Annals of Cynicism, pt. 352

Sorry, can’t resist this one.  After all, I wrote the book about it.  (OK, a book about it)

Chris Matthews’ latest book, however, received exactly the degree of seriousness it deserved on the Jon Stewart Show.  This was one of the strangest, most hysterical, most abjectly shamefaced performances I’ve seen on TV, or anywhere, for a long, long time.  Crooks and Liars transcribed one of the best exchanges between the two:

MATTHEWS: I’m listening to you…

STEWART: No, you’re not…

MATTHEWS: Of course I am, you’re trashing my book.

STEWART: I’m not trashing your book, I’m trashing your philosophy of life.

And for those of you curious enough to wonder what “philosophy of life” Chris Matthews could possible possess, it’s pretty much what you would expect from a title like Life’s a Campaign.  This is how his publishers describe the book:

The big payoff in Life’s a Campaign is what you’ll learn about human nature:

• People would rather be listened to than listen.
• People don’t mind being used; what they mind is being discarded.
• People are more loyal to the people they’ve helped than the people they’ve helped are loyal to them.
• Not everyone’s going to like you.
• No matter what anybody says, nobody wants a level playing field.

Knowing such truths is the successful person’s number one advantage in life. As you’ll learn in Life’s a Campaign, mastering–and employing–these truths separates the leaders from the followers.

This reads like Ayn Rand and Deepak Chopra dropped headfirst into a gigantic blender.  And yet, and yet, there is a value to such confessions, even when they are done unwittingly.  We learn something about the kind of personality that thrives in our current political environment.

As Nietzsche once wrote:

Cynicism is the only form in which base souls approach honesty; and the higher man must listen closely to every coarse or subtle cynicism, and congratulate himself when a clown without shame or a scientific satyr speaks out precisely in front of him.

No comment on the “higher man” self-ascription, though I think that listening closely is indeed a political virtue, if not for those who rule, then for those who would rather not be ruled.



One response to “Annals of Cynicism, pt. 352

  1. I just saw the cynicism book advertised in the NY review of books–huzzah!