Yeah, that was gross, but what else is new about the Democratic Party? That party is consumed by such a grotesque, overpowering impurity of spirit that it daily haidt-fucks the shit out of its own base, offending us by moral senses we didn’t even know we possessed. Ooh baby, Ghomeshi, don’t stop now.
Yuck, eh. As they say on SEPTA, Dude, It’s Rude (TM). Honestly, though, Sweet Baby J. smothering a bitch with Big Ears Teddy himself on the Market-Frankford Line at City Hall at high noon wouldn’t be as sick and disgusting as the Democratic Party. Nor would it be a daytime knifepoint groping or fatal hammer bludgeoning–both of which are well-known antecedent traditions on the MFL. *Very Economist Eurotrash wanker voice* It’s hell on the El, old boy.
I mention all of this–okay, some of it I mention just to be gross before the grosser, i.e., the party for whose 2004 presidential ticket I did ground campaigning in FUCKING LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, YOU SHITTY INGRATES–I mention most of this because Tom Perez has been in the news for saying “shit” a great deal in his public appearances. Lambert Strether has discussed Mr. Perez’s newfound potty mouth at Naked Capitalism here and here. Speaking of things that are more disgusting than anything I’ve written about Jian Ghomeshi (I remind you that most of you still come here for Dubai Porta Potty; I monitor the stats), there’s a presumably bottomless recursion to the articles on, for lack of a better term, shit having to do with Tom Perez and the like. To which I now contribute, through my most grievous fault, etc., but I didn’t start it, and again, most of y’all are here for worse than that.
We do not have the omniscient intellectual capacity of gods, so our involvement in this crap, whether as readers, writers, or both, comes at the expense of our involvement in anything else, which would presumably be more intelligent, more edifying, more aesthetically worthy, and frankly more interesting. Then again, the fuckheads who are ruining the Democratic Party are hella into Harry Potter, so maybe not. There is no bottom. The abyss does not merely gaze back; it stares. We’d be better off watching that Missouri Highway Patrolman drill through heads with his eyes at Ron Johnson’s late-night press conferences. Again, that would be less disturbing than examining what’s become of the Democratic Party today. (Note: I am not and have never been a resident of Missouri; your mileage may vary.) So I’m proud to say that I have not read the original pieces that Strether linked in the Water Cooler. No, I have not done my homework. Bitch I’m a back-row kid. Arnade is my homeboy. I stopped reading Sister Carrie the very, to me, sentence that Theodore Dreiser’s writing went definitively to shit, and that was for a high school book report, which I bullshitted after rereading my other reportable book, The Good Soldier Schweik. Sister Carrie was (I’d fucking hope) the worst story ever written about a whore in Chicago, and I, Charlotte Simmons or whatever, don’t hold with that kind of literature. Politico isn’t literature, fam. (At least Dreiser wrote enough shit at once to pretend.)
Besides, I don’t need to read the original pieces to know what’s happening here. What it is, is in fact all too clear. Wow Much buffalos Omg rick springfield Where jesse Very distract. I’ve seen Tom Perez’s stunt before. This isn’t my first time getting bucked headlong into the bullshit at this rodeo. Perez is gaslighting us. The Harvard study discussed by Politico indicated that Teh Millennialz regard cussing as an indicator of honesty and shit, virtues they’d like to see in a politician–say, one not named Clinton. This raises an obvious question: did we really need Hahvahd to tell us this, or did Hahvahd need to tell us this as an administrative condition of its receiving continued funding for the study of why we young punks would sooner trust a hypothetical person who uses vulgar language in public than a deranged ex-first lady with an exceptional reputation for public corruption and a parallel reputation for telling Secret Service agents to get fucked behind closed doors, causing some of them to take refuge behind palace curtains? The whole thing sounds like an I Fucking Love Science article, and the original study comes from the university whose undergraduate school sent bar none the most immature and flippant admissions representatives I ever encountered during my college search to meet with my tour group when I visited the campus. As much as I rag on Dickinson, at least it didn’t have anyone worse than a mild doofus try to recruit me, not a crew of total asswads who treated us like kindergartners.
