Politics & Media
Jan 21, 2009, 10:18AM

Bitter? Who's bitter?

The Washington Post packaged a whole bunch of silly op-eds in its Sunday issue. One in particular stood out.

S.E. Cupp is young conservative pundit who has already made a splash in the publishing world with Why You're Wrong About the Right, a book that makes the trail-blazing claim that (spoiler alert) stereotypes are over-generalizations and untruths. He was given a chunk of space in last Sunday's Post to talk about—what else?—the Inauguration and how it sucks—sucks!—to be a Conservative during this time of transcendent liberal debauchery.

A first taste:

I'm proud of New York's role in early American history, but if Alexander Hamilton were alive today, I'd take him to that very bar and buy him a beer for persuading us Northerners to move the nation's capital to Washington. Thanks to him, I don't have to endure a month-long celebration in my backyard for the guy I didn't vote for.

That may sound bitter. I'm not. As a 20-something conservative who voted for  John McCain, I'm now part of the loyal opposition. Barack Obama will become my president, and for the good of the country, I want him to succeed. I appreciate the historic nature of his inauguration and am proud that my generation had a role in delivering this moment.

But I was just starting to rejoin the general population and eat solid foods again. And now I must brace myself for Tuesday, when all of Washington, the country -- the world! -- boogies down in honor of the man I was absolutely certain would be a mere momentary distraction.

Cupp continues to "not sound bitter" while sounding bitter at the fact that, wouldn't you know, a large part of this country is feeling pretty good right about now—and while 56% of the country voted for the guy, an unprecedented eighty-some percent are feeling positive about our 44th president. Not bitter, indeed.

You can't help but feel bad for this young conservative pundit, who finds historical context as:

In the face of all this excitement, it's not an easy thing, moving on, especially for young conservatives, who don't have decades of experience behind us dealing with losses to Kennedy, Carter and Clinton.


Hampton Williams, the head of NYU's College Republicans, is staying in town to prepare for the start of his last semester. "I have come to the conclusion that this will be the highlight of my liberal friends' lives," he told me over a flurry of Facebook exchanges. "Eight years down the road I will have a career and a family, and my liberal friends will have a faded Obama button." The slight tone of resentment did not go unnoticed.

Because those old conservative salts who toiled through those Kennedy-Carter-Clinton years had nothing in the way of victory to bring them out of the wilderness. Nothing whatsoever. And those liberal friends, so drunk on euphoria, will wake up in eight years with a goddamn button and no family or career. That slight tone of resentment is ringing in readers' ears.

Not bitter, indeed.

I don't deny the Cupp's bitterness, because I dealt with it myself four and eight years ago—and to be fair, being a liberal at school in (and having a family from) the Midwest is different than being a conservative in New York City. He makes the right overtures to "loyal opposition" and the like, and I hope that's emblematic for the majority of Cupp's generation of conservative thinkers.

It's OK to be bitter, not so much to try to pretend you're not in the Post.

  • S.E. Cupp ought to grow up. Politics runs in cycles, as his older compatriots could confirm. In '92, conservatives, pissed at the first Bush for raising taxes when he said he wouldn't, were still horrified by Clinton. Just two years later, Gingrich engineered the huge GOP sweep. One question, though, Mr. Klein: why no mention of LBJ?

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  • Hmm, I'm not sure where a mention of LBJ is necessary. If you're referring to the the phrase "Kennedy-Carter-Clinton" years, that was a phrase of Cupp's, who didn't include LBJ for whatever reason (maybe he respected the whole Vietnam thing?). Regardless, LBJ is a whole other can of worms.

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  • Well, so is Carter. My point is not that Cupp neglected LBJ--and I carry no water for him--since he seems like a crybaby to begin with, but you seem like a brighter guy who knows history. And after LBJ's landslide in '64, the GOP was seen by myopic pundits as going the way of the Whigs.

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  • I don't think Cupp is indicative of a Republican Party on the brink of going the way of the Whig (if that's what you're implying). I've written about the current environment of conservative thought: http://splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/conservatism-s-hope-the-tubes. TableMountain, I think LBJ's '64 election is a problematic analogy for Obama's. While Obama had the massive anti-Bush tide, that really can't compare to national mourning over an assassinated president and the anxiety over a burgeoning cold war. Whereas Obama's victory is more in line with the general/vague pendulum of American politics, LBJ watched his party dissolve into (historically necessary) anarchy within four years. Talk about the opposite of coalition building. And that whole decade was pretty much synonymous with upheaval. Obama's stimulus plan, for example, has come under attack from the left for not being big enough and for containing too many tax cuts and not enough straight spending. Yet as such it's a plan a lot of conservatives can get on board with and thus, the logic goes (not without much peril), the stimulus package becomes the responsibility of the coalition, not the President alone. This kind of government could, in it's most ideal sense, keep conservatives out of the wilderness. Governing becomes a little easier when you rely less on the Whips and more on balanced policy. Not saying this will happen verbatim, but you can't help but think the possibility is flourishing.

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  • Is Cupp implying that there will be a month-long celebration for Obama in D.C.? Living here, I definitely don't sense that. Definitely an extended weekend celebration, but that's it. Also, why exactly is it that Mr. Williams will have kids in 8 years and I won't (besides the fact that I'd like to have some more fun with my life for a little while longer)? Did voting for Obama make me sterile?

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