Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Queens of Denial

In the aftermath of the mid-term shellacking, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about John Edwards and wondering, frankly, if the country, Right and Left, would have gone half as crazy as it appears to have gone, had Edwards kept his nose clean, his tackle in the box, won the nomination and entered the White House.

I’m inclined to think that most of the inanity we’ve witnessed since January 21, 2009, wouldn’t have occurred. The GOP may have been obtuse and tried to object to everything that was introduced as legislation, but I don’t think we would have seen the Tea Party. We certainly wouldn’t have seen elderly and undereducated, white Americans trawling through the streets with posters of Edwards as Hitler or Edwards as the Joker. He would have tried to effect his programs, most of which had a heavy social justice flavour, and Fox and Glenn Beck would have foamed and fulminated, accordingly; but we wouldn’t have witnessed Beck informing the world that Edwards was a racist, with a deep-seeded hate for white people. No one would have asked, demanded to see Edwards’s birth certificate; no one would have deemed him a socialist or a communist or a fascist or all three. No one would have prayed for his death.

More importantly and more than likely, he would have accomplished his legislation by means of compromise. That’s normal. It’s what politics is all about and it’s what politicians do – debate and compromise. You do this for me, and I’ll see that this is done for you. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Life in the political bubble. If such compromise meant Edwards’s legislation was a mite watered-down, his so-called Progressive base, most likely, would have swallowed hard and cut him some slack. After all, at least there would have been a Democrat in the White House.

And if he inevitable and selfsame mid-term shellacking had occurred under an Edwards Administration just under two years in the running, the so-called Progressive Left would have been discouraged, but not defeated. The photogenic President would have smiled that winning smile, shrugged his shoulders and said he’d try to plough on with or through the Republicans. Sure, there would have been a few odd political pundits saying he was already lame duck, but they would most likely have been of the Charles Krauthammer variety – curmudgeonly, cantankerous and conservative.

The first time I voted was in 1972, for George McGovern. I was 18, fresh out of high school and newly-arrived at my elite, East Coast college. The first President I remember is John Kennedy, but I remember him from the perspective of a small child and my parents’ gloss on his Presidency. Yet, I can never remember such a moment when any President has been so viciously, vindictively and ferociously hammered by his supporters as by his opponents as Barack Obama has been.

Has some of the criticism been justified? Of course. Presidents need this criticism, but more of the same has been simply gratuitous and – put simply – mean.

Immediately before the mid-term election, Jon Stewart held a Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC. Stewart’s beef was with the 24/7 cable media and the way they sought to obsess, parse, ueber-examine and analyse trivialities and, thus, elevate the mundane to the critical. The media, Stewart said at the end of his speech, makes the political problems we face insoluble. It polarizes and deepens the divide between the political Left and Right.

I would go further and say that the 24/7 cable media wants political problems to remain insoluble. It gives them talking points, increases their ratings and fattens their wallets. When their voices get louder, so do ours in return. And when we shout, we forget to listen, because we’re trying to get our own talking points established, never stopping to think that the talking points we are propagating are actually the talking points memed by the corporate media for the agendae they hope to achieve.

Add a few well-established and well-known internet media moguls to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

Last week, on Veterans’ Day, Howard Fineman, hack, published a piece in that bastion of journalistic integrity, The Huffington Post, the headline of which claimed with authority that the White House had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts. The article led one to believe that the President’s Special Advisor, David Axelrod, had admitted that the President will now push for an extension of all the tax cuts, for the rich as well as the middle class. The whole premise of the article was based on Axelrod’s comment, "We live in the world we live in" or something to that effect, which is a pretty innocuous statement. Not once did he mention compromise; he certainly never uttered the word "capitulation."

