Monday, December 26, 2005

Wingnut All-Star: Mark Steyn



Wingnut: Mark Steyn

Team: Wingnutiens

League: Douchebag

AKA: "Mark Whine", "Shitsteyn", "Canada's Leading Asshole"

Specialty: "Steynwalling"

Managed By: Conrad Black, William F. Buckley, Hilton Kramer, Sun Myung Moon



The Style Is The Ann:

Coulter, that is. After National Review fired Ann Coulter, its editors quickly made up for that slight to wingnuts by hiring Mark Steyn who, though less possessed of a prominent adam's apple than (m)Ann, had previously and has subsequently proven himself to be every bit "her" equal, or even clone, when it comes to sheer batshit-insane wingnuttery.

Steyn both mimics and competes with Coulter on three essential wingnut fronts: bigotry, dishonesty, and bellicosity. Which neatly explains his popularity with other wingnuts; they know what they like, and Steyn obliges them, shares with them their values, tosses them chunks of bloody meat, then dives into the feeding frenzy himself.

Steyn is so very macho. No, really, his columns are a constant reminder of his manly man weltanshauung. Kill 'em all and let George W. Bush sort them out. Mark Steyn has made a career out of basically saying, "I will not be out-jingoed."

Since the beginning of time, Mark Steyn has yearned for a Dear Leader who'd destroy stability in the Middle East, which, when you think about it, is just so since he also believes that "colonialism is progressive and enlightened." Steyn thinks America needs to invade many countries, not just Iraq. Confrontation, by which he means unprovoked war and the more murderous the better, is a wonderful thing, and those who disagree are appeasers, traitors, cowards.

And not just cowards, but something more intrinsically anti-masculine (and therefore offensive to his value system): wimps. From the safety of his New Hampshire igloo, Steyn feels comfortable in calling the likes of Nelson Mandela -- who has had such a sheltered life, don't you know -- a wus. But then the Canadian Mark Steyn's schtick has always been to present himself as not only more American than anyone else, but more Texan, too. He identifies with American force when it is sufficiently harsh for his tastes, but when said force is removed and at least presents a humane face (as well as having the merit of being comparatively more safe for the Americans actually fighting the battle), Steyn predictably finds it cowardly. No glory in that, according to war-lover Steyn, as he pushes the Patton dvd into the player once again, K-Y and cleanup towel at the ready.

Steyn delights in positioning himself so far to the right that he is even frequently compelled to attack the administration of his Dear Leader, Prosecutor of Holy War. When Bush apologized for Abu Ghraib abuses, Steyn was livid, formulating his argument, ironically, along the Stalinist lines that American abuses were not intrinsically evil but should be weighed according to a relativist's calculus, and that Bush's apology gave ammo to the enemy -- the enemy being, in typically lump sum, anti-war Westerners and terrorists.

Steyn wrote an angry missive of impatience when he thought that Bush's war was taking too long to develop. Replete with sneers at Hans Blix, Steyn scolded Bush for not having killed Saddam yet, a dilly-dallying delay that, Steyn argued, had the effect of emboldening Kim Jong-Il. Steyn is also more American than Alma Powell and Barbara Bush who, in his estimation, give aid and comfort to the enemy. Moreover, Steyn is more American than those Congressional Republicans whom he characterizes as Munich-minded (i.e. like Democrats) for having the temerity to demand of Dear Leader an exit strategy; the Wingnutien is compelled to construct a fatuous tautology with which to rebuke them.

But then Steyn has a sense of urgency that most people don't share, and even most wingnuts won't share openly. Steyn wants an overt Empire, and he wants it now, goddamn it. The Arabs sit on "our" oil, and don't like America, so it's time to take the whole region over. Diplomacy? Hah, it's a -- get this -- a pre-enlightenment, anti-democracy concept only suitable for umbrella-wielding appeasers.

Mark Steyn is a liar:

Again working from the Ann Coulter template of wingnut punditry, Steyn is devoted to dishonesty and deceit, pulls opinions from his ass and presents them as facts, has a remarkable gift for what Thomas Jefferson called "twistifications." Mark Steyn is bullshitter extraordinaire.

