the r eBel BootlICk er
W hy would anyone not be a liberal? Think of the rewards!
You’re an eternal teenager, always in sync with the cool
kids, never a target of scowls, a consistent beneficiary of invites
to events involving lamb sliders, crab cake tacos, and desperate
come-ons from Adrian Grenier. You secretly feel superior to all
those around you who have yet to evolve. You get to pronounce
“Pakistan” as “pock-ist-aahn.” You become an international walk-
ing guidebook for pretentious pronunciation. But you’re as rebel-
lious as a seat cushion.
The public acquiescence to liberal ideas has flourished for
decades, unquestioned and unfettered, solely because of the cool
assumption that leftism is rebellious. Given that for the left, dis-
sent is not tolerated, this makes no sense. You can’t be a rebel and
a sheep. It’s not possible. I remember Andrew Breitbart telling me
a story about being at a posh party in Aspen, where he was hav-
ing a friendly conversation with the wealthy host. They were get-
ting along fine, and the host graciously offered Andrew and his
wife an invitation to come stay with them over a weekend, per-
haps to ski. Maybe an hour later, the host’s wife found out Breit-
bart’s political leanings and confronted Andrew, informing him
that the invitation was rescinded. How petty, but also, how pre-
dictable. God bless Andrew’s wife, who was no firebrand like AB
but had to reap the consequences his beliefs wrought. Their road
was bumpier than a Klingon’s forehead.
The problem with this free intellectual ride given to the
left—it allows really stupid people to pull it off. There are tons of
libs who are smart, but there are far more who are stupid. Yet they
realize that simply saying the “right” thing creates an illusion of
intelligence. If all you have to really do is denigrate the mono-
lithic evil that is America, or the corrupt machine that is capi-
talism, or the ruthless single-minded viciousness of our military,
you can pretty much turn off your brain. All that stuff has been
said before, to be sure, usually by someone considered a great
thinker by the intelligentsia. And all of it easily translates into
shorthand that helps conquer every kind of cocktail party sce-
nario. Just say, “A little socialism never hurt anybody” on either
coast and you’re in the club. Even if you couldn’t spell “socialism”
with a dictionary on hand and a crossbow to your head.
You see this a lot with pop stars who inevitably fear that they
are as shallow as a tambourine. After spending their younger
years consuming and consumed by ego, they suddenly realize
that there is a way to rise above the lightweight reputation that
comes with being young, rich, and vacuous. So they embrace
liberal causes to appear deep. I call it the “Madonna syndrome,”
although she wasn’t the first to discover it. But it’s since been
adopted by everyone from Lady Gaga to that aging gasbag Jon
Bon Jovi. Their discovery of “politics” is a breathless embrace of
left-wing clichés, often expressed in cringe-producing interviews
and horrendously adolescent tweets. Watching a celebrity talk
politics is like watching a politician sing. There are exceptions.
Like Bono, who as he ages seems to salute the machinery of capi-
talism that made him wealthy. In mixed company no less. But his
social conscience couldn’t be better established if he were Bishop
Tutu doing an anti-fracking interpretive dance. With Tina Fey.
On an Indian reservation.
I’d say look at Cher as an example and her increasingly un-
hinged attacks on the right, but I would never suggest anyone
“look at Cher.” I would say “look at the human being formally
known as Cher. She is officially a cyborg.” So read her tweets in-
stead. She’s now prone to intolerant, vicious attacks on those who
think differently from her.
This was her recent take on Senator Ted Cruz:
I love crazies who crawl out from under Rocks to
defend a scumbag who is beneath contempt! He
makes Joe McCarthy seem like Mother Teresa!
There are more, many of them targeted at the usual sus-
pects: gun owners, Walmart, Tea Partiers, Republicans. This is
the poor crone’s road back to relevance, and who can blame her?
She’s too old to do Dancing with the Stars. Twitter is where old
cranks go to live and to die; and it’s exactly how they would want
to die—with an audience cheering on their every last crackpot
thought. (Note to my relatives: The moment I hit sixty, kill my
Twitter account. I fear I may end up tweeting about my Pat Sajak
fantasies—and I prefer to keep all that stuff for my memoirs.)
The bedrock of cool politics is simple: Help everyone into the
warm, fuzzy arms of government. It’s not exactly a horrible thing
to believe, if you close your eyes to the unintended (or perhaps
intended) consequences. In order for this cool idea to survive
unscathed, you have to ignore history and detach the incompe-
tence from the price paid by taxpayers. As a kid, I had no idea
where things came from. I didn’t realize we paid for the stuff we
got. Dad made 25K a year, but he could have been a millionaire.
When the milk arrived, I saw the milk (and the milkman, because
I’m that old) but never the bill. This is the brain of the child and
the liberal. There’s a wall between candy and its cost.
So the belief that government is a good thing that you work
for (as opposed to the other way around, the government being
awful and it works for you) puts cool kids at an advantage. Because
there is no shortage of ideas when the answer is always yes. If a
solution to one troubled program is another troubled program,
then you can always be Santa Claus. You can keep saying yes, as
long as the connection between benefit and cost is never made.
You can do this till the day you die, where you’ll be eulogized by
a drum circle of IRS agents.
So when a TV host asks a conservative guest, “What can
the government do about health care?,” the answer “nothing but
harm” may be true, but it’s also uncool and mean. If government
is a board game, the right comes off like a petulant child refusing
to roll the dice. Government is the game, and we’re the pissy kid
who won’t play. Asking a conservative for “government solutions
to a problem” is like asking a surgeon to name his favorite can-
cer. Asking a libertarian to nominate their favorite government
program is like asking a hemophiliac to name his favorite sharp
Which is why the left is always portrayed as the cool cat,
offering solutions that make poor people smile, while the right-
winger comes off as cold and brutal, as he shakes his head dismis-
sively, rejecting such romantic wrongheaded notions. Never mind
that the solutions offered are abstract poisons, and poisons that
kill you slowly. By not offering government-administered alterna-
tives, we are uncool. Until libertarians offer their own form of
“government program,” they will always be seen as aloof, heart-
less, and evil.
Here’s what I call the Stossel experiment.
Imagine John Stossel, a good-looking chap, taking a pill that
would have him say, “We really need more programs to feed the
poor and help the homeless.” That Stossel would be a movie star.
Now imagine Stossel saying, “We need government to stop
helping the poor because the more they help, the more they
hurt.” That Stossel would have a weekly show on Fox Business.
Life would be more glamorous for Stossel if he took the damn
Where does a nation end up, under the thumb of the cool?
You have a welfare state mired in debt with nothing to show for
it. It’s a three- pronged attack on everything that made America the
greatest country ever, a combination of incompetence, a degradation
of society's desire to create and grow, and an economy that simply
cannot keep up.
Excerpted from NOT COOL Copyright © 2014 by Greg Gutfeld to be published
March 18 by Crown Forum, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin
Random House Company.