We can know that Perez is gaslighting us for a couple of reasons. His membership in good standing in the faction that ratfucked Bernie Sanders is one; it would be foolish to trust anyone currently deputized by Democratic kingmakers to clean up that mess and do reputation management. Another is the elaborate, Late Bourbonesque cult of court manners that the same establishment faction self-righteously, and over time desperately, demanded of the entire nation as a condition of participation in the political process. This campaign to smear the legitimacy of Sanders and Trump voters in particular as illegitimate on account of our failing or refusing to participate in the establishment’s bogus court rituals may have been enough on its own to seal Trump’s victories. Stylistically different but substantively similar talking points were constantly being vomited forth by Republican operatives throughout the primary season, followed by endorsements of Clinton in the general election by a number of prominent Republicans. It was almost as if the two party establishments, nominally at such vicious odds, wanted the same downmarket constituencies to meekly shut up and die. Instead, a number of us turned out to vote in unapproved ways, and we’re still hearing about the highbrow butthurt months later.
Perez wasn’t an A-Lister in this DLC court etiquette bullshit, but unlike Trump, Sanders, and their supporters, he was no dissident against it, either. He lived by that dumbass exclusive code, just like most of the Beltway does. This code holds, among other things, that it’s déclassé to use vulgar language in public. This has nothing at all to do with a sense of decency. It’s a way, rather, for some of the most grievously indecent people in the country to exclude their moral betters from politics and maintain their stranglehold on the power, the glory, and, let’s not kid ourselves, the money.
When the Democrats’ new damage control guy suddenly starts using his potty mouth in public, it’s a raging clue (Ooh! I’m getting a clue, too!) that we’re being rolled. Bernie need only raise his voice and speak bluntly to the Queen Presumptuous to be smeared as an unwashed and hence unfit vulgarian by the same kingmakers who have deputized Perez to take the lead on their public relations. The rest of us have spent years being smeared as basically unfit to vote just for using politically incorrect language: for speaking in the Vulgate about race and sex, for showing anger instead of false politeness and being critical of the state of the Union when we have been told to be positive, and for using words that, per FCC decency (sic) regulations and the Sorkinian house style, one would not expect to hear on The West Wing. When a Party enforcer like Perez shows up at rallies with the same parlance that he and his colleagues and bosses would use as grounds to try to bar the rest of us from polite society and shove us back into our deplorable basket, it’s false modesty of the worst sort. Some people take up a habit of cursing late in life due to adverse experiences, mental illness, dementia, or Phineas Gage situations. The Democratic leadership did not elevate Tom Perez to his current position because it took him to be a disinhibited headcase. It elevated him because it expected him to be a competent and loyal chief operative. This is the same apparatus that sprang into no-holds-barred emergency damage control every time Hillary did something that voters might find goofy or disturbing, like faint into the arms of aides. This crowd does not knowingly deputize loose cannons.
None of this means that the Democratic establishment is competent, at least at its nominal raison d’être of winning elections and governing effectively in pursuit of its avowed platform. Conspiracy theories that the Democratic Party is actually ordered towards the professional and financial aggrandizement of its nomenklatura, at whatever expense to its agenda or its viability as a governing party that this aggrandizement may cause, are popular because they’re much more consistent with the behavior of the party over the past twenty or thirty years than any alleged spirit of public service or principle will ever be. The extreme dissonance between the Democratic Party’s enduring New Deal origin myth and the attendant presumption of devotion to the interests of the common man on the one hand and the party’s recent evolution into an uneasy, unwieldy coalition of insatiable yuppie technocrats and a lumpenproletarian client base on the other has provoked an ongoing existential crisis. The sight of a bunch of bitter, resentful, condescending social climbers haplessly trying to rule as the dominant partners in a sorry-ass coalition that they’re forever trying to maintain with submissive partners that they obviously, if usually tacitly, regard as uneducated losers and repeatedly get steamrolled by a Republican Party that’s equally incoherent but more ruthless and skilled makes many people, especially on the left, wonder why the fuck the Democratic Party continues to exist. Glosses holding that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, to take a couple of unpalatable examples, are really just amoral social climbers do much to explain why the Democrats remain so stubborn in the face of both humiliating losses and withering criticism for inadequate representation from left-leaning constituencies that they still refuse, partly for sentimental reasons and partly for strategic ones, to formally disavow. Think labor unions: it’s bizarre that the closest American party to a mainstream labor party cannot reliably turn out the union vote, sometimes in its favor and sometimes at all.
This is a party that despises its own base, and unlike the GOP, it can’t advance a halfway credible cover story to distract its target useful idiots from the useless job it does representing them. It lacks the message discipline, and crucially, it lacks the moral and intellectual consistency to convince its own subordinate constituencies that there’s any basis for its own legitimacy. Republicans at least have the forthrightness to suggest that certain virtuous people (Paul Ryan) fundamentally deserve to rule their moral inferiors (factory workers who don’t have the investment savvy and insider information to get rich from their 401(k) accounts). (Substitute Larry Craig and sodomites to taste, if you have any; I’m just trying to maintain a wide stance on these matters.) The Democrats swear that they believe in equity with all their hearts, that even the poorest, most marginalized, and the most vulnerable deserve a say in the process. When they humiliate losers by treating them like losers, similar to the Republican approach but cagier, they become hated not just as predators, but as liars and hypocrites as well.
