by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kevin Williamson of National Review Online explains why he’s no fan of rage.
Put me in the anti-rage camp. Rage makes you stupid. …
… I’m sometimes described as an angry writer, which always surprises me. I am much, much more frequently bored by American politics than outraged by it. (More than one cable-news producer has suggested to me that I should present with more outrage.) Senator Feinstein does not fill me with rage; she has the exact aspect of a woman who is very, very sad that the bingo game didn’t break her way this time, and it is difficult to be angry at that. I do not think she should be in the Senate, but I do hope that wherever she ends up, there’s someone there to make her a nice cup of hot tea.
Our politics is full of performative outrage, histrionics that are designed to imbue unserious people with an air moral seriousness and to keep the rubes emotionally invested long enough to get them to a commercial break. It almost inevitably is the case that people have the strongest feelings about the things they know the least about; people who actually know about any subject of genuine interest understand that such subjects tend to be complicated, and that expressions of outrage, however cathartic, do not render them any less recondite. Compare Paul Krugman on economics to Paul Krugman on politics and you’ll see what I mean.
I would suggest that we make a concerted effort to abolish cheap outrage from our political discourse, but that proposal would be stillborn: There’s just too much money in outrage. Instead, I would suggest taking a different attitude toward those histrionics, understanding that what people such as Sean Hannity and Chris Hayes are engaged in is not really political discourse at all, but something much more like sports commentary or The Real Housewives of Wherever. …