Charles Pierce is the infamous Boston Globe writer who tried to insist in 2003 that if Mary Jo Kopechne had survived Chappaquiddick, she would enjoy all the senior citizen benefits provided by Ted Kennedy’s beneficent policies. In the June edition of Esquire magazine, Pierce turns his love goggles on Barack Obama, "a dark blade of a man, loose-limbed and jangly, with small ears and an imperious tilt to his chin, as though something is wrong in a distant part of the world that only he can sense."
Pierce wants to love Obama unconditionally, but he loathes the American people for every time they've spurned liberalism at the ballot box, and now that the Bush era is waning, "Someone will have to measure the wreckage. Someone will have to walk through the ruins. Someone will have to count the cost." But this long era of conservatism from Reagan forward was apparently inevitable: "The people of the United States have been accessorial in the murder of their country."
Pierce fervently pushed for how conservatism and the end of democracy are synonymous:
More than anything else, the presidential election ongoing is – or, as a right, ought to be – about ending an era of complicity. There is no point anymore in blaming George Bush or the men he hired or the party he represented or the conservative movement that energized that part for what has happened to this co untry in the past seven years. They were merely the vehicles through whom the fear and the lassitude and the neglect and the dry rot that has been affecting the democratic structures for decades came to a dramatic and disastrous crescendo. The Bill of Rights have been rendered a nullity by degrees long before a passel of apparatchik hired lawyers found in its text enough gray space to allow a fecklessly incompetent president to command that torture be carried out in the country’s name. The war powers of the Congress has been deeded wholesale to the executive long before Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and a passel of think-tank cowboys found within them the right of a fecklessly incompetent president to make war unilaterally on anyone, anywhere, forever. The war in the Iraq is the powerful bastard child of the Iran-Contra scandal, which went unpunished.
Before we continue, a word to Esquire’s copy editors, who let through – twice! – the phrase "fecklessly incompetent." Pierce is in mid-rant like John Belushi in "Animal House," but the editors should see that to be feckless in your incompetence would mean you...end up competent?
Anyhow, Pierce is crooning a Depression-era tune with socialist swagger – the notion that liberalism is idealism striding forward in boldness and activism, while conservatism is dedicated to getting the body politic drunk and napping. They would suggest conservatism is "in-activism." Which suggests he really hasn’t been watching the conservative movement at all in the last few decades. But let’s get back to how conservatives are murdering America:
It had been happening, bit by bit, over nearly forty years. Ronald Reagan sold the idea that "government" was something alien. The notion of a political commonwealth fell into a desuetude so profound that even Bill Clinton said "The end of big government is over" and was cheered across the political spectrum.
Pierce then relates this directly to the idea that after Hurricane Katrina, "an American city drowned and the president didn’t care enough to leave a birthday party...it could not have come as any surprise to anyone honest enough to have watched this country steadily abandon self-government over the previous four decades. The catastrophe that is the administration of George W. Bush is not unprecedented. It was merely inevitable. The people of the United States have been accessorial in the murder of their country."
Pierce, assigning all wisdom to himself and all foolishness to conservatives, sees the 2008 election predictably as "an epochal choice of wisdom over stupidity, energy over apathy, grimly serious business over shiny trivialities."
He wasn’t happy about the 2004 election, when he saw "fat little delegates and their fat little wives wearing Purple Heart Band-Aids to mock John Kerry’s war wounds. He saw the Swift Boat ads. The country bought it. The country moved on."
He’s not enjoying this campaign either, since Jeremiah Wright "had said some things from the pulpit that you pretty much have to be a white preacher in the country to get away with." He lamented the rise of patriotism as an issue again, repeating that it was coming from those fat little delegates and their fat wives. "They were coming from the people who did their best to disqualify black people from voting and gay people from marrying, in those red states that Barack Obama had told the Democratic convention were only an imaginary construct meant to divide us, as though the country didn’t open its eyes wide and walk into the divide, skipping and whistling like the children of Hamelin."
Patriotism was a phony issue with our democracy in "tattered remnants...bedraggled ideals dragged through the mud at Guantanamo and Bagram and a hundred other places." Patriotism was "Blind, stupid, deaf, and dumb loyalty to shapes and colors and band music and bright shiny flag lapel pins." Pierce imagined himself singing, "My country tis of thee/ Sweet land of dumbassery."
He concluded: "Why would anyone have faith in America, which is not tough but fearful, not smart but stupid, and not shrewd but willing to fall for almost anything as long as it comes wrapped in a flag? Why would anyone have faith in Americans?"
Pierce clearly loves Obama, but thinks he’s not cynical enough. He wants the American people to be chewed out. "There has to be confession. There has to be penance...There were not enough people in handcuffs yet."
Which, come to think of it, is an odd concept for someone who still imagines Mary Jo Kopechne as a Ted Kennedy beneficiary.