Whether or not Donald Trump gives a shit, as Perez insists he does not, is hardly relevant when it’s so hard to believe that Perez and his crew give a shit, either. They’re the ones who have spent their careers sandbagging every effort to implement exactly the social welfare reforms that their own base demands (and that, in some cases, a consistent majority of Americans supports). This is why attendees at the recent Democratic unity tours that he’s been undertaking with Bernie Sanders have been booing at the announcement of his name. They know that Perez and those he’s backing up have done them dirty. Nevertheless, he persists (TM), although to what ultimate effect is anyone’s guess.
The potty talk may just be the latest hapless scheme to badger aggrieved uppity voters into submission. The sheer contempt with which Hillary Clinton and her campaign addressed voters was stunning. Much of it was premised on a self-righteous belief that voters had no reason to be angry, or even no right. Now that the electorate is officially not #WithHer, it’s suddenly decorous to be angry, but only at a specific scapegoat who: 1) beat Clinton in the general election; 2) upsets the hell out of the same Democratic nomenklatura and hangers-on who ratfucked Bernie and derailed his reform platform; and, 3) ran on a reform platform of his own that was arguably much more compelling and credible than Clinton’s, a platform that had much in common with the Sanders platform and gained Trump the support of many BernieBros of various genders and sexualities.
The viable constituency for this nonsense is tiny. I’d guess that it might include a quarter or so of the electorate in a low-turnout year and not even five percent in a high-turnout year. It’s limited to a very special (as in “education”) subset of the yuppie swarm which believes wholeheartedly in woke liberal virtue-signaling, as opposed to being an unabashed mercenary with no core values whatsoever or an enthusiastic player of Glengarry Glen Ross games and believer in some explicitly Darwinian framework justifying them. Of all the worldviews pitched to yuppies, this may be the most internally inconsistent and vulnerable. It’s certainly one of the surest to alienate the less successful, since it requires selling one’s soul not only to an extortion racket but also to an obvious intellectual fraud under the auspices of a punitive regime of political correctness. It just doesn’t require as much mental energy and vigilance to successfully navigate a standard boiler room culture.
The minority that has figured out how to function in the woke yuppie rat race, however, or in any event thinks it has, is extremely predominant in the coastal power centers. This is who runs Manhattan, the Beltway innards, Hollywood, and a great deal of Silicon Valley. There’s some real social proof on this regime’s side. It’s the main operating system of government, the media, big business, and the deep state, and it’s aggressively promoted as the obvious way to get ahead in life. The woke yuppie swarm has spent decades by now looting every institution it can invade, doing so with increasing aggression and arrogance by the year. It does not enjoy the prospect of being forced to steal less or share more of what it has already stolen; hence much of its anger at Trump and his voters, in particular his working-class voters. It’s assumed in these privileged circles that his less prominent affluent voters will be always be allowed to do their own looting, precisely because they’re affluent; the jarring thing is to see the poors demanding a cut of their own in exchange for bullshit like hard physical labor on production lines and lifelong loyalty to companies that turn around and throw them out like last week’s trash. Class solidarity is rarely discussed in polite circles, but the affluent damn well have it when push comes to shove.
One of the things that so infuriates the woke affluent about Trump is that he doesn’t code as properly affluent. He doesn’t kiss the slimy rings that the affluent are raised from early childhood to kiss. He won the presidency with none of the “credentials” that the proper upper middle class so obnoxiously worships as prerequisites for public office (in subversion of the US Constitution’s very specific, very limited qualifications for office): no training or degree in public policy, an educational background that the test prep crammers regard as gauche, no prior election to public office, no prior civil service appointments, no membership in some other politician’s policy entourage. All he had was some crappy TV shows. That this is relevant experience for the “Television” branch under P. J. O’Rourke’s “Money, Television, and Bullshit” model of government is lost on these yuppies. Why would they read a frickin’ conservative (which he isn’t particularly) when they could Netflix and chill with some vintage West Wing? Trump himself seemed to have believed this model when he ran for the presidency, and now, circa Day 100, he’s all like, wow, it’s a lot of work, but don’t get me wrong, I like work. (No, he doesn’t.) Then again, he won the election in spite of this stance, or because of it. Josiah Bartlett is your president in the same way that Mariska Hargitay is my girlfriend: it’s a nice idea, especially for the unabashedly insane. Lt. Benson is hawt, and Martin Sheen, well, he isn’t his own coked-up public failson, at least. Also, I’m don’t go around acting like, hey, I wanted Bernie to win, so I’ma pretend that he’s the real POTUS. Not wanting to sound like the craziest bum on skid row is adequate motivation for this minimal measure of daily realtalk, but then again, I don’t run in policy circles.
