Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XXXVII: An Apathy Party Manifesto, a rebuke of Sarah Palin, and Jon Stewart The Horrible

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fly-Fishing-Darth-Vader-Evangelical/dp/1439159971">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

Editors Note: Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

What lessons can we take away from this election and how will it affect my life? – J. Kramer

What we learned: You can either worship Satan, or leave your pubic hair untrimmed. But you can’t do both. Americans are a tolerant people. But even they have their limits.

How will the election affect you? In all likelihood, it won’t. People spend an ungodly amount of time obsessing over elections and what they mean. But here’s a dirty little secret: they almost never mean as much as they’re cracked up to. Remember the monumental historic election of 2008 in which the earth reversed rotation on its axis and nothing would ever be the same again? Baracktards, are your lives really that markedly different than they were under George W. Bush? Because if they are, I’ve yet to hear you stop whining about them.

Tea Partiers, do you really think food will taste better and Woodrow Wilson will burn in hotter hellfire because Marco Rubio won? You’re a sad, deluded person if you do. Not to mention that you’re evidencing the naivety of an Obamabot, circa 2007. I dislike big government, too. But if government is a flabby, slow-witted behemoth that should be a mere afterthought on our journeys as rugged individualists, why do you spend every last waking hour being consumed by who’s running it? The difference between, say, Sharron Angle and Harry Reid is not, I’m sorry to report, the difference between 5 and 10 percent unemployment rates. If government were actually any good at fixing that sort of intractable problem, then it might be worth losing sleep over. But it isn’t. And the realization that government is not the remedy for most ailments is why you’re supposedly a conservative in the first place.

As the architect of the Apathy Party – which I’ve never cared enough about to formally launch – I like to state our founding principle: it’s not cool not to care, but we don’t care enough to care if it’s uncool. Less cynically stated: it’s not that nothing matters, it’s just that most things matter a lot less than we pretend they do. And a good many of the things that actually do matter — our tottering financial system, our runaway debt, our fraying entitlements — nobody’s demonstrated the real political will to fix anyway. All of those catastrophes have enjoyed bipartisan support. If you really believe a few rookie Tea Partiers can un-wreck the train, good luck with that. You’re a lot more optimistic than I am.

On most days, politics is little more than sports for people who are too easily confused by baseball. But as with baseball nerds, that doesn’t stop them from assigning way too much consequence to every uptick and downturn. Remember when Obama won a mere 735 days ago? That supposedly represented the Death of Conservatism. Oops. From now on, maybe “A New Age of Whatever Some Short-Sighted Pundit On Deadline Declares It Is” should last a good five years before we even consider anointing it as such.

None of which is to suggest that we shouldn’t be happy with the outcome of this most recent election. We should, since Congress is now a house divided. If they’re not going to do anything useful, then paralysis, at least, is a desirable outcome. Given what we’ve had the last two years, gridlock is good. Everybody is always railing against a do-nothing Congress, while a do-anything Congress is what we should really be afraid of. It’s when Congress gets a big idea, then has the ability to pass it (see Obamacare) that the trouble usually starts.

So here’s to constructive bickering and stalemates, and bad legislation showing up dead on arrival. May the bipartisan spirit of can-doism rarely show its meddlesome face. And don’t get so uptight if/when that happens. Part of the problem with the exciting times we live in is that everybody’s too damn excitable. Calm down. Shut off your computer. Read a book. Have a drink. Walk your dog. Let the toxins leave your system. It’s neither the end of the world, nor the dawn of a new era of prosperity and righteousness. It’s just an election. They’ll have another one in two years.