Tellingly, Steyn stole directly from Coulter's lie-smear of Max Cleland. In attempting to smear John Kerry, Steyn told lies about Bill Clinton. He's lied about the 2000 (s)election; he's lied about Richard Clarke, lied about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson.

He's lied about Australia, and, more broadly, about those countries who've been on the right side of history. Lied about WWI, lied about Latin America. He lied about John Kerry when he didn't gratuitously smear him by conjecture. Steyn said of John Edwards that "his stump speech often sounds less like a political platform and more like a laundry list of class-action suits he'd like to get a piece of..."

Steyn is one of the first to use a Clinton Did It Too excuse, always a crowdpleaser among wingnuts whose cretinous idea of a "gotcha, liberals!" argumentative scenario gives delight to those of us who live in reality. Steyn also has a penchant for using false dichotomy as slander, with bonus wingnuttery employed in his (probably conscious) use of a dubious source. He lied about celebrities "controlling" the Democratic Party. He lied about the rationale for war. And so on.

The unintentionally comedic results of wingnut lies, and the exploded cigar in their face reaction to our laughter, is fairly typical but for Steyn quintessential. Steyn confidently argued that in Iraq, conditions were great, life was "jolly."

Steyn lied about Able Danger and the 9-11 Commission, then lied about his previous lies. But the real fun comes when he's so publicly busted that he can't "steynwall" his way around it. His reply is very much along the lines of "you're a big fat meanie for proving I'm a liar." In Steyn's world, facts are plainly evil.

The Bigot

Rounding out the unholy trinity of Coulterian traits is unhinged bigotry, and Steyn here, as before, doesn't disappoint.

Steyn seems to consider the rights of disabled people to be a crackpot concept, unworthy of anything more than a sneer, which the tragedy of 9-11 provided Steyn with the opportunity to utter:

"The post-Cold War interlude is over, an era of follies--OJ, Monica--and fatuities, a few of which Tuesday's horror stories cruelly underlined: employees in wheelchairs, whom Bob Dole's Americans with Disabilities Act and the various lobby groups insist can do anything able-bodied people can, found themselves trapped on the 80th floor, unable to get downstairs, unable even to do as others did and hurl themselves from the windows rather than be burned alive."


That must have been satisfying: hahaha stupid paraplegics, you can't walk! But speaking of 9-11, Steyn offered this chestnut of wingnut assholery in the service of pissing on the victims of flight 93 by presuming to know their politics:

The Flight 93 hijackers might have got lucky. They might have found themselves on a plane with...an Ivy League professor immersed in a long Harper's article about the iniquities of U.S. foreign policy. They might have found themselves travelling with Robert Daubenspeck of White River Junction, Vermont, who the day after September 11th wrote to his local newspaper advising against retaliation: "Someone, someday, must have the courage not to hit back but to look them in the eye and say, 'I love you.' " But, granted these exceptions, chances are any flight full of reasonably typical Americans would have found a group of people to do the right thing, to act as those on Flight 93 did. Everything that mattered after September 11th--Bush's moral clarity, the Afghan innovations and the crystal-clear understanding that this is an enemy beyond negotiation -- was present in the final moments of Flight 93.


Like many "anti-PC" conservatarians, Steyn comes to the correct conclusions about "hate speech," but for the wrong reasons. Actually, he just wants the freedom to be an asshole, so take that homofagfags!. And women? Steyn thinks they should get back to their rightful job of providing eye candy for rumpled, scuzzy hacks who fly on Conrad Black's dime. Certainly, argues Steyn, anyone born with a vagina (neatly providing a loophole for his friend "Ms" Coulter) has no place on the Judiciary Committee.

Poor people -- especially poor black people? Steyn here is on typically egregious, which is to say predictable, wingnut ground. Strom Thurmond was a heck of a guy, and not just because he was a racist demagogue, but also because he was such a horndog. Steyn was cheerfully condescending to the victims of Katrina, allowing that their plight wasn't their own fault (true), but due to the fact that "welfare culture" had eroded their "self-reliance and resourcefulness." In other words they were lazy; thus their plight, and it was all liberals' fault. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, even some other conservatives can see the depravity of Steyn's "loathsome dictum that one of the key measures of a society's health is how easily you can insulate yourself from its underclass."

