I guess I’ve made it clear by now that I don’t think John Bolton should become Ambassador to the United Nations, on compelling national security grounds. But I have to admit I had a moment of sympathy for the guy while reading a Style Section piece in The Washington Post today, that lectured him about his haircut and fashion sense.The word “lecture” should be emphasized. At first, I thought the piece was just going to be a snarky little shot at Bolton’s rather noticeably eccentric personal touches, like his walrus mustache; this kind of stuff goes with the territory of being a public official. But no, Robin Ghivan was angry at Bolton about his appearance; furious at the “lack of respect” it showed for the Senate (that well known repository of sartorial splender and good grooming, right?); triumphant in the discovery of a class photo from 1970 in which Bolton had a nice, short haircut. I half expect a sequel in which Ghivan agonizes over the poor impression Bolton would make at the U.N., humiliating Americans in the eyes of the natty French and the expensively-tailored Italians.Maybe this Fashion Fascism just hit too close to home, since I generally get the same treatment on those rare occasions when I foolishly go on television. Let me tell you, people get livid about out-of-date hairstyles (ah, but no more, now that I regularly visit Jose of Capitol Hill for an au courant clip).But I hope Democrats don’t get on board this particular bandwagon. There’s an important swing demographic of Disheveled Male Voters who are watching this closely on television, sloppy hair spilling over untrimmed ears as they slosh beer on their cheap shirts.Let’s stick to Bolton’s record, which exemplifies the worst diplomatic impulses and national security lapses of the Bush administration. Forget his hair; the man’s got a sloppy and disrespectful point of view,
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
I’m certainly old enough to remember lots of these pre-election “agenda” documents, and couldn’t help but mock the latest one at New York:
In Thomas Pynchon’s 1965 cult novel The Crying of Lot 49, a character who has taken too much LSD decides that if everyone on earth repeats the marketing phrase “rich, chocolatey goodness,” it will represent the voice of God. With or without drugs, a lot of people in politics have a similar delusion that getting candidates to make the same noises like chirping cicadas will produce electoral victories. It’s a particularly strong belief among congressional Republicans, who share the dubious conviction that Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” is what flipped control of Congress in 1994.
With the assistance of Gingrich and former Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, the House Republican Conference has released a new “agenda” document, entitled “Commitment to America.” The document, clearly designed for online consumption, has lots of bells and whistles and factoids about the hellish reign of Joe Biden and his “Democrat” Party. What it doesn’t have is a whole lot of specificity, unlike the unfortunate “agenda” that Republican Senate Campaign Committee chairman Rick Scott released earlier this year to the near-universal horror of his colleagues, who don’t want to be identified with the proposed sunsetting of Social Security and Medicare.
The relatively anodyne character of Kevin McCarthy’s pet project doesn’t mean it is entirely useless. Candidates mouthing the approved pieties will presumably not be expressing their pithy views on Jewish space lasers or repeating QAnon slogans.
Still, it’s hard to take seriously an agenda for the nation that does not mention climate change, Russia, or extremist threats to democracy — or one that suggests the sole cure for inflation is to cut “wasteful government spending” without explaining what that means (in the indictment of Democrats that accompanies the agenda, there is much criticism of direct stimulus payments, which Donald Trump preferred to virtually every other form of government spending).
Most interesting was how House Republicans handled a red-hot issue they dare not ignore completely, given the obsession it commands among a very big chunk of the GOP party base: abortion. You have to look pretty hard to find it, nestled as it is under the unlikely heading of “A Government That’s Accountable,” and the downright misleading subheading of “a plan to defend America’s rights under the Constitution.” And it simply says Republicans will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” So they checked off a box for anti-abortion activists in the manner least likely to draw curious or unfriendly attention to the extreme abortion views so many of them have expressed, which don’t poll well. Perhaps voters will be too mesmerized by the overall party message to notice. Repeat after me: rich, chocolatey goodness.