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July 06, 2009

Heretic Hunting in the GOP

I don't have a lot of patience for Heretic Hunters and Witch-Finders. Nor do I have patience for those who offer populists popular opinions they don't believe, just because they know they can get some traffic for them.

Nor those who are quick to excommunincate allies over trifling differences of opinions, claiming that any difference of opinion must be 1) dishonest, 2) corruptly offered to gain some secret emolument (an invitation to Beltway cocktail parties is a favorite), or 3) obviously offered by someone who has revealed himself, through his doubt and betrayal, to not be a conservative at all. Merely a "conservative" (wink, wink).

Because all real conservatives march in lockstep on all issues. Or at least all issues they've decided must be marched in lockstep on, which, oddly enough, rarely concern actual policy and more often enough concern mere personalities (see the Limbaugh contretemps for the last big one; the TARP argument before that was a policy difference, but, despite being more important, was rather more civilly discussed).

It seems the less vital the stakes, the less core an issue is to the actual conservative movement, the more passion and the more insults are generated.

Stacy McCain, the most shamelessly traffic-whoring blogger on the internet (by self admission, admirably), manages all of this in his Give Me Traffic and I'll Tell You What You Want To Hear column, with the added bonus of a not-even-embarrassed-about-it cult statement of principle.


“Her national political career is done,” NBC’s David Shuster declared, even before reports of her plans to resign had been confirmed. Other media types joined the rush to write Palin’s political obituary, with a Greek chorus of “conservative” commentators transparently eager to agree that her resignation represented proof that Palin is both unelectable to and unfit for higher office.

Oh, I went from being a conservative to a "conservative"?

And I was "eager to agree" with David Shuster? That's odd -- I posted my evaluation that she had decided against further elective politics (and was done even if she reversed herself) approximately one minute after the news broke.

I wasn't watching David Shuster. I usually don't have the tv on during the day and when I do it's on Fox.

I have not, even now, seen a single statement by David Shuster on this. Oh, I can guess what he says. But seen his statement? Read it? Heard it? No.

I had read no other pundits at all before stating my opinion. Mine was offered less than 60 seconds after the announcement -- not, as in Stace McCain's case, 48 hours after, after he'd had the time to scour the internet to determine the popular, conservatively-correct take on the matter.

But I see now that, according to the lights of Stacy McCain, I was "transparently eager to agree" with David Shuster, despite having no idea of what he'd said.

Seems like old Stace is making his typical bid for traffic.

Hey, guys! Read Stace McCain! Seriously! Stop reading Allah and Ace and other squishes; Stace'll give ya the real deal!

He'll write whatever you want him to. Seriously -- customer service is Job One.


Of course, she had just exposed as fraudulent the pretended omniscience of the commentariat. None of them had predicted Palin’s resignation, and yet their latest oracular pronouncements — Ed Rollins told CNN she looked “terribly inept” — were treated as authoritative.

Well, Stace McCain didn't predict it either, so I guess his pretended omniscience is likewise exposed as fraudulent.

Or, it could be that this was a very unpredictable -- unpredictable because it's so odd -- move.

Funny, those praising Sarah Palin's resignation as "brilliant" and a "masterstroke" after the fact cannot point to a single time they had suggested she do such before the announcement. Not a one of them ever suggested resigning would be a "brilliant" maneuver. Not a one of them ever argued in favor of this masterstroke.

Only after she's done something they never in their lives even contemplated as a viable strategy, let alone a "brilliant" and well-nigh unavoidable one, do they rush in to bless it as the most ingenious and obvious maneuver in the history of all human endeavor, which, as a bonus, demolishes the "pretended omniscience" of all political commentators who failed to foresee it.

Except, of course, their own pretended omnisciences, which strangely enough remain entirely intact despite their own failures of precognition.

An especially strange state of affairs, it seems. For, while those who continue to question the "strategy" state, or perhaps admit, they don't "get it,"don't understand it, fail to see the wisdom in it at all (at least as some political tactic -- I understand how it's good for Palin's family), we have at least some excuse for our lack of precognition: We simply don't understand the masterstroke, even after it's happened, and could hardly then be expected to have predicted such a move, which still baffles us, before it was announced.

On the other hand, those now hailing the strategy as genius really should have been able to predict it, given the fact they recognize the 'strategy's" sheer brilliance and hence could have come to the same blazingly brilliant conclusion that Sarah Palin did.

They understand the strategy now, they say, so they equally could have understood it before, when it existed as a mere hypothetical rather than an established fact.

