May 26, 2018 – CONTINETTI

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Matthew Continetti gets his own day today. First his send off for Tom Wolfe.

In 1965 Tom Wolfe visited PrincetonUniversity for a panel discussion of “the style of the Sixties.” The author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, published that year, was scheduled to appear alongside Günter Grass, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Krassner. Grass spoke first. The German novelist’s remarks, Wolfe wrote later, “were grave and passionate. They were about the responsibility of the artist in a time of struggle and crisis.” And they were crudely dismissed by Krassner. “The next thing I knew,” Wolfe wrote, “the discussion was onto the subject of fascism in America.”

Wolfe was flummoxed, Grass silent as their co-panelists described the nightmares and injustices taking place outside the hall. “Suddenly,” Wolfe recollected, “I heard myself blurting out over my microphone: ‘My God, what are you talking about? We’re in the middle of a … Happiness Explosion!”

That was not what the crowd wanted to hear. A “tidal wave of rude sounds” drowned out Wolfe. But he found an unexpected ally in Grass, who spoke up once more. “For the past hour I have had my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they came through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

How little our intellectual climate has changed between that evening in the sixties and Wolfe’s death on May 14. America’s writers, artists, and thinkers, and their media manqué, continue to argue that our civilization is decadent, sexist, racist, torn asunder, on the verge of succumbing to authoritarianism or fascism, the population impoverished, the environment despoiled, the world made worse by our presence. … 

… he resisted membership in the “herd of independent minds,” choosing instead to join the ranks of counter-intellectuals who problematized not middle-class society but its critics on campus, in media, and along the radical frontier of the Democratic Party. Wolfe is often overlooked as a counter-intellectual because his method was not polemic but devastating, irresistible satire. He was Jonathan Swift in a white suit. …

… The job of counter-intellectuals like Tom Wolfe is to stop intellectuals from ruining things for the rest of us. And turn our eyes toward the Happiness Explosion.



Then Continetti makes fun of our country’s europhiliac intellectuals as the search continues for a TrumpSlayer.

Donald Trump had been president for just a little more than a week, but Francine Prose was ready for him to go. On January 30, 2017, the novelist published her call to action in the pages of the Guardian. “I believe that what we need is a nonviolent national general strike of the kind that has been more common in Europe than here,” she wrote. …

… The list of potential saviors is long. It is also subject to revision. For example, on February 3, 2017, Politico magazine asked, “Will this man take down Donald Trump?” The man in question was then–New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, the “slender, slightly built former corporate lawyer, the only son of a New York philanthropist whose last name adorns several city cultural institutions,” who also “has a record of going not only after Trump, but going after people now in Trumpworld.” And going after women he is dating, according to the New Yorker, whose account of Schneiderman’s verbal and physical abuse of girlfriends led to his resignation on the evening of May 7, 2018.

The ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has dogged the Trump presidency since the beginning and provided multiple opportunities for Trump’s critics to speculate, loudly and without any evidence, that he won’t survive its outcome. “If true, this CNN report about Russia could destroy Trump’s presidency,” wrote Alex Shepard of the NewRepublic in the spring of 2017. The CNN report, published on March 23, 2017, said, “The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” It was a bombshell—one that, at this writing, has not been substantiated. …

… Rod Rosenstein, Michael Wolff, Tom Steyer, Adam Schiff—all have been portrayed as the Trumpslayer, the agent of presidential demise. The most recent and sensational claimants to the title are Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and her telegenic attorney Michael Avenatti. “If for some reason Mueller does not get him, Stormy will,” Maxine Waters told Joy Reid during a March 11 phone interview. A March 12 Rolling Stone article purported to explain “How the Stormy Daniels Scandal Could Bring Down Trump.” …

… And so the Resistance has descended the winding staircase from People Power to porn stars, from Robert Mueller to Michael Avenatti. Who will be next to join the ranks of false media messiahs? No doubt the answer will surprise us. “Could an Army of Accountants Bring Down Trump?” asked a recent headline.

What caught my eye was the place where this article appeared. So desperate are they to overturn the results of the 2016 election, it would seem, that the editors of the Nation are willing—if only grudgingly—to embrace bean counters.



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