Talking Points Memo and The Daily Beast mentioned the article, with a link, but none of the "newsprint" sites covered it, except Greg Sargent, writing his Plum Line blog in the Washington Post; and Sargent’s blog was a refutation, or "refudiation" of the article, itself, complete with denial of intent by Axelrod and a summation that the article, itself, was false and misleading journalism. Later, The Daily Beast printed the refutation and stuck with it. But Howard the Hack made the ubiquitous rounds of MSNBC’s talk shows. Amidst Ed Schultz’s mouth-foaming tirades about how awful Obama was and what an abject failure he was, Howard the Hack side-stepped Ed’s pulpit to enter the spittle-filled solarium of his BFF, Chris Matthews, moved on from there to peddle his wares to Olbermann and finished up dissing Obama with that noted political pundit, Jane Hamsher, on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

By Friday night, Bill Maher and Michael Moore (he, who told us in 2000, that Bush and Gore were the same, therefore we should vote for Nader – how well that worked out!) were waxing lyrical about how Obama had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts.

Ne’mind, the President was in Southeast Asia, on a trip the Rightwing would have you believe was costing the taxpayer $200 dollars a day.

Also on Friday, Chris Matthews devoted 12 minutes of his show to Mark Halperin (son of a Nixon operative) and John Heilemann, discussing a possible primary challenge from the Left for Obama in 2012. I don’t know who salivated more at the prospect, Chris or the journalistic duo, one of whom had already plotted Palin’s path to the Presidency in 2012.

As things never cease happening in threes, over the weekend, the Washington Post printed an article by recusant Democrats, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen (both token Fox "liberals") reckoning that it would be best for all concerned if President Obama announced immediately that he was not going to run for a second term in 2012 and spent the next two years stabilising the economy with the Republicans. Such a philanthropic feat would set a precedent for the Presidency, and Obama would be fondly remembered in a warm, fuzzy haze by a grateful nation ...

Just like Ol’Massa and Ol’Missus like to sit on the verandah of the old home place, remembering kindly, old black Uncle Rhemus, who used to tell them stories.

That’s it, Mr President, you’re time’s up. Thanks for helping us out and holding the fort for four years, but that’s your lot. You’ll be remembered as the first African American President, and that probably means the only African American President – but, hey! We haven’t had another Catholic since Kennedy, and at least you’re getting out alive, Mr President! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

As if that article weren’t enough, again the ubiquitous Huffington Post published on Sunday a blog by that noted political correspondent (not), Deepak Chopra, calling for Obama either to eschew running for re-election or be primaried.

The sheeple who populate HuffPo’s commentary fold went wild with delight! Oh, yes, please! A primary! Elizabeth Warren! Alan Grayson! Russ Feingold! Hillary! ABO ... Anybody But Obama! He’s got cooties!

Of course, as opinions are like assholes, everyone of the sheeple had one, and all of them were ignorant of history:-

■1968: Lyndon Johnson is primaried by Eugene McCarthy. Johnson drops out and does not run for a second term. McCarthy and Robert Kennedy duke it out until Kennedy is killed. Then McCarthy and his fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey endure an ugly, bad-tempered Democratic Convention, for Humphrey to get the nod. The Democrats lost. We got Richard Nixon and Watergate, which begat Roger Ailes, Pat Buchanan, a college senior from Texas named Karl Rove, and the Southern Strategy, as a result of the beginning of the Democrats’ abandonment of its original base in the Midwest and the South.
■1976: Gerald Ford is primaried by Ronald Reagan. Ford wins the nomination, but loses the election.
■1980: Jimmy Carter is primaried by Ted Kennedy all the way to the convention, where Carter wins the nomination, Kennedy gets drunk and refuses to acknowledge Carter on the podium after the nomination. Result? Carter loses the election, and we get 12 years of Republican rule, Morning in America, trickledown, unregulated credit, faux prosperity, the First Gulf War and the Reagan Democrats.
■1992: Poppy Bush is primaried by Pat Buchanan. Bush loses the election.
Anybody not notice the obvious pattern? Presidents who are primaried do not win the ensuing election. The voters perceive the Presidential party as vapid, weak, shallow and unfit to govern and abandon it like rats deserting a sinking ship.

And just when you think it’s safe to go into the water again, up sprouts HuffPo’s Howard the Hack, like a veritable hack-in-the-box, with an article today, promoting an Independent ticket comprised of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough. That’s right: Michael-40 billion-dollar-fortune-I’ve-been-a-Democrat-Republican-and-now-an-Independent-Bloomberg and Joe-dead-woman-in-the-back-office-Scarborough.

