The kind of polemical reasoning that Ed is displaying — which isn’t an especially Ed thing, but occurs throughout the WingNet, wherever its cultees confront current events — seemed for a long time to be a way of ordering the world through a kind of ritual storytelling. We saw it like this: The writer begins by eyeing some emerging news or gossip item and decides what meaning it ought to have, in the manner of a sculptor inspecting a block of marble for the forms possible within it. He then applies the chisel, removing context and uncongenial detail and adding decorative work where needed, until the item emerges as a sort of tiny reverse roman à clef, full of recognizable things in fictional arrangements.
The moral at the heart of each story is nearly always a variation of the Wingnut Credo: “In our virtue, the unworthy provoke us. Reckoning will come.” And we thought that the point of constructing the stories was to arrive at the moral each time, from one way and then another, until the ruts from one’s cart wheels and sleigh runners were so deeply inscribed that all possible stories seemed to fall into them and travel toward the same conclusion.
That’s what we thought. But that was before Obama won, and having won was inaugurated, at which point the online right seemed to realize that something had taken place that couldn’t be rationalized away, that Obama was no longer just a man-on-TV for them to hiss at, but a figure invested with real power over the direction of the country, and with nothing to stop him from going against the Republican consensus, against the laws of conservatism itself, literally at will. There was a pause as for a great filling of lungs, and then they pitched the 360-degree hurricane spaz that continues to loft our kites and spin our dynamo’s propeller — or really, its opposite-of-a-propeller. And since then, with wheelbarrows and cows circling outside the windows, with Malkin occasionally blowing past on her bicycle in sucky Chroma-key, I’ve started to see this style of reasoning as less of an exercise in narrative than a legalistic exercise.
Awesome. And one more reason that Sadly, No! is at the top of my reading list every day.