Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blowback Thursday

The saddest part of this?
The same dynamic plays out on virtually every issue: there's the virulent far-right position, funded by deep-pocketed reactionaries and pushed by talk radio, an enormous network of mutually reinforcing conservative pundits in every major media outlet, an entire cable news network (three now, really), and numerous powerful politicians in leadership positions in every branch of government. Then there's the avowedly liberal position, represented by some obscure professor or a guy in the comment section of a blog or a random placard at a protest. Then there's the "centrist" position, which is the far-right position with the edges rubbed off.

How does one establish oneself as a "centrist"? Why, by bashing the dirty hippies. After all, if you bash the virulent reactionaries, you're criticizing "real Americans" and the heartland and the baby Jesus. Everybody positions themselves by way of their distance from the -- at this point largely mythical -- dirty hippie. There's no faster route to media exposure for someone on the left that to spend every minute of the day criticizing other people on the left. Mickey Kaus. Joe Klein. Richard Cohen. Joe Lieberman. The list goes on and on.

Well. We see how the war has gone. It's a cataclysmic disaster by every conceivable metric. The serious people were wrong about everything. Literally everything. The dirty hippies -- the great masses of the public and the very few public figures (Feingold, Gore, Kucinich) who stood with them -- were right. The war went horribly wrong for just the reasons they said it would.

So what's the dynamic now amidst the Beltway chattering classes? Where's the center? Why, it's still in the exact same place! The people who advocated for war, and who advocate for more war, and who were wrong about everything, are still the "serious" people. The people who advocated against this fiasco, and are advocating for ending it, and who were right about everything, are still the dirty hippies who never show up on cable news or in major media op-eds...

In other words, the "center" has become utterly detached from facts, substance, or majority opinion. It's an insular, self-sustaining myth, all about the vanity and egos of powerful people in the Beltway clusterfuck. It's about them, their self-flattery, their exclusive club, not Iraq. For a truly parodic example of this dynamic and its incredible staying power, check out Joe Klein's blog post, wherein he informs us that OK, the dirty hippies were right about Iraq, but they still sound silly and their opponents are still more "serious." One can only marvel.
 It's from 2007.

And.  Not. A. Damn. Thing.  Has. Changed.

Which is why, paradoxically, going after the Right is a waste of time. 

It's the Center that must be laid waste.


dinthebeast said...

The other day, a really good friend of mine tried to quote Alex Jones to me. It makes me sad, because he is a really good friend, but if you're quoting Alex Jones for any other purpose than to ridicule him, I just don't have anything to say to you.

-Doug in Oakland

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Yes. The mainslime media are much more harmful than Fox IMHO.

Jerry B said...

That's what has been so frustrating. Time after time it's been made obvious who's been right and who's been wrong but most Americans don't know because our "liberal" MSM won't tell them and they don't care because the Machine puts too many distractions in their way.

Neo Tuxedo said...

The money quote, IMO, is the paragraph before you started quoting:

This enormous backlash against revolutionary leftism continued growing and gaining strength long after revolutionary leftism petered out as a political force of any real influence. The narratives and habits of mind bequeathed us by the culture war are with us still, despite the long-ago disappearance of one combatant. It's shadowboxing on a nationwide scale, and it shows no signs of abating.

I usually phrase it as an observation that the Cold War hasn't really ended for those on the right, and won't end for them until "the Democrat Party" is completely eliminated even as an abstract concept. Sometimes, I point out that I have the same opinion of those who use "Democrat" as an adjective that Einstein had of him who joyfully marches in rank and file to music (basically, that everything north of the medulla oblongata is wasted on them).

bowtiejack said...


I have two friends, both very decent guys, worked all their lives, both very easy going, good senses of humor. Both are getting hammered by the new economy (i.e. more work for less money).
One works for an airline. The other is a long distance trucker.

The airline guy sends me links to stuff like Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.
(Well, actually he doesn’t anymore since I was always sending back links to debunking it.)
And the trucker guy obviously listens to a LOT of talk radio on the road.

Now the interesting thing is that neither of these guys says he is a Republican or a conservative or a libertarian or a RWNJ or whatever.
Because if you ask them, they will honestly, sincerely tell you they are “independent”.
They “don’t belong to any political party” or “buy any of this political stuff “ from either side.
They make up their “own minds” (as they take another pull on the Kool Aid and bitch about “Obama!”).

So yeah, propaganda works.

P.S. Charles Pierce describes an “independent” as a Republican with a sense of shame.