In the words of Brian Lamb, the best human being on Earth, “Hey Ross Douthat, you seen this Wonkette thing here?” It’s a post about your New York Times “young lightning rod conservative” opinion column! It is not his debut — maybe second, or third, or fourth — but it’s the first one we’ve read so deal with it okay? It’s not bad! And because he is, again, a “youth,” he throws in many Internet hyperlinks to his sources. Clicky clicky hooray! So this post will be, unfortunately, a Civilized response to one of his points — that the grain of history favors the pro-life movement — which is less fun than just spitting blood at the computer screen, as we did for Bill Kristol.

Douthat writes about how “Barack Obama’s admirers nurse a persistent hope that he might be able to end the culture wars.” For most cranky old columnists (all of the others) this would spiral into a fact-less rant about what college was like for them in the mid-1960s and how liberals today are terrible. But Douthat writes… you know, something that isn’t that!

Public-opinion trends aren’t set in stone. But as Peter Berkowitz noted in a prescient essay for Policy Review in 2005, the gay marriage movement is working with the grain of American political history, in which the expansion of rights “steadily erodes the limits on individual choice established by law and custom.” Our legal and political debates, Berkowitz suggested, are won by whichever side can argue for the expansion of freedom, and combatants who can’t argue in these terms will “almost certainly see their cause go down to defeat.”

Thus gay marriage opponents’ persistent disadvantage. They can argue from tradition, custom and Christianity — as Obama himself does, albeit with dubious sincerity, to explain why he backs civil unions but not full-fledged marriage. They can note the perils of formally severing the link between marriage and childbearing in a society where far too many children are born outside of wedlock as it is. But supporters of gay marriage are the only ones making an argument from personal liberty — the freedom to marry, the right to marry — and that has made all the difference.

On abortion, though, the picture is very different. The pro-life movement is arguably more comfortable with the language of rights and liberties than its opponents. Abortion foes are defending a right to life grounded in the Declaration of Independence, after all, whereas pro-choicers are defending more nebulous rights (privacy, autonomy, etc.) supposedly grounded in “penumbras” and “emanations” from the Constitution.

Don’t know how “privacy, autonomy, etc.” are “nebulous.” (UPDATE: Oh, it’s “inside baseball.”) Is it really a fluffy argument to say that ladies have the “freedom to make choices” about their own bodies? We think wacky Thomas Jefferson was kind of thinking with this Declaration of Independence that you have to be born for these rights to kick in; if the little monster sitting in that sack of goo craves individualism so much, then it should stop whining, cut that umbilical cord, pop out of the lady’s tummy, and get a damn job already.

If the grain of American political history “steadily erodes the limits on individual choice established by law and custom,” then w/r/t abortion, how could that favor the people who want more limits imposed on individual choice? It’s not like in Victorian England everyone was killin’ fetuses left and right all willy-nilly, for Jesus, and only over the course of time — after massive civil rights rallies held by fetuses, in the streets — will we become so enlightened as to prevent this thing, by law, from ever happening again. The “opposite” seems truer. Anyway.

Faking Left [NYT]

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  1. Actually, Douchehat’s hyperlinks are reminiscent of “air quotes” that a Phil Hartman character used to do, only more annoying.

  2. Jesus is this Douchesac character pitiful. “Oh noes, however will the pro-CHOICE movement ever manage to frame their cause in terms of individual freedoms. They are doomed, doomed I tells ya!” Dumb.

  3. After seeing that video where Ross is confronted with a Wonkette headline calling him impotent, misogynist, etc., I get the feeling that’s he’s lurking here*, looking at the posts about himself. His shadowed, Orson Welles-like eyes reading the dirty, dirty comments…biting his lip gently…muttering and sighing in a darkened room somewhere.

    *Just like Denby, his very presence causes a disturbance in the force.

  4. This glorified grad student’s entire argument is speciously founded on the Big Lie phrase “pro-life,” when the movement is clearly anti-abortionism. The wingnuts could care less what happens to the baby’s life after it’s born; they’re invading the doctor-patient relationship and eroding people’s rights in order to impose their goofy religious beliefs on non-believers.

  5. “[I]f the little monster sitting in that sack of goo craves individualism so much, then it should stop whining, cut that umbilical cord, pop out of the lady’s tummy, and get a damn job already.”

    And with that Jim Newell has made the final declaration in the abortion debate. The issue is hereby resolved forever.

  6. I think Douthat’s on to something here: as conservatives start to realize they’ve already lost the gay marriage debate, they have a narrow window to turn the tables and criticize Obama’s “dubious sincerity” on the issue. WHY do liberals and Barack Obama hate teh gayz?

    It’s kind of like when those fat old racists started calling themselves “the party of Lincoln” once they realized the civil rights movement couldn’t be undone.