Hillary, of course, was the one who was supposed to win that thing. We’ve all heard more about this by now than probably ever should have been written. Even so, new sordid details keep emerging, especially with the recent publication of Shattered, the latest Clintonworld third-party confessional potboiler. One of these details is that Clinton and her campaign seriously considered running under the slogan, “It’s Her Turn.” Just fucking think about that for a second. “It’s her turn.” There goes the entire rust belt, you dense bitch. That’s the kind of shit that cooler, more grounded heads had to veto, and still the entire campaign was a monument to hubris and entitlement under the auspices of career girl feminism. Whoever wasn’t whacked in the head like Robert Speed around there didn’t veto nearly enough of the mean girl from the corner office shit, including the posturing about destroying the coal industry as an offering to Gaia (oops, looks like we just dropped Appalachia into the shitter) and the basket of deplorables line (an ugly attitude, and besides, normal people just don’t use that kind of imagery and syntax). Clinton ran a captivatingly fuck-all-y’all campaign, one that couldn’t have been designed any better to piss off voters in the swing states that all the horse race enthusiasts swore she needed, and still there is this loud and apparently prolific hard core that can’t imagine how she lost to that yutz.
Something I saw recently (I think at Naked Capitalism, as with the links above, but I’m too le tired to look it up) described how many of Clinton’s voters saw themselves in her and therefore took her loss as a personal affront. It may be an indication of my own increasing isolation from my native class that I was surprised to read about the existence of these dipshits, even though at least two college acquaintances who fit the mold perfectly spent the entire 2016 campaign season polluting my Facebook feed, among hundreds of others, with Clintonian agitprop, and that I initially found it impossible to imagine what could drive a person to think like that. For their part, they can’t imagine what would ever drive a person to vote for Trump (uh, the crazy, power-hungry bitch you tried to force on us, you overeducated morons), so the feeling is mutual.
In fairness, this constituency was probably a small minority of Hillary’s ultimate turnout, although it was the only one that seemed to vote for her with any enthusiasm. The environments that produce people who can imagine themselves in Hillary Clinton’s place as anything other than a form of escapism are extremely sheltered, both by their nature and by their deliberate design. Think “reach schools” and the assholes who don’t feel embarrassed to talk about “reach schools.” I attended one of my nearer “reach schools,” and look at how that turned out. I don’t think I exaggerate how stuck up, arrogant, and sheltered the dominant social circles at Dickinson College are. Sometimes, it seems tragic that the Philadelphia Police Department didn’t bomb the Main Line instead. (The actual line could be rebuilt faster than anyone has ever tried to rebuild West Philadelphia. Remember, my great-grandpa was a maintenance of way foreman for Union Pacific, so I know about these things.) The minority constituencies whose support Your Fleek Abuela decided she needed and deserved in 2016 (after her dogwhistling to the discount salty crackers in 2008) didn’t turn out as she ordered them, and the silent majority of them in the provinces (including places like Grand Concourse, because New York is just a bunch of elites) weren’t the ones who were so famously upset about the adverse outcome of the election. A generally underestimated number of minority voters either didn’t turn out, undervoted on the presidential contest, or voted for Trump.
The real enthusiasm for Clinton came from two constituencies. The first was people who expect to always be successful because they have always been successful and come from successful families. The other, much of it regressing to (or past) the mean from successful families, was the temporarily embarrassed woke millionaires. With the former not being the sharing kind and the yuppie economy having been a game of musical chairs since at least 2008, the latter is noisier than it is numerous, and neither one has remotely enough influence or raw numbers to win an election when the losers they’ve left in the gutter show up to vote.
