Tuesday, January 17, 2012

With All The Penetrating Insight (UPDATE)

that we have come to expect from "Newsweek, Tina Brown turns her magazine's front cover over to the "conservative-leaning Independent" Andrew Sullivan who explains how Both Sides Do It!
"The attacks from both the right and the left on the man and his policies aren’t out of bounds. They’re simply—empirically—wrong."

Sounds like a nightmare; a Universe where every position is carefully divided into Conservatives – who are wrong – and Liberals – who are somehow, mysteriously and equally wrong all the time and in equal numbers on every issue.

This place where no one but America's leading gay Catholic Tory -- frolicking across the few lonely yards of heroic middle ground on his Isle of Reasonableness -- is capable of seeing this bright, burning truth.
"While the left is less unhinged in its critique, it is just as likely to miss the screen for the pixels.
Wowsers again! And Zounds, also too!

Actually...before we go any further...I have a little confession to make.

I cheated just a little bit here.

Rather that waiting for the Muse of Blogging to convert the existence of Mr. Sullivan's "Newsweek" column into the spark of inspiration, the preceding paragraphs were created by me dipping into my own archives.  Instead of taking a long walk in the still woods or staring into a contemplative fire while sipping poteen from a Mason jar like real writers are supposed to do, I fell back on a couple of recall exercises from my writing group days and dredged up a few sentences that still hang on to the inside of my skull by their nails, mashing together two older posts -- this one about David Brooks and this one about Thomas Friedman -- both of which were written 2005.

The truth is, I could have easily gleaned a hundred such sentences from any of the the hundred of thousands of words I have strung together on the same subjects over seven years since I began blogging, because all Mr. Sullivan is doing is reconfiguring the same, tired Centrist retread which I am heartily sick and tired of seeing in print anywhere.

The bitter truth of our current situation is actually very simple:
  1. The Right is an unholy, unsalvageable mess.  It is too far gone, too beholden to its fascist elements and too fucking dangerous to be allowed anywhere near the levers of power.

  2. For years, Liberals have been just about the only people who have had the balls to say that the Right is an unholy, unsalvageable mess out loud and in all kinds of weather.  For example, in the darkest days of the Bush Administration we continued to say it out loud even as Conservatives like Andrew Sullivan were turning a buck calling us unAmerican, freedom-hating Fifth columnists.

  3. No matter how many times Liberals turn out to be right in fact, our media/industrial complex will never permit it to be acknowledged in public.  Too much money is riding on the Big Scam that the Left and the Right are both equally wrong, so Never.  Ever.  Ever. 
The core of virtually every Liberal critique of Obama Administration comes straight from this reality.

So does the stridency of some of our voices.

Because we are getting very tired of always being right and never being heeded.  Tired of being lied about. Tired of being slandered.  But mostly of all we are completely done with lazy, Centrist panderers (a disturbing number of whom are still fresh from being kicked out of the Conservative clown car) getting away with poxing the houses of both those who lie loudly...and those who loudly call out the liars as liars.

The fact is that the modern "Left" forms a rich, complex and interesting caravan of allied interests which, on any given day, can run from Noam Chomsky to John Cole, cut across a bean field to pick up Digby, swing onto a frontage road to let Susie Bright hop aboard and make a quick stop at a steel mill to hook up with Leo Gerard before barreling down Route 66 where Al Franken and Dan Savage are both thumbing their way across America.  But since Centrism is where the money is, Mr. Sullivan can only claim the title of King of that particular dung-heap by compressing the totality of the rich, complex and interesting Liberal critique into a single, convenient monovocal monolithic fiction -- the "truly deluded" Left -- which he can then pair off against the very ugly, very real bugfuck crazy Right.

This is why, for all his bellyaching, Mr. Sullivan never actually identifies a single, "deluded" Liberal by name.  Because in this fairly tale, Liberals don't need actual names.  Instead, various disembodied Liberal abstractions collectively called "They" float around doing unreasonable things:
"They rail against..."

"They decry..."

"They despair..."

They "...projected onto Obama absurd notions of what a president can actually do in a polarized country..."
On the other hand, to build this particular iteration of the Centrist thesis, Mr. Sullivan has no trouble finding plenty of names to name among the the first tier leaders of the Right.  Mr. Sullivan indicts the participants in the "Republican debates" as being among the ringleaders of the wingnut mob.  Willard Romney is singled out by name several times --
"[The Affordable Care Act] is not, as Romney insists, a one-model, top-down prescription...".

..."On foreign policy, the right-wing critiques have been the most unhinged. Romney accuses the president of apologizing for America, and others all but accuse him of treason and appeasement. "

"That’s not enough, but it’s far better than what Romney would have you believe..."

