What Are the 39 Steps?
Zwei Heldenleben, by Theodor Adorno, starring SpongeBob SquarePants and Willard


I’m sure glad you wingnuts have finally figured out there’s nothing wrong with this rotten country of ours that can’t be fixed with a two-step, three-step, twelve-step program, five-year plan, or more. For decades, we’ve been hammering you with our army of think tanks, policy wonks, and lawfare experts, browbeating you into submission with the sheer force of our intellect and, of course, our unique whingeing whininess as we present program after program designed to “benefit” widows and orphans and then defy you Daddy Warbuckses to gainsay us. Which you never do, even though we both know we haven’t got a dime to pay for any of it.

Because, let’s face it, three hours alone with Frances Fox Piven reading the collected works of the Frankfurt School aloud and you’re ready to start quoting Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer in the original Austrian. And all because you haven’t the guts to defy us in the court of public opinion, starring our royal eunuchs as ostensibly independent press arbiters. You’d rather be liked than president, which is why you’re going to lose next year and will keep on losing until you grow a spine and face up to the fact that we’re the Wizard of Oz and you’re the little dog, Toto, and all you have to do is pull that curtain away but you’re too darn dumb.

Yes, no one can churn out yards of pseudo-intellectual codswallop, tomfoolery, bafflegab, and just plain bumf as we can. Our mastery of the fog machine of politics has been so absolute that we can hardly credit the evidence that you’ve decided to fight back. And yet now along come not one but two combative wind machines on your side, making enough noise to fit right in with the New York Philharmonic during a performance of Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote.

I’m talking, of course, about SpongeBob and Willard Mitt, your two prize candidates for the thankless task of trying to unseat His Serene Majesty the Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, Master of the Greens, Bringer of Kinetic Military Action, Vacationer-in-Chief, Slayer of Osama, Killer of Qaddafi, Atomizer of the Economy, Sultan of the Slippers, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago.

As Adorno said of Strauss, “His music soars, yet is down to earth; a product of the dawn of aviation, it dupes the bourgeoisie into believing it to be both better than and different from what it is.” And there, in a crypto-commie nutshell, is your problem with both Say-Anything Mitt and Mr. Newt, neither of whom is better than or different from what he really is. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but we do our damnedest, whereas you don’t even try.

There’s nothing we progressives prize more than the talent to flap one’s jaw, because it’s just that skill — plus our daddy’s checkbook! — that got us where we are today. We demand credentialism before brains, because after all credentialism is something we can actually achieve with money and the right connections, whereas brains are, you know, handed out by Gaia or somebody. But the ability to bloviate on command is what really impresses the journalists.

So it’s nice to see your guys getting into the act. As Adorno said about the late Reichsmusikkammer bonze, “ruthlessness, violence, lack of solidity [are] the complements to that detestable respectability of the middle bourgeoisie,” whatever that means — and I graduated from Columbia with a major in Marxism-Leninism! But what I think it means is that all conservatives are hopeless thug tools of the petite bourgeoisie whereas we men of the Left are foursquare saints in our support of the lumpenproletariat and, of course, the really rich people on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley, and in Hollywood who never went to college but somehow still made plenty of money.