Posted on | January 25, 2012 | 33 Comments
Ace of Spades called attention to this memorable pearl of
wisdom folly by the notorious embarassment to the Republican Party:
This purposeful and conscious disparagement of knowledge is rather breathtaking, coming as it does from someone whose grandfather and great-grandfather were both four-star admirals in the U.S Navy and who, one supposes, could not have graduated from Annapolis without demonstrating some ability in regard to the spouting of facts.
Yet brief investigation discovers that great-grandfather John S. McCain Sr. was 79th in a class of 116, while grandfather John S. McCain Jr. was 423rd in a class of 441, and her “Maverick” father, JSM III, was 894th in a class of 899. Thus a steady decline in scholastic achievement can be perceived and we may state with tremendous certainty that, if not for her family’s wealth and influence, young Meghan never would have qualified for admission to Columbia University.
Just hours before Meghan wrote that Tweet, I had been discussing the false dilemma fallacy, and we see how the spoiled bimbo falls into it, supposing that humankind neatly bifurcates into:
- Those with “personality and swagger” and
- Those who “spout boring facts on command.”
The dichotomy between these two qualities — which for the sake of clarity we might call vivaciousness and studiousness — is perhaps not wholly imaginary, but Meghan fosters a prejudicial stereotype by derogating erudition.
It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round, and I do not for a moment think that my own excellence in the area of “personality and swagger” relieves me of obligation to those whose specialty is “boring facts.” Indeed, I’m pretty handy in the “boring facts” department myself, but in matters of technology am compelled to rely on Smitty’s expertise in (and remarkable patience with the tedium of) all things IT-ish.
Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Meghan. And while the very name of this blog reflects a desire to distinguish myself from the disgraces which your branch of the family has brought upon our shared patrimony — which diverged in the early 19th century with the brothers Alexander and Hugh McCain — I do wish you were capable of learning from your own folly, and perhaps also from your father’s folly.
Governed by the Cast of ‘Jersey Shore’?
What hope is there for recovery of our Republic, if we cannot benefit from the study of the past, critically examining both the virtues and vices of our forebears, sriving to emulate the former and avoid the latter? Can’t Meghan see how her father’s arrogant “Maverick” attitude undermined his better qualities? Doesn’t she understand that her father’s contempt for the Republican Party’s conservative rank-and-file hurt both himself and his party? And is Meghan incapable of recognizing that, in abusing her unearned celebrity as she has so conspicuously done, she brings her family name into even greater disrepute, making herself a complete laughingstock whom no honest or intelligent person respects?
Democracy can be a force for good or evil, in culture as in government.
On the one hand, as Ann Coulter observes in Demonic, we behold democracy as “mob rule,” which forces everything down to the level of the lowest common denominator and panders to the basest appetites of humanity, as evidenced in such diverse phenomena as the “Occupy” movement and Jersey Shore.
On the other hand, however, we may study Professor Angelo Codevilla’s The Ruling Class and recognize how the (small-d) democratic impulses of the Tea Party movement represent a necessary check on the pretensions of an arrogant elite.
There is such a thing as a healthy and beneficial populism, just as there is an important value in what we might call genuine elitism. Either populism or elitism can be malignant, however, and very often the two go hand-in-hand. Think of the imperiously haughty Barack Obama, supported in his election by idiotic dupes like Peggy Joseph:
It was my pleasure to have known the great Paul Weyrich before his death, and I remember his cultural cri de coeur in February 1999:
“[P]olitics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics.”
Read the whole thing, and recognize that a politics which aims to preserve the principles of our Constitution — and what other meaning can “conservative” have in America? — would be impossible if the American people become decadent and vicious. A representative form of government will necessarily reflect the character of the nation’s people, and what will our government be if our people are slothful, intemperate, thriftless and promiscuous?
“Leadership” cannot save us, if the people to be led do not themselves cherish and admire the qualities which define great leadership. As those who study history well know, there have been many times when the sceptre of leadership has been snatched from the hands of the decadent progeny of the elite, when once-mighty rulers have been cast down by revolutions led by the most sturdy and virtuous citizens, refusing to see their nations destroyed by misrule. The arrogance of inherited privilege often inspires a contemptuous hubris that precedes and encourages such revolutions. However fortunate the circumstances of our birth, we ought never imagine that good fortune is permanent, nor that we are eternally and divinely entitled to the possession of that wealth and prestige which was bequeathed to us by our ancestors, if we ourselves do not conscientiously strive to demonstrate ourselves worthy of our heritage.
