T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII
Editor at Large, the National Topsider
Another Labor Day weekend wafts into Montauk, borne as always upon a chill wind of melancholy; a breeze that ushers in blithe spirits for the coming gay lawn soirees, the final chukkers of the summer polo leagues, the annual Montauk-to-Newport gin barrel regatta. But the selfsame mistral likewise presages season's end, and the maids' ritual packing away of the pastels and seersuckers for the annual migration to the dismally gauche winter quarters of Florida.
The seasonal affective disorder seems especially hard on Montauk's children, cleft as they are from the loving breasts of their household staffs by the stately carillons of distant preparatory academies. I could see it in the dilated pupils of young T. Coddington VIII last week, as his driver Evgeny packed the lad's trunks into the old family Daimler for the long lonely drive to Quonsocket Boy's Prep and Rehabilitation Center. At our farewell I left him with the same bracing words of encouragement left me by my father, swashbuckling Topsider founder T. Coddington Van Voorhees VI, upon my annual boyhood departures to the finishing schools of Switzerland: "the Alps will bloom soon enough, dear boy -- persevere, persevere."
As the legendary founder of the modern conservative movement Dad knew the perseverance of which he spoke. From the moment he printed the first Topsider in 1946 as an underground anti-Eleanor Roosevelt newsletter at Fauntleroy Country Day to his untimely demise last year, the old man more than once saw his conservative mettle sorely tested. And yet, through all of it, he remained a sturdy beacon of the cause, resolute in the knowledge that conservatism's fortunes would eventually turn. As he wrote in the Topsider's commemorative Nixon resignation issue in 1974, "keep two eyes fixed on the horizon, boys, and three pitchers full of Tom Collins."
Wise words to be sure, but one wonders whether even Dad's famous forbearance and scotch inventory would be equal to the recent privations now suffered by the conservative movement; not the least of which, I might add, have been cruelly inflicted on our gallant young conservative president. I was dumbfounded as you to read the scattered reports of Mr. Obama's diminishing popularity in the hinterlands, as his star remains unequaled in Montauk; particularly among the gracefully aging rock-and-roll troubadours and hiphop moguls who have joined the neighborhood in recent years. But if the nation's statistical prognosticators are to be heeded, the President's political stock has taken a nasty tumble not seen since the Baltimore & Ohio Preferred that sent Great Uncle Exeter Van Voorhees plummeting to a Wall Street sidewalk in 1958. The winds of approaching Autumn bode him no less ill, and unless quick corrective action is taken I fear the conservative renaissance under Mr. Obama will be strangled in the crib.
If I gather correctly from my correspondence secretary, a few Topsider subscribers have taken umbrage to my previous encomiums to Mr. Obama as the nation's foremost voice of conservatism. Invariably, these missives will emphasize at great length the President's trillion dollar shopping sprees, diplomatic apologies and bank nationalization schemes, between explicit invitations to fornicate myself. It is apparent these slow-witted correspondents are incapable of seeing the plain truth: that these are merely brilliant tactical policy feints designed by Mr. Obama to appeal to the wide swath of sensible American moderates who, I am assured, are quite keen on unlimited credit and state ownership of the means of production. Once the proletariat is on board, I have every confidence that our intrepid young captain will deftly steer conservatism back to safe harbor. In saner times it would have been a quick fortnight's journey; instead he has been buffeted by the endless gales and squalls of self-styled "conservatives" who have opposed him at every turn.
These, as is now obvious, are the real enemies of conservatism. Is it really necessary that I once again recite their roster? The Limbaughs, the Becks, the Levins, the entire bloviating panoply of talk radio baboons peddling their toxic brew of anti-government sedition and foot unguents to hordes of slackjawed exurban megachurch McMansionites. The Jindals and Perrys, crypto-secessionist boondock Babbits who rudely decline Mr. Obama's gracious offers of federal largesse. I suppose it is some comfort that we no longer must count the execrable la Palin in their ranks, as her resignation and exile afforded right-thinkers of the nation a brief moment of rational exuberance. But it appears that the ever-fertile Napoleon of Nome intends some sort of coup from her Facebook Elba, attempting to rile up the online lumpenproles with hysteric tales of "death panels" and "tax increases." One is tempted to dismiss it all as some sort of elaborate hoax, but their grunted entreaties have somehow found support among the nation's more dimwitted burghers. What began with the unsightly "Tea Party" idiocy of Spring has metastasized into the full blown dementia on display by health care protesters, filling America's high school auditoriums with simian hoots of insolence directed at the very congressional representives on whose noblesse oblige they depend.
Not even the occassional well-deserved finger-eating seems sufficient to stop this loathsome ill-dressed plague. Is it any wonder that one no longer finds self-admitted conservatives on Montauk, save for the gardening staff and a few swarthy weekend invaders from Queens in rental Porsches? Just as Dad drove Mamie Eisenhower and her cabal of UFO conspiracy lunatics out of the party in 1963, I have made it my personal crusade to purge our ranks of these downscale populist cretins before they inflict further damage to Mr. Obama and the conservative movement. It is for this reason the President wisely summoned me last week to an intimate political confabulation on Health Care strategy at Martha's Vineyard during his holiday there.