..."Mitt Romney accuses the president of making the recession worse, of wanting to turn America into a European welfare state, of not believing in opportunity or free enterprise, of having no understanding of the real economy, and of apologizing for America and appeasing our enemies. According to Romney, Obama is a mortal threat to “the soul” of America and an empty suit who couldn’t run a business, let alone a country."
-- as are Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh, in this paragraph --
"And it is this Republican intransigence—from the 2009 declaration by Rush Limbaugh that he wants Obama “to fail” to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s admission that his primary objective is denying Obama a second term—that has been truly responsible for the deadlock. "
-- which distinguishes itself by being followed by what may be the single, funniest sentence in the whole article:
"And the only way out of that deadlock is an electoral rout of the GOP, since the language of victory and defeat seems to be the only thing it understands."
Funny, because Mr. Sullivan seems to have somehow forget that the GOP has already been handed not one but two such "electoral routs", in 2006 and 2008.

And the results of those historic, back-to-back electoral beatdowns?  The Right did not to sober up, did not get together and kick the bigots and the lunatics to the curb, because the bigots and the lunatics are the Right.  Instead they did the exact opposite, ratcheting up the ragetalk, doubling-down on the crazy and running their bugfuck conspiracy factories around the clock.

And you know what? It worked!


It worked because the Right greeted the dawn of the Age of Obama with a collective scream of primal rage and terror which has not merely not diminished one decibel since the day he took the oath of office, but has actually doubled and re-doubled with his every action and every word.

It worked because while Liberals were begging the Obama Administration to take the implacable hostility and hostage-taking contempt of the Right as a serious threat to the country, the Administration chose instead to follow through on their brilliant Reasonable Centrist Plan to win the Right over by treating them like long-lost lodge brothers from whom they had become estranged over some silly, Thanksgiving dinner misunderstanding that happened so long ago that no one could remember the details.

Chose, in other words, to ignore all those shrill Liberals who were warning them that they were walking nekkid into a Category Five wingnut wilding and heed exactly the same kind of happy Centrist horseshit advice that goofs like David Brooks, Mark Halperin and Andrew Sullivan all wallow in.

The Right, of course, could not fucking believe their luck. Crippled and bleeding from a thousand self-inflicted wounds, they were allowed to reconstituted their Party using its ugliest, most deranged, most racist elements.

Allowed to strap tri-corner hats into the pointy heads of their howling mob, stuff them into Koch Brother-funded buses which drove them off to Fox News-sponsored events and into political re-branding history.

Allowed to traffic in the worst kind of white supremacist sludge.

Allowed to lie and lie and lie and lie.

And allowed to do it all virtually unmolested by the White House and the mainstream media because nobody wanted to hurt their fee-fees by pointing out that they were completely out of their fucking minds.

Actually, there was one group -- the Liberals -- who understood very clearly what horrors were squirming around inside the GOP's fake Tea Party chrysalis. Liberals, who had just worked themselves to a frazzle getting Barack Obama elected, and had great hopes for the transformational mandate their newly-elected President had won.

Liberals, who began warning their newly-minted President early on that by not taking these fuckers seriously,


his Administration was making the biggest mistake 

of its young political life, and putting at risk every one of the critical reforms it said it believed in.

Liberals, who for their troubles were given the red-headed stepchild treatment; walked firmly over to the political children's table and told to sit quietly while the grownups hashed everything out.

Liberals who Mr. Sullivan  now dings in his "Newsweek" cover story as "truly deluded" for
"...projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution."

Because, yeah, where in the world would we have ever gotten a crazy ideas like that?

As one of the millions of non-deluded Liberals who Andrew Sullivan simply refuses to believe actually exists, I am not pissed off because this Administration failed to live up to any "...absurd notions of what a president can actually do in a polarized country..."  as I am well out of puberty and know better than to look for heroes and saviors in politics.

I am, on the other hand, very pissed off that this Administration has failed on its own terms.  This Administration brushed past Liberal complaints by countering that the gravity of the times and circumstance require them to be hard-headed, real-world pragmatists, and yet during their first 2.5 years in office they have consistently and disastrously failed in the first duty of hard-headed, real-world pragmatism -- to accept and act on the irrefutable evidence which is pounding you over the head every fucking day.  

The Obama Administration's signal failure was not how it handled single payer or Guantanamo Bay: its signal failure was its blithe obliviousness to just how bottomless the fanatical hatred of Right really was.

They failed because when faced with the reality of an intractable opposition of bleating, bloody-minded, knives-out lunatics, this Administration simply refused to believe that it could not charm or compromise or Centrism their way to victory.    Instead of facing reality, they chose the siren's song of the Reasonable Centrist who told them that the one, sure-fire formula for success was to meet every obstacle by shoving the nearest Liberal principle out the airlock in the name of bipartisanship, taking whatever crumbs the Right might offer in return and declaring victory.

Except compromise didn't work.  In fact, it emboldened their enemies.  Hey, that's not good!  What should we do about that?

