The Overton Window: Chapter Ten

This one hurt.

It was like my own personal hell.

My own personal, badly written, nonsensical hell.

Eight of the nine pages in chapter ten are Molly's mother's speech at the teabag party. Oh Maude, what a speech it is. Pure neocon bullshit. I read the whole speech, and I hated every word of it. Empty, self-aggrandizing, pseudo-patriotic claptrap.

Beverly Emerson, Director emeritus, Founders' Keepers, according to Molly's flyer, takes the stage and lets go with a James Madison quote, as if to prove her patriot cred. She then sets about railing against corruption and power and Carrol Quigley's Tragedy and Hope. She continues, lambasting big government and the nanny state, lying the blame for that at Herbert Croly's feet.

His writings lived on, and they influenced every fundamental change brought on by what became known as 'the progressive movement' in the first half of the twentieth century, from the Federal Reserve Act and the income tax to the spiral into crushing debt and dependence that began with the New Deal.

Yeah, fuck the New Deal! The whole Depression was designed to weed out the weak, amirite? But seriously? Who pisses about the New Deal, for fuck's sake? Oh, yeah: Libertarians, neocons, and social Darwinists.

Beverly again sets her sights on corrupt politicians.

Danger comes when good intentions are hijacked and perverted by the culture of corruption—when those elected to represent us begin to act not for your own good, but for their own gain.

It’s the same today. People who, for their own gain, would replace equal justice with social justice, trade individual freedom for an all-powerful, all-knowing central government, forsake the glorious creative potential of the American individual, the beating heart of this nation, for a two-class society in which the elites rule and all below them are all the same: homogenized, subordinate, indebted, and powerless.

Oh, those elites and their tricksy homogenization. They wish to stomp on the heartbeat of America, what with their regulations and their rules that impede "the glorious creative potential of the American individual."

Out of kindness here, I am going to try not to quote too much. (Feel free to thank me by buying me something off of my Amazon wish list.) Noah looks around the room now and notices there are a few more interlopers, all with video cameras, recording Beverly's speech. There is more about lobbyists and elites and republics. But then it really gets good.

Beverly compares the size of the U.S. Constitution to the Federal Tax Code. Oh my! The tax code is 67,000 pages long! The Constitution just a few. So, I think what Beverly is getting at here is that the tax code is unwieldy, compared to the lithe little Constitution. Umm, okay. Fair enough. I'm not sure what that proves. But it is certainly something.

I do think I am beginning to understand what the teabaggers want: Lower taxes. Does that make Steve Forbes the Godfather of Teabaggers. There's more here about imbalances in power, different classes, fairness.

Our message of equal justice is impossible for any honest person to refute. How do I know that? Because it was the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Umm... what?

Let that settle for a moment.

Yeah, that's right. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, remember a while back when Beck was saying his rally of angry white folk just happening to be on the anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech was nothing more than a coincidence. Well, at first he said it was unintentional, then he said it was "divine providence."

And maybe that could be believable. Maybe. (The part about it being unintentional, not the bit about providence.) Except that Beverly goes on for a whole page about Dr. King, finishing up with this:

All we must do is find the strength and the wisdom to awaken our friends and neighbors, take back our power under the law, and restore what’s been forgotten. Restore. Not adapt, not transform ... restore.

Beck's Restoring Honor rally echoes too closely Beverly's speech in his book to be mere coincidence. It's branding. It's a tie-in. It's a marketing and PR coup. That last bit reminds me of something, now that I think about it.

Americans are still a fair and just people. They know the difference between racism and race-baiting, between violence and accusations of violence, between hatred and patriotism. Let them weigh the evidence for as long as they need, because when the verdict comes down, we will once again be on the right side.

Ah, yes. Americans know "the difference between racism and race-baiting." We're so post-racial. America is a multicultural paradise! Wait, no. White people aren't racist! That's what she meant.

This, perhaps (though I am open to suggestions otherwise) is the most ridiculous moment of the chapter:

Just like Dr. King, we aim to eliminate evil, not those who perpetrate it. To speak of violence in any form is to play right into the hands of those who oppose us. They’ve already invested countless hours into portraying us as violent, hateful racists, and they are just waiting for the chance to further that story line. Don’t give it to them. Instead of Bill Ayers, give them Benjamin Franklin. Instead of Malcolm X, give them Rosa Parks. Instead of bin Laden, give them Gandhi.

As an exercise, go ahead and parse the comparisons made by Beverly: Bill Ayers and Benjamin Franklin. Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. bin Laden and Ghandi. If you're not laughing you've more mettle than I. And if you're incensed, well, that's perfectly natural too.

Noah notes how Beverly has the crowd "in the palm of her hand." It's one of those expository moments that shouldn't need to be said, wouldn't need to be said if all the pages leading up to it were at all compelling. If the author needs to tell us the speech was electrifying, then it probably wasn't.

Beverly asks god to bless America (duh!) and exits the stage "as a Toby Keith song began to play over the sound system." Really.

Maude help me, that was brutal. And I feel as though I should apologize for quoting as much as I did. Eight pages and nothing was said, really. Not so much. Nothing anyone with even a passing understanding of Beck's worldview wouldn't already be aware of. This is one thrilling thriller.

All that is left now is for Noah and Molly to discuss the presentation.

Needless to say, PR weasel that he is, Noah is noncommittal. He doesn't like to discuss politics. Molly, for her part, has had her fill of Noah for the evening, and storms off.

Awww, Noah, you blew it!

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