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Ed Driscoll

Seeing ‘em Jump

May 20th, 2014 - 6:33 pm

What motivates a person to enter politics? In the midst of an interesting breakdown of his landmark 1970 article “Radical Chic,” as part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard’s “Annotation Tuesday” series, Tom Wolfe explains one big reason. But first, early in the liner notes, Wolfe first mentions his theory of “Information Compulsion:”

[T]his is my one contribution to psychology: There’s something called “information compulsion,” which makes you feel good when you supply information to someone. You got a few little status points because that person needed what you knew, and you gave it to him. On the other hand, if you’re asked something that you can’t answer, you think, What are you coming to me for?

And with that as background, much later in the interview, interviewer Elon Green asks Wolfe, “Do you think that’s why powerful people, despite it not being in their best interest, will talk to journalists?”

Yeah, I think so. I remember talking once to Abe Ribicoff. When I was a graduate student, they have these weeks where distinguished people come and make themselves available to all kinds of student organizations. We had a little thing called the American Studies Club. During the course of the week, Abe Ribicoff agreed to come. I asked him, very naively, “What is it that motivates politicians? Is it the money, the power? What is it? The publicity?” And he said, “Well, it’s certainly not the publicity. You get so used to it that you just expect it.” And then he said, “Unless you’re an idiot, it’s not the money.” And he says, “You find out that even at the federal level, you don’t really have that much power. There are very few people who you can point to, and say, ‘You do this and you do that.’” But, he said, “The real kick is seeing them jump.” I said, “Seeing them jump?” “Yeah,” he said. “You come into a room and everybody jumps up! Everyone offers you whatever seat you want. If you even hint that you might be hungry, 10 people want to go out and get you something from the restaurant.” He said, “Seeing ’em jump. That’s what it’s all about.” Of course, this was a student organization, and there was no one there with even an interest in publishing it. But he was really letting you in on something there, and you could really get a kick out of your own sophistication, if you say something like that.

Which sums up quite a bit about today’s politicians, and perhaps even our bloated and ever-expanding class of permanent bureaucracy, and their sheer paranoid bug-eyed terror in response to anyone who wished to take that frisson of joy of “seeing ‘em jump” away from them.

Read the whole thing, which in addition to the above conversational detour is quite fascinating, considering the impact of that period on today’s politics is still being felt. Far from divesting themselves of radical chic, Democrats have wallowed in it, to the point where the New York Times runs fawning profiles of former Weatherman Bill Ayers and his kin, former matinee idol Robert Redford recently directed a film in defense of the radical chic, Ayers helped birth Obama’s political career, and the Black Panthers’ namesake successors advertised on Obama’s Website in 2008, and were tacitly defended by his attorney general. And share some fascinating interconnections:

(Part two of that video is here.)

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama wants all the brouhaha of the presidency but none of the work. I think he would probably feel that way about almost anything. He is basically a lazy person who thinks of himself first. I have never thought of him as a highly intelligent person but as a "user". He uses whatever is close: people, things, situations. He has a crew of people who think he is wonderful and they believe everything and are reluctant to see any faults. He has plenty of faults.I think Obama was prepared to go into American politics by people he consorted with. His "upbringing" was far from conventional. His mother appeared to put everything else first,,,,before him.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And nothing makes people jump and toady more than holding total control of their health care or whether or not they get audited or whether or not they get their research grant money whether or not EPA regulations come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Watching the flyover peasants bow and scrape, tug on their forelocks, come to you with hat in hand -- it's good to be the new elite aristocracy class. Just ask the Golfer-in-Chief.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞­۩ஜ
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WWW.JOBSCS.COM
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spread the Message:
STEP DOWN MR OBAMA !
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The liberal elite have no idea that their lunatic thinking is contrary to their own well-being. I see a revolution coming.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to see em jump with electrodes attached.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
For a wonderful spoof of those years I recommend Paddy Chayevsky's 1976 movie, 'Network'. At the time many understood what animated these chic radicals.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting. "see them jump" Lois Lehrner has been jumping for the Fascist-Democrats for a long time. And been well rewarded. The lesson has been taught, learned and shown to so many others.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama wants all the brouhaha of the presidency but none of the work. I think he would probably feel that way about almost anything. He is basically a lazy person who thinks of himself first. I have never thought of him as a highly intelligent person but as a "user". He uses whatever is close: people, things, situations. He has a crew of people who think he is wonderful and they believe everything and are reluctant to see any faults. He has plenty of faults.I think Obama was prepared to go into American politics by people he consorted with. His "upbringing" was far from conventional. His mother appeared to put everything else first,,,,before him.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
It’s not funny. The Bernsteins and Halberstams are certain their wealth and connections will protect them. (And they were right.) And Wolfe’s mockery and humor were ineffective.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Unless you’re an idiot, it’s not the money.”

Too bad we can’t follow up on this to ask him if he thinks Harry Reid and Bill Clinton and all the other politicians who became fabulously wealthy in public office are idiots.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And nothing makes people jump and toady more than holding total control of their health care or whether or not they get audited or whether or not they get their research grant money whether or not EPA regulations come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Watching the flyover peasants bow and scrape, tug on their forelocks, come to you with hat in hand -- it's good to be the new elite aristocracy class. Just ask the Golfer-in-Chief.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
For years my wife and I have thought that there was some underlying titillation for Leftists when they side with elements that they know will irritate the majority of us. We used to say, "It makes their nipples hard." This evolved into the 'harnip principle'. So, Eric Holder siding with the new black panthers was rated as 10X steely-hard, using the harnip principle. It works for us.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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