Unexamined Premises

Most Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Attitude readjustment time

They’re out there. After “Call me Ishmael,” perhaps the greatest opening sentence to an American novel, ever. The saga of McMurphy, the not-quite-sane man in an nuthouse full of lunatics, as told by Chief Broom — the lone sane inmate, who just pretends he’s crazy — is one of the underrated classics of American literature, a book so brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed that it makes the reader shake his head in wonder.


We’ve all seen the movie, of course, the 1975 Milos Forman film that made Jack Nicholson  a star, and we know how Black Jack’s one-man war against the State — in the form of the evil Nurse Ratched — ends (see above). Here’s how the Chief describes McMurphy’s neutering in the book:

Put on those things like headphones, crown of silver thorns over the graphite at his temples. They try to hush his singing with a piece of rubber hose for him to bite on.

“‘Mage with thoothing lan-o-lin.'”

Twist some dials, and the machine trembles, two robot arms pick up soldering irons and hunch down on him. He gives me the wink and speaks to me, muffled, tells me something, says something to me around that rubber hose just as those irons get close enough to the silver on his temples — light arcs across, stiffens him, bridges him up off the table till nothing is down but his wrists and ankles and out around that crimped black rubber hose a sound like hooeee! and he’s frosted over completely with sparks.

And out the window the sparrows drop smoking off the wire.

After yesterday’s “budget-crisis” sellout, the sparrows falling off the wire are us; the Surrender Caucus in Congress has seen to that, voluntarily subjecting themselves to the same Obamacare treatment that McMurphy fought so gallantly against. How else to interpret this gloat from Big Nurse himself, Chuck Schumer?

“I’ve talked to Mitch about this — I think the whole Republican Senate is different now,” Schumer said on Morning Joe on Thursday. “I don’t think Ted Cruz will recover so quickly. . . . I think the Tea Party and Ted Cruz have peaked.”

The New York Democrat said the tea-party members have now alienated their Republican colleagues as well as the general public after the shutdown. “I think you’re going to see a more mainstream, conservative Republican party,” he added.


I bet we will.  More right after the page break.

Schumer said, “I think you’re going to see a more mainstream, conservative Republican party.” As I just wrote over at NRO:

That’s true — if by a “more mainstream” Republican party Schumer means “more like the Democrats.” After all, we’re all one big happy family in Senate Comity land, and now that the polls have spoken, we’d best start acting like it. And enjoying spectacles like this.

So let’s review yesterday’s famous victory: Conservatives won nothing, were soundly defeated by members of their own party — including the speaker — and (in the middle of a debate over the country’s parlous financial condition) managed to take the unfolding fiscal catastrophe and assault on personal freedom known as Obamacare off the the top of the news cycle and make it lead instead with their own ineptitude and fecklessness.

There is no good way to spin this, except for the Right either to win this GOP civil war, form a new party (which would be out of power forever, especially with the media poised to strangle it in its cradle), or welcome their new transformationalist overlords. Any way you look at it, it’s going to be ugly. But until conservatives understand what this breed of Democrats knows in its bones — that in the zero-sum game of modern American politics, the only way to win is by winning — ugly is what we’re going to get.

But at least we all have a moment of clarity. The GOP is not, in any meaningful sense, a conservative, first-principles, Constitutionalist party — and unless it’s subsumed by the Tea Party, it never will be. Rather, it’s content to be the lesser half of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party as long as it can collect some of the pork scraps from underneath the table of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Government. No wonder they keep losing — they like it.


Still, we all know how this movie ends, don’t we? With them, still out there.

The end

The doctor won’t see you now.

 (Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)

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