Wednesday, May 28, 2008

DFH, Explained.

I think we all understand what a DFH is, yah?

I want to point you to a great post-book blogged afterward for Rick Perlstein at the Talking Points Memo Cafe about Nixonland. What's interesting is Rick's assertion that political spectral movements (not the parties) succeed or fail in part on how they view their opposition. The disdain conservatives have, especially in the rhetorical archetypes they wheel about - like the DFH - shows how weak their understanding of the opposition is.

In 1960, when college students began flocking to buy Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative, the American left's image of a conservative was of a plutocrat in monocles and spats (and what kind of working-class voter could ever be attracted to that? Conservatism: nothing to worry about!).

That was stupid. No one would do that any more.

In 1966, when Ronald Reagan began surging toward the GOP gubernatorial nomination in California, Esquire, the leading edge of a certain smug center of liberal opinion, graciously allowed that the "Republican Party isn't bankrupt, or isn't that bankrupt that it has to turn to Liberace for leadership."

That was stupid. No one would do that any more.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon gave perhaps the most politically successful speech in the history of the presidency, an Ivy League anti-war leader responded, "What Nixon has tried to show is that there is a silent majority behind him. We know better."

That was stupid. No one would do that any more--for, without bothering to consult the Harvard New Left, the American people had just bounced the president's approval rating from 52 to 68 percent practically overnight.

Once I was reading old New Republics from early 1980, and, though I can't just now pin down the citations, recall some of the liberals there taking Ronald Reagan's presidential prospects about as seriously as, well, Liberace's.

That was stupid. No one would do that any more.

I could multiply the examples endlessly. Liberals used to be really, really, really condescending. They're not anything like that degree of condescending any more. That so many conservatives find us precisely that condescending now is, to borrow, like conservatives these days are habitually doing, the antiquated argot of another age: it's a stone trip, man.

Dig it: they still think we're all August Hecksher and Abbie Hoffman. Just like in 1960 we still thought they were all wearing monocles and spats.

1 comment:

Seven of Six said...

Yeah, I'm a DFH... just older!