Friday, October 17, 2008

Christo Buckley's "Yada Yada Yada": Why Elaine from Seinfeld_Makes More Sense

By L.N. Smithee

In his now-infamous I'm-running-away-from-home note to National Review posted on the cyberpages of leftist publisher Tina Brown, Christopher Buckley, conservative legend William F. Buckley Jr.'s writer/novelist son, clearly stated reasons why someone like him would -- under normal circumstances -- utterly refuse to vote for someone like Barack Obama (words in italics are Buckley's):

“He [Obama] is … a lefty. I am not."

We'll take "Christo" (as his friends call him) at his word, for the moment. His essay is subtitled "The conservative case for Obama," but for reasons I illustrate below, I think it should be instead "A conservative's case for Obama." Again, Buckley:

"I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets."

Obama is not, unless I missed him echoing Clinton the First on budget-balancing.

"On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian."

Judging from his vocal objection to the Born Alive Infants Act equivalent in the Illinois State Senate, Obama is to the left of NARAL, denying postnatal survivors of abortion attempts life-saving medical care. Regarding gay marriage: he supports "civil unions," but is in full-throated support of the type of judicial activists that have used sleight of hand to grant same-sex couples marriage rights by saying ‘Civil union rights are essentially the same, so the titular difference is discriminatory and thus unconstitutional’.

"I believe … that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away."

Obama not only promises to deliver such an ever-expanding monstrosity, his entire agenda is dependent on his ability to create it.

All the above having been said, it is Buckley’s flush-cheeked admiration for Obama’s coolness, brains, and writing skills that overcome his own objections:

[H]aving a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

"Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy 'We are the people we have been waiting for' silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for."

After shaking my head at the notion of a secular prayer (uh, to whom, Christo?) and how Buckley dismissed Obama's "silly rhetoric" before embracing it in the next sentence, I pondered how Obama’s aesthetic appeal has conquered both his and colleague Kathleen Parker’s heretofore principled fight to halt the freedom-eating virus called socialism.

It all reminded me of ... a famous episode of Seinfeld titled “The Couch.” Seriously. Stay with me.

A primer to the relevant part: Jerry Seinfeld and his former-lover-now-good-friend Elaine Benes are dining at an Italian restaurant. The subject of take-out pizza came up, and Elaine, who is pro-choice, says she would never order a pizza from the “Paccino’s” chain, which is owned by a man who donates millions to pro-life organizations (for real-life background, Google “Tom Monaghan”). Jerry asks Elaine what she would do if the owner of the restaurant in which they were awaiting dinner felt the same way. She replies that she would leave. Jerry – with mischievous delight — motions the owner over, and asks how he feels about abortion. The restaurateur’s face grimaces as he rants that no intelligent person could be in favor of it. This causes an ugly scene in the place, with some patrons shouting their pro-life support and others getting up and leaving in disgust, including Elaine.

Later in the episode, Elaine has a first date with a hunky moving man that goes extremely well. The next day, she shows up at Jerry’s apartment with the status report:

ELAINE: I’m in lo-o-o-ve!

JERRY: Whoa!

ELAINE: This is it, Jerry! This is IT! He is such an incredible person! He’s real, he’s honest, he’s unpretentious…oh, I’m really lucky! […] And, the best part is, he doesn’t play games. You know? There are no games!

JERRY: No games? What is the point of dating without games? How do you know if you’re winning or losing?

ELAINE (putting on lipstick): Well, all I know is, he doesn’t like games and he doesn’t play games, you know? He has too much character and integrity.

JERRY: Ah ha. And what is his stand on ... abortion?

ELAINE (Startled, she turns to look at Jerry and accidently smears lipstick across her face): What?

JERRY: What is his stand … on abortion?

ELAINE: Well (stopping to think) … I’m sure he’s pro-choice.

JERRY: How do you know?

ELAINE: Because he, well … he’s just so good-looking.
This, however, is not a perfect parallel to the situation with young Mr. Buckley. In that same Seinfeld show, Elaine (played by the magnificent – and very liberal – Julia Louis-Dreyfus) does end up summoning the courage to possibly ruin her illusion by testing her new man. On their next date, she feigns being distressed about a non-existent female friend who “got impregnated by her troglodytic half-brother, and decided to have an abortion.”

Not suspecting she might think differently than he does, the boyfriend’s sympathetic response was: “You know, someday ... we’re going to get enough people in the Supreme Court to change that law.” A shattered Elaine frowns and sobs, knowing that even though her moving man really moved her, he was not, alas, "The One" for her.

In real life, however, unlike the fictional Ms. Benes, Mr. Buckley, Ms. Parker (and now, Ms. Noonan) resist letting their better judgment dissuade them from hastily diving into a whirlwind relationship they may regret in leisure — at least four years, maybe even eight. In their lavishing praise on Mr. Obama’s smarts, they seem not to have considered the possibility that the Senator’s genius towers over theirs so completely, he may have (in The One’s own words) “hoodwinked” them into buying into a philosophy that is the antithesis of all they held dear – that is, of course, until he became all they held dear.

If you believe, dear reader, that last sentence is an unfair postulate, well, that's just tough. What else is there to think when all of a sudden, people who have made their living making sense show symptoms of having succumbed to an epidemic of blind faith in an individual representing the polar opposite of their worldview? Could it be possible that all along, they trumpeted the virtues and values of Goldwater, Reagan, and Thatcher simply because they failed to find sufficient eloquence flowing from the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Ken Livingstone? One would like to think not, but in light of recent events, who could know for sure?

Again, I turn to the ultimate show about nothing to express my feelings about these endorsements about nothing of the campaign about nothing. It is as if Christopher Buckley simply wrote, "I was born into conservatism, I've always been a fan of John McCain, I wrote a speech for him, yada yada yada, I'm voting for Obama."

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