Well, according to every clever, highly-paid Reasonable Centrist, when compromise with people who are now saying openly that they hate you and want to destroy you fails, the only solution is....more compromise!

After which follows another month or two under a fire-hose of relentless lies and slander.
Another weekend of wall-to-all news coverage of Pig People jammed into some Ramada Inn ballroom waving birth certificates and ranting about Obama's secret Communist plot to sell American out to the Taliban.

And more calls for even greater and more spectacular compromise by those clever, highly-paid Reasonable Centrists who those "deluded" Liberals are by now pleading with you to notice haven't been right even once so far.

But you soldier on, rinsing and repeating and cheered along by those Reasonable Centrists again and again, right down that gently downward-sloping Reasonable Centrist Road that finally led to Democrats running away from their own President's most significant accomplishment -- the Affordable Care Act -- and directly into the chain saw that was the 2010 election.

A loss which the Reasonable Centrists all agreed should be met by the Obama Administration with an immediate and aggressive campaign of compromise and appeasement.

But having their asses handed to them in 2010 seems to have had a...bracing...effect on the Obama White House, and for the last several month they appear to have finally decided to do what those "deluded" Liberals have been begging them to do all along: take on the Right directly.

This has had a number of side effects, including the vastly entertaining spectacle of David Brooks -- the Alpha Male of the cult of Reasonable Centrism -- completely losing his shit and melting down in a weepy, screamy, public breakup hissy fit --

Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.

So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.

It has gone back, as an appreciative Ezra Klein of The Washington Post conceded, to politics as usual. The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful!
The president’s goal in 2012, I suggested, would be to try to paint himself as the moderate bipartisan grownup, and dismiss the Republicans as extreme, intransigent, and hyper-ideological.

Based on the actual details of the deficit plan that the administration just released, though, I would like to retract that analysis. Between the size, scope and design of the tax increases and the skimpiness of the entitlement reforms (nothing on Social Security, minimal tinkering on Medicare), it seems that the president will be running for re-election as Nancy Pelosi instead.
-- which, in the history of weepy, screamy, public breakup hissy fits, may be second only to Rob Gordon's legendary act of rain-whipped relationship seppuku in "High Fidelity".

And so we end where we began.

With a punditocracy still competing to see who can be this week's King of the Centrist dung-heap, in a country which cannot continue to survive half Fox and half free.

UPDATE:  I was on a live chat forum with Mr. Sullivan this afternoon.  I pointed out that to make his case for equivalence between the Right and Left, he cites several specific examples by name (Romney, McConnell and Limbaugh) of reckless, deluded behavior by several prominent/powerful Republicans/Conservatives but no such examples by Liberals, who are simply noted as "They" doing this and that.

I asked him to support his thesis by naming specific examples of comparably reckless, deluded behavior by Liberals as prominent/powerful as Romney, McConnell and Limbaugh.

I waited and waited but received no answer, although I did learn that:
"...Palin's tweet made me come in my pants. I write what I think is true. I don't give a damn about "reputation." If I'm wrong I correct or re-think. Once a writer worries about these things, he's like an actor watching the audience. In my opinion, far too many journalists worry about their reputation."
"... I adore Ron Paul - for his courage, his candor, his extraordinary success in shifting our debate on critical questions of foreign policy and debt and freedom..."

[Regarding how often Mr. Sullivan has talked to Barack Obama] "Three times over four years. Only once one-on-one on the phone. The last time I saw him was before the Inauguration. I like to keep my distance. I didn't interview him for this piece."

So there's that.


Bongo Shaftsbury said...

This old fairy tale popped into my head for some reason...

A tailor is preparing to eat some jam, but when flies settle on it, he kills seven of them with one blow. He makes a belt describing the deed, "Seven at one blow". Inspired, he sets out into the world to seek his fortune. The tailor meets a giant, who assumes that "Seven at one blow" refers to seven men. The giant challenges the tailor. When the giant squeezes water from a boulder, the tailor squeezes water (or whey) from cheese. The giant throws a rock far into the air, and it eventually lands. The tailor counters the feat by releasing a bird that flies away; the giant believes the small bird is a "rock" which is thrown so far that it never lands. The giant asks the tailor to help carry a tree. The tailor directs the giant to carry the trunk, while the tailor will carry the branches. Instead, the tailor climbs on, so the giant carries him as well.

The giant brings the tailor to the giant's home, where other giants live as well. During the night, the giant attempts to kill the man. However, the tailor, having found the bed too large, sleeps in the corner. On seeing him still alive, the other giants flee.