  7. Sounds like someone really should have goteen laid and not waxing philosophical about whether or not a horny girl on the pill was bad for the soul.

    Still more entertaining than Kristol Meh.

  8. [re=314570]Advocatus_Diaboli[/re]: I’m with you. Hell we could even take away his right to a neck to wear his neckbeard on.

  9. If I cared I would ask, how are arguments in support of civil unions NOT arguments for personal liberty?

    I do care, so I must know – “It’s not Bad” code for “It’s not Bill [Kristol]”?

  10. Hey Wonketteers, can we get a page where we can hate on Richard Cohen? His WashPost column today is profoundly, breathtakingly awful; “What if Cheney is right, and torture really is a great great thing?”

  11. With that wonderful Declaration of Independence crack, he’s definitely devolving into something closer to Larry the Cable Guy than David Brooks. “Theez rights doan’t run! U-S-A! U-S-A!! The Constitution’s fer pussies!”

  12. Sounds like someone really should have goteen laid

    Doubt if he could get laid if he was a chocolate covered millionaire with a fistful of Prada shoes.

    You can see the fat cells rumbling beneath the surface just waiting explode and turn him into a cross between Rosemary Clooney and Henry VIII.

  13. Actually, Douthat is right — the “pro-Life” movement does appear to be winning the fight to end the death penalty. Take that, pro-death liberal, commie, socialist, facsist, Hopey-butt kissers!

  14. Wait, wait – so the pro-life movement is on better argumentative grounds because they have backing in a document that has nothing to do with the governance of the United States, while the pro-choice folks only have the wacky Constitution on their side?

    Heeelllllllo looking glass, and let me step through you…

  15. I don’t know why you people so relentlessly mock his beard, I just don’t. It’s his FOREHEAD that makes him look like some kind of mutant freakazoid that should have been crushed at birth.

  16. It should be noted that his reference to the “nebulous rights” seems to be specifically addressing Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 supreme court case regarding marital privilege and birth control, cited in the Roe v Wade decision. Quoth wikipedia:

    “Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention “privacy,” Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections.”

    So really, he’s just ragin’ about girls on the pill again.

  17. MMmmmm. Because nothing says expansion of rights like being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term by laws crafted almost exclusively by dudes. Those Harvard sluts really lost their chance to find a gem of a guy.

  18. Because nothing says expansion of rights like being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term


  19. [re=314621]Jim Newell[/re]: Yeah okay great, and this post is terrific — but what about little Gertie Van Swisherton and First Dude Palin? America wants to know!

  20. Life begins at conception and ends at birth. Got it Douchenozzle. Please go back to Mass and leave the rest of us alone. Kthxbi.

  21. Thanks for posting the NYT link. I now (finally!) understand the ‘neck-beard’. It’s to create a shadow, hiding the double chin. Am I right, or am I right?!?

  22. [re=314606]Joshua Norton[/re]: Hey! He is married to a reasonably cute little female grad student. I wouldn’t want to try to prove that this marriage was ever consummated, but at least he lives with someone who is *willing* to lay him, should the spiritual weather ever be right for that.

    I know. I was dumbfounded, too. But I still claim she’s his Other Beard.

  23. [re=314609]Mad Farmer Manifest[/re]: Funny you say that, every time I read his name, I see “Douchehat”. Which is, you know, fine.

  24. What I love about this, though, in conjunction with his loathing of birth control is that he seems to be suggesting our march of freedom ends up making sex allowable only for procreation. THAT is a hell of a trick. I guess that’s really the only way you can make conservatism more attractive for the non-ancient set–hey guys, let’s go fight for our right to find sex icky and confusing! And I love that he can’t understand why this might be a losing strategy…

  25. Is it really a fluffy argument to say that ladies have the “freedom to make choices” about their own bodies?

    It is if you’re a pre-Vatican II dude in a church that values women like Mississippi values education. However, I can’t take this douche seriously. Anyone under 30 who claims to be this conservative is merely bloviating with the zeal of the recently converted. I see a reverse neo-con future for him: he starts out on the loony right but eventually lands on the left, as soon as he stops being embarrassed by his very existence.

  26. [re=314640]chascates[/re]: the whole pro-torture express is getting like that, with Cheney as cheerleader. That man needs a better hobby, like pro wrestling; a few piledrivers and he’ll be much better off.

  27. [re=314629]snideinplainsight[/re]: Yes. And he looks too old to be my age. Just 29? His photo on wikipedia makes me want to roll over and die.

  28. I just don’t buy the argument that the right to privacy is not in the Constitution simply because the phrase “right to privacy” does not appear anywhere. How else would you phrase it than in the 4th amendment?

    the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated….

    What is the right to privacy if not the right to be secure in your person, house, papers, and effects?

  29. Oh please, wait until his girlfriend, mistress, teenage daughter, inconvenient person gets knocked up, and he’ll be pumping out paragraphs explaining why pro-choicers are right. These people are all the same.

