Cass decided one day that he didn’t want to wake up to a face like this…
One is reminded of Russia’s radical opposition leader/writer Edward Limonov’s “How To Be Mad And Happy At 55”:
In order to stay young, throw away your old wife, never even look at overweight, wrinkled woman. Find yourself a pretty teenage girl and fuck her as often as you can. Young girls have a tight, hot pussies, their love juice is a boiling one, on the contrary, love juice of an older woman is glue-like. Young laugh, their freshness, even their naive stupidity will have a rejuvenating effect on you. Listen to stupid hit songs with them, get them drunk, fuck them and be happy.
Okay, so Samantha Power ain’t exactly a teenager or naïve, but in the stilted East Coast elite world that Cass Sunstein moves in, a 37-year-old Samantha Power is the equivalent of 14 Priscilla Presley years .
So who is Cass Sunstein? Like his former “partner” Martha and like his new love Samantha, Cass has devoted his life to pleasing the guild by stuffing its vaults with the sort of forgettable Beigeist nonsense that it likes to see—because no person with a functioning gag reflex could possibly spend decades of his or her life writing endless articles about law and how to make citizens more citizen-y. Cass, however, is the kind of guy who could swallow a pepperoni stick without gagging—just look at the record: roughly twelve gazillion articles and books on legal issues and behavioral psychology’s relationship to the law. In fact Cass Sunstein is such a prolific Middlebrow in his field that there’s even a joke among his colleagues that Cass is the Kevin Bacon of legal journals. You know, because every legal academic has either done an article with Cass, or done an article with someone who’s done and article with Cass… Seriously, in the lounges, that Kevin Bacon joke really bowls ‘em over. And please don’t mention anything to them about how they’re about three decades late with that joke. They are tenured academics, after all—show some sensitivity, please!
It’s all adding up to a bad 70s East Coast thinking-person’s divorce-drama. I mean the names themselves are earth-toned: Martha; Samantha; Cass. The campus settings; the academic must and competition. The affairs. It’s like a bad Updike book! Which is to say: The Obama Era is a bad Updike book. Rabbit’s Reduxing all over again! And we’re stuck reading it for the next 8 years!
The Obama-Era Elite at play: “Oh Cass!” “Oh Samantha!” “Shall we have a game of squash before we return to saving The People?” “Yes, I believe we shall!”
Anyway, so after Cass dumped Martha in Chicago last year, he moved to Harvard where Samantha teaches. Now, both Cass and Samantha teach at Harvard. Which you know had to hurt, like pouring salt into Martha’s wounds, because, like, they didn’t give her tenure at Harvard. (At this moment, cue the Erik Satie soundtrack. Either that or Billie Holiday…Updike is cursing us from the grave! Burn his bones, someone!) Samantha Power is the third segment of this horrible Middlebrow Love Triangle. For Samantha, however, she had a “defining moment” in her biography. That defining moment was Bosnia—the tragedy that attracted hordes of defining-moment-tourists from the West’s top academic and struggling-journalist institutions. Every Orwell-swooning middlebrow secretly cursed under their breath that they’d never be able to duplicate his moral outrage and moral courage without a perfectly defined cause like his—so when Bosnia presented its tragedy on a bloodied platter, Samantha, along with all the David Rieffs and Peter Maas’s and you-name-‘em-if-they-read-Orwell-they-were-in-Sarajevo’s all entered the “watch me being morally outraged on behalf of humanity” competition in Bosnia, then took the “lesson” that “defined” them there, and came away with this: in the future, if America sees slaughter going on in some part of the world we don’t understand, we should bomb the bad guys and save the good guys. Now, don’t get Samantha wrong—she ain’t no George Bush. No no no, she’s totally, totally different. I mean sure, both went to Harvard and all, but really—Samantha Power is soooo smart, and George W. Bush is sooooo stupid.
How smart is she? Samantha wrote a “landmark” book, a book that really bowled over Team Obama, about genocides in the 20th century. Because genocides are really bad, she wants us to know. Not all genocides, mind you—just the genocides she chooses to focus on. She didn’t include in her book the genocides that might muddy up her Dubya-brained moralizing about genocide—anyway, it’s sexist to criticize her for omitting American-led genocides in the 20th century that led to millions of deaths in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Central America, and elsewhere; or Britain’s genocide-guilt in about 2/3 of the globe. Those aren’t officially “genocides” in Samantha’s classification, because that’s not playing by the rules. The rules say very clearly that these are genocides and those aren’t—so for example, when America financed and armed the genocide in East Timor, Samantha writes that America “looked away.” Well, you get the point here.
The only interesting thing about Samantha Power is that she once called Hillary Clinton a “monster,” which caused such a hullabaloo that she had to resign from the Obama campaign. But it’s clear that was a moment of petulant indiscretion on Samantha’s part, not something she would repeat if given a second chance. No, Samantha would only repeat that again and again if she was the type who an ounce of genuine integrity. But that’s not Samantha—the Samantha of Cass’s eye, the Samantha of the Obama Era is little more than a motherboard of careerist ambition, Tracy Flick with entitlement.
Speaking of that, Samantha’s new husband Cass put out his most popular book yet last year, called “Nudge.” See, he’s a “paternalistic libertarian” who thinks the way to make America work is not to tell people what to do, but to–yes, that’s right–“nudge” them to the right thing. (Sort of like how Cass “nudged” his wizened ex-partner Martha out of his life for the tight-skinned Samantha–supposedly, in keeping with the retro-70s horribleness, Cass and Martha and Samantha are all pals still.) Anyway, Cass’s big breakthrough, the thing that got Obama’s attention, is that Cass believes that government should nudge The People gently, and that way, The People will make the right choices but feel they’ve done it on their own. Because deep down, Americans will do the right thing if you just show them the way without pushing them too hard. Reverend—I mean Dr. Sunstein uses examples like 401Ks and organ donor cards to make his example. (You have to wonder if Sunstein stole this brilliant theory from a third grader’s civics class report.) Like his wife Samantha, Cass has to make exceptions for just about every horrible thing that human beings do in order to make his theory work. So he makes those exceptions, and voila! Everyone agrees that it works! It’s a hit! Now Cass and Samantha are a Washington Power Couple. Wow, I just gotta get their cards!
The return of the worst of the 1970s: here it is. Tracy Flick in earth-tones set in an endless tape-loop of ponderous middlebrow tripe of the sort that brought us The Seduction Of Joey Tynan. Put another way: imagine if Jonathan Livingston Seagull was written by Milton Friedman, which was then adapted for the screen by the makers of Kramer Vs. Kramer, and there you will find the Zeitgeist of the looming Obama Era nightmare.
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