The Age of Contrarianism

A news quip on Obama’s low approval rating ended with the statement that it has fallen all the way down to… 50 percent.  I think this rating is on the high end of the poll of polls, but it once again brings me back to this old joke on approval rating.
No.  Seriously.

Leaving aside Charles Krauthammer’s perchance in fearing the onrush of something called “European Style Socialism”, and a gloss over of “Establishment” continuities, I do find Krauthammer striking the right note in an painting Obama’s political standing.  It is not the first time I’ve said that for Krauthammer, who appears capable of taking a step back from the on-rushing “narrative” driven 24 hour news cycle.   I reference this editorial because scanning right wing talk radio and punditary, I am struck by the easy take Obama’s unpopularity for granted schematic.  It is enough that I wonder how they will cope when Obama wins a public relations battle against the supposed on-coming Republican Congress, or we see any measurable up-tik in public support for the Obama Administration.


Reasonably entertaining, the King of Royal Dochebags, Matt Labash, skewers the uber political liberal in this centerpiece Weekly Standard cover article.  I saw the formula at work, and knew full well how this article would end: a chat with more apolitical conservative Republican neighrbors who make jokes about Obama and claim Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Clinton as good presidents — and politically uncharged conversations at the “Drinking Liberal” gathering where they all express unfavorable opinions of Keith Olbermann.

But I have an idea.  Take this article and place it alongside John Moe’s Conservatize Me — the 2006 book.  What we then need is a conservative to write a piece about living like a liberal living like a conservative.  And then a liberal writing about living like a conservative living like a liberal.   Only then will we be able to break down this blue state  / red state divide.

Leaf forward in this edition of the Weekly Standard, and there’s a decent enough article on the Connecticut Republican Senate bid of the WWE CEO and the Steroid problem which dogs her electoral pursuit.  And there’s Christopher Hitchens reviewing a book about the Dreyfus Affair.  That one is getting around the political magazines.

Interesting tidbit on the current state of Christopher Hitchens’s contrarian politics:

Today, his criticisms of political figures are entirely post-ideological. I asked him for his opinion of David Cameron, hoping for a robust critique, but he replied: “He seems content-free to me. Never had a job, except in PR, and it shows. People ask, ‘What do you think of him?’ and my answer is: ‘He doesn’t make me think.'” The younger Hitchens might have had something to say about Cameron’s sinister European alliance or his austerity economics.

Similarly, Sarah Palin is impugned not for her hard-right politics, but for her opportunism. “I think she’s a completely straightforward cynic and opportunist and I think she’s cashing out,” he said. “She’s made a fortune and she’ll make another. But she’s not actually going to do the hard work of trying to lead or build a movement.” From the other direction, he praises Barack Obama not for his landmark health-care reform, but for his “clean” presidency and his books. “I voted for Obama positively because I thought the revelation of his character in his books was admirable.”

Drat.  The whole schtik practiced by Matt Labash leads back to Christopher Hitchens.

Hm.  Not contrarian-enough for me.  I like this guy.

White, a chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, has reviewed films in impenetrable prose for years; he told Maclean’s that only people who haven’t followed him subscribe to “the infantile notion that I’m just after attention.” What brought him attention was the website Rotten Tomatoes, where movies are ranked according to an average of major critics’ reviews. Thanks to that site, readers discovered that he levels some odd accusations against big films, implying, for instance, that District 9 showed what producer Peter Jackson “really thinks about the Maori and Aborigines.” They also found that he likes to be different from other critics; when The Hurt Locker came out, he reviewed it favourably, but he started calling it “overrated” once it won the Oscar.

The last straw came last week, when White panned the new Toy Story sequel, almost solely preventing it from getting a 100 per cent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Josh Tyler at the website Cinema Blend wrote that his opinion was objectively “wrong, flat-out wrong.” A petition to disqualify his reviews from counting at Rotten Tomatoes, because “he’s been railing against the most popular and beloved movies while praising utter garbage,” had a goal of 500 signatures; it now has over 3,500. Another webpage features a long list of his opinions, revealing that he loathed The Wrestler and liked Confessions of a Shopaholic; the list is called “Armond White is Insane.”

I have not seen Toy Story 3 — likely won’t see it.  To suggest a mildly negative opinion of Toy Story comes across like undermining Pixar — who’ve performed good innovations in movie making — and moreso suggest that I somehow like the sound of decapitated children or something.  I do not belong in the general society, I suppose.  I gather such reaction against  “Arnold White” in Rotten Tomatoes land is the same form of politicization we see up above.

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