The tide stopped rising a decade ago, and no amount of Pravdaesque stat-massaging can convince those who have been left behind otherwise. What’s left now is mostly a series of overlapping speculative echo bubbles while the remaining affluent stab one another for the chance to stab the truly vulnerable and flee with their stuff. Major costs of living that are deliberately omitted from “core inflation” statistics are rising uncontrollably: medical care, health insurance (sic), food and fuel (not always but often), housing in the fewer and fewer areas that still have decent job markets. As I’ve said before, the Millennials without cars trend is driven to a larger extent than the mainstream press will ever admit by dispossessed young people who quite simply cannot afford the costs of car ownership; it takes an out-of-touch asshole to attribute it all to socially conscious hipster douchebags, but out-of-touch assholes are never in short supply in the modern newsroom. I recently found a listing for a fairly spacious ranch house in Hawthorne, Nevada for something like $115k. That may sound like a good deal on the surface, ignoring the 100% chance that Hawthorne is a shithole and questions of what the fuck anyone would do for a living in Hawthorne after moving there (“nothing” is a valid answer). Besides, that’s a depressed housing market (and a depressing one, for the same reasons), and depressed housing markets don’t provide the eternally appreciating home values that are necessary and proper in a nation of house-flippers.
That’s far from a comprehensive list of grievances that those left out of our (sic) economic recovery (sic) have against our governments and a rogues’ gallery of other deadbeat institutions, both public and private. When so much pain has been inflicted on us for no justifiable reason, it is perfectly reasonable of us to demand that our political leaders feel our pain and do something about it. I don’t mean this in the early Clintonian sense of the Big Dog feeling our pain (and, for a number of the women among us, our more tangible and marketable assets; but, like Larry Craig, I cannot speak from experience). A charming schmuck like him can get away with his lies, endless triangulation, and heartless treachery towards the poor, the uneducated, and the otherwise vulnerable in generally strong economic times by catering to a strong, proliferating middle class and boosting some poors into its ranks (also, by having weak Republicans and a funny-looking Texan with bizarre habits of speech as his opponents).
The problem is, we shot our national wad twice during the Clinton and Bush millennial pump-and-dumps, and we’ve been too spent since then to repeat our earlier performances. We’re in a spot precisely analogous to a cokehead recently passed out from an all-night snort-and-shag, just as we were during the first Great Depression. We never fucking learn. Well, our leaders don’t; whatever popular sense of prudence and stewardship exists in the Clintons’ constituency is of no use to a power couple that has figured out how to get paid off retroactively for putz mitzvahs including the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Billary may not explicitly use the royal we, but they sure live by it.
What Trump and Sanders both brought to their campaigns was an empathy that voters found credible and sincere. Trump’s voters have gotten endless ridicule for believing a word of it from the mouth of their silver-spoon oaf, but again, let’s not lose sight of how singularly bad Hillary looked to voters outside her own narrow liberal elite circle. Talk of white genocide, feminazi mass killing or neutering of men, tacitly military invasion by hostile foreign populations, and the like may sound crazy to the successful and the secure, but they are much more consistent with the lived experiences of voters who are personally vulnerable or who live in areas that have been ruined by strategic neoliberal policy decisions. There are in fact credible antecedents for a secessionist elite selectively using immigrant populations as a compliant reserve army of scab labor, sending other people’s children off to pointless wars to be maimed and killed while carefully sparing their own, and economically destroying whole counties. The notion of wealthy liberals deliberately scheming to eradicate Appalachians from the face of the earth and forever destroy their culture is objectively reasonable when the liberal party’s overwhelming favorite candidate brags about her plan to destroy the coal industry, by most reckonings the closest thing rural Appalachia has to an economic foundation. Clinton’s little-discussed nuts-and-bolts platform for economic redevelopment in Appalachia wasn’t nearly enough to override the popular sense that she hated Appalachian people and wanted them to die. If she didn’t want voters to think that she might be a genocidal maniac who would find a way to butcher them and replace them with a more compliant minority client base, why the hell did she consistently speak about so many of her fellow citizens in such a contemptuous, hostile fashion? They’d be wise to assume that she is of a mind to feed them the literal opiates of the masses (already happening) or send their young off to the desert to be turned into hamburger meat in service to Al Qaeda (again, already happening, but the elites don’t notice it because their families no longer serve in the armed forces).
