But then, the Post op-ed page has really clowned when it comes to this topic this week.
On Wednesday, the Post published a column in which Sarah Palin said that Obama should stay home from Copenhagen and send a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices. Palin never quite explained what those fraudulent practices are. Nor did she ever quite explain how Obama will be a party to such practices by his attendance at Copenhagen.
The Post played the fool when it published that column. This morning, Charles seems determined to top it. He reasons like a madman throughout. Its stunning to think that our leading political newspaper is willing to reason this way.
This morning, Charles is shrieking and dreaming about (headline) The new socialism. You see, in Charles view, Copenhagen is the successor to a recent attempt at kleptocracy by a group of Third World nations! Below, we show you his opening paragraphs. Its hard to know why the word insane shouldnt be used at this time:
Did Third World countries try to grab fantastic chunks of wealth from the West in the 1970s? Its possible. But it takes a phenomenal flight of excitement to see Copenhagen as another NIEO shakedown, a claim Krauthammer makes no real attempt to explain. Politically it's an idea of genius, he says as he continues directly, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone. But how exactly did the left wing come to control the planet? In a few short paragraphs, we have moved from a (failed) attempt by some Third World nations to another shakedown, likely successful, this time by the left wing.
Is Copenhagen being run from Kinshasa? Charles doesnt quite explain.
Do such leaps require elucidation? Not in the Washington Post! Soon, were being told that this is all very like a religion. Charles is on the home front now, complaining that the EPA shouldnt get control over carbon:
Weve now moved from some Third World nations to the left-wing to the left to cultural elites. Might we ask a few questions:
Lets suppose that some group called the left devised some project like the one Charles describes. Who exactly are these people? When exactly did these peoplethese cultural elitesconduct that memorial service for socialism? Who was present at that service? In what way are those same people behind this new diabolical drive?
There may be problems with cap-and-trade. There may be problems with letting the EPA, not the Congress, decide how to regulate CO2. There may be problems with climate science, although Charles never makes that claim. But Krauthammer shrieks in loud, loony ways from the start of this piece to its finish. We start with Third World nations car-jacking the west. We end up with a bunch of unnamed elites who think the EPA should regulate carbon.
To Charles, its all the same!
Palins column shouldnt have been published. Today, Charles seems to be trying to shriek even louder. But then, this has become a standard part of the way our public discourse works. To wit:
In modern journalistic culture, certain tribes All Agree To Say The Exact Same Things. Once that group agreement is reached, the only way the individual can distinguish himself is by shrieking and screeching the loudestby overstating the common claim in the most ridiculous manner. One classic example:
In the fall of 1999, the lunatics decided theyd spotted a problem. You see, Candidate Gore was wearing suits which had three-button jackets! One of the lunatics, Chris Matthews, ranted about this for a whole month. But sure enough:
Arianna topped him! She went on Geraldos cable show and sewed a fourth button onto Gores suits! She thus got to shriek and screech a bit louder than everyone in the asylum:
Madly inventing a four-button jacket, one of the inmates got to shriek a bit louder than all the rest.
Weve been insane for several decades now. This morning, Krauthammer skrieks and writhes and wails like historys greatest madmen.
We thought of Aristotles claim. He never met Charles, we decided.
On the other hand, up jumps Gerson: On the other hand, Michael Gerson writes the following, right below Charles, on the same op-ed page this morning. Gerson, a former Bush speech-writer, offers this off-the-reservation assessment of warming science:
Were not climate scientists ourselves; we make our own assessments as non-experts. But as a conservative, Gerson is way off the reservation here. He doesnt sew that fourth button on. In fact, he doesnt count buttons at all.
Here at THE HOWLER, were not sure if those purloined e-mails do add up to a scandal. But Gerson is way off the reservation with this overall judgment.
PART 3DISMAL SWAMP: Well be honest. We found it too depressing to spend four days on Rachel Maddows recent sneering and clowning. That said:
Last Friday, Maddow conducted a discussion, with the hapless David Shuster, of her past use of tea-bagger jokes as a way of spraying The Other Tribe with brainless sexual insults. This discussion was one of the dumbestpresumably, one of the most disingenuous weve ever seen on cable. If you cant see this from reading the transcript (just click here), theres probably no way we could explain it. At any rate, doing so would simply be too depressing.
(Full disclosure: We once did a two-man comedy show with John Waters, right here in Baltimore! How could that possibly be relevant, you ask? Readers, thats how dumb this discussion got! With no disrespect to Waters.)
Well simply skip the pseudo-discussion of race from Monday evenings program. It wasnt as foolish as Fridays night clown-show. But even we occasionally hit a point at which we must stop.
Maddow sometimes does excellent work. But cable has been full of culture-war clowns over the course of the past dozen years. Until now, the top clowns all played this game from the right. We doubt that progressive interests will ever be served by Maddows culture-war clowning from the leftclowning in which, were sad to say, she seems to possess True Belief.