If It Happened There

Joshua Keating has begun “a regular feature in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.” The inaugural dispatch covers the lead-up to the shutdown:

The current rebellion has been led by Sen. Ted Cruz, a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity. Activity in the legislature ground to a halt last week for a full day as Cruz insisted on performing a time-honored American demonstration of stamina and self-denial, which involved speaking for 21 hours, quoting liberally from science fiction films and children’s books. The gesture drew wide media attention, though its political purpose was unclear to outsiders.

Better still, in my view, is this classic piece by Henry Fairlie way back in 1980:

“Just as Americans in general do not have the habits of deference, so the conservative in America does not have them either. Ultimately he does not defer even to the country’s institutions. If one of these institutions, such as the Supreme Court, makes decisions he detests, he will defame that institution. He is as ready as is the common man to bypass the institutions he ought to defend.”

The American conservative is being revealed right now as the purest form of political vandalism known in the Western world. It is emphatically not conservative. Conservatives try to reserve constitutional order; today’s Republicans seek to destroy all such restraints and any form of moderation.