Over the past week Wall Street slid further into socialism with a federal takeover of AIG, an SEC ban against short-selling, a speedy court-approved sell-off of newly-bankrupt Lehman Brothers assets, and other extraordinary events.
We must give some credit for consistency to those rightbloggers who expressed anger that an allegedly conservative administration is behind this command-economy response. Most, of course, did not. This is still an election season. So if John McCain has a history of support for deregulation of the sort that made the crisis possible, Ed Morrissey and others point out that McCain pushed to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in 2005, and that Obama has gotten plenty of money from Fannie and Freddie people, etc.
But with both candidates offering tepid responses to avoid controversy, and both parties collaborating to save their own implicated asses, there was not much to give either side traction over the other. So rightbloggers, who used to declare themselves devoted to the free market, took a more forgiving stand, and reverted to the only form of conservatism left to them: obeisance to authority.
Thus the biggest news of the year was rendered a sideshow for our purposes; and the sideshows, as usual, were the main attraction.
Once federal intervention became a feature of the new conservatism, Patterico declared himself unbothered by the bailouts, and comforted that “conservatives like Paulson and Bernanke would opt for a solution that values financial stability and reinforces business and consumer confidence”; Megan McArdle declared “Bernanke played a bad hand well,” though “ultimately it just wasn’t enough to take the pot”; Glenn Reynolds said all is well, or at least no 1987; and the ever-attentive Jonah Goldberg said he “would really like to hear a detailed after-action report on why it was so imperative to save AIG” before blaming the Republican Administration’s actions on Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
Some rightbloggers were more reckless, like Arnold Kling, who addressed himself directly to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. “I fear you may be seeing this crisis through the lens of the Great Depression,” he warned Paulson, pointing out that “there is still controversy over the relative weights of various causes of the Depression” — referring, presumably, to the Amity Shlaes Reaganite theory that Herbert Hoover was right all along and that the FDR intervention did more harm than good — “and not everyone is convinced that bank failures per se were the main factor.” Kling maintained that “The excesses need to be worked out by the markets” without the meddling of neo-New Dealers.
But Kling remained a hardcore outlier. For conservatives ready to get with the new program, NewsBusters came up with a helpful explanation via IBD: Carter made banks lend money to black people. Thus did Lehman, Merril, and AIG fall — an obvious loss for the Democrats!
That cleared the rightblogger airwaves for truly important matters. The biggest of these was Sarah Palin’s email, which was pranked by an avatar of anti-Scientology group Anonymous, whose mischievous-yet-criminal incursion was covered normally by mainsteam media outlets. But rightbloggers didn’t see it that way: as discussed here earlier, many of them blamed it on Obama, or at least Obama supporters. And when it was revealed that the malefactor was alleged to be the son of a Tennessee Democratic state representative, some of them found it dispositive. Confederate Yankee declared, “Guilty Party Remains Running For President… Barack Obama is still at heart a thug, and his disciples learned well from their master.” Melissa Clothier cried, “Throw the book at this rotten Democratic apple.”
Newspapers haven’t found the story nearly as interesting — even the Moonie-owned Washington Times prefers to talk about those embarrassing bailouts — which just convinced rightbloggers of the presence of a plot. “Remember that democratic operatives wouldn’t be so obvious to simply do their own dirty work,” said MacsMind, “but would enlist a loser like this kid.” “Probama Palin Hacker,” declared American Power. “This is not merely happenstance. Or coinicidence,” said Ace of Spades. “This is enemy action.”
Does that fail to rouse you? How about Sandra Bernhard? Yes, we’re talking about the comedienne popular in the 1980s who recently said that Sarah Palin would be “gang-raped by my big black brothers” if she came to New York, per the New York Daily News. Whatever her intention, Berhard became a national figure among rightbloggers when she said this — in fact, they appointed her an official liberal spokesman. “Hate-spewing actors have ‘artistic license’ to make racist remarks,” announced Katherine Berry of Pajama Media, blaming “Hollywood — the darling of the left.”
Quotes in support of a collaboration between Hollywood and Bernhard on racist slurs are not offered — but why would they be? When you’re defending an Administration that’s paying off big financial firms, culture war is your only hope, and any random offensive remark by a stage comic will do. Witness also Jay Tea of Wizbang, who connects Bernhard with liberal women who, in his fantasies, are “falling all over each other to mock the woman who had ALL THOSE CHILDREN and doesn’t have an army of nannies, who’s still married to the same guy after a couple of decades, who’s NEVER gone into rehab, who has NEVER bought into the disease or the cause of the week…”
Again, no citations are offered, and again, why should they be? In the rightwing candyland Tea inhabits, all women who don’t support McCain are rich, divorced, disease-shopping, and drug-addicted.
Obama supporters should take this as a positive sign: Just a few weeks ago, Tea and his friends thought Sarah Palin would win Democratic women to the Republican ticket — now they’re already denouncing such women in the most offensive terms. Maybe the economic downturn has diminished their expectations. It will be interesting to see where they next seek the votes they’ll need to make up for the votes they’ve pissed away.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2008