To say that Steyn's ethnocentrism descends to outright racist/sectarian/tribalist bigotry is to make a grievous understatement. As is typical with wingnuts, Steyn's position is that Anglophones, usually white, (Protestant) Christian or Jewish, are Good and anyone else is at best stupid or, more often, simply concentrated Evil.

For an instance of mild bigotry, Steyn, pretending for the moment to admire democracy (and the strain shows), argues that only Anglophones are inherently democratic, with Latin Americans-Iberophones being too concerned with fruitbasket headgear and making tacos -- or something like that -- to be democratic. Perhaps if Steyn had mentioned that his beloved, (s)elected, election-stealing President was passably fluent in a patois approximating Spanish, one might have been slightly, briefly persuaded by his argument. But no matter.

It's when Steyn considers Muslims that the truly flaming bigotry is present. Steyn proudly circulated the "Muslims knew!" 9-11 conspiracy theory -- just as slimy, racist, and untrue as the "Jews knew!" theory from the other side. Seriously, Mark Steyn hates Muslims, and he's not gonna let you forget that they're responsible for, like, everything bad ever. Indeed Islam, according to the Wingnutien, is so stupid, so bereft of originality, so... well, evil that it can't even create anything newly evil on its own: "There's something pathetic about a culture [Islam] so ignorant even its pathologies have to be imported."

Steyn reserves almost as much venom for "multiculturalists," the term he uses for people who do not share his view that Muslims are by nature so subhuman that the best way to deal with them is, if not quite yet the gas chambers and coke ovens route, then by means of daisy cutters neatly dropped on their heads. Edward Said, for the signal crime of codifying Orientalism, earns special scorn. Meanwhile, Steyn nearly shit his self with schadenfreude when Robert Fisk was beaten by Afghanis: "Multiculturalist gets his due." That episode, of course, went over hugely with the wingnuts on the internets, no matter that Steyn, in his vulgar glee, had plagiarised Oscar Wilde in the process. But then it's just as well: wingnuts are the sort that think Oscar Wilde got what he deserved, too. Can't let Wilde's name ruin the party.



Euro-peons?

Interlarded into most of Steyn's anti-"multiculturalist" diatribes, as well as pointedly written for their own sweet sake, are various rants against Europe, which Steyn sees as decadent, appeasing, suicidal, its "radical secularism" inherently anti-semitic. The EU's politics, in Steyn's view, is only ever so slightly better than the worst "isms" of the 20th century. What a wicked EU indeed. Steyn is a classic reactionary; he detests Europe mostly because he thinks it's anti-American, when it's not. Actually, it's just not friendly to a stupid -- by which I mean, wingnutty -- sort of Americanism: the very sort of bellicose Americanism Steyn, the Canadian, espouses with the grace and fair-mindedness one has come to expect:

Europe, for one, hasn't caught up to September 11th: When it comes to Saddam, the Continentals are like the passengers on those first three planes; they're thinking he's a rational guy, just play it cool and he won't pull anything crazy. But America learned the hard way: it's the world of September 10th that's really crazy.


And what goes for Europe in general goes doubly for France in particular. According to Steyn, the situation in France has been worse than the one in Iraq for a while now. But that goes without saying since (brace yourself for the batshit libertarian argument) France is a "modified totalitarian" state. Because of its welfare program. All of which means that Steyn has an excuse to cheer when a disaster strikes and Frenchmen die. He's funny that way. He's an idiot and a fool.

Then there's Spain, which voted out its jingos, leading Steyn to declare that it had "dishonoured" its dead and that its democratic exercise was an instance of "mass self-gelding". Later, despite his previous, Olympian scorn, Steyn complained that Spaniards had been "let off lightly for their contemptible behaviour."

As when he feels his champion Dear Leader W might be going soft on him, Steyn sometimes feels obliged to pep-talk his Supremely Good Anglophone countries when he fears they may go the Spanish route. He stiffly warned Australia to back geopolitical wingnuttery Or Else, and attacked British society when he thought it was beginning to show an insufficiently stiff upper lip. And Steyn's home country of Canada is of course for him such a lost, anti-wingnut cause that he's obliged to flagrantly lie about its condition.



