I felt really good last Tuesday. We got Qusay and Uday, and the Eiffel Tower caught fire. Now my betters tell me that feeling good was bad because I was exercising “uncertainty avoidance” and seeking “cognitive closure” on Q and U. Maybe I felt good because of the “terror management” mechanism in my head. Clearly, I have severe symptoms of conservatism, or what I should be calling the conservative psychological pathology. Just ask the experts at U.C. Berkeley.
Does your fear of terrorism cause you to feel aggressive toward, say, certain Middle Eastern nations? Do you shun and even wish to punish (perhaps by boycotting French goods) those outsiders who threaten your cherished world views? If you suffer these symptoms, you should be diagnosed as suffering from conservatism. Four professors — in the Orwellian study “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Condition” — conclude that conservatism is less a political philosophy than a mental disorder.
According to the Berserkely study, there are common psychological factors linked to conservatism. Conservatives are less “integratively complex” (i.e., dumber) than others. The study says conservatives support inequality by accepting the segregationist policies of Strom Thurmond (1948 version) and rejecting gay rights.
The Berkeleyites conclude that conservatives — and here they list together the examples of Hitler, Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh — “preach a return to an idealized past.” But all this, they reassure us, “…does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled.” Necessarily.
But we are, according to the Berkeley research team, more fearful and less courageous than liberals. The study says that the “terror management” feature of conservatism can be seen in post-September 11 America where, “many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders…” Like the Taliban?
Okay, conservatives ain’t perfect, but are we nuts? I spoke to a liberal pal of mine who happens to be a prominent Washington, D.C. psychiatrist. He said, “Look, there are many traits, styles and patterns of thinking. It’s a mistake to pathologize them.” When I asked him about the powerful scientific methods supposedly used in the study, he said I shouldn’t worry. As far as science goes, “There’s a lot of crap out there.” We signed off when he said, “Don’t worry, Jed. Conservatism is not a diagnosis.”
OK, so we ain’t nuts, or at least any more than the average guy. Forget about the obvious agenda these clowns had (which you need not go further to prove than to see Hitler, Mussolini, the Gipper and Rush in the same paragraph). Maybe they were only talking about conservatives to divert attention from some political candidates that have what #4 son would call, “issues.” If some conservative psychiatrists want to do a parallel study of the libs, I’m happy to provide an outline for it.
You gotta start with Sen. Bob Graham. Here’s part of his exchange with Tim Russert on Meet the Press a couple of weeks ago:
MR. RUSSERT: “…Here’s a portrait of you from the governor’s office in Florida. There you are. Holding a notebook, the much-discussed little notebooks. You’ve kept 4,000 of them during your public career, with obviously logs of people you’ve met, to-do lists. But also very minute specific information. For example, this is what the St. Petersburg Times said.
“You woke up on September 17, 2002, a Tuesday, Third Street town house. You weighed 181 pounds.
“Applied scalp medication. You were in the kitchen, you brewed coffee. You read the Post. You dress in a gray suit. And on and on and on.
“This has been called neurotic, obsessive, bizarre. How would you explain to the American people why do you keep such minute detail of what you do every day?”
SEN. GRAHAM: “Discipline. I have been doing this now for almost 30 years. My father used to keep a notebook in which he would keep information about the farm, sick cows and other things. And I picked it up from him, and I have refined it to meet my purposes. It’s mainly a list of to do that day. It is a recording of the names of people that I meet, and what their concerns are, so that I can follow up.
“It is a log of what happens to me throughout the day, so that I can go back, as I will later today, and review what I did during the last week to see if there was a phone call that I intended to follow up on or other things…”
MR. RUSSERT: “But it’s more than that. It’s specific things, like what you’re wearing, what room you were in. It’s different.”
SEN. GRAHAM: “It is. Oh, it — all those things are intended to help my ability to recall what the environment was in which something occurred and that helps me remember the details.”
All this guy needs is a missing quart of strawberries to investigate and a couple of steel marbles to roll around in his hand.
Exhibit 2: Lil’ Dick Gephardt. “George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago.” Four years ago would be July 1999, about eight months after Slick Willie tickled Afghanistan with a few Tomahawks and more than two years before 9-11. I think Gephardt’s beliefs must be founded in “fear and aggression” like the Berserkely guys talked about. But that’s just wrong, not totally nuts. This is. “When I’m president, we’ll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day.” For your consideration: the Missouri version of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The rest of the Dems aren’t any saner. I once thought Ol’ Joe Lieberman was, but I was wrong. Lieberman’s grovel to the NAACP included the suggestion that Kweisi Mfume — the lefty radical now heading the NAACP — belongs on the Supreme Court. “We didn’t realize at the time, Al Gore and I, that we not only needed Kweisi Mfume fighting for justice here in Florida counting votes, we need him on the Supreme Court, where the votes really counted.” NewsMax reported, “In quotes picked up by The New Republic, Lieberman then went so far as to hint that if he wins the White House, he’d tap Mfume for the high court, predicting, ‘Maybe that’ll happen some day.'” Now that’s nuts.
There’s nothing in the Berkeley study about delusions, but maybe that’s because Vichy John Kerry is a raving lib, not a conservative. In 1997, Kerry was all blood-and-thunder about Saddam: “[Saddam] cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.” No more inspections were needed, and the intelligence was good enough to go to war on right then. “In my judgment, the Security Council should authorize a strong U.N. military response that will materially damage, if not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction…” He didn’t want to wait for the U.N., either: “While we should always seek to take significant international actions on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis whenever that is possible, in the final analysis … we must have the courage to do what we believe is right and wise.” Back then he must have been deluded.
Relief from the delusion came only with entry into the presidential race. Having voted for the war resolution, Kerry is devoutly anti-war. As the Boston Globe reported on June 19, “Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry said yesterday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence…’He misled every one of us,’ Kerry said. ‘That’s one reason why I’m running to be president of the United States.'” Which was the delusional and which was the real Kerry? Not that it matters.
No one will ever convince me that Dennis Kucinich should be loose on the streets. For Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun and John Edwards, we’ll have to wait for years of analysis before we can even attempt a diagnosis. Howard Dean — who isn’t sure if Iraq is better off without Saddam — is just too easy. Right now, I think I’ll pour a wee dram of whiskey and head for the couch.