As y’all know, I’m pretty much incapable of passing up a snarka-tunity when it comes to hypocritical Republican politicians who can’t keep it in their pants. This week, Newsweek gift-wrapped the snarka-tunity and placed it right in my mailbox.
The latest issue features a review of Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Anne Heller’s new biography of Ayn Rand, a writer who I would happily trade in the first round of the Gender Draft. For those of you unfamiliar with Rand and the Objectivist philosophy she spawned, it’s explained here. Objectivism, IMO, can best be summed up as “You don’t have to give a rat’s ass about anyone else.” This applies equally to the economy (unfettered capitalism FTW!) and one’s personal life (as long as you’re happy, it doesn’t matter who you fuck over). Needless to say, it’s extremely popular among rich white dudes, since it rationalizes and blesses what they’ve been doing for centuries already.
But what makes this review of the Rand biography so very, very special is its author: Governor Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford, who pursued his own personal objectives at the expense of his wife, his four kids, and the entire state of South Carolina.
Sanford essentially transforms the book review into a soapbox from which he can spout the usual right-wing claptrap about how the government shouldn’t really be doing anything for anyone, and quotes Howard Roark–the hero of Rand’s novel The Fountainhead–to further his argument:
“I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need … I recognize no obligations toward men except one: to respect their freedom and to take no part in a slave society.” Cold though they sound, these words contain two basic truths. First, an individual can achieve great things without governmental benevolence, and second, one man has no right to another’s achievement. These are lessons we should all remember today, when each week is seemingly marked by another government program designed to fix society.
The last soap-boxy sentence doesn’t really jibe with his “two basic truths”, since things like quality public education or affordable health care do not in any way rob the individual of his/her ability to achieve great things or to benefit from them (if anything, they aid achievement).
But political grandstanding aside, the review scores a 10 on the Unintentionally Humorous Subtext scale, with gems like this:
I’ve grown more critical of Rand’s outlook because it doesn’t include the human needs we have for grace, love, faith, or any form of social compact.
I bet Mrs. Sanford would agree, given how that social compact between y’all turned out. But let’s not end without a thinly veiled shout-out to Christianity:
There is one more major flaw in Rand’s thinking. She believed that man is perfectible…and Galt himself, in the 57-page speech near the book’s end, explicitly denies the existence of original sin. The idea that man is perfectible has been disproved by 10,000 years of history. Men and women are imperfect, or “fallen”…
Thanks, Governor. Those of us who caught your rambling, Jesus-loving confessional speech about your lost weekend with your Argentine mistress know how you feel about sin and being “fallen.”
I wish I had been a fly on the wall in Newsweek‘s editorial offices when they commissioned and edited this review. The Washington Post Company is hardly Republican-friendly (and probably not Objectivists either), and I can’t help but think that their tongues were firmly planted in their cheeks when they published this. I wonder if Sanford noticed.