“Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming,” Friedrich Nietzsche warned in 1885′s Also sprach Zarathustra, “he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.”
Perhaps in today’s politically correct times, even Nietzsche would be forced to call him “the last person” to be gender neutral. For both sexes are capable of plenty of examples of people no longer able to despise themselves.
First up, since it’s the newest story, Nancy Pelosi orders her fellow Democrats to “Embrace the suck.” Palomino!
It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the budget deal.
“Embrace the suck,” House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats Thursday morning, a source told Politico.
“We need to get this off the table so we can go forward,” she added. It’s a way of telling her colleagues the budget deal negotiated with Republicans is the best they can get.
Beyond a former Speaker of the House using such vulgarities — and more on that topic in a moment — on Tuesday, Allahpundit noted, “Via Ace and the IJR, here’s what a great nation in its death throes looks like.” Behold, Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster, who can’t or won’t admit that Benghazi is in the Middle East:
Funny, she knew it was there in 2011 — what’s happened in the interim that caused her to be so forgetful that an aide just off camera has to put talking points in her mouth Cyrano de Bergerac style?
Then there’s man who would be sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Oh by the way, “he has been violent in the past and suffers from schizophrenia,” AP reports, after interviewing him:
The man accused of faking sign-language while standing alongside world leaders like President Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service said Thursday he saw “angels” at the event, has been violent in the past and suffers from schizophrenia.
Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.
Jantjie, who stood gesticulating 3 feet from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.
But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.
“Asked how often he had become violent, he said ‘a lot’ while declining to provide details,”AP adds — so where was Obama’s secret service during the preparation for all of this? In the Manchurian Candidate, John Frankenheimer went through all sorts of elaborate permutations to smuggle Laurence Harvey’s crazed assassin character into Madison Square Garden. The next time somebody decides to make a similar political thriller, they’ll simply make him a sign language interpreter.
And then there’s the vice president, who feigns being sorta-kinda an illegal immigrant in an interview with the Politico to help pass amnesty:
“My great-great grandparents came escaping the famine and they didn’t all come here legally,” Biden said in response to a questioner who said her family came to the country legally from Ireland in the 1800s. “They didn’t all come legally. And the existence of the system isn’t all truncated like it is now. I’d check your ancestry to make sure that they did come legally if that’s a concern to you.”
Biden, who appeared alongside White House domestic policy chief Cecilia Munoz, several times called on House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform bill the Senate passed in June.
It was a shift from President Barack Obama, who said last month that he could live with the House passing a series of piecemeal immigration bills.
“Pass the bill, John Boehner, bring the bill up and let us pass it,” Biden said.
“I’m thinking we should have built a Border Wall in 1875, if that’s what it would have taken to keep the embarrassing Biden clan out,” Ace adds in response. “I’m also taking it as Biden’s desperate attempt at relevance. He’s practically begging us, ‘Please demand to see my birth certificate!!!’”
It’s also a reminder that Crazy Uncle Joe, like his boss, will say anything to an interviewer if he thinks it will even momentarily give him some sort of rhetorical advantage. Compare Joe’s Ellis Island rhetoric above with this quote from an interview back in 2006 with Chris Wallace on Fox News:
Sen. Joseph Biden says he can hold his own in a 2008 presidential primary against Democratic contenders from the South, noting that his home state of Delaware was a “slave state.”
Biden dismissed the notion that he was a “Northeastern liberal” who would have a poor showing in the South against other likely contenders such as Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee.
“Better than anybody else,” Biden said, when asked on “Fox News Sunday” to rate his chances of winning Southern states.
“You don’t know my state,” he said. “My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state has the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a Northeast liberal state.”
The last three Democrats to win the presidency _ Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson _ came from the southern states of Arkansas, Georgia and Texas, respectively.
