The Disease of Modern Politics: Mock Outrage

Both Mitt Romney and David French have run for President of the United States — Romney with the full backing of the Republican Party establishment, French in the desperate imagination of the rhetorical leader of the fading neoconservative faction of that establishment, Bill Kristol. Romney came reasonably close to winning — which was presumably his assigned role — while French’s bid never got off the dry ground of the frivolous show-campaign. On the other hand, French, to his credit, unlike Romney, did not invent the working model for ObamaCare.

In any case, both men have come out, all cap guns a-poppin’, with deep, sober lamentations about the revelations in the Mueller report regarding the actions and statements of Donald Trump and some of his associates.

Specifically, Romney released a statement officially announcing to the world that although it is “good news” that the report found no conclusive evidence of a conspiracy or obstruction of justice, he is nevertheless “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office in the land, including the President.” Furthermore, he is “appalled” that Americans within Trump’s campaign welcomed campaign assistance in the form of illegally-obtained information from Russian sources, and that Paul Manafort “was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.”

Yeah, whoop-de-doo, Mitt. You’re sickened by the same thing we’ve all been sickened by for three years. Why is this important news today, or something you needed to say at this moment? The answer is obvious: You are jumping on the media bandwagon. In other words, you are thinking and pontificating like a bad online pundit, just trying to get your two cents in while everyone else is, though neither you nor they have anything new to say, based on this report. As I explained yesterday, the Mueller report is nothing but an excuse for everyone to say what they have been saying all along anyway, while pretending to find new evidence for their tiresome repetitiveness among the reams of utterly non-revelatory information in this completely unsurprising report.

David French, meanwhile, strikes a similar note in an article at National Review, telling us that upon reading the Mueller report, “I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel’s Office.”

Oh, yes, he “must confess” that even he (someone please remind me why French’s perspective is special or unique) was surprised at “the sheer scope of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections” — all three of those distinct categories, mind you!

Right. He was “surprised” to learn that everything he already knew about Trump’s lying was exactly as he already knew it to be. Is Mr. French suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease? And of course he has to “confess” to being surprised, because, naturally, he fully expected not to be surprised.

Let me make a bold surmise here: When David French claims that he is surprised by the extent of Trump’s dishonesty, and that his surprise reaches the level of having to be confessed (i.e., drawn from him as though against his will), he is lying.

I have to confess that even I, though I have previously expressed skepticism regarding Mr. French’s seriousness and sobriety as a political commentator, am surprised at the level of dishonesty revealed in his mock confession of surprise at anything revealed in the Mueller report.

The mock shock and outrage about this report, as about everything else in our modern political discourse, is, while thoroughly unsurprising, certainly highly lamentable. And the handwringing fakery knows no tribal boundaries. Everyone on all sides of this “issue” — what is the issue again? — is equally guilty of play-acting.

This is the essence of the disease afflicting modern political life in its final death throes: a peculiar mutant virus derived from equal parts mock-naïve outrage and pseudo-sophisticated cynicism. Everyone is performing for the crowd, not believing a word of his own expressed “shock,” but convinced, in his egomaniacal vanity, that everyone else is as naïve as he is pretending to be, hence justifying his condescending act.

My kingdom for an intellectually honest man.

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