So why didn't these guys manage to predict it? Why didn't any of these geniuses foresee this strategy they regard as purest genius?

Surely these smart-guys are smart enough to recognize potentially smart maneuvers before they're announced.

Could it possibly be that no matter what Sarah Palin had announced, Stace McCain could be expected to recognize his own pecuniary interest in deeming it brilliant?

Heady questions, my friends. Heady questions indeed, implicating metaphysical concepts such as chance, fate, foresight, and SiteMeter statistics.

The punditocracy can’t predict Palin because she shares neither their perspective nor their assumptions.

And neither does Stacy McCain, in an admission by implication, as, again, he was as caught off-guard by this brilliant (and therefore perfectly foreseeable) strategem the same as "conservatives" (wink, wink) like myself.

Her ascent to political stardom has been treated as a fluke by most of the GOP establishment for the simple reason that she doesn’t slavishly follow the standard script of Republican politicians.

The script I have in mind is "get elected to a prominent office, do a good job to build a resume and popularity and gravitas, then run for higher office." This script does not include "resign after 2 1/2 years," but I'm very "old politics," and "slavishly following" that tired old script.

Only Masters of the New Paradigm, such as Stace McCain, can foresee these momentous changes in the paradigm of politics, despite the fact the didn't foresee them at all, but they are now so frothingly approving of these maneuvers we should give them a bit of credit for rectroactively foreseeing them.

Now he stops quoting his column and goes into blog format.

...

Of course, not all the commentators rushing to write finis on Palin’s career were of the Ed Rollins/David Schuster variety. Both Ace and Allahpundit hastened to endorse the pundit consensus.

One cannot "hasten to endorse" a statement which has not yet been made; a statement made first in time cannot "endorse" a statement made later in time.

But Stace McCain apparently has trouble with cause-and-effect and standard forward-flowing time continuums, which is already evident from the fact he his praising himself by implication for foreseeing an announcement he only foresaw 48 hours after it occurred.

I’ve got MSNBC on my office TV and the mid-day newsette just referred to Palin’s “baffling” resignation. It’s not baffling. Palin explained her reasons, and her reasons sounded entirely plausible to me.

Not so plausible, however, that they occurred to you before she announced her resignation.

What baffles the pundits is the fact that it was (a) unexpected, and (b) doesn’t fit the established script for presidential hopefuls.

Stace McCain continues to be baffled that other people are baffled by the same thing he was so baffled by he never predicted, despite having a blog which requires frequent updates and of course benefits from wild prognostications -- the wilder, usually, the better, and more traffic-drawing.

So he was baffled by it. It baffled him enough that he was never quite able to cook up a post about what a masterstroke this would be, if she did it. It so baffled him, was so outside his capacity to even imagine, that, at least until 48 hours ago, he too was "slavishly following the standard script for Republican presidential hopefuls" in assuming Sarah Palin would slavishly follow the standard script of finishing her elected term in office.

The people who pronounce themselves “baffled,” and who conclude that Palin has made a stupid move by resigning, are leaving a couple of things out of their calculations.

Here we go. This is the Cult Moment of this idiotic piece. I wouldn't have responded to these cheap traffic-whoring provocatitons at all had not the cult mentality been revealed in all its glory here.

So, here we go. Here's the main reason you must believe, if you are a good conservative and good Christian, that Sarah Palin resigned with a clear (and brilliant) intent of mounting a presidential run in 2012.

First, Palin is a Christian who, in the past, has made straightforward reference to the will of God. What she believes — what she must believe — is that if it is God’s will that she become president, she will.

She must believe it is God's will that she become President? She must believe that?

Apart from the theological sketchiness of this, Stace McCain, Herald of the New Paradigm, discounts the possibility that Sarah Palin felt it was God's will that she nuture her children in a less-toxic environment, away from the super-heated and sufurous hell of liberal attack politics.

This possibility entirely eldues him; apparently he's "baffled" at the thought that a mother might possibly decide her children are more important than politics (and so perhaps she is again too unpredictable for his mind to fathom).

Note he does not raise this as a possibility, and then discount it. It never even occurs to him. He simply states, absent any evidence, that Sarah Palin has divined the Will of God All-Holy Himself, and she has decided God wants her to be president.

Let me ask a question:

Is it more likely that Sarah Palin has made that decision about the Will of God, or that Stace McCain has made that decision about the Will of God?