The tailor enters the royal service, but the other soldiers are afraid that he will lose his temper someday, and then seven of them might die with every blow. They tell the king that either the tailor leaves military service, or they will. Afraid of being killed for sending him away, the king instead sends the tailor to defeat two giants, offering him half his kingdom and his daughter's hand in marriage. By throwing rocks at the two giants while they sleep, the tailor provokes the pair into fighting each other. The king then sends him after a unicorn, but the tailor traps it by standing before a tree, so that when the unicorn charges, he steps aside and it drives its horn into the trunk. The king subsequently sends him after a wild boar, but the tailor traps it in a chapel.

With that, the king marries him to his daughter. His wife hears him talking in his sleep and realizes that he is merely a tailor. Her father the king promises to have him carried off. A squire warns the tailor, who pretends to be asleep and calls out that he has done all these deeds and is not afraid of the men behind the door. Terrified, they leave, and the king does not try again.

Retired Patriot said...


Truly one of your best. You capture my disgust quite well with this:
I am, on the other hand, very pissed off that this has Administration failed on its own terms. This Administration brushed past Liberal complaints by countering that the gravity of the times and circumstance require them to be hard-headed, real-world pragmatists, and yet they during their first 2.5 years in office they have consistently and disastrously failed in the first duty of hard-headed, real-world pragmatism -- to accept and act on the irrefutable evidence which is pounding you over the head every fucking day.

And now, on the eve of what should be an easy roll into a 2nd term, the same crew adopts a 'tude which was counseled by the liberals from the beginning. To me, the real question remains, "is it real? or is it yet another ploy?" For now, I suspect ploy, simply because the man has failed even once to truly stand up for the liberal, much less the common men and women - many of whom wear those tri-cornered hats. And frankly, I'm not sure I could be convinced any turn to good by the Administration is indeed genuine.

Sigh. Such is life in our propaganda drenched, crazed, polarized and (at least for 51%) not-starving nation.


Mister Roboto said...

Liberals, who for their troubles were given the red-headed stepchild treatment; walked firmly over to the political children's table and told to sit quietly while the grownups hashed everything out.

It really does resemble a dysfunctional-family dynamic in which the way everyone is expected to speak and act is informed by a false narrative. And it doesn't matter how manifestly false the narrative becomes, nothing changes the fact that it always defines what is appropriate and what is not.

Anonymous said...

I see that Niall Ferguson, everyone's favourite neocon historian, "ends class warfare" in the same issue. Presumably by teaching everyone Austrian economics, thus securing that the wealthy win, once and for all.

Anonymous said...

"This is why, for all his bellyaching, Mr. Sullivan never actually identifies a single, "deluded" Liberal by name."

Neither do he or any of his cohorts ever identify by name a policy battle where the administration did not compromise sufficiently, and instead steamrolled the conservatives with that nasty partisanship that All Serious People know Both Sides Do.

Rick Massimo

Anonymous said...

P.S.: But then again, that's another facet of being a liberal - a never-ending parade of people who are (proudly) not liberals authoritatively proclaiming What Liberals Think.

Rick Massimo

Lit3Bolt said...

Moore award!! Why can't you get past your crazy liberal ideology of taking the president at his word?!

Spuddly said...

The story points out clearly that Centrist has become nothing more than a corporate shill as bad as the Right, and that pandering to its mediocrity is the slippery slope to Conservatism, the USA as a Third World Nation, and the people into indentured servitude to Vulture Capitalists like Romney.
Liberal mindset is "go forward" and include everyone. Conservatism is "look backwards", and WASP only need apply.

RobSPL said...

There are times over the year when I just think why should I keep paying attention then you write a new article.

Thank You.

Anonymous said...

This is where you really shine, dg.

Compound F said...

Holy crap! For second there I thought you were going to aim your flamethrower away from Sullivan and toward the president who just recently on New Year's Eve signed the despicably fascist NDAA. You had my heart absolutely pounding for a brief second. but goddammit, Walter Cronkite is still pro-Vietnam war. As Tom Tomorrow said after Bush's re-election, and I now say with respect to you hopeless so-called liberals in general, "fukity, fuk, fuk, fuk."

sjelly said...

I wish I lived near you so I could hug you, hard. I wish I knew people who had raised their voices to you so I could chastise them. You win everything, always.

Anonymous said...

Hey, compound w...apply liberally...

Jose Fly said...

Thank you. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who was looking at what the GOP had become and had realized they were living and operating in an alternate universe that is totally disconnected from reality. It's a reality now where every Republican presidential candidate (as well as the House) is running on W. Bush policies times 10, and no one in the media or in the DNC seems to be able to point out, "Hey...that shit didn't work!!"

According to the current crop of candidates (except Ron Paul), we need to reduce taxes on the wealthy even more, invade Iran, return to Iraq, ramp up in Afghanistan...all at the same time as balancing the budget. Throw in gutting all environmental protections, and you have some truly insane stuff.

Good to know I'm not the only one who sees this.

Professional Left Podcast #602

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” -- Zen saying Don't forge...