The Pavlovian Zhdanovian

One of Steyn's schticks is that of culture critic, which means that, as a wingnut, he's obliged to write glowingly about art that he thinks serves the purposes of The Wingnut Politburo, and to slag the art that he thinks does not conform to the "proper" ideology. As such, he's pretty predictable. Which is to say, reflexive:

Paul McCartney's music will live forever but John Lennon's sucks, the lyrics of which Steyn finds especially repugnant. Rent is no good, and neither is Elton John. Harold Pinter is an incoherent ideologue, meanwhile the only good thing about Star Wars Episode III is that it's bound to be disappointing to liberals. The real entertainment in Steyn's wingnut kulturkrit comes when he adopts the triumphiantly self-pitying tone of the oppressed in defending his atrocious tastes. You see, according to Steyn it's an act of pure radicalism and rebellion to opine that liking Perry Como is cool, while liking Mick Jagger (or the Violent Femmes) is boring and stodgy in comparison.

The Cassandra Wingnuts Deserve

According to myth, Cassandra was cursed with the ability to accurately forsee the future but condemned to be always be ignored. Steyn is a suitable Cassandra figure for the Bizzaro world of wingnuts: he gets from them plenty of laudatory attention for his predictions which are laughably wrong at best.

Get a load of these:

I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark.


And Gannon cites a Washington Times piece in which Mark Steyn predicted that the Kerry campaign would drop Wilson in the future. (For what it's worth, Steyn also predicted -- incorrectly -- that Wilson would be disinvited from the Salon cruise.)


I bet my assistant a hundred bucks that the sniper would turn out to be a Middle Eastern terrorist, and that bet's looking better every day.


...of whom the leading practitioner, who'd been preaching for months that Bush could not possibly win fewer than 40 states and 378 seats in the electoral college, was Steyn. The results, whatever they finally are, seem certain to leave Mark Steyn looking an even bigger fool than the predestinarians.


...just as Steyn looked into his crystal ball in April 2003 and forecast that "In a year's time, Iraq will be, at a bare minimum, the least badly-governed state in the Arab World and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving."


The sight of Saddam looking like a department-store Santa who has been sleeping off a bender in a sewer for a week will deal a fatal blow to the Ba'athist thugs' ability to intimidate local populations. The insurgency will continue for a few weeks yet, but it will peter out, like the dictator, not with a bang but a whimper.


Obviously, Vegas should pay attention to Steyn and adjust the lines against his predictions. Not that Steyn would necessarily disagree:

In a column subtitled "One Man, One Gloat," Mark Steyn wrote, "I got a lot of things wrong these last three years, but looking at events in the Middle East this last week ... I got the big stuff right."


Right. Like Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Lysenkoism

For wingnuts, science, like art, must conform to the views of the Republican Politburo. Steyn obliges, joins in the crackpot conservative crusade against fact.

Terry Schiavo? Oh yes, for wingnuts Mark Steyn is again a "must-read"! "Intelligent Design"? Why yes, thank you, because Steyn decides "that hyper-rationalism {meaning, evolution] is highly irrational." Global warming? Well its protestors shiver in the snow, so it can't be true. And for good measure, in Steyn's expert view Jared Diamond's historical study of the effects of human-caused environmental degradation doesn't apply, because the societies Diamond studied were not America.

Teamwork

Part of being a wingnut all-star is working well with fellow wingnuts, praising wingnut saints, coordinating attacks, staying loyal, affirming all that is hack-like. Steyn here too is a model.

Steyn's often so eager to spread Republican talking points that he doesn't even bother to put hardly any of the original text into his own words. Not that wingnuts care much. Anyway, Steyn's enthusiasm usually pays wingnutty dividends. Need a dishonest historical argument against "The Liberal Media"? Steyn's there. Worried that too much attention will be paid to your fundie, domestic terrorist friends? Steyn's there again, with a helping-handful of lies. Need to mischaracterise the opposition? Steyn's there yet again, this time with convenient amnesia. Need someone to spew wingnut lies on your fledgling radio show? Steyn will oblige. Need the politically dangerous Katrina fallout to be deprecated as much as possible? Ta da. Got a crackpot scheme to bilk venture capitalists out of a few million and need a MSM presence to help cover your ass? Oh yes. On the other hand, to his credit he stops short of endorsing his fellow wingnuts' calls for an anti-flagburning law.