The only person I hear suggesting that God All-Mighty Himself has decided that Sarah Palin should be president is Stace McCain. I don't hear Sarah Palin saying it.


Therefore, the conventional wisdom of the commetariat and all the advice from political “experts” are just so much noise to her.

Well, as Stace McCain just added "knowing the mind of God All-Mighty" to his already impressive portfolio of expertises, I will not be so churlish as to question his use of scare-quotes in suggesting that other "experts" aren't quite so "expert" as they believe.

Let's wrap this up not with theology, but with Sophistry:


...

Just because you don’t know what Sarah Palin is doing doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Ah, the Black Box of the Unknowable, pressed into service again. Posit that something is unknowable, and you can rubbish other people's guesses at it, while, somehow, offering yourself as someone quite able to know the unknowable.

Sarah Palin's intentions are only unknowable to those who think she's out of politics. To Stace McCain, of course, her unknowable intentions are quite easily deduced.

Well, there you go. No cult here.

I see now that I cannot disagree with Stace McCain on Sarah Palin's intentions or continued political viability, because it turns out it's not an intellectual debate at all. It's a theological one, and if I deny the brilliance of this maneuver, I am in fact denying the very divinity of Christ Himself.

So, well, Stace McCain is a Christian. Obviously he's right. I, agnostic me, surely cannot compete with Stace McCain on knowing the mind of God. And certainly it would be out-of-order -- blasphemous, in fact -- to suggest even a small amount of doubt as to whether God All-Mighty Himself has decided He will personally intervene in the 2012 elections.

And anyone suggesting this is at all a cultish suggestion is really denying the existence of God Himself and furthermore is being very insulting.

God's Will: Several commenters complain I am ignoring an "if" in Stace McCain's Will of God statement. Here, I bold it:

What she believes — what she must believe — is that if it is God’s will that she become president, she will.

Commenters insist this "if" changes the meaning. It most emphatically does not. Stace McCain specifically offers this as reason to believe she has presidential ambitions -- thus, his "if it is God's will" can be read as "if it it is God's will that she will become president, as it most likely is, she will."

Why do I say that? Because Stace McCain offers this God's Will statement as a reason to believe she'll run for President. Not all the various "if it be God's will" type statements he could have offered... but did not.

If it is God's will that Sarah Palin dedicate herself chiefly to raising her children, the most important thing in her life, she will.

If it is God's will that Sarah Palin protect her family from the sulfurous, scorching hatred of the left by removing herself from public life, she will.

If it is God's will that Sarah Palin will begin a powerful advocacy group by which she can push the levers of politics without being trapped in actual office, she will.

If it is God's will that Sarah Palin make a good and prosperous life for herself, selling her book and possibly starting her own talk show, she will.


All these things could in fact be "God's will," and, if any of them are God's will, then by Stace McCain's understanding Sarah Palin will of course bend to that will, knowing a divine way has been chosen for her.

He only sees fit to discuss a single possibility as to what God's will might be -- that she will become President.

Now, you can claim the "if" disclaims any intent to know or report the Will of God. I do agree that there is some wiggle room there; it is phrased as a hypoethetical, not a categorical.

However: Let us get real. This is offered as one of the factors that we atheists need to consider and reflect upon before doubting that Sarah Palin will be president. The only possibility offered as to "God's will" is that Sarah Palin will be president; no other possibilities, many of which are as plausible or more plausible than her assumption of the presidency, are offered as other paths that God might have prepared for her.

So, yeah, come on. Come on, man. Yes, there's an if The statement doesn't achieve what it is clearly designed to rhetorically achieve -- suggest a reason to believe Sarah Palin will be president -- if that if isn't more cover-your-ass than anything else.

No coach ever says "If God wishes us to win the championship, nothing can stop us" with the expectation that his team is going to read that as including the suggestion "If God doesn't want us to win this, we won't" or "If we don't win this, God must have wanted us to lose." It's offered for the positive implication alone. The positive implication is not offered as one of several one can rationally decide is valid.


He did not write, quite notably:

We must all accept God's plan. If God's will is that Sarah Palin is to not be president, she won't, and we must accept that.

If that is God's will, surely God's will is an important in this case as in the other; the primacy of God's will surely does not turn on whether his will is congruent with political partisans' preferred electoral outcomes.

And yet he does not offer this as a possible direction of God's will, not even as a mere caveat or alternative.

So, yeah. Forgive me for believing this statement was written with an extremely strong implication at its heart.

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posted by Ace at 03:36 PM

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