I am, in some fashion, Mr. Obama's "go-to man" on matters conservative, and of course agreed. I know the route to the Vineyard well; in his dotage grandfather T. Coddington V often piloted me there in his old auto-gyro, believing it was still Prohibition and he was making libation runs to Joe Kennedy's estate . I instead took the Nancy, our old ketch, laden with a precious cargo of like-minded conservative thinkers; the Mighty Davids, Brooks and Frum, Kathleen Parker and Bruce Bartlett. Not accustomed to the rigors of nautical life, I am afraid that all spent the journey violently vomiting off the beam. But after showers and a fresh change of khakis none were worse the wear when we arrived at the harbor in Gay Head.
The President was there to greet us, looking as elegant as ever, although it appeared his unfortunate smoking habit has increased in intensity. At his side was Mr. Emanuel, his brilliantly ambitious Chief of Staff, whose effortless grace and shiftily dancing pupils tell of his time as a classically trained terpsichorean. Soon joining us were David Axlerod and the Vice President, apparently in the grips of one of his occasional sunstrokes. We were also joined by the dashing Mr. Van Jones who has done such a yeoman's job as national Green Jobs Czar in organizing a boycott against the insipid TV harlequin Glenn Beck. Beck, as is now reported, is lamely attempting to retaliate by blithering about Mr. Jones' past dalliances with the Communist Party and the Black Panthers, as if those bore the slightest relevance to his job as a presidential advisor. For God's sake, our own family driver Evgeny is a former member of the Politburo, but it doesn't mean he can't parallel park a 26-foot Daimler town car.
After a toast to the late Senator Kennedy, it was finally time to get down to business.
"So," asked the President, elegantly lighting a Marlboro with the hot end of his previous Marlboro, "how do we avoid the Waterloo scenario?"
All hands went up, spasmodically shaking in breathless hopes of a presidential dialogue. For some reason, he selected Frum.
"Maybe... hee hee.. hee.. you should... heh.. like.. spin the protesters?... hee.. like maybe like.. hee hee.. they're crazy or something?" said the starstruck Canadian boob, collapsing into convulsive schoolgirl giggles with Parker. Brooks was too far rapt in an epileptic trance over the President's trouser crease to offer anything of substance.
"We tried that, you fucking retarded fuck," said Mr. Emanuel, understandably irritated. "We spun them as fucking retards, as teabagging perverts, as fucking shithead corporate tools, as goddamned batshit crazy violent fucking gun extremists. We called those ass-munches every fucking name in the cocksucking book, and for some fucking reason they still won't support us. Now why don't you give us a new angle, before I put a size 7 Capezio slipper up you ass."
"Family," I said.
The eyes of the room turned to me.
"Elaborate," said Mr. Obama, curiously.
"It's really rather simple, Mr. President," I explained. "By all accounts, these simpletons respond like Pavlov's dog to a ridiculously small set of stimuli. God, country, family. Rather than the direct insult approach, perhaps you should leverage those weak spots."
"Hmm... no insults," said the President, intently puncturing a smoke ring with his index finger. "Interesting. Go on."
I continued to expound on my thesis, using a quite personal example. I explained that unlike the obscenely fertile Palin clan, we Van Voorheeses have long struggled with fecundity. As an only child, Dad always impressed upon me the importance of producing an heir, especially after my betrothal to the elegant German-Argentine beauty Mariska von Hilter. On our 15th childless anniversary, Dad asked if we had seen a fertility specialist, and I assured him we both held a clean bill of reproductive heath. "So your mother was right," he sighed. "you are a homosexual." I was shocked by the supposition, having always found fairies too flamboyant and tacky for words. I explained that Mariska and I merely found the procreative act undignified at best, not to mention a sap on our mixed doubles baseline game. "Then there's hope for the family yet!" Dad enthused boisterously. To make a long story short, Mariska and I contracted a fantastic medical specialist who mixed our respective genetic hoo-hah in a test tube and injected it in Guatemalan woman, leaving us to enjoy the entire 1992 summer party season. Nine months and two surrogate arbitration disputes later, the world welcomed T. Coddington Van Voorhees VIII.
"You see, Mr. President, if you can convince these rubes that your health care reform plan will help create and sustain American families, they will eventually fall in line," I said. "I suggest you get your Madison Avenue creative wizards on the case."
"The old sappy soft-sell, huh?" said Mr. Emanuel. "I gotta hand it to you, Van Voorhees, you're a regular fucking Don Draper."
"And if that doesn't work?" asked the President, warily.
"If they won't listen to reason, Mr. President," I said, "perhaps they'll listen to more finger biting."
The President and staff escorted us to the harbor at Gay Head where we said our goodbyes and traded thank yous.
"If I could ask one favor in return, Mr. President," I said presumptuously. "With Senator Kennedy's seat vacant, perhaps you could prevail upon your friend Governor Patrick to appoint a Von Voorhees. I have a few acres on Nantucket, and an heir awaiting at Quonsocket Prep."
The President elegantly flicked his cigarette into the bay and assured me he would take the suggestion on advisement. In concluding our discussion I left the President with words of encouragement and recalled my father's wise counsel of perseverance.
"I am an old hand at sailing, Mr. President, and I have learned that the winds do not always blow one's way," I said. "When you find yourself in the doldrums, I want you to know that all of us in the conservative intellectual movement will be there to blow you."