Posted on | December 25, 2012 | 6 Comments
In last night’s traditional Christmas round-up — genius! — I began by quoting Rob Long’s doom-and-gloom comments from a New York magazine feature about the post-election National Review Caribbean cruise, an article you should read in its entirety, if you want to be thoroughly depressed about the uselessness of our conservative elite: Wonks, pundits, pollsters and consultants on a free tropical vacation paid for by elderly magazine subscribers who, we presume, were grateful to be in the intellectual presence of the presumed heirs of Bill Buckley.
Near the end of the article — the “print” version is 11 pages — Joe Hagan quotes Jonah Goldberg, who offered this assessment of the cruise:
“This is a more downbeat bunch this year,” he said. “We lost in 2008, but it was almost boisterous and fun. This, a little less so. People were dyspeptic.
“Their conception of what the country is about, they really were sure the country would reject Barack Obama,” he continued. “I do think it hits them hard. The fear I have, why this election stung, I think, Obama has successfully de-ratified some of the Reagan revolution in a way that Clinton never could and didn’t even try to. That’s what freaks people out, that feeling in their gut, either Obama has changed the country, or the country has sufficiently changed that they don’t have a problem with Obama. That’s what eats at people.”
Indeed. You might even say that we are Doomed Beyond All Hope of Redemption, but if there is any hope of redeeming us from this disaster, it wouldn’t involve a political campaign or a legislative agenda. The problem is the culture, especially the culture of youth, over which Jonah Goldberg and his fellow NRO cruisers — both the geriatrics who footed the bill and the intellectual free-riders — have near-zero influence.
Flashback to Paul Weyrich’s 1999 pronouncement that America had suffered “a cultural collapse of historical proportions.” The demographic aspect of that collapse was apparent to me, and yet where is the evidence that the Bush-era GOP took it seriously? For that matter, where were the conservative intelligentsia? When Weyrich died four years ago, I wrote:
One aspect of the collapse Weyrich decried was the rise of the celebrity culture, wherein the famous people on TV exercise more influence over our attitudes than do the ordinary people in our own real lives.
Has there been any conservative intellectual pushback against that phenomenon? Or has the celebrity culture overwhelmed our intelligentsia? Coming up next on The Daily Show . . .
The consequences are nearly too grim to contemplate, particularly in what it means for the economy, namely a continuation of conditions that resemble the “stagflation” of the 1970s. Obamanomics will forever blight the prospects of an entire generation:
“This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life — and at least the next 10 years,” says Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow at the university’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Professionals who start out in jobs other than their first choice tend to stay on the alternative path, earning less than they would have otherwise while becoming less likely to start over again later in preferred fields, Zukin says.
Michael Greenstone, who was chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, says the shift to a downwardly mobile society may be lasting. “Children are not earning as much as their parents, and I think we’re laying the seeds for that to continue into the future,” he says.
Bitter irony: Culture overwhelms politics, and politics overwhelms economics, so that ambitious young people — reacting to cultural cues that told them to oppose Republicans as “rich old white men” — end up supporting a political agenda hostile to their economic interests. It’s the mirror-reverse of the left-wing woe that Thomas Franks lamented in What’s the Matter With Kansas?
And where is our Thomas Franks capable of explaining this?
Ed Driscoll was on that National Review Voyage of the Damned, and Ed has further thoughts on the ongoing Obama Age catastrophe.