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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking News: Old, Rich White Man Now Conservative

posted by on March 12 at 14:18 PM

The Village Voice has a longish, rambling piece by David Mamet about how he’s no longer a “brain-dead liberal.”

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

But my favorite part, and what will be the money shot for the blogosphere, is the paragraph where he compares two presidents:

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

Now, I’m not of the opinion that JFK was a great president. Symbolically, of course, he was great for the nation, I think, but in terms of actual achievements, he’s lacking. But this list of similarities is just plain insulting. And Mamet hasn’t been relevant for at least a decade, which maybe explains why he’d write a faux-shocking piece in order to promote his new political play that’s just opened in New York and for which, he reminds the reader, seats are still available.

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If he was a brain-dead liberal, that was his problem. I prefer to be an intelligent, engaged liberal.

Posted by Levislade | March 12, 2008 2:24 PM

Hillary is our last chance to hang on to guys like that. Last. Chance.

Posted by elenchos | March 12, 2008 2:28 PM

Mamet has a point, but like JFK, he's over-rated as well...

Posted by michael strangeways | March 12, 2008 2:31 PM

Sigh, another one lost to dementia.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 12, 2008 2:34 PM

@3 WORD. I freaking hate Mamet and his mysogynistic bs.

Posted by arduous | March 12, 2008 2:35 PM

JFK was shot in Dallas. Bush did shots in Dallas.

Posted by DOUG. | March 12, 2008 2:36 PM

Personally, I think being a liberal vs being a conservative is total bullshit. Total. Fucking. Bullshit. If we are clear thinking individuals, we see the benefits of both ideologies and do what we can to reconcile them with our own personal experience.

Labels are for the weak minded. We cannot waste precious time debating such a pointless matter. The issues are what matter and if we lose sight of that we do not deserve the democracy we supposedly own. Look at the candidate, not the party.

Posted by Cale | March 12, 2008 2:50 PM

Now he's just brain dead, period.

Posted by Todd | March 12, 2008 2:51 PM

Mamet's piece may not make the most clearly argued case for his conversion, but next to this blog post it's a frigg'n masterpiece. Here's Paul's response: Mamet's list is "plain insulting" (no explanation of why), and anyway Mamet "hasn't been relevant" for a long time (after all, smart people prefer to get their ideologies from pop starts who can sell out venues).

People who abandon your ideology are interesting, because they can often point out weaknesses of which you ought to be aware.

Posted by David Wright | March 12, 2008 2:52 PM


As a liberal, let me disprove you by quoting approvingly a conservative I normally don't agree with: "Words mean things."

Posted by elenchos | March 12, 2008 2:54 PM

Cale @ 7: ...a breath of fresh air.

Posted by Nice | March 12, 2008 2:54 PM

Kennedy didn't steal jack shit in Chicago. Move Illinois from blue to red in 1960, and Kennedy still wins. When will this canard finally die?

Posted by Fnarf | March 12, 2008 2:57 PM

A Baby Boomer liberal found his self-interests rearranged with age and turned conservative? Say it ain't so.

Posted by tsm | March 12, 2008 3:03 PM

Kennedy took us to the moon. Bush mooned us.

Posted by crazycatguy | March 12, 2008 3:17 PM

Oh, is this new for him? I always assumed he'd been that way for years....I recall his play "Oleanna" as a paranoid rant about how feminism/"political correctness" is a devious conspiracy to destroy innocent white men.

Posted by David | March 12, 2008 3:21 PM

I thought he died back in the 70's.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | March 12, 2008 3:33 PM

@7: "Look at the candidate, not the party."

That's stupid. You're voting for a party, not a candidate. If your guy wins, he brings 100,000 people with him who actually run things.

Posted by Fnarf | March 12, 2008 3:39 PM

He should re-read history. Eisenhower armed the failed rebels in hopes of overthrowing Castro. Guess he never got around to implementing the plan and Kennedy decided he should just carry on with this policy leading to the Bay of Pigs.

Posted by History Speaks | March 12, 2008 3:45 PM

@ All over this thread: Fnarf, you're my hero.

And @9, as soon as Mamet lays some actual, real, really-for-real true facts on the table, I will, too.

Posted by Paul Constant | March 12, 2008 3:48 PM

@7 - Whenever I hear "look at the candidate, not the party" I'm reminded of the 2000 election, when I had a bunch of people tell me "I'm voting for Bush because he seems like such a nice, caring man." Eight years later, having suffered Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Gonzalez etc., I realized just how full of shit those people were.

Posted by Hernandez | March 12, 2008 3:48 PM

@20 - Part of the reason I'm voting for Obama is due to the fact he represents a new style of politics, one driven by the the American people and not lobbyist donations.

Are you saying I'm going to be disappointed in 4 to 8 Years when his administration reverts to politics as usual?

Posted by ObamaFan | March 12, 2008 3:54 PM

The real offense in Mamet's piece isn't that he's weak on American political history (he is), or that he has a fundamental misunderstanding of the philosophical underpinnings of both liberalism and conservatism (he does), or that he thinks I care about his opinion of American philosophers (I do not), but that the whole thing was completely and painfully unreadable.

