I am glad to say that until lately, I had never heard the cloyingly adolescent slang word, "selfie." Now that I have, though, there seems not much point in piling on to all the indignant commentary on the President's disgraceful conduct at the Mandela memorial. After all, we should expect nothing more from our chief executive, who has always been an eyelash (or a Washingtonian cover) away from becoming--speaking in strictly legal terms for a moment--a Kardashian. Having achieved a depressing kind of epistemic closure on the matter of Western decline, I am more interested in meta-commentary.
Readers of What's Wrong with the World may judge this Michael Goodwin column at the New York Post for themselves: "How the West was Lost by the Selfie President." It is good enough, if predictable. Predictable, that is, in its characteristically neoconservative refusal to get the point, grousing about some vaguery that is the decline of the West while straining to connect the whole affair to the administration's insufficient hawkishness in foreign affairs. We are supposed to nod gravely at his (inarguable) observation that such men as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill would have held in contempt men and women like Barack Obama and Helle Thorning Schmidt, whom Laura Wood aptly numbers among The Teenagers Who Rule Us.
Scroll down, if you dare, dear reader. Remind yourself that this column which, again, is good enough as far as it goes, appears in the digital pages of the New York Post. Ask yourself what Churchill would have had to say about a publication that referred its readership to such ennobling items as "21 Hot Pictures of Kate Upton in Honor of Her 21st Birthday," and "What Happened to Lady Gaga?" Ask yourself how seriously we are to take complaints about the decline of the West, and the childishness of its leadership, in the pages of a magazine that exhorts its readers to click over to a photo gallery of "Things You Can Get Away With When You're Drunk, but Not When You're Sober," which helpfully includes a sample image of a young woman passed out in the bathroom. (If that doesn't arouse your interest, simply refresh the page for more such links.) Finally, ask yourself what self-respecting conservative would permit his own work to float along in such a sea of refuse.
This particular episode of hypocrisy on the part of American Conservatism, Inc. is worth more than the usual dose of bitterness, since everyone involved, from our foolishly over-biting President to the professional conservatives who sell their outrage, is so eager to share the contents of his looking glass with the world that he cannot see the total nothingness that is reflected there. Some day I should compile such laughable contradictions--in which ostensibly conservative columnists and publications serve up red meat griping about the decline of the West, whilst simultaneously participating in it without any discernible pang of conscience--into a single post.
I think I have a title already: How the West Was Lost by the Selfie-Cons.