Monday, October 18, 2010

But I'm still a Party hack / Just because good sense I lack

1. Try to mold life into a genre and fate, more often than not, will relegate you to a farce (been a particularly eschatologically psychotic day, if you know what I mean).

2. Tomorrow evening at the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan I will be representing the illustrious Yale Political Union in our "annual" (you know, five levels below "traditional") debate against the Hudson Union Society. Because the world is fallen I, along with the rest of my team, have to take the negative on Resolved: This house believes the government's economic stimulus is a failure (catchy, right?).

To give you some idea of just how much I'm the odd man out on this venture, here are our team bios:
Leah Anthony Libresco [note: of Unequally Yoked fame, among other things] is continually disappointed in her own failure to stimulate in others the intense fascination she feels for smallpox as a Masters student in epidemiology. To mitigate her sorrow, she turned to the Yale Political Union for training in persuasion and coercion that will be a little subtler than brandishing smoking flasks in true mad scientist style. Her attempts can be found at the Huffington Post.

David Broockman has so far made a living doing what he will in front of the society: being a partisan shill. He was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 from Texas and has worked for several left-leaning groups including the AFL-CIO. He plans to pursue graduate study in political science next year in hopes of being a political science professor and remaining impecunious. He is in the Yale Political Union's Liberal Party, of which he served as Chair last year. He also thinks postmodernism can cure everything.

Naomi Lisan is a senior history major from Cleveland, Ohio, with a minor in mildly angry feminism. After enjoying a semester of hands-on studies in abnormal psychology as Speaker of the Yale Political Union, Naomi is considering rejecting her intended profession, history, in favor of becoming a shrink. If that doesn't work out, she hopes she can turn her madrigal-singing skills into a career, since they're about as useful as a history major, anyway.

Tristyn Bloom is a Russian Studies major torn between pursuing an exciting career in Orthodox Christian theology and joining the academy to study Kievan Rus', and so clearly knows a lot about both economics and success. A self-described "right-wing nutjob", she isn't quite sure how she ended up on this side of the resolution, but is fairly confident it's Nancy Pelosi's fault and plans to ensure the motion's failure just for spite.
Being both a fairly radical libertarian and an almost complete partisan hack (this election cycle) I've been wracking my brain to find an angle on the resolution that is both potentially something that I could maybe in some universe believe, and more exciting than, say, your average C-SPAN broadcast. Here's what I've got so far:
  • The Cynic: It wasn't a failure because it did exactly what it was designed to do: expand bureaucracy, entrench special interests, and allow Obama to say "Look, we tried!"
  • The Hack: It wasn't a failure because it helped get the right-wing base really worked up about how completely incompetent the Obama administration is!
  • The Deconstructionist: 'This house' doesn't really believe anything- what does collective belief even mean, man? What's the difference between believing and knowing, and, while we're at it, trusting! Does this house trust that the stimulus is a failure? Whence flows this sudden epistemological modesty? Why are we assuming that the word "failure" can even have shared meaning across subjects? How can anything that exists coherently in one narrative really fully inhabit another (simultaneously, no less!)?
  • The Prophet: It wasn't a failure because it's hastening the decline! Starve the beast! Heighten the contradictions! COLLAPSITARIANISM 2012!
  • The Class Warrior: Of course 'this house' doesn't believe the stimulus is a failure- it's composed entirely of self-hating haute bourgeoisie with too many degrees and too much free time. SWPL: ARRA!
  • The Evangelical: It doesn't really matter that we're going to have crippling debt and skyrocketing inflation a few years down the line-- Jesus gonna be here soon!
I'll probably just talk about the tax cuts and pretend they're not just dolled up welfare payments, or something. At least decent vodka won't be far away.


  1. Technically, it will become traditional next year. Also, once we get out of there, I'm buying you a beer.

  2. Two of your arguments here are overtly Marxist. Awesome. (I've always thought the extreme-libertarian notion that we just have to bring down the system, the state, or whatnot and then everything will be fine is rather reminiscent of the Marxist "Anyone who makes plans for after the revolution is a reactionary".)