Friday, October 15, 2010

Esprit d'escalier

So I'm a little jet-laggy still and waking up very early with my head sort of in mid-sentence with itself and anyway today, I woke up with a vivid memory of a dinner I was at last spring with the Lobbyist among some very nice liberal people, all of us (well maybe not me so much) hyper-educated, successful and distingushed. One of the other dinner guest was a constituitional law professor at a very good state university, who nonetheless (or perhaps therefore) was about as smug and puerile as it is possible to be without getting punched. He made a lot of sort of snide jokes which aimed to show what a sensible centrist adult he was, how he wasn't buying into the bullshit of the left or right etc. At one point he went out of his way to sneer at Keith Olberman and Rush Limbaugh in the same clause and I objected instantly, and fairly forcefully "False equivalence." People glanced at me and as if I'd ripped off a big fart, and then turned away and preteneded I'd said nothing. Howdy Doody went on pontificating for the rest of the dinner sumgly assured that he was delighting all in earshot, except perhaps myself, who (it was obvious from my reception) was beneath consideration. People like him, criminally self-blind in their professorial imbecility, are why academia is no place for most decent people.

Now, I fault our hosts generally, nice as they are, for their generally panglossian and centrist view of things, for the argumentam ad temperantiam which underlies their general outlook. And this morning it occurs to me me that the tendency to find equal fault on both sides in American politics is a form of intellectual negligence, even evil in its most banal form. Its aggregation across the American populace will be the undoing of the world.

In any case, I won't be doing that dinner again.


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