But even beyond our nation’s would-be political rulers, our entire overculture is made up of last men. As Terry Teachout recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, there’s no real higher culture anymore — it’s all pop culture, all the way down. “It used to be that we didn’t take popular culture seriously, but now we don’t take anything else seriously,” Teachout writes:
Once again, it’s not my purpose to demean pop culture. I think that most of the best movies made in America in the 20th century were crime dramas, screwball comedies and westerns. But there’s more to life than getting your head blown off in a drug deal, and more to be said about love than can be crammed into a 32-bar ballad. Novels like Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood,” plays like Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” ballets like Jerome Robbins’s “Dances at a Gathering,” paintings like Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series,” musical compositions like Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata: These are large-scale works of art that aim higher than their popular counterparts. (In fact, that’s not a bad rough-and-ready definition of high art.) Mere ambition, mind you, is not in and of itself a good thing, any more than bigger is by definition better, but we’re cheating ourselves when we direct our attention solely to less ambitious art.
The key phrase is “less ambitious.” And to paraphrase Alvy Singer’s Catskills joke, the food here is terrible — and such large portions of profanity, too. Jonah Goldberg dubs it the “Triumph of the Vulgarians:”
Consider one of the Goldberg family’s favorite shows: Bravo’s Top Chef, in which the “cheftestants” compete in various culinary challenges for the title of — duh — top chef. Surely, a cooking show should be safe viewing for all ages. But for ten years running, the cast has cursed nonstop. Worse, the profanity isn’t really bleeped out, merely “bleeped at,” in the words of the New York Times.
In 2008, head judge Tom Colicchio rightly chastised the cast and posted an apology on the show’s website for all the “gutter language.” Nothing’s changed. Defenders of the cursing insist it reflects the reality of culinary culture. I’m sure that’s true. But journalistic accuracy is a pretty hypocritical defense for a show that has chefs making haute cuisine from vending machines amid egregiously staged product placements. (Also, the cursing is utterly gratuitous. I, for one, have never concluded a delicious meal with the exclamation, “Wow, the guy who made this must be really foul-mouthed!”)
And such hypocrisy gets at the core of the problem. Vulgarity has become cultural shorthand for everything from seriousness to rebelliousness to “keeping it real.” But it’s closer to the opposite.
Colicchio notes the chefs are always “on their best behavior” when they’re around him. They never curse in front of the judges. Nor would they, one hopes, around their kids or customers. But when they’re on TV — broadcast to millions (including the judges, their customers, and their kids) — they think it’s obligatory to let the expletives fly.
In other words, the standards of the common culture are lower than those in nearly every other walk of life. Which means they’re not really standards at all. If anything, the new taboo is decency.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news: “Black Supremacist Who Claimed ‘We Are Going to Have to Kill a Lot of Whites’ No Longer Employed by DHS,” the Department of Homeland Security, the Blaze reports:
It has been months since news broke about Ayo Kimathi’s shockingly racist website. As TheBlaze reported in August, Kimathi was placed on paid administrative leave, but not terminated from his position despite the hateful rhetoric he spewed online.
The website, titled “War on the Horizon,” encouraged “ethnic cleansing” of white people and “black-skinned Uncle Tom race traitors.” Kimathi was apparently trying to prepare blacks for the “unavoidable, inevitable clash with the white race.”
While it’s unlikely that he’s experienced a change of heart, you are at least no longer paying his salary with your tax dollars.
Finally, we’ve already mentioned President Selfie and the wire service photographer who was ashamed to break the news about him, so the less said, the better on those topics.
“The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest,” Nietzsche warned in 1885:
‘We have invented happiness,’say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth…
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
‘Formerly, all the world was mad,’ say the most refined, and they blink…
One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
‘We have invented happiness,’ say the last men, and they blink.”
And just wait until you see the headlines next year, and year after, and the year after that: embracing the suck also means embracing the world of Idiocracy.
Update: And in the meantime, the Nietzsche-inspired world of Seinfeld:
It’s not that life is a show about nothing — it’s simply that our would-be elites treat it as such.
More: The White House inadvertently sums up the point of this entire 1891-word post in a single misspelled tweet, which I added to the top of this post.