Ne’mind, Bloomberg is saying, both publically and privately (and stridently), that he has no plans to run for President, either in 2012 or anytime, as Howard the Hack points out, with a nudge and a wink, plans change.

(Pssst! Hey, we’re the meeja! We can make things happen. Plant that seed, and watch it grow. After all, we were the ones who planted the seed about the skinny black guy. I mean, who wanted a dour-looking middle-aged woman who looked like your first wife hanging around outside a probate court?)

And the dittoes duly popped up, just like the teapot dummies in the Mock the Dummy videos, piping how much they liked Bloomberg, liked Joe, would vote for that ticket rather than Obama. After all, Obama’s everything compromising and now, according to Lieutenant Choi, he’s probably a homophobe too.

(And did we mention that he’s black? You see, that’s what’s really bothering us, although we don’t want to come off sounding like those toothless, unwashed, misspelling people on the Right. It’s different, you see. Our concern, well ... it really isn’t racism, it’s just ... just ... well, he doesn’t act like we thought a REAL black President would act. Can we say that? Well, Bill Maher said pretty much the same thing, and he’s not racist. I mean, he’s dated black women.)

Give me strength.

Those are the thought processes of the puerile voting public – the ones who stayed at home and sulked or maybe the 30% of the LGBT voters who voted Republican as a protest, although how they think Republicans can help their cause is beyond my ken. Jim DeMint doesn’t even think them fit to front a classroom of children, so they’ve made great progress there.

These are the people who buy into the media’s assessment that the President, the White House and the Democrats, in general, are just not great communicators who couldn’t get the message of their achievements across.

I say poppycock, and those people need an exercise in listening at source. An administration gets its message to the people by means of the media at hand, which has a moral duty to be resonsible, honest and – dare I say it? - fair and balanced. After all, the same radio networks who carried FDR’s Fireside Chats also carried the racist invective of Father Coughlan. But that sort of honesty doesn’t exist in this day and age, and the President has been woefully undermined by the 24/7 cable media.

Fox will always prove recalcitrant. They are, after all, the broacasting PAC of the Republican Party, but the sad truth is that the other two cable giants, MSNBC and CNN, follow Fox’s leads in promoting some of the cack they’ve generated about Obama. The Palin agenda is pushed nearly every day on MSNBC, and this is a woman who recognises that any publicity is good publicity. Hosts on MSNBC’s opinion shows interview birthers, tenthers and Teabaggers. They give them credence from one side of their corporately-funded mouths, whilst parsing each word the President utters from the other side, including a lot of speculation on what he could have said, should have said and needs to say. So much criticism masked as "advice", and now various Progressives are beginning to openly refer to the President as the "Affirmative Action" President.

(But we can’t be racist. Not us. We’re from the Left, dontcha know?)

It’s a really sad reflection on what’s really at stake in America and establishes for me, the truth that the myth of the ugly American is, in fact, a reality. The great media-managed experiment in post-racial politics is going down a failure, according to those who know. The only thing the Left really has to push for is a primary, to rid the country of a President who couldn’t undo in two years, what it took thirty to accomplish.

I wait with baited breath to see the next political darling of the Left. Considering the wannabe movers and shakers in this world of poltical illusion, where nothing and no one is as it seems, I suspect various blowhards with a following on the Left will try to push Joe Sestak to primary Obama. Bill Maher and Michael Moore literally paid homage to him as the porcelain god of the Progressivism on Bill’s show last Friday night; and as Bill’s mommy, Mrs Huffington, likes to think of herself as a viable pundit, she might like to extend her empire into the realm of king-making. So be it. He’s photogenic, he talks tough and he’s got nothing to lose. It would be no skin off his ass if such a venture rendered the Democratic Party unelectable for the foreseeable future, because the Republicans would inevitably win that war.

It just seems as if intransigent idealogy has infected the Left as much as the Right, and in cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face, one finds one unable to smell a stink brewing just off the horizon, so a more explicit warning might be due those who are so deaf that they refuse to hear.

Think about this aspect for 2012: A President Palin in the White House, with mooseburgers being barbecued on the South Lawn and various and sundry baby daddies being given lodgings in the White House. Or if that doesn’t scare you, try this out for size: Attorney General Joe Miller.

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