Politics & Policy

Agreeing to Be Agreeable

We could all just get along if only you would shut up.

His Exalted Majesty Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago, is right. It’s time for a new tone. A kinder, gentler tone, just like the one Daddy Bush was talking about right around the time he tried to upend Saddam Hussein back in the day. A tone of sweet reasonableness, of civility in the way we interact with each other, an Athenian level discourse that would make Pericles proud.

If only you bastards would let us do it.

Taking my cue from such exemplars as Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, I’m talking about a whole new way to look at political speech, one that combines First Amendment protections — which of course we could not possibly respect more — with a living-and-breathing constitutional view that above all prizes personal responsibility for public utterances, lest some wingnut loon or right-wing goon be driven into a homicidal fit of rage by Sarah Palin’s recipe for moose stew.

In other words, shut the hell up.

Yes, my brothers and sisters in Gaia, we men of the Left are hereby calling on you to police yourselves, beginning with the penumbrically emanating thoughts that originate within your brains (if you can call them “brains” — we need to see your advanced degrees from Columbia and Harvard). For we are so exquisitely sensitive that the pitiful waves of what you call ratiocination fly directly from your frontal lobes to Paul Krugman’s ears, driving the poor man to fits at the typewriter. Even if, mercifully, we can’t hear you, we know that you’re “thinking” and, worse, we know exactly what you’re thinking.

You miserable sodding savages.

You see, my beloved amigos across the aisle, we’ve got you all sussed out. We understand, far better than you, what animates you. We sense the dark and stormy nights of your souls, your inchoate, racist agita over our First Black President if you don’t count Billy Jeff Blythe III, your love of corporate plutocrats and your sheer loathing for the Little Guy, whom you would like to see ripped to pieces by the Thracian women, rent asunder by rabid weasels and forced to read Atlas Shrugged in its entirety, including the John Galt speech. We know you secretly root for Gradgrind and Naptha, whereas we are partial to Mrs. Jellyby and Settembrini. Or maybe it’s the other way around, whatever; in the Berghof that is the Hollywood Hills, even us A-list writers only read coverage, Cliff’s Notes, and Wikipedia.

You, of course, can’t read at all, which is why you’re so easily swayed by the simpleton musings of Sarah Palin, who is a bona fide moron and a blithering idiot who can’t tell crosshairs from surveyor’s marks.

We, on the other hand, are motivated by one of the highest values in our values canon, compassion. Right up there with Fairness and Tolerance, Compassion is, as you know, the thing that makes us feel really, really comfortable with ourselves; after all, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills, we don’t have many opportunities to exhibit compassion in our daily lives, except when some sonofabitch blocks us from making the left-turn light at Wilshire and Santa Monica and we just smile and wave. I myself, living in my palatial pad in Echo Park, am made of even sterner stuff: I encounter dozens of compassionate opportunities every day, including the homeless undocumented immigrants coagulating down by the taco stands on Sunset, but I pass them by in favor of a more nuanced, abstract compassion. Call it dispassionate compassion since, like the great Martha Gellhorn, I love humanity — it’s just people I can’t stand.

And that most definitely includes you, you Constitution-fetishizing, Soros-hating, Beck-worshipping, global-warming/global-cooling/climate-change-denying, Ann Coulter–besotted nutbags.

So come, let us reason together. As Alice Roosevelt Longworth used to say, if you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me — and try as we might, we just can’t think of anything good to say about you. Still, like the hitman Jules at the end of Pulp Fiction, we’re trying real hard to be a shepherd. Brimming with bonhomie, we are hereby extending the olive branch of brotherhood, confident that you will see the error of your ways, and come to grips with the social disruption your waywardness has caused.

And there’s only one way for you to do that, you God-clinging, racist gun nuts.

Give it up. Come over to our side. Join us in the noble cause of social justice, public employees’ unions, fiscal irresponsibility in the service of the greater good. Gleefully trash a thousand years of Western cultural history, tear down your institutions, dig up the bodies of the old dead white males and hang them for crimes against humanity. Toss your One Hundred Greatest Books Ever Written onto the bonfire of the vanities — take that, Huckleberry Finn! — and watch them burn as the Fahrenheit hits 451. Isn’t vandalism fun!

But no — you knuckle-dragging troglodytes resist us at every turn, and have the temerity to actually fight back when we assault you. We pinch and poke and prod and provoke, and when you’ve finally reached the end of your ropes and fight back, we scream bloody murder at your lack of civility. Heads we win, tails you lose!

And that’s why we need civility. Because America is too fragile to support two schools of thought. Competition leads to disagreement and disagreement leads to disagreeableness and since everything we learned, we learned in kindergarten, there is nothing worse than disagreeableness. Because it, in turn, leads to –

Foaming, frothing-at-the-mouth, incoherent, eye-bulging, spittle-flecked psychos like you.

So do it. Do it for the good of the country. Do it for the future. Do it for the children, if you have any.

Submit. Or else.

— David Kahane promises a new tone of sweetness and light, but he’s probably lying through his leftist teeth. Show him a little class and write to him at kahanenro@gmail.com or poke him on Facebook. Just don’t be surprised if he clobbers you with a copy of Rules for Radical Conservatives, because he’s got a real short fuse these days.

Since February 2007, Michael Walsh has written for National Review both under his own name and the name of David Kahane, a fictional persona described as “a Hollywood liberal who ...


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