The dirtiest words in a liberal’s lexicon — besides “judgmental,” “intolerant,” “unfair,” and “Constitution” — are “revanchism” and “irredentism.” For years, I had no idea what these words actually meant, although like a good red-diaper baby, I threw them around a lot. But to men of a certain age, and I’m talking about men even older than my father, the sainted “Che” Kahane, they’re terms that get our side frothing at the mouth, foaming from their nostrils, and stamping their feet against the imaginary, Stalingrad-like cold of Hallandale, Fla.
Recently, I’ve learned — and I researched this directly on Wikipedia, so it must be true — that revanchism means revenge (apparently it’s French or something) and a burning desire to get back territory you’ve lost. To put it in terms we can all understand, think of the Crusaders heading back to the Holy Land, the Germans re-occupying the Saarland, the foodies safely marching up Amsterdam Avenue in the wake of the fascist Giuliani administration. It’s the yelp of the loser planning a comeback, the bluster of the defeated bully, and now, the cri de coeur of some Wisconsin pol defying the clear wishes of His Serene Majesty, the Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago. How dare he?
After all, didn’t the great and powerful BO2 win the 2008 election? Didn’t that entitle him to rule as he sees fit, without the meddlesome priests you wingnuts call “red-state governors”? Wasn’t it a clear sign from Gaia that a person of no talent or accomplishment, a poor extemporary speaker, a man with apparently no friends from his youth in Indonesia, his school days at Punahou, his sheep-dip year at Occidental, his mystery stint at my alma mater, Columbia, and his undistinguished tenure as editor of the Harvard Law Review, could be elected president of the United States?
So who are these pissant politicians and pundits and midwestern peons to defy Hussein’s imperial will? Who are they to rebel against the infinite enlargement of the union/welfare state he embodies, the very Cloward-Piven word made Alinskian political flesh, leading the Party of Take to fulfill its destiny and finally devour the Party of Give?
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Stop it. You’re scaring us.
You see, we haven’t planned for this. We have a form of the Brezhnev Doctrine, which is named after one of our great role models, Leonid Brezhnev, and which clearly states that once a country goes Communist, it can never go back. And while we don’t exactly embrace the retro term “Communist” — we prefer socialist, progressive, or, in a pinch, Democrat — we give ol’ Leo a sly tip of the hat whenever we bring down our AFL-CIO hammer and our SEIU sickle. We see every conflict between looters and moochers — excuse me! I mean “public servants” — and taxpaying suckers the way the Soviets looked at the Prague Spring, and it’s just a matter of time before the tanks roll, and the cries of “Dubček! Dubček!” are replaced once more with “Yes, we did!”
As you seem to be learning at last, we have two modes of operation, depending on how civil we’re feeling at the moment. The first is our usual, unlovely, snarling viciousness, our relentless mockery of everything you clowns hold dear, our sapper-like devotion to undermining the “Enlightenment” ground you stand on even as, like heroic members of the Résistance, we sometimes have to blend into the population and pretend to be patriotic college professors, lawyers, and U.S. senators whenever we’ve got the short end of the stick.
The other is our whiny, dog’s-belly approach to faux-surrender, in which we become as pathetic as a helpless, whipped cur offering his tender nether regions to the Big Dog, all the while figuring out how we can make common cause with the roving band of coyotes just over the next canyon, to tear the sonofabitch apart the next time we catch him alone in a dark alley.
And that’s what we’re trying to figure out now: to flip or to flop? As I thrill to the noble sacrifices of our selfless public servants, confronting the Man in Madison directly, I personally am as proud as “Che” was, watching Morningside Heights burn while he smoked a Cuban cigar to show his solidarity with la Revolución and put his feet up on the dean’s desk. On the other hand, though, I worry that we might be overplaying our hand here, that the forces of revanchism might be too strong, and that the Battle of Mad Town will turn out about as badly for us as the Battle of the Ebro did for the heroic proles of la República.
Which is why I’m inclining toward the belly strategy. We gave our standard human-shield ploy a shot when the Wisconsin teachers “got sick” and then showed up en masse, kidlets in tow, to scream about the unfairness of changing a status quo that required you to support them in the style to which they’d become accustomed, and required them only to keep breathing for as long as possible. But it’s a tough sell when your adorable moppets tell reporters they’re at the capitol because they’re “trying to stop whatever this dude is doing.”
So forget all this confrontational hoo-hah. Far better to make our arguments on the basis of their factual correctness, their emotional correctness, and their political correctness.
Think of “public service” for what it really is, a secondary form of welfare, in which “workers” pretend to work and the government pretends to “pay” them — just like in the old Soviet Union! I mean, if it weren’t for government jobs, all of these “non-essential” personnel would be lounging around on their porches, drinking beer and firing unregulated handguns into the air or at each other — or, even worse, at us — unable to deal with the vicissitudes of life and therefore deserving of our public charity. Without public service, politicians such as Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd would have been just another couple of Irish barroom horndogs; Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, another Buddhist moonbat; and Robert Byrd a humble white-sheeted follower of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Public service gave these men jobs — real jobs — and meaning to their lives. And you malevolent capitalists want to take it all away.
So go ahead and unleash your racist hordes of teabaggers on a bunch of doe-eyed third-graders; all they’re asking for is a few years of “employment,” followed by a lifetime of free health care and a lavish pension. How can you in good conscience try to break up a perfect racket, in which public-employee unions “negotiate” with the politicians for ever-more-generous pay packages, and then kick back a substantial percentage of the swag in the form of perfectly legal “campaign contributions” to help get their benefactors re-elected? And all at your expense!
So cool the confrontation, fellow lefties. At the moment, we can’t stop the dude from doing something. The dude abides. Live with it.
Just don’t ask me about “irredentism.”
— Everything David Kahane has learned about life, he’s learned from Che, his teachers at Columbia, and The Big Lebowski. You can discuss these life lessons with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook, but you have to read Rules for Radical Conservatives first. Proof of purchase or the first round at Tom Bergin’s on Fairfax required.