Why Unity Ponies Exist
The Compassionate Conservative will surely pay us a final visit tonight. He remains an appealing character, but a largely fictional one. I wonder how the last seven years might have turned out if he had actually existed. In the final year of a failed presidency, I bet Mr. Bush does too.
I never understood the "compassionate conservative" thing. I think it is a parental unit fiction, you know, I have compassion for my kids, I will just kill them if they have sex. I think that's really the paradigm from which the whole gayplaguedarkperilmoralupbringingtaxcutswithmassivemilitarydiscipline thing makes some kind of sense. Surrounded by the perils of sex, media and people trying to take hard earned money away, but filled with an abiding love for progeny, parents do some really evil things. And feel justified. I intend to be a parental unit someday, I hope what ever the syndrome is doesn't affect me. I know it will, no one really escapes the clutching my baby thing.
But it's why the center-right goes to bed counting unity ponies and pretending to be the left. Such a tragedy that they trusted the far right. Such a tragedy that they couldn't get together.
I think that Weisberg's Slate.com is a reflection of himself. Well meaning, but rife with racism and sexism that just can't help itself. In fact, I think the killer line on this kind of old think was uttered about Holy Blood Holy Grail, (ok so I eagerly consumed the Da Vinci code for about half way through, until I choked on just how bad the writing was.)
To refute it, you have to spend all your time tracking down and disproving a bunch of trivial details without ever getting around to asking why anyone would embrace such a preposterous theory to begin with.
That's from the keyboard of Laura Miller in Salon.com. And it's right. In order to refute the unity pony, one has to spend a great deal of time refuting a whole bunch of trivial details and not ask why such a theory would be plausible to begin with.
As soon as I woke up to politics, I knew that George Bush wasn't compassionate. Conservative is a word other people can define, there seems to be a great deal of argument. Many of the people I know want to believe that Bush isn't a conservative because things didn't work out. He'd only have been a conservative if things had. They are chasing a different pony I think.
But back to unity ponies. You see, what the believers in the United Ponies of America wanted to believe, want to believe, is that if only George Bush had really been a compassionate conservative, things would have worked out better.
I'm going to say that this is really, truly, a conspiracy theory view of the world. It's the belief that there can be a conspiracy of really important people in some small place that can sit around deciding the difference between the things that people have to believe and work out a compromise.
Let me spell this out, from my own churning in the gut moment: when with absolute conviction a wrinkled white face framed with wisping grey hair said with a slight smile "Of course it is absurd to believe in a world billions of years old..."
I am going to say that there is no compromise position between crazy and not crazy, that instead compassionate conservatism consisted of doing crazy things in ways that were palatable to the United Ponies of America.
I will talk about things I have some understanding of. Medicare Part D is one. Medicare Part D does not help any older person in any material way. All it does is take money from giving them one kind of health care, and gives it to pharmaceutical companies. That's what it does. That's all it does. that's all it was intended to do.
Like this bit:
What about that special training for defense lawyers in capital cases (pledged in his 2005 State of the Union address)?
Does any one really need to have it spelled out for them that there is no compassionate way to execute innocent people? Or even randomly kill people we don't like based on the "race" we identify them as belonging to.
This is true with a great deal of other Bush initiatives. In the context of a war with Iraq and an economy that seems designed to squeeze every cent out of everyone who isn't very well off to begin with, strike that, very rich, really, all they are is finding ways of making it slide down more easily. Telling people that they should volunteer for two years of their lives, while making more people galatically wealthy means something very different, he was calling for voluntary slavery. Same with subsidies for insurance. These are all things designed to make people in the United Ponies of America feel better about feeling worse.
These are all trivial details, a few days worth of the money being shipped to a vast war machine and enormously powerful top of society. Things that aren't "compassion," but window dressing.
This is why to the United Ponies of America, compassionate conservatism is "appealing," even as a fiction. They have much more than the people who they see as less well off. These are small things to make them feel better about not doing anything for the people who are much worse off.
It isn't appealing to me, in the same sense that giving out aspirin and candy canes to cancer sufferers isn't an appealing notion. The question is whether something is really done, and then whether adding in the nice touches.
The basic insanities are two. The first is that there is a huge slice of America that chooses to live on a planet different from "that little place the rest of us call Earth." The second is that the parental units are afraid of the very things that they do. It isn't some group of aliens that make media sex powerful, it's parents that buy these things. It isn't some group of strange aliens that work for big corporations that sell us these things, it is the parental units themselves. Every day the parental unit gets up, works hard to create the very poisons that they then want to protect their children from.
That is what is really going on with the United Ponies of America, who are going to have four, eight or twelve more years to wreck America. I've heard different theories on how long it will last, and let me say I don't know how long it will take, but when. When they've utterly ruined the world, spent every cent, and eaten every morsel. When they've poisoned every ocean, fouled every climate, polluted every cubic meter of air, covered every field with roads and tarmac, destroyed every city.
That's when times will change. Because then the United Ponies of America will finally be seen for what they are, a group of people who are trying to find ways of avoiding their personal guilt for having done all these things.