Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Somebody Oughta Do Something

If this were The Year of Our Lord 1990, and this had just come hot off the presses at The New York Times -- 
The Politics of Slash and Burn
Published: September 20, 1990

''Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' The group that urged political candidates to use these epithets has since regretted suggesting the word ''traitors,'' in response to inquiries from the press. But the others were allowed to stand; they appear in a glossary that a conservative Republican group recently mailed to Republican state legislative candidates.

The group is Gopac, the G.O.P. Political Action Committee. Its general chairman is Representative Newt Gingrich. With the pamphlet, ''Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,'' comes a letter from Mr. Gingrich himself. Its message to candidates: Step up invective. Use words like these to describe opponents. These words work.


The Gopac glossary may herald a descent into even lower levels of discourse. It comes blessed by a politician of some influence - the Republican whip in the House - and it is intended for candidates on the state level, many of them presumably running for the first time. Even though Mr. Gingrich himself may not have seen the list before it was mailed, this is a disturbing document.

The nakedness of the Gopac offering also makes it useful. There must be limits to the negative politics that voters will bear; the bald appeal to invective will certainly probe those limits. For now, it should be said that some adjectives in the glossary aptly describe the glossary itself: shallow, sensationalist and, yes, shame(ful).
-- and Mr. E.J. Dionne had taken up his Brother WP-1400D word processor to write the following in solidarity with the NYT's reportage --
Let’s start there. When the current administration finally reaches the end of the line, we will need some serious rethinking about how to grapple with the asymmetry in the behavior of our two parties. Republicans — and particularly the party’s dominant right wing in the House of Representatives — have kicked away a lot of credibility in a very short time. 
-- then I would definitely credit Mr. Dionne for his astute observations.

But it's not 1990.

Nor is it 2000.

Nor is it 2010.

In fact, it is damn near 30 years since The New York Times took editorial notice of the fact that the Republican Party was rapidly descending into a dark and terrible place and suggested that maybe someone, somewhere really ought to do something about it.  Damn near 30 years since the Republican Party decided that there was no profit in democracy and instead eagerly set up housekeeping in that dark, terrible, racist, Orwellian place.  Decided to hand the party over to hobgoblins like Gingrich and Limbaugh --

-- fill its pockets with stones and sink itself forever into an ocean of rage-drunk sedition and conspiracy mongering.

It is now long past time for those with actual access to power -- no matter how limited and conditional that access may be -- to stop looking-with-alarm and waiting for the cavalry to arrive. 

It is now long past time for journalists like Mr. Dionne to stop leaning so damn hard on words like "we" and "us" and "Let's" when it comes to the hypothetical media amnesia of month or years from now --
Reports that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee leaked private text messages between Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and a Russia-connected lawyer to Fox News offered a prime example of their partisanship-above-everything attitude. Let’s not have amnesia a few months or a few years from now about how political warfare took priority over the nation’s security or how double standards became the rule for a large part of the GOP.
-- when "we" and "us" out here in the persona non grata Liberal wilderness have been shouting at the tops of our lungs about this very subject for decades. 

It is long past time for journalists with actual access to power like Mr. Dionne to start talking about "I", "me" and "my".  About what he -- personally and specifically -- plans to do to help "us" hold those who created this disaster accountable.  

And I have a great place for him to start.

Every Friday on National Public Radio, Mr. Dionne has more actual access to power than any of us will ever have in our lifetimes.  Every Friday on National Public Radio, Mr. Dionne sits across the table from Mr. David Brooks -- one of the most prolific and influential traffickers in media amnesia in America.  

So, Mr. Dionne, when will you be asking Mr. David Brooks to take responsibility for his part in this disaster?   To take responsibility for teaching a generation of Republicans to smirk "Both Sides Do It" in the face of every act of Republican depravity?  

The house burning, Mr. Dionne, and you have a fire-hose.  What are you waiting for?

Behold, a Tip Jar!

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