"That's a hell of an act! What do you call it?"
That's the setup for the punchline to the famous joke, The Aristocrats! Now, it may be that with the Iraq Study Group, the long-running and incredibly vile "family act" that the Bush malAdministration has been putting on for the American people is about to reach some kinda awful climax and punchline--"The Aristocrats!"--as well. We can only hope.
But seriously folks, the idea of interpreting the Bush criminal regime as an embryonic, not-yet-aborted aristocracy is important, as Digby points out:
[Phil Agre writes that [T]he most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. ... [I]t is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. .. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years."
Funny how with Republicans, "innate superiority" translates to "stole as much as they could." Says Mr. Natural:
'Twas ever thus. Digby continues:
We allowed them to impeach the duly elected president who beat the father, for trivial reasons. We allowed the father's appointees to settle a dubious election result in the son's favor. We have watched them as they created a presidency insulated from popular or congressional oversight in which they have gone so far as to set forth the idea that the president has no obligation to follow the law. They lowered taxes on the very rich to a level not seen in many decades and created an income disparity between the very, very rich and everyone else that is unprecedented in the modern era. They eliminated the single best means of ensuring that an aristocracy will not truly form --- the estate inheritance tax. The ten year campaign to repeal it was bankrolled by 18 of the richest families in America.
Who says Bush isn't a real conservative? Why he's the most purely conservative president in American history.
When Bush got all snippy with Jim Webb, George Will distorted the quote precisely to highlight Webb's supposed lack of deference.
All the Beltway 500 code words--Civility, Dignified, Ungracious--for trashing Democrats and preventing them from saying what needs to be said have to do with Republicans reinforcing this fundamental aristocratic value of deference.
It's the same deal with Centrist, Moderate, and Bipartisan: These are also code words for reinforcing deference, and often occur in context with Civility and its siblings.
That's why it's important to mock, belittle, insult, degrade and make Republicans laughable at all times and in all conditions. These are all tools for eliminating deference from our political discourse.
Naturally, when we do this, the Beltway 500 clutches its pearls and calls us Shrill or Rude. That's A Good Thing: It means we're displaying the lack of deference appropriate in a Democracy.
Examples could be multiplied of Republicans demanding deference, and others even giving in to them. Readers?
NOTE Edited to add William Burroughs reference. Readers?
UPDATE 2009 Funny how the "progressives" seem so willing to give deference to the current set of leaderz. Or not.