sycophant — a servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people; a toady; a person who fawns; deferential and groveling; abject, adulatory, bootlicking, bowing, brownnosing, compliant, cowering, crawling, cringing, flattering, humble, ingratiating, kowtowing, mealy-mouthed, obsequious, parasitic, prostrate, scraping, servile, slavish, sniveling, spineless, submissive, subservient
My mouth fell open as I read Ezra Klein's A remarkable, historic period of change, not because of the astonishing mendacity of the content, but because I knew I was watching history being made. I felt certain that brown-nosing bullshit on such a grand, audacious scale had never before appeared in human affairs. All I can do is quote it and see if you agree.
Young Ezra Klein is an MSNBC news analyst and a columnist for the Washington Post and Bloomberg. He is based in the Imperial Capital, also called Washington D.C. The context of the piece is obvious — every important indicator of quality of life in the United States portrays a nation in radical decline for the large majority of its citizens, many of whom can no longer make ends meet. Only the wealthiest Americans have been exempt from this 30-year trend.
You may consider yourself a Realist and a Cynic. You're hard-core. Nothing surprises you. But no matter how far down that road you have traveled, you are probably not psychologically or emotionally prepared for fraudulent pandering on this scale. And now, without further ado, here's Ezra.
Max Weber wrote that “politics is the strong and slow boring of hard boards.” It is not a vocation that rewards impatience. Progress is slow. It’s tough. It requires compromises and is marked by disappointments. It’s incremental even when it needs to be transformational. At least, that’s how it usually is.
But step back and take an accounting of these last few years: The United States of America, a land where slaves were kept 150 years ago and bathrooms were segregated as recently as 50 years ago, elected and reelected our first black president. We passed and ratified a universal health-care system. We saw the first female Speaker of the House, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, and the first openly gay member of the Senate. We stopped a Great Depression, rewrote the nation’s financial regulations, and nearly defaulted on our debt for the first time in our history. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia legalized gay marriage, and the president and the vice president both proclaimed their support. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. We killed the most dangerous terrorist in the world and managed two wars. We’ve seen inequality and debt skyrocket to some of the highest levels in American history. We passed a stimulus and investment bill that will transform everything from medical records to education and began a drone campaign that will likely be seen as an epochal shift in the way the United States conducts war.
Americans of good faith disagree over the worth of these initiatives and the nature of these milestones. None of us know the verdict that history will render. But we can say with certainty that the pace of change has been breathlessly fast. We have toppled so many barriers, passed so many reforms, completed so many long quests, begun so many experiments, that even those of us who’ve been paying attention have become inured to how much has happened.
All of the egregious, ass-kissing, self-serving bullshit I've ever encountered in America—there are no exceptions—pales in comparison to this. This bullshit is in a class by itself. I can not do it justice.
But Ezra is not done.
It is common, for instance, to hear pundits wonder why the president didn’t invest in long-term infrastructure after the financial crisis or move Medicare beyond fee-for-service as a way to cut the debt, either forgetting or never knowing the stimulus was one of the largest one-time infrastructure investments in the nations's history and that the Affordable Care Act is the most ambitious effort to move American health care towards a pay-for-quality paradigm ever mounted.
In the future, I may say of some outstanding, self-serving servant of our ruling elites that "he's pretty good at his job, but he's no Ezra Klein." Now you will know what I mean by that.
The even more frequent complaint is that the pace and scale of change has been, if anything, insufficient. The stimulus should’ve been bigger, the health reforms more ambitious, the largest banks broken apart, the wars either finished more swiftly or expanded more decisively. All that may be true, but it doesn’t obviate the remarkable pace and scale of the changes that have come.
More troublesome is that even once change has happened, it takes time for it to be felt. The health-care law, for instance, won’t go into effect until 2014. And in some cases, the extraordinary efforts were meant to keep something from happening. Our success in stopping another Great Depression will be studied by economists for years to come, but in real people’s lives, that work meant less change, not more, though we should be thankful for that.
And now, Erza unknowingly becomes self-referencing. I will have to explain this part.
Political journalism, meanwhile, is built to obscure change once it’s happened. The demands of reporting the news require us to focus on what’s being done, rather than what’s been done (notice how, less than a week after the presidential election, we have already moved on to the Petraeus affair). The focus on conflict elevates voices that argue that we haven’t done nearly enough, or that what we’ve done wasn’t worth doing. The internal culture of the media encourages a kind of jaded cynicism — you’re always safer pretending to have seen it all before than admitting to never have seen anything like it.
Political journalism (like Ezra's) is built to obscure change once it's happened. And that's exactly what Ezra has done. He has swept 30 years of steady (and now accelerating) American decline under the rug. The message he sends to the powerful few who run this country is crystal clear—
You have nothing to fear from Ezra Klein. He has drunk the kool-aid. How good it tasted! How easily it went down! Ezra is not a threat to you. He is on your side. You can always trust him to support whatever further, abominable actions you are undertaking to enrich yourselves and screw The People.
Don't worry about Ezra. He's got your back.
For the seeker after Truth and Reality, which are for all intents and purposes the same thing, there are only two alternatives upon encountering the Greatest Sycophant In Human History.
1. You can blow your brains out, and specify the utter hopelessness of the Human Condition as the cause in your suicide note.
2. You can sit back in awe-struck wonder and, shaking your head in admiration, simply acknowledge that you have been privileged to witness the fine of art of toadying taken to levels never seen before.
I prefer approach #2, for if wonders like Ezra Klein are possible, what amazing things do we have to look forward to in the future? Sometimes I long for death, a peaceful exit from this horrible human nightmare. But today I want to live, I want to see the fall of the United States, I want to see the coming destruction of the Earth's biosphere—I want to see everything. The only pity is that I will be long dead when these inevitable, catastrophic things happen.
But I can die peacefully now, and in due course, because I saw some things, and they were astonishing enough.