‘He Shall Stand Before Kings’
It would have been the easiest thing in the world, Meghan, to have dismissed your silly Tweet with a sneering sarcastic jibe. Yet in the wee hours I awoke, and came to my computer to see what my friend Ace had been up to lately, and it seemed to me that there was something providential in this occasion — a “teachable moment,” as they say, which might be instructive to Americans young and old alike, but most especially to the young.
When I was a college student, one of our assigned readings was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which I would warmly recommend to any young person who desires to learn the path of honorable advancement in life. One passage in particular stands out in my memory:
“This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repaired in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me. Reading was the only amusement I allowed myself. I spent no time in taverns, games, or frolics of any kind; and my industry in my business continued as indefatigable as it was necessary. I was indebted for my printinghouse; I had a young family coming on to be educated, and I had to contend with for business two printers, who were established in the place before me. My circumstances, however, grew daily easier. My original habits of frugality continuing, and my father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, ‘Seest thou a man diligent in his calling? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men,’ I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me, tho’ I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.”
Now, Meghan, I am thoroughly familiar with your father’s disdain for the Christian conservative movement, and gather from your own writings that you have seldom studied the Bible or darkened the doors of any church. Therefore to remediate your ignorance, I will tell you that it is a byword among evangelical Christians that the Bible is full of God’s promises to His people, who may in prayer and faith claim such promises as pertaining directly to them. And I would say that the more discriminating minds among evangelicals would see in this paragraph of Franklin’s autobiography an excellent example of that principle.
Ben Franklin claimed the promise of Proverbs 22:29, and it is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His word that this promise proved quite literally prophetic, in such a way as to amaze even Franklin himself.
Encountering Franklin’s work at an impressionable age, I decided to emulate his example. Quite lazy by nature, I was inspired by Franklin’s writing to try to overcome this temperamental disposition, and likewise claimed the promise of Proverbs 22:29. In the two decades it took to advance from a $4.50-an-hour entry-level staff writer’s job at a 6,000-circulation weekly until the publication of Donkey Cons in 2006, I encountered many obtacles and frustrations in my career as a journalist. But keeping in mind the wisdom of Solomon, I treated every disappointment and setback as divine chastisement, a reminder that there was nothing I could not achieve, if only I was willing to work hard enough to achieve it. If I failed to achieve any ambition or goal, this was only because God wanted me to work harder. And since launching my freelance career four years ago — it was as if God said “go,” as I explained at the time — there have been many such chastisements.
“Not Good Enough for BlogCon,” IYKWIMAITYD.
The Gospel of Elwood Blues
Every insult was an inspiration, however, because even amid all the discouragement I perceived evidence of God’s continued faithfulness to His promise. All my years of work and study were not without their rewards, after all. The remarkable occasion of my two-week blogwar with Charles Johnson proved the value of those hard lessons I’d been forced to learn during the long years when, by orders of management at The Washington Times, I had been denied the opportunity to defend my reputation. And the remarkable prescience of some of my predictions earned the acknowledgement even of those who disagreed with me.
“When you’re right, you’re right,” admits Bill Quick, the man who named the blogosphere. “Gotta give the gonzo guy his props.”
Inspiration is everywhere, if you know what you’re looking for. My Christian faith does not prevent me from fondly citing the inspiration of bawdy movies like Animal House — “Where’s the Spirit? Where’s the Guts, Huh?” — because I know, to quote the immortal Elwood Blues, “We’re on a mission from God.”
You may not believe that, but here’s something that may never have crossed your mind: The existence of God is not dependent upon your belief in His existence.
Out on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum often says that he doesn’t believe life begins at conception — he knows life begins at conception. By similar token, I do not believe God exists, but rather know God exists, and I know it because God is faithful to His promises, accomplishing miracles every day, if only people would open their eyes and see.
When my son Jefferson and I arrived at Rick Santorum’s South Carolina campaign headquarters last week, I was impressed to encounter the senator’s sons John and Daniel walking out of the office carrying boxes of mailings they were about to deliver to the post office. When Santorum publicly praises his family as his most loyal campaign volunteers, he’s not kidding. There were times during his Iowa campaign when just about the only folks working the phones for him were named Santorum — his wife, his sons and daughters — and this has been a “force multiplier” too seldom mentioned in the media coverage of his campaign.
Ready for Another Miracle?
Many pundits have dismissed Rick Santorum’s miraculous victory in the Iowa caucuses as a one-off, sui generis, a phenomenon that cannot be repeated. Once again, the major media are telling us that the contest for the Republican nomination is a two-man race between frontrunners, and that there is no way Santorum can possibly win.
