Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street's greed revolution. He's not a two-bit, shifty-eyed huckster like Lloyd Blankfein. He's not a sighing, eye-rolling, arrogant jerkwad like Jamie Dimon. But Mitt believes the same things those guys believe: He's been right with them on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let's-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let's-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products. Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of "creative destruction," and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America's rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.
The most interesting and amusingly written Romney history rant I've read thus far. After listening to the snippets of Ryan's speech last night, I also completely concur with Taibbi's turn of phrase -
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left.
I've heard several people refer to Ryan as more "grown up" than the other 3 (Obama, Biden, and Mittens), but I can't imagine any of the great reactionaries or libertarians of my grandfathers' generation having any respect for that sniveling shit whatsoever. The high pitched voice with its class-know-it-all inflection at the end of phrases (ala the Gabe Lewis character on The Office) just wreaks of insecurity and a school boyish desire to get noticed and win some petty argument - in fact as soon as Ryan starts speaking, the rhetorical aesthetic becomes one of pettiness no matter what he happens to be talking about.
John Foster Dulles, Robert Taft, Goldwater, any of the first crew at National Review (Kirk, Burnham, Meyer, Kendall, Bozell, Chambers, and even the ubersnob Buckley)
, Friedman, hell, even soft spoken and Euro-elitist Hayek, take your pick - they were men, some of them sadistic, all of them mistaken, but adult men with mature confidences and countenances. In a certain sense, men like that were easier to hate as ideological enemies, because they were intimidating in their own personas and intellects, and not in the sense of them being children who might soon be given the keys to a large automobile, and they were sober, and they were actually serious in the content of their rhetoric and their rhetorical postures. It says something really pathetic about our age that Obama's rhetoric passes for "intellectual/intelligent" and Ryan's rhetoric is claimed to be "intelligent" and "serious." Both are complete schmucks and embarrassments to humanity. Ryan could be a bit "bad corporate hack" character in Legally Blonde 3 without any deviation in his public persona. It isn't really firm ideological hate that he warrants from the leftist, it's more disgust, and resignation. Perhaps the "conservatism" of Ryan is the reactionary equivalent of what happened to the left in the 60s when the left was taken over by those "high on some abstract idea of revolution," the encounter with whomLeszek Kolakowski recalled with the words - “what I saw and read I found pathetic and disgusting,” and “what impressed me was mental degradation of a kind I had never seen before in any kind of leftist movement.” [I thought about this this morning when listening to this NPR piece where it is suggested that Ryan basically bypassed the GOP vanguard by taking a media & thinktank focused strategy instead of paying his dues slowly working up the Party machine.] I mean, how is Ayn Rand in any way compatible with a career in public office? In what meaningful way, outside of a narcissistic epistemological anarchy, could Rand actually inspire a person to choose a career in government? Ryan's rhetoric is a cheap grab bag of just about every strand of conservative thought - with no coherent center. Yet for all that rhetorical hodge-podge his policy and voting life is through and through movement conservative. Mental degradation indeed. Dulles and Kirk and Friedman and their old sets of buddies are rolling in their graves.