Posted by microveldt | March 12, 2008 3:59 PM

Excellent! I've always felt bad for hating his plays, - now that he's self-identified as an asshole I feel a lot better :-)

@9 Perhaps M's list is "plain insulting" cause it could have been taken from any right-wing-foundation-funded corporate-prostitute-ridden bullshit-factory press release of the last ten (make that 20) years. How many times do you have to hear "there's no point in trying to change things for the better through government" from someone who's being sponsored by someone trying to change something through government (for their narrow private gain, surprise, surprise) before you get annoyed? (An while Mamet may not be looking for right wingnut funding (though who knows), what he's pushing is same old same old from them who are...)

(@5 yep and I'd extend that to misanthropic - he seems to despise all people. So why shouldn't we despise him back?...)

Posted by bakfiets | March 12, 2008 4:28 PM

I'm with #1: he was a brain dead liberal, now he's a brain dead conservative. I love these "I'm-now-closer-to-death-than-birth-and-fear-is-taking-over-so-fuck-all I'm-sacrificing-my-idealism-for-what-I-now-falsely-perceive-to-be-hard-truths" liberal to conservative conversions. Yeah, now you're an asshole. Big whoop. Of course, it will probably happen to me some day.

#7, what #10 and #17 said. Political ideology isn't some false distinction, it is real. They address fundamental questions like an individual's proper relationship with society, the balance between individual freedom and social authority, and whether individuals are innately equal or unequal. All members of an ideology, by definition, will answer these questions consistently.

Now, if you are referring to political parties, which I actually think you were, then I can relate to your argument somewhat. Ideology transcends political parties, so it can be hard to tell someone's ideological beliefs just from their political party.

Posted by w7ngman | March 12, 2008 4:51 PM

Wow, this guy is more brain dead than I thought. He summarizes his "liberal" ideology as "everything is wrong".

Slightly OT: does anyone else notice a tendency for conservative pundits/bloggers to generalize liberal ideology in hilariously misinformed ways? I have to wonder if liberal pundits do the same thing and I just don't see it, but I don't think so.

Posted by w7ngman | March 12, 2008 5:05 PM

What's his point with the Kennedy thing? That since Kennedy sucked as bad as Bush, he now likes Bush? I don't get it.

Posted by Mr Me | March 12, 2008 5:40 PM

It was such a delight to read Mamet's rant! I teach dramatic literature and finally have justification for teaching my students that Mamet is the most overrated, sexually frustrated has been since Clifford Odets. The only good play he ever wrote was _Sexual Perversity in Chicago_ and that worked better on film.

Posted by santora | March 12, 2008 5:51 PM

Me? Not it's mamet who is the bastard fuck. Fuck 'im.

Posted by basterd fuck | March 12, 2008 6:02 PM

#10, #24, the meaning of liberal and conservative in contemporary society is so convoluted and watered down that to define them as ideology seems almost laughable.

Fnarf @ #17 Your comment is offensive and painfully obvious. 100,000 people may be actually running the show, but half of them are the ones making the campaign donations, and they play both sides of the field baby. There are plenty of members of the same "political ideology" that disagree on enough to make you wonder why the hell you voted for them in the first place (Frank Chopp, I'm looking at you.)

You HAVE to look primarily at the candidate, no matter what hat they wear. It is illogical to do otherwise.

Posted by Cale | March 12, 2008 7:18 PM

This liberal thinks it was quite a brilliant article. I hope some of the above commentors who thought fit to indulge in ad-hominems against Mamet took the time to read the piece. And I hope you realize that his difference with you is a difference grounded in reason, not in morality.

Posted by NJ Matt | March 12, 2008 7:31 PM

Cale @7 -- oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were that stupid. Never mind.

Posted by Fnarf | March 12, 2008 7:31 PM

Oh, fill me in Fnarf?

Posted by Cale | March 12, 2008 10:08 PM

Remember kids: pseudo scientist economists/ideologues like Friedman are representatives of reason!

Posted by Jay | March 12, 2008 10:16 PM

Milton Friedman that is.

Posted by Jay | March 12, 2008 10:16 PM

"Political ideology isn't some false distinction, it is real. They address fundamental questions like an individual's proper relationship with society, the balance between individual freedom and social authority, and whether individuals are innately equal or unequal. All members of an ideology, by definition, will answer these questions consistently."
. I
I do not argue the reality of political ideology. What I argue is the wisdom of a permanent subscription to a set of ideological answers. One must always look at all angles when answering a question, even when those sides are seemingly irreconcilable. How is ideology any different? By arbitrarily defining ourselves as with labels for something that is highly individualistic, we ignore truth.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you continue to answer questions the same way, and the result isn't working, obviously you need to look at an external influence, and either make a compromise, or change the question. It could be that your ideology is holding you back from truth.

Posted by Cale | March 12, 2008 10:35 PM

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