Well, OK, maybe they’re right. But let’s just look at Memorandum this morning and compile some headlines:
Public sours on Romney in January
— Washington Post
Both Gingrich and Romney have vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The liberal media are not powerless to magnify and exploit those weaknesses and, with Newt and Mitt going at each other hammer-and-tongs, isn’t there an outside chance that the destruction of one or the other of the two current frontrunners could create a vacuum that could be filled by the hardworking “consistent conservative,” Rick Santorum?
It would be foolish to rule out such a possibility, and I will furthermore remind you that I long ago described Santorum as a “brutal counter-puncher” in debate. There will be another debate Thursday night in Jacksonville — I just booked my flight — and in a campaign as turbulent as this, who can predict what might happen on the stage of the University of North Florida’s Lazarra Performance Hall?
Expect the unexpected, I say. Romney lost a net 26 points to Gingrich in the space of five days in South Carolina, and there’s no telling which way Florida Republican voters may swing between now and next Tuesday. But anyone who thinks the Sunshine State will be the final word on this campaign should take a look at the calendar, where the next big date is the Feb. 4 caucus in Nevada, where Ron Paul’s army of fanatics may wreak utter havoc.
The prospect of a long and bitter battle for the GOP nomination remains before us, and can anyone who seriously analyzes the race dispute that Santorum is well-positioned to benefit from the implosion of either of the two frontrunners? If Romney loses Florida, as I’ve said, he’ll inevitably be compared to Ed Muskie, whose 1972 campaign never recovered from its “Sunshine Express” debacle. But if Mitt ekes out a win Tuesday, that will raise questions about Newt’s long-term viability as the conservative “Not Romney” alternative.
This whole thing could spin out of control, and Santorum could win either way: Mitt implodes, and his Establishment supporters have no choice but to back Santorum as part of Jennifer Rubin’s “Stop Newt” scenario; or Newt implodes, and conservatives have no choice but to rally for Santorum as the last hope of the Not Mitt Romney opposition.
It would certainly be helpful, I suggest, if some conservative pundits would stop treating Rick Santorum so dismissively, if they are sincere in their vow to fight the nomination of Romney at all the way to the convention. Last Friday, when Santorum joined us at the Blog Bash pizza party in Charleston, some of my fellow bloggers seemed shocked to discover that — hey, whaddya know? — Santorum is actually a down-to-earth guy who doesn’t mind drinking a beer or two now and then. If it weren’t for the deliberate divisiveness of Erick Erickson and others, portraying Santorum first as a hopeless loser and then as a pawn of the Establishment, I think a lot more conservatives would have appreciated his virtues sooner.
But in a long campaign, a belated appreciation may ultimately suffice for Santorum’s success, and a year from now, I could be making my travel plans for the South Pacific.
The Sun Still Shines in Vanuatu
That probably seemed like a long and irrelevant digression from the main theme — the decadence of Meghan McCain — but I wished to illustrate the relevance of the kind of “family values” that Rick Santorum not only preaches, but practices. While Meghan is almost daily embarrassing herself with her idiotic public eruptions, we see the Santorum kids toiling diligently in their father’s campaign, convinced that there is honor in such humble service, even when the poll numbers are discouraging and pundits are once again writing off their father as a doomed long shot.
Pessimism is easy, when we see so much obvious evidence that America has indeed expereinced “a cultural collapse of historic proportions.” Our nation’s elite culture rewards and incentivizes the churlish impudence of Meghan McCain, while mocking the Christian virtues of Rick Santorum’s children. Even some who call themselves “conservative” cynically deride Santorum and his supporters as obsolete holdovers from a bygone age, to which the cynics are only too happy to say good riddance.
But where there is life, there is hope, and it strikes me that there is far more life in the Santorum family than there is in Meghan McCain. Permit me to predict that whatever little influence Meghan now has is destined to diminish, and that the influence of Rick and Karen Santorum’s numerous progeny will be much greater than may now be imagined.
This meandering 3,000-word essay was not what I’d planned to do when I woke up in the wee hours today, but my belief in Providence is such that I sometimes feel obligated to take whatever opportunities present themselves and devote my labors to making the most of them.
Do you, dear reader, want to prevent the Republican Party from being taken over by decadent types like Meghan McCain? If so, wouldn’t it seem prudent to do all you can to support the campaign of Rick Santorum? (For $100 you get a sweater vest!) And we remember what Meghan said when her father endorsed Mitt Romney:
“If he had endorsed Santorum, I mean, I would be like slitting my wrists on the table right now.”
As I prepare to fly down to Jacksonville to cover the final six days of the Florida primary campaign, I ask my fellow conservatives: Which candidate would be most likely to ensure that Meghan McCain does not attend the GOP convention in Tampa?
RICK SANTORUM for PRESIDENT
Join the Fight!