The Wisdom of the Depressed

As I mentioned on a Ricochet podcast last week, I have an annoying habit of holding commentators responsible for their predictions.  If a sports writer tells me the Red Sox are going to the series, and we get to the end of the season and they’re under .500, I remember it and, well, I’m a little less likely to pay attention to that guy’s prediction next time.  Likewise, if a political writer like Dick Morris writes a book telling me that Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton are going to be running for president in 2008, I’m going to lose interest in what he thinks is going to happen in 2012.  This applies even to people I admire for their insight and general brilliance like Charles (America will never elect a man named Barack Hussein Obama during war-time) Krauthammer and Shelby (Why Barack Obama can’t win) Steele.

Two people I know whose political predictions have been remarkably accurate are pollster Pat Caddell (also on the podcast) and writer E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center.  These are guys whose insights I parrot whenever I want to create the entirely false impression that I have some idea what I’m talking about.

And I’ve noticed something:  they’re both kind of dour!  Not personally – they’re delightful personally – but politically, they often have a very bleak outlook.  They generally think politicians will act stupidly and corruptly and the electorate will respond emotionally and ignorantly, that – to steal a line from Yeats – the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

The accuracy of their predictions suggests, though doesn’t prove, that their underlying cynicism about the human political animal is likewise accurate.  Which worries me.  This really is a dire moment in American history, a dramatic crossroads at which we’re going to have to choose between the left’s suicidal hatred of western culture, and the right’s often stumbling but nonetheless vital belief in the principles that made us great and free.  Is it too much to hope that the people are going to figure out which is the wiser road by 2012?

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  • http://profiles.google.com/lichfieldgroup Caroline Gerardo

    The fortune teller who is often wrong, may as well put up a sign “going out of business sale.”

  • Essem

    I wrongly predicted my own future, so I no longer listen to myself.

  • Tcharboneau Atx

    I think I’d feel better if people on the right forthrightly explained what they mean, not just shake their canes at the ign’nt youngsters. After a lifetime of “western evil” it’s revolutionary and startling and happy to hear about “freedom” and “you can know what is best to do” and, golly, even the catholic catechism can bitch-slap Erich Fromm. When you are desperately depressed in a wretched world, Fromm’s notion of finding meaning in your own belly button lint is like finding out that hell is locked, and the key is lost. Hearing you were created for a purpose, and that yes, this world is fallen, but there is a redeemer with an odd team- that’s amazing and astounding. Past that, sneer at the racist white Greek farmers, and then say ” Hey, that’s everybody. these guys were crazy enough to take the next step towards freedom.” and free speech. and give examples. Lordy- I read the IFStone book on who killed socrates, or something like that, and it had examples of free speech the greeks allowed, and all I could think was, “wow, that’ll get you sued today.” and then I could imagine how wildly different the world would be. Or church- sins forgiven. spouse is completely stunned that that happens each and every week.

    so, splain, splain splain splain.

    add character descriptions. when I talk about margaret sanger lying about getting a nursing degree, and then just wanting bc so she could cheat on her husband- whom with she already had kids- that she wanted to be a swinger- people totally recoil. they had no idea. they’d all just seen this businesslike old lady leading a major health care initiative. or kinsey, paying perverts to assault kids.

    or, telling my kids they were once the size and shape of gummi bears, and that I still loved them then. and showed them ultrasound pics.

    or, golly, that the gov’t used to spay hispanic people, which is why we might not want o-care. other places that do that, do the spay routine. romania would throw doctors out of their gov’t sponsored apartment, if they questioned the status quo. nobody thinks it could happen here.

    and create. like crazy. create. i watch a tv show, psych, that has church mentioned, and shows people praying, and it gets noticed by the smallies. I’ve given Uncanny to friends ( h/t watch a horror movie with no sound, and with kids around- get the best horror movie book, ever) and it covers grace and questions, without a sermon. or adventure stories, where the character says his/her bedtime prayers. and then goes and kicks ass at skateboarding the next day.

    truth will out.

    or, golly, just patiently saying over and over and over “you can’t tax a burned over field. 1/3 of all pregnancies in the 70′s ended in abortion. you can’t tax a citizen that doesn’t exist.” other people say it better, but saying ” we walk among ghosts- 1/3 of us were killed. our ghosts look like ultrasounds. do they grow? are they comforted by the dead mothers burned up in crematoria? do they look like the illustrations from ed gorey, or from cora? do the unjustly dead cry out for unjustly murdered infants, that they can hold them in the underworld, and know love?” this is stuff I have nightmares about. Illustrated like Daulaire’s underworld, dead mothers who had been teenagers killed in crematoria, holding and comforting infants newly slaughtered, and growing lighter and lighter.

  • King Harold the Saxon

    Whatever you’re on, you better stop taking it, fast.

  • Bea M. Garcia

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with a result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.( Alexander Fraser Tytler, 1747–1813)

    These nations have usually progressed through the following sequence:

    *
    From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
    *
    From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
    *
    From Courage to Liberty
    *
    From Liberty to Abundance
    *
    From Abundance to Selfishness
    *
    From Selfishness to Complacency
    *
    From Complacency to Apathy
    *
    From Apathy to Dependency
    *
    From Dependency back into Bondage

    Only a TRUE Christian revival can rescue us now.

    We have to REPENT.

    We have to go back to the Bible. All of it. Even the parts we don’t like.

    Andrew, the normalcy bias (a mental state people enter when facing a disaster causing people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects) paralysis us.

    We see the insurmountable debt but we refuse to believe we are in danger of extinction.

    It is the end of the USA (barring a miraculous intervention from above) & most people are clueless to it. I love the USA enough to die for her. I was born in Cuba & trust me when I tell you, loosing your country sucks big time. We lost our lovely little island to murderous communist thugs and found the “promised land” when we moved to Miami.

    When America dies. Where will we go?

    Wake-up.

    America is the last best hope.

    Once she is dead we are hopeless.

    May the Lord we claim to serve have mercy on us & call us back to His WORD.

    May He have mercy on us because unless HE does America’s best days are behind her.