In Sunday’s New York Times, Frank Rich wrote that culture warriors — that is, those “intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years” — are being “laid off” in the Obama era, because people are too concerned with the genuine crisis of the economy to indulge in squabbles over stem cells, nudity, and gay rights.
From a mainstream media perspective, there’s something to this. The energetic economic actions of the Administration dominate mainstream news, with mainstream liberals applauding and mainstream conservatives denouncing, leaving little space for the Moral Majority antics of yesteryear.
But the blogosphere is picking up the slack. Though it also has room for current events and their analysis, it best functions as an echo chamber for PR, memes, and planted stories that compete with the narratives followed by major news organizations. The MSM may devote less space to culture war, but a few major bloggers may promote such issues to the attention of millions.
Thus culture war phenomena such as the “Going Galt” movement examined here last week — which offers few real news hooks (that is, few genuine rich people abandoning society) and has only been slightly indulged by the papers and TV news — have still been successfully sustained and exponentiated.
Last week Galtism continued to hold its own among the rightbloggers, but they also had time to work up a few more culture-war messages — specifically that Jon Stewart is a socialist, and Meghan McCain is fat.
As we saw last week, Galt-Going has been heavily promoted by top bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and Instapundit. The implication is that Galt-Goers will follow the example of John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and withdraw their businesses and innovations from an ungrateful American society, leaving it destitute.
But no such withdrawals of significance have yet been recorded. A Pajamas Media symposium gave three Galt-Goers a chance to describe their plans, but these were disappointingly vague, mainly suggesting that the Galt-Goers would minimize their tax liabilities, which might mean that they will finally buy TurboTax.
Apparently one of the Pajamas GGs has partially enriched himself with government work, but we may charitably infer that this was part of a long-term strategy to retrieve stolen tax receipts to the private sector. A colleague of another GG has advice for “people wanting to Galt the system”: barter. He moved furniture and gas and electric lines in someone’s house, and received in return, it would appear, a gas range. “Taxes paid: $0,” he informed us. Thus will the Galt hordes bring down Goliath; now all they have to do is get all the folks who use Craigslist barter to sign a manifesto.
As sometimes happens with these things, the Galt-Goers have encountered some mockery. Classical Values found this a good sign: “I’d say that once comedians start working a topic into their routines, that’s a sign that its time has come,” he asserts, though if that were true, Joey Buttafuoco would have been elected President of the United States.
Edward Cline took a more someday-you’ll-be-sorry approach, claiming that “Americans have come knocking on the doors of elitists or leaning over the café railings or invading their legislated smoke-free bars and restaurants to ask: What in hell do you think you are doing?”
So already their wish-fulfillment has been downgraded from outright rebellion to imaginary public scoldings, and less: Below the Beltway shrugged, so to speak, “I’m not sure that this whole ‘Going Galt’ movement will amount to anything… but if it leads people to start taking individual liberty seriously… then it will do some good.” The Ayn Rand Institute meanwhile opened a Atlas Shrugged Contest in which students are encouraged to submit essays on the gospel, with prizes totaling $24,000 — presumably to be paid in barter.
There was other culture-war business to consider. Financial TV comedian Jim Cramer appeared on news comedian Jon Stewart’s show and, in the judgment of such liberal outposts as Entertainment Weekly, received rough treatment. Conservatives who were not too dispirited by Cramer’s weak performance to do so rose to Cramer’s defense.
National Review‘s Mark Hemingway told readers that before the program, Cramer had been “kicking Jon Stewart’s behind” on his own show. He also claimed that Stewart “elevated Cramer as part of his feud and took it personally when Cramer fired back” — mirroring the previous conservative argument that Obama had given Rush Limbaugh an advantage by engaging him, a rather unlikely result.
In a post-program follow-up that has apparently disappeared from the National Review site, Hemingway was less composed. “Stewart only went after Cramer as part of an attack on all of CNBC, done directly in response to Rick Santelli criticizing the Obama administration’s fiscal plans,” he said, without offering evidence. Also: “In the era of Bernie Madoff, being the umpteen-thousandth person to express outrage at an irresponsible financial press is like staring down the barrel of a gun and worrying about being pistol whipped.” It’s too bad they scrubbed this; Cramer would be pleased to learn that one of his boosters thinks he’s not as bad as Bernie Madoff.
Others wrote off the result on the grounds that Jon Stewart hates America. James Pethokoukis said it didn’t matter that Stewart “hammered” Cramer because “Stewart really doesn’t believe in the idea of a stock market where individuals can go to invest their money and build wealth over the long term.” NewsBusters called the pairing “a battle between socialism and capitalism.” “To Jon Stewart and his ilk,” said Sundries Shack, “people have to either be lucky (like him) or well-connected (again, like him) to amass any real wealth at all.” Well, they never did respond well to defeat.
If there is another traitor rightbloggers hate worse than Jon Stewart, it’s John McCain’s daughter Meghan, who incurred their wrath by denouncing Ann Coulter. Michelle Malkin retaliated by publishing McCain’s Twitter posts approving the comedy of Russell Brand. Brand, Malkin reveals, had told jokes about John McCain, not to mention the Jonas Brothers. “How, exactly, does Ms. McCain reconcile her fervent disdain for Coulter with her fevered endorsement of an anti-American vulgarian who hates everything the Republican Party stands for?” asked Malkin.
Other rightbloggers amplified Malkin’s devastating argument by declaring Miss McCain a fat slut. “Meghan McCain: Cellulite, Intellect-lite, or Both?” asked Riehl World View. “What is it you stand for when you aren’t writing of the travails of finding a guy to position your legs behind your ears and give you a good roll in the hay?” he added. Robert Stacy McCain slammed “BBW Meghan” and her “chubby caboose.” “Daddy’s little pop tart,” added Redundapundit.
Time to Choose Again, in good Christian fashion, promised to “keep it G-rated,” then said, “I’d really like to know why you think that the Republican party can’t do without you, but would do just fine without me. Is it because your [sic] smarter? Prove it? Is it because your [sic] ‘cooler’?… Seriously, how old were your parents when they had you? Because I think you have a developmental disorder of the brain. The reason you can’t get a guy isn’t because of the election or the GOP. Its because you’re a whiny, ugly, b!&@#! With apologies to female dogs. And the pardon my French.”
This is the sort of culture war you don’t get in the mainstream media, folks. But from the rightbloggers you can always get your fill of it, and then some.