|(Image by Gary Locke)|
Great essay by Andrew Ferguson, about 90days90reasons.com, a website designed to inspire Obama supporters with fresh reasons-- essays submitted by readers-- to keep The One™ in the White House.
The essays themselves show all the magic of political discourse in the Internet age—the freewheeling energy, the unconventional lines of argument, the damn-the-torpedoes prose—which is another way of saying that Eggers really needs to hire a copy editor. Some sentences you can read several times without success. “Millions of progressive Americans,” Eggers writes, “are now behaving as if, because Obama hasn’t addressed their particular pet issue, that the best way to express their dissatisfaction is to allow Mitt Romney to become president.”
“Corporations,” notes the writer John Sayles (Dutchess County, New York) in Reason 49, “have been anointed responsibility by the Supreme Court as both eligible of public subsidy and free of, and, like all large and unrestrained creatures, act only in their own self-interest.”
Typos abound, along with grammatical mistakes, but grammar and punctuation et cetera et cetera et cetera are far less important than the proper phraseology. A Reasoner will never call himself a liberal, for example, if he can use progressive instead. Keeping up with the lingo is an important signal that progressives send to one another to certify their own progressivity. That’s why global warming is now climate change; using the former in place of the latter proves you’re a laggard. On 90reasons, the right to an abortion is now women’s health, and gay marriage is now marriage equality, just as Indians who became Native Americans a generation ago are now most often just Indians again. Keeps you on your toes.
Yes, I know: Our counterestablishment suffers from a bad case of potty mouth. The bassist for the Foo Fighters (Los Angeles) says that corporations are “assholes.” Judd Apatow (Los Angeles) worries that his young daughters, when they grow up to leave home and get jobs, will not receive “equal pay for equal work.”
“If this was the case,” he says, “it would be f—d.” He adds: “I don’t think I can think of a better word,” and I believe him. Apatow writes screenplays for a living.
But he has a serious point to make! President Obama, he notes, deserves reelection because he “created the White House Council on Women and Girls,” which will go some way to solving the “equal pay for equal work” thing. Here Apatow employs another line of argument that has sadly become common to the Reasoners. An urban planner (Los Angeles, which must be an awful place to be an urban planner) wants to reelect the president in part because he began the federal government’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities. A man who has a son with autistic children (San Francisco) will vote for Obama because he has created “programs” for autistic children—a “shit-ton” of these, he says.
For the counterestablishmentarians, “program” and “funding” are words with talismanic power. President Obama will “fund programs” or “not cut programs” that will rescue the environment or curb domestic violence or teach civility or help the disabled or train the jobless. The proper program can do everything but play canasta. And it can be advocated without wondering how it might work or whether it would work or what other programs would not be funded so it could be.
As they’ve piled up on the website the last couple months, I’ve found this kind of Reason oddly dispiriting, precisely because it’s so conventional—it’s the kind of thing you might even hear from a Republican. From a counter-establishment, I expect more reasoning like Jamaica Kincaid’s (Vermont). “I am a woman,” she writes. “From the time I was 14 years of age until I was 57 years of age, every twenty-eight days or so, I had a menstrual period.” She concludes, after several long paragraphs of logic-chopping, that Obama’s “simple, firm, clear support for a woman’s right to choose . . . is what makes me committed to his reelection.” QED..