Per reader A.M., a really funny juxtaposition in this saturday's Wall Street Journal op-ed page. First, we have Peggy Noonan's op-ed about how the Obama administration has courted a backlash by trying to turn a mighty, manly people into a neutered nation of accountants:
The coming rebellion in the voting booth is not only about the economic impact of spending, debt and deficits on America's future. It's also to some degree about the feared impact of all those things on the character of the American people. There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. ...
Americans weren't born to be accountants. It's not in our DNA! We're supposed to be building the Empire State Building. We were meant—to be romantic about it, and why not—to be a pioneer people, to push on, invent electricity, shoot the bear, bootleg the beer, write the novel, create, reform and modernize great industries. We weren't meant to be neat and tidy record keepers. We weren't meant to wear green eyeshades. We looked better in a coonskin cap!
There is I think a powerful rebellion against all this. It isn't a new rebellion—it was part of Goldwaterism, and Reaganism—but it's rising again.
On the same page, we have editorial page member Matthew Kaminski's ode to Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson, ending with this transcendent note:
Speaking to the dairy folks in Madison, Mr. Johnson draws his first applause with the line, "We cannot bankrupt this country, we're heading toward Greece." He then notes his training as "an accountant." In this electoral climate, that résumé line somehow does resonate.
A significant amount of the verbiage you see in places like the Journal op-ed page is, to put it as precisely as I can, partisan bullshit. Which is to say, it is not a lie. But it does not arise out of any real conviction, either. It's not an ideological screed. It's a way of casting about for some circumstantial or personal trait, something that defies quantification, that can direct the audeince to the desired partisan conclusion. I'm sure the author, at some level, believes it. But the belief is both malleable and fleeting. Whatever the reason that we have been given to support this party, the opposite reason can be given later, or even, in this case, simulataneously.