The Amazon blub about Kyle Smith’s 2004 novel “Love Monkey” reads:
“Many men aim high; Tom Farrell dares to be average. While his friends accumulate wedding rings, mortgages, and even, alarmingly, babies, Tom still lives alone in his rented apartment with nothing but condiments and alcohol in his refrigerator. He spends Saturday mornings watching cartoons and eating Cocoa Puffs out of an Empire Strikes Back bowl, and devotes the rest of the weekend to his other favorite hobbies: sports and girls. His credo, to think and act like a thirteen-year-old boy at all times, has worked well enough to land him a decent job writing headlines for the New York Tabloid. But neither his personal life nor his professional life has any forward momentum; he’s occupied the same cubicle since the first George Bush was president and is currently “between girlfriends.” At thirty-two, it starts to occur to him: There’s a fine line between picky and loser.”
Good lord . . .
This is tangentially relevant to our current American moment, as Kyle Smith — Monkey Love’s author and, pretty obviously, protagonist — was recently granted space in The National Review to pen an op-ed castigating Dr. Jill Biden for the use of her earned professional title.
The op-ed, as you’d expect given the subject matter, is hollow and dumb. It’s also wantonly cruel. He even teased the piece on his Twitter feed a few hours before publication with these words:
“You’re gonna love my next piece. It’s so mean.”
It garnered 115 likes.
The article was as advertised. It was petty, nasty, and transparently misogynistic. I took notes on the first 500 words or so, in which the author claimed Dr. Biden’s use of her title was:
- a gauche, silly, cringey ego trip;
- something of a joke in the academic world;
- barely fit for a middle-school Social Studies classroom;
- a quarter-a**ed excuse for a magazine article written at the level of Simple English Wikipedia.
- and a gasping, wheezing, frail little Disney forest creature that begs you to notice the effort.
He also wrote — just so he could work in an actual reference to a woman’s appearance, that the chances Dr. Biden would have received her degree without family connections was “was about as likely as Tom Hagen telling Vito Corleone that his wife is a fat sow on payday.”
The whole thing is embarrassing and puerile — much like one might expect from the author of Monkey Love. It also carries on in similar fashion throughout rest of the piece. It never stops being small, petty, tragic, and lame — attributes likely stemming directly from the broken center of its scribe.
Don’t bother reading it.
All in all, it’s pretty obvious that Kyle Smith will fade from the collective consciousness quickly, but the adolescent pettiness of his work is likely a good foreshadowing of what we’ll see over the coming four years — and in that, there’s a message we might discern.
The entirety of the Right Wing political and media universe — of which Kyle is a tiny, mewling part — can only operate at maximum outrage. The beast they’ve created — one built exclusively on hate, lies, and fear — can only be sustained if it never takes a breath. It can never pause to consider the value its targets, the truth of its assertions, or the propriety of the attack. To do so might lead to self-reflection. To do so for more than a day might lead to self-awareness. To do so for a week might lead to mass resignations or the hayseed equivalent to seppuku. They just can’t stop. It’s fire and fury — about literally anything — without even an hour for adrenal reset.
Witness, the current savaging of Jill Biden for being rightly proud of her academic achievement. Witness their gross assaults on a woman with the audacity of self-respect.
It’s been this way for years. (REMEMBER THE TAN SUIT!) It will continue this way until the whole runaway train ends up either destroying the nation or itself — and we can pivot off that.
There’s a lot of typically Democratic handwringing right now about how, in the early months of a Biden Administration, we can best build bipartisan working groups and find common ground with the loyal opposition. And, sure, that deserves exactly one push toward grand legislative progress, because (who knows?) maybe with Trump out of the White House there’s a Murkowski or a Collins or a Romney who will come aboard for the good of the nation.
But if (and when) that fails, we need to remember that no matter what passes for news on Earth Prime, over yonder on Planet Republican, someone like Kyle Smith will be shouting at the top of their lungs that Dr. Jill Biden is “a triple null set, a vacuum inside a blank inside an abyss.”
The simple reality is that their volume — from now until the end of time — will be set at a screechy eleven. The simple reality is that even on the calmest, smoothest-sailing days, they will be banshees of chaos, turmoil, and attack.
So I say we give them something to really cry about.
Since there is no chance at all — utterly none — that OANN, or Newsmax, or the National Review, or Fox News will ever, ever, ever stop jabbing their test subjects in the eye in order to ramp up their stress hormones, we may as well go full-bore with prosecutions and investigations into the corruption and graft that defined the Trump Era.
- I wanna know what investigations were thwarted by Bill Barr. I wanna know which ones were pursued for political ends.
- I want to know who, exactly, ordered the insane policy of herd immunity before a vaccine, and cost us hundreds of thousands of lives.
- I wanna know what happened to the Inaugural Committee Donations.
- I wanna know how slimy and scaly Wilbur Ross actually was over at Commerce.
- I wanna know how Mitch McConnell was reelected with an 18% approval rating.
- I wanna know every last detail about Ivanka Trump’s separate trade deals with China.
- I wanna dig up dirt on all these assholes, if only so we can spend the next four years playing smart offense, rather than stupid defense.
I understand that if we touch even one of those hot rails, we’ll be setting off a violent, extremist reaction amongst Republican politicians and their allies in the media. I know that twerps like Kyle Smith will get column inches so that they can be mean in the National Review. I know that these attacks will fill up the A, B, and C-blocks on the Tucker Carlson White-Power Hour — but that’s gonna happen anyway.
That’s the whole point. That’s what Kyle Smith’s surfacing to the top of the pond means. It doesn’t matter what’s actually happening — or not — in the world. They are going to be screaming — so let’s beat them like Richard Spencer on a street corner.
Let’s see if the prestigious author of Monkey Love has the sack for that fight. My guess is he won’t. And if he does, I know he won’t have the skill.
Rather, my expectation is that he’ll retreat to his mom’s basement, stare down at the limp pencil in his hand, and accept — finally — that he’s not just picky.
He’s a loser.