How did the Democratic Party respond to the anger that Trump and Sanders expressed on behalf of their prospective constituents? By smearing them as negative Nellies, of course. It was unbecoming of them to be negative as presidential candidates in a way that it somehow was not unbecoming of the DNC to tip the scales in favor of its least viable and most reviled candidate or for the DNC and its favored candidate to smear workaday voters by the tens of millions with a single stroke, all of this explicitly in the name of democracy. The Democrat ratfuck squad operated this brightsiding campaign in tandem with a smear campaign accusing its rivals of having bad manners. Trump, who has reveled in his own bad manners for the entirety of his public life, is antifragile to these attacks, not that anyone in the Hillary camp (including, again, the entire DNC, because it is a party of majesty and might) was bright enough to notice this. Sanders is antifragile to these attacks as well, but for different reasons. Although he can be gruff and rumpled, few Americans take him for anything like an oaf; the consensus is that he’s ultimately a gentleman who fights fiercely but fairly (oh dear, one’s mind fills with thoughts of Hahvahd!) for his principles. Bernie enjoys exceptionally high positive public sentiment and exceptionally low negative public sentiment for a nationally known politician. When he speaks ill of billionaires and Hillary Clinton, it’s very widely agreed that he’s standing up to bullies and thugs who tear the public a new one for a living.
Demands for high manners are especially rich coming from and on behalf of Hillary, who has a notoriously gauche and graceless persona. This is a woman whose crude public manners and reputation for even worse behavior in private have serially alienated American voters, including huge numbers of Democrats, along with a reputation for being a habitual liar. Complaining about Bernie’s interruptions and wagging of the Finger of Accusation (didn’t Bill Clinton do that quite a bit himself?) amounted to denouncing the most honest and ballsy peasant in the village for calling Marie Antoinette an out-of-touch crook. The sexism card works only with a small cadre of women privileged enough to think about nothing but sex, and it misses the possibility that other women immediately recognize Hillary as a classic crazy bitch. How many Americans would not relish the opportunity to interrupt a royal grandiosity of her character for endlessly bullshitting and belittling them? For that matter, how many Americans voted against Hillary as a voodoo proxy for bad bosses who would fire them at the first sign of backsass?
When I mentioned above that this isn’t my first time being bucked into the bullshit at this rodeo, I wasn’t referring only to politics, although shitty, disingenuous politics didn’t materialize out of the blue in the 2016 season. The main thing I had in mind was the Go Hard Big Dick saga, particularly Bill Durden’s bizarre gambit to show that he was as hip as anyone afterwards. Durden clearly got worried about the amount of political capital he’d burned with his rabid tirades about the Go Hard Big Dick T-shirts. He had made a laughingstock of himself by verbally abusing members of the student government at the top of his lungs and showing absolutely no sense of humor about a T-shirt which, although admittedly immature, was generally regarded by the student body as some good shit. It was juvenile, but so were we. So, as it turned out, was Bill Durden. He already had a reputation for eccentric grandiosity, which he had painstakingly cultivated with his bow ties, Harry Potter glasses, and flowery (synonym for florid?) orations about Benjamin Rush and how we’d be ingrates not to tithe Noble Dickinsonia our first fruits. We were the ones tittering at a harmless off-color joke; he was the one turning a college into a boiler room scam.
Durden’s idea of damage control was unbelievable. I stumbled into it midway, and I was floored. He was up on stage at Common Hour (a weekly come-one-come-all lunch symposium series) reading from what I took to be a novel about a couple of highbrow New English drunks with a sailing problem. The thing was, I couldn’t really tell what the gist of the story was, except that it seemed to involve a domestic dispute that both parties were trying to resolve by profusely cursing at each other. It wasn’t Wow Much drugs None coherence Omg agent zuñiga Very confuse brainscrambled raving with some incidental cursing, either, like maybe there was some LSD in the mix. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what had these two domestic shitheads so upset, but it was because they were utterly foultempered and foulmouthed, not because they were confused or jittery or distracted. They sounded like absolutely miserable company. Shit, Teddy, why didn’t you take them to Chappaquiddick instead? When I tried to reconstruct this literary tirade for a friend afterwards, I was confounded to gibberish. That’s how badly the cussing had mangled the syntax. It was unfathomable. For a rough comparison, it was Mixups in my Mind’s recounting of the gas station bum fight over the other derelict bum’s fucking dog and Mixups’ fucking rotisserie chicken, but at a hundred thousand times the price point. One does not simply buy into such a lovers’ quarrel, unless one is a Dickinsonian.
