Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday's Little Bit Of Fun

Go and read Bill Kristol in the New York Times. Go on. It won't kill you and he's actually quite funny today.

He begins by linking Rudyard Kipling to the current Republican party via George Orwell:

Browsing through a used-book store Friday — in the Milwaukee airport, of all places — I came across a 1981 paperback collection of George Orwell's essays. That's how I happened to reread his 1942 essay on Rudyard Kipling. Given Orwell's perpetual ability to elucidate, one shouldn't be surprised that its argument would shed light— or so it seems to me — on contemporary American politics.

Orwell offers a highly qualified appreciation of the then (and still) politically incorrect Kipling. He insists that one must admit that Kipling is "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting." Still, he says, Kipling "survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly." One reason for this is that Kipling "identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition."

"In a gifted writer," Orwell remarks, "this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality." Kipling "at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like." For, Orwell explains, "The ruling power is always faced with the question, 'In such and such circumstances, what would you do?', whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions." Furthermore, "where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly."

If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell's argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics.

Get it? The ruling power is the Republican party, and they are really good at running the government because they have spent so much time asking themselves: "If such and such were to happen then what?" For instance, lots of this self-examination took place right before the Iraq invasion, I'm sure, and also when deciding on how the government should respond to the disasters caused by hurricane Katrina, and also when the Republicans decided to make the Food and Drug Administration go on a starvation diet, just in time for all the dangerous foods and medications entering this country. All that careful thinking, all that responsibility! Though the responsibility tends to come with retroactive immunity these days.

I never realized that Kristol is a comedian. Perhaps that's why the Times hired him?