When it comes to bestowing a jaw-spraining blowjob on Republican Presidents, past and present, Mark's always there, mouth round and ready, kneepads to the floor. Steyn so rigs the game for George W. Bush that, whatever he does, it's perfect; indeed, Steyn came to so identify with Bush that he, in his typically vainglorious, self-aggrandizing way, threatened to quit writing if Bush lost the 2004 election.

Of Reagan, Steyn was an idolatrous fanboy -- even to the point of insisting that the late President's "success" was due to -- and not in spite of -- his ostentatious stupidity. And Nixon even merits something of a Steyn encomium, though naturally this has to be more subtle than Reagan tributes. Steyn's reaction to the news of the identification of Deep Throat was to mourn that if it weren't for people like Felt (who was malicious) and Rose Marie Woods (who was careless), Nixon might have gotten away with it all. In the same piece, however, he brightened at the thought that liberals too would be disappointed in how the Felt saga turned out, though obviously for different reasons.

Steyn is also loyal to his managers; in the case of Conrad Black, Steyn's loyalty goes above and beyond the call of duty. When Black abruptly stops walking, Steyn's head is in danger of completely disappearing. In reponse to teasing letters he recieved asking if the disgraced Black's scandal had caused Steyn to forget his benefactor, Steyn replied emphatically to the contrary, insisting on Black's innocence, but admitting, in a rare moment of candor, that he is "a lazy hack and the fine print of corporate governance isn't really my bag." Actually, many things aren't really his bag, but he gets points for narrow honesty there. But then sometimes he's honest in other ways, too. By which I mean, honest in a half-assed and accidental way.



Supreme Winguttery

Steyn lays out his credentials for Wingnut MVP, by my figuring, with the following calculus. As mentioned above, he advocates Imperialism Now, and none of that Soft Empire shit either. Such a call can only come from someone who, deep-down, despises democracy. And Steyn does:

By comparison, consider Haiti. John Kerry, in quite the most stupid observation of his campaign, insisted that Bush should have sent in the troops to Haiti to prop up President Aristide - or "Father Aristide", as Kerry likes to call him, defrocking notwithstanding - because the Holy Father was "democratically elected". After a fashion. But so what? Charles Taylor, the recently retired head wacko of Liberia, was also democratically elected. The tinpot thugs of the world have got very good at being just democratic enough to pass muster: they kill a lot of people, they hold an election for the benefit of the IMF, and then, when the international observers are gone, they pick up the machetes and resume where they left off. The problem in Haiti is that the necessary conditions for civil society don't exist. Fetishising Aristide's "election" appeals to Kerry's reflexive belief that government is the be all and end all. But it isn't.


This is a classic wingnut trick, but few can pull it off with the insane panache that Steyn here displays. The comparison of Aristide's election with Pat Robertson's friend Charles Taylor's "election", in the service of denigrating the concept of legitimate democracy, is pure wingnut gold. But of course real democracy does suck for wingnuts: a functioning democracy free of thieves and crooks would not have elected George W. Bush, and they know it.

Far from being (small d) democrats, wingnuts like Steyn rather admire the anti-democratic policies of other systems; admire them so much a sort of penis-envy of the harshest propertarianism shines through: "I'd say the Chinese are doing it the right way round: historically, economic liberty has preceded political liberty." This is of course hedged with the familiar argument that the former begets the latter, but the point, I submit, is in Steyn's subtle emphasis; property rights for him obviously trump other rights, which is the assumption of a classic corporatist wingnut, of which the most famous and problematic example is our current ruler, Mark Steyn's Dear Leader.

***
Note: Minor style edits 2-17-06

For more on Steyn, see also: Mark Steyn Watch; Bouphonia; Lawrence Auster, whose views, needless to say, I don't wholly endorse; Glaivester; Glaivester As Time Traveller; TBOGG; TBOGG , again; Pandagon; James Wolcott; and Glenn Greenwald (II) (III).

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