William G. Durden ’71 had achieved something rare and precious: gratuitous vulgarity. There was no other point to his reciting this crappy story. It was a shithead’s postwar Ah, Soh Tour with Emperor Hirohito. No, that’s unfair. The emperor was there to listen for once; the Durd was there to lecture, as always. He obviously expected to humanize himself by going on stage and uttering an incomprehensibly dense string of obscenities in his highbrow Mid-Atlantic accent, reading this garbage dutifully from an open book. There was certainly a weird awesomeness about it, just as there would be to watch Emil Skoda calmly deliver sixty percent Heavy Seven content from his couch for five minutes straight (but at a higher emotional temperature, because Billy D. didn’t do air conditioning in public). It didn’t make Durden look down to earth, though. It just made him look like a fucking jackass. Like, here’s a motherfucker who’s in charge of a liberal arts college for half a million a year, and in one breath he’s verbally abusing students over a naughty T-shirt that upset some alumni donors, and in the next he’s reciting a piece of fiction that projects the parlance of the downtown San Diego mental and behavioral health community onto the Downeaster cool change set. *Very Leon Bridges voice* Sail your own damn ship, mister. Honestly, I’m not even completely sure that these pottymouths were described as the Christopher Cross kind; all I know is that it was some of the most pointless sensory overload I’ve ever experienced, and that it made the sitting president of my alma mater look like a raving buffoon at precisely the time that he was trying to make himself look normal.
Durden taking the stage to publicly recite an incredibly obnoxious passage of shit lit for the sole purpose of showing that he was, in fact, able and willing to épater les bourgeois brought Dickinson College into disrepute. This had nothing to do with the utterance of the Heavy Seven per se; it had to do with his vomiting forth an over-the-top string of obscenities serving no identifiable intellectual purpose, ostensibly as a way of exposing us to the arts and letters but really as a way of slumming it with the vulgarians for the lunch hour. It was indefensible. I would not have even tried to justify it to an outsider or refute arguments that it showed Durden to have gone mad. Sure, this Common Hour reading had been for show, but it clumsily stumbled the line between a breach of academic decorum (obvious) and a breach of fitness for high academic office. Dude retired from his office with something like six and a half million in cumulative salary, none of which he had had to spend on housing since we had lent him a campus mansion for the duration of his presidency. It would not have been too much of us to remind him that we were his constituents and demand that, as our lavishly compensated fiduciary servant, he act like a fucking adult in public. It turns out that isn’t just the Millennials who have difficulty adulting, and to the extent that we do have such difficulty, it’s worth considering that hundreds, if not thousands, of Dickinsonians practically worshiped Bill Durden.
Durden’s disreputable behavior in this pottymouth incident, however, went far beyond the merely uncouth. It was meant to look a bit disinhibited, but I don’t think it actually was. At heart, it was much more calculating, disingenuous, and devious. The purpose of his Common Hour oration was to toss us an obscure, inconsequential piece of literature about a salty lovers’ quarrel as a red herring so that we’d stop waving the bloody Go Hard Big Dick shirt. It was a scapegoat for our juvenile sense of humor. Of course, the purpose of the Go Hard Big Dick shirts wasn’t just to be off-color; it was to poke fun at our alma mater by making exactly the crude association with its name that any dirty-minded member of the public beyond the limestone walls would make, for obvious reasons. A fairly healthy swath of the student body recognized on some level that it was healthy to prick (heehee!) that thin skin and let some excess air out of the gasbag. Now now, Mr. Carlin himself reminded us that it’s kosher to prick one’s finger, but not to finger one’s prick; where on earth do I get these rude notions?
As it happens, Dickinson wasn’t the only school in Pennsylvania to get its panties into a Gordian knot over the potentially off-color interpretations of its name, or the most embarrassing at the institutional level. Arcadia College came to be because the administrators of Beaver College refused to transcend the lowest common denominator presented to them by elements of the rabble that enjoyed the obvious sexual insinuations about their school’s name. This is why there is only one acceptable president to govern Arcadia College, by any name it may take for itself: Dr. Mike Hunt.
The Go Hard Big Dick clusterfuck was inadvertently probative of every suspicion that Dickinson’s mentally awake (hey there, Chester!) students had about Durden and his circles of suckups taking themselves and their school far too seriously. I say inadvertently because Durden’s aim was not to show his hand, but to bully and then entertain everyone who had been giving him shit into submission. I’ve never had a very accurate sense of the relative numbers of true believers, dissidents, and apathetic in the Dickinson community, but the Go Hard Big Dick mess did a good job of drawing the battle lines. Durden’s stance was that this was the one sacrosanct thing he had ordered us to respect, and we had gone ahead and desecrated it.