  30. In the off-chance that Mr. Douthat is actually reading this:

    Dear Mr. Douthat,

    I have a question. I like onion dip. Since I prefer to mix my own to my own spicy specifications, I purchase sour cream separately, and a box of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix. Here’s where it gets problematic: the sadistic pinheads at my local grocery store can’t make up their minds as to where to put the Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix. Sometimes I find it in the aisle where they put the soups, sometimes they put it with other powdered mixes like gravy and alfredo sauce; other times I’ve found it in the seasonings section. This can be quite frustrating.

    However, I recently made a discovery. In the Jewish food item section (which is located next to the Asian food section, across the aisle from the Hispanic food section), I found Lipton’s *Kosher* Onion Soup Mix. Regardless of wherever they’ve hidden the non-Kosher Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, the Kosher version is always right there, conveniently located along with the Motzah Ball Soup Mix and other stuff I assume to be of Jewish dietary lineage.

    Hence, my question: What is the fuck-all difference between “Kosher” Lipton Onion Soup Mix and (for lack of a better term) “Gentile” Lipton Onion Soup Mix? I called Lipton Headquarters once, but the lady was either rude, didn’t understand my question or was just having a bad day, because she hung up on me.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  31. My gawd, Douthat has discovered the key to everything: just ask if it’s with or against the grain of history. Some early results:

    *Ridin’ muh ATV around Arlington National Cemetary –> more free, ergo with the grain of history.
    *AK-47s in the schools, ditto.
    *Me doing Billy Piper in the next three weeks –> based on penumbric emanations, therefore anti-historic.

  32. He’s either a convert to Catholicism or went to all boys’ Catholic school. Those are the only ways someone so young could end so misogynistic and actually take the Church’s rules about birth control seriously.

  33. No, the pro-life movement is about to die a slow death. 1.) Young people are tired of hearing about it and just don’t care. 2.) Even the Paultards are divided on this issue. Some cite the rights of the mother, some, the unborn child. At least that was the case the last time I checked in with the libertarians, but who knows what those ladies are up to now? Obama, please give us the wedge issues of the future!!!

  34. Okay. The video with Brian Lamb shows that Douchhat is far more repulsive than he appears in that photo above.

    Hey Ross ! Here is some advice from someone who really enjoys that “nebulous” right to control my own uterus and all that is attached to it:

    If you are reading this, you need to stop eating whatever Goldberg and Lopez are feeding you. Also, your hair seems to be deserting the top of your head at an alarming rate. That neck-beard growth is going to work against you. If you are looking to define a sagging chin, try laying off the beer and pork rinds.

    It is really hard to listen to some loser preach about sexual and reproductive “morality” when they look like they came to their conservative views mainly because they suck in bed and they can’t relate to the opposite sex.

  35. [re=314688]doxastic[/re]: Maybe it’s because I boycott everything to do with weddings (esp. the gifts) as a form of protest until my lesbian can get married in any of the states, but I missed the part where they changed the wedding vows to “I promise to love, honor, and pro-create.” Maybe it’s just me, but I thought “love, honor and cherish” was a lot more romantic. BTW–Fuck obey.

  36. If Ross Douthat had grown up where I did in Western Pennsylvania, he’d have been so twisted by mocking and bullying, he would have been too mentally ill to attend Harvard. Normally I am ashamed by that, but in his case I feel proud.

  37. [re=314759]springfield_meltdown[/re]: If I recall correctly, his entire family converted when he was a young kid. From what, I don’t know. If it was Judaism may I just say good riddance.

  38. If I recall correctly, his entire family converted when he was a young kid. From what, I don’t know. If it was Judaism may I just say good riddance.

    Pentecostalism, according to Wikipedia. But they were something else before that.

    His mother, Patricia Snow, is a mealy-mouthed douchenozz who writes for the mealy-mouthed douchenozz Catholic press. Hate her, too.

  39. [re=314744]Blender[/re]: The “kosher” soup mix is actually pareve, so you can mix it with sour cream and remain technically kosher.

    However, you’ll still be ingesting a secret Muslin ingredient, so your onion dip will still be dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Don’t believe me? Check out the ingredients list:

    Dehydrated Onions, Salt, Corn Flour, Hydrolyzed Soy and Wheat Protein, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Caramel Color, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium Phosphate, Arabic Gum, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate.

    Catch that? Arabic gum? They may as well just slap a “we side with terrorists” label on the package!

  40. [re=314679]ignatius_riley[/re]: Douchehat it is.[re=314668]jinxykb[/re]: Yes, it creates a kind of face somewheres in the center of the big head.

  41. Someone needs to tell Douchehat and Kevin Smith that a beard is no substitute for a jawline. Anal crucify the pair of them now plz!

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