The possibility that the T-shirts were a way to denounce a false idol was out of the question. There was not in fact any transcendent holiness that Durden was protecting, or even any meaningful virtue. He was a chief racketman running interference for his racket. He had gotten all riled up because some asshole alumni had tried to extort him into forcing compliance with an ex post facto morals code that they had no authority to legislate or enforce by threatening to boycott fund drives and because he, as the very well paid end point for all uphill shit flows at his institution, he had been forced to take shit from these impertinent, puffed-up, extortionate busybodies. As a fellow who professed his own love of obscenity at Common Hour, he had been free to use some pertinent obscenity with these bigshot donors for a change, and tell them that he’d be remiss not to recommend a cheese to pair with their White Whine, specifically, a Manchego fuck yourself. It’s always a salty, nutty Manchego fuck yourself, except for the rare circumstances that warrant the recommendation of a Manchego Foquaulliaulle. And if you’re the sort of brilliant internationalist that Dickinson educates, you’ll know exactly how to pronounce that.
These were the lessons we were expected to learn from our education (deathly sic): to contribute on demand to affinity scams; to fold like wet noodles at the first bit of sass from bumptious, puffed-up little punks who demand dictatorial powers to decree their own student code of conduct at a college that they do not lawfully govern in any fashion just because they contribute to its capital campaigns; to be scrupulously well-mannered before public shitheads who have neither scruples nor manners; to be, in general, compliant little bitches in the hope of currying our own extra helpings of that dirty sugar sweet in due course of time. It’s the next thing to a Nigerian e-mail scam or one of those situations in which the other Bernie Madoff with your money. People with bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts come in for special ridicule when they fall for these scams precisely because they’re expected to be wiser than that on account of their education. We’re expected to know better.
As a consequence of our exposure to Bill Durden’s bullshit, many of us know worse. And no, it is not reasonable to expect people who fall for this shit in a specific area of their lives to be immune to the same fraudulent lines of argument in others. Isn’t the whole fucking point of a liberal arts education to cultivate habits of thought and practice in one’s entire life that protect one from these depredations and help one live in a manner so as not to visit the same depredations on others? But who the fuck am I to carry on about any of this shit? Allan Bloom? After all, I went to school in Brain Washington.
Dickinson College draws the bulk of its student body and the overwhelming bulk of its donor pool from the same dirty strata that the Democratic Party has taken to mining for its own base, since it’s grown so tired of the sorts of deplorables who do, like, actual mining for a living. The pathologies are so eerily similar because they come from the same source. And they conspire to rule us all. They assume that they can muddy the waters by code-switching into the Vulgate for authenticity. They assume they can justly bamboozle us with these cheap stunts because they live in a world where calling out authority figures for bad faith and fraud is simply not the done thing. Why wouldn’t everyone else live by the same degraded moral code by which they govern their own lives? It fills their own rice bowls, after all. It’s some real Ephesians 3:20 shit. Some of us, of course, we ain’t hardly touched dem shine ricebowl, but we’re deplorables, and one needn’t be bothered to listen to grievances from that basket.
The Democrats are scared that we’re getting wise to their scams, hence the vulgarity. They can’t imagine a regime in which the consequences for public vulgarity are nothing worse than a consensus that, hey, that fucker up there is a vulgar bastard, but at least he delivers the goods, while the consequences for dishonesty and fraud are the voters leaving your lying, thieving ass on the sidewalk with last week’s trash at the next election. They can’t imagine an environment in which people stop giving to boiler room affinity scams because they’re fed up with the ill tone of the pitches and can’t see how the money is going to any good end or being stewarded appropriately. They can’t imagine that they’ve depleted the pool of prospective marks who even feel any affinity for these scams because they cannot restrain their own greed and love of exclusivity.
Me? I’m going to get laid, doggy. Nigga why the fuck are you speaking to me in Chinese, nigga? I’m going to El Cajon City to get laid, doggy. If that sounds like language fit for the San Diego Trolley, it’s because I heard it on the San Diego Trolley. The gentleman’s doggy was not his nigga, and certainly Chinese is the traditional and typical glorious language of my niggas. There’s nothing stopping a person with some residual self-respect from getting off in Mission Valley and letting a cholo ride on alone. But that was just a low-functioning oaf. To put it conservatively, Tom Perez and Bill Durden are worth MTS day passes for life; it’s too bad they don’t use some, so that they might associate with their own kind and not with the rest of us. The ones who could really use a damn trolley trip are hardly ever the ones who are taking one. Taking Harry Potter seriously is a different kind of trolley trip, specifically the Pittsburgh living room kind, even if the woke millionaires, current and temporarily embarrassed, who use it as their escape hatch from real life would never move to a community where the mailman, of all losers, is the most respected member. We’re well past the point at which anyone in our cherished fiction has a real job.
MAGA, and yes, GO DIPLOMATS!