Wednesday, April 08, 2015

10 Years After: 2011 -- Death of the Anti-Gonzo

The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with 2011:  Trench Warfare.

In 2011, as David Brooksism continued to be the Beltway's official language, state religion and coin of the realm...I continued to focus on it as the ground on which the next great battle over the future of American democracy would be fought.   Everywhere, it seemed, all the Very Serious People were in a mad dash to see who could be first on the scene of the next Conservative train-wreck and sagely  pronounce it as a problem of "The extremes on Both Sides" first.

But first up, the "dean" of the Very Serious People passed away in 2011. 

I explain why his life had become a tragedy.

Death of the Anti-Gonzo

The Washington Post's write-up is as good as any:
David Broder, 81, dies; set 'gold standard' for political journalism

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 12:39 AM

David S. Broder, 81, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and one of the most respected writers on national politics for four decades, died Wednesday at Capital Hospice in Arlington of complications from diabetes.

Mr. Broder was often called the dean of the Washington press corps - a nickname he earned in his late 30s in part for the clarity of his political analysis and the influence he wielded as a perceptive thinker on political trends in his books, articles and television appearances.

Mr. Broder had a "relentlessly centrist" philosophy about politics, the political commentator Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in the New Yorker magazine. Mr. Broder brooked little tolerance toward what he termed, in describing the action of 1960s militant antiwar activists, "confrontation politics, with its constant threat of violence and repression."
While there were many, many things David Broder loved -- centrism, politics, bi-partisanship, equidistanthood, divarication, bisect-uality, decussation -- one thing he really hated was hippies.

Those those damn, dirty, disrespectful fucking hippies.

He especially hate those fucking imaginary hippies: they were the sawdust and breadcrumb filler he kept heaping into his increasingly inedible journalistic meatloaf; the thumb he pressed down ever harder on the scales of his funny little rambles about America during his declining years (which encompassed all of the 21st Century and a big chunk of the end of the 20th) to artificially "balance out" the clear and horrifying fact that Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower that he had known as a barefoot lad growing up in the swampland of Chicago Heights was devolving into a billionaire-industrialist-funded mob of fundies, racists, imbeciles and sociopaths.

In fact, this fetish became so obsessive that, in the end, it became the great, tragic irony of David Broder's professional life. Because at last he simply could not bear to part with his fantasies about what he wished America to be and face the brutal realities of what America was actually becoming, David Broder -- this "Dean of the Washington press corps" -- totally missed out on covering the greatest story of his time; the utter collapse of the American news media and the mutation of the GOP from a political party into a dangerously fascistic cesspit of oligarchs, lunatics and rubes.

It was a story which his background and years of hard work had almost uniquely prepared him to cover, and one that was literally staring him in the face for much of the last 20 years.

And he completely fucking blew it.

But more than anything else, he super-duper-especially hated it when those dang, dirty, disrespectful, imaginary hippies moved into that nice White House at the center his little town and fucked everything up with. From Taylor Marsh:

...David Broder represented commentary that is the worst of insider Washington D.C. thinking and an elitism, a leading member of Sally Quinn’s clan, which meant he was an original member of the Clinton hater club and helped churn the anti-Clinton fervor with gusto.
Sally Quinn’s infamous “In Washington, That Letdown Feeling” captured the insider feelings about the Pres. Clinton after the Lewinsky affair broke:
“He came in here and he trashed the place,” says Washington Post columnist David Broder, “and it’s not his place.”
[...] “The judgment is harsher in Washington,” says The Post’s Broder. “We don’t like being lied to.”
Nothing annoyed the Washington elite more than the hicks from the sticks, Bill and Hillary Clinton. After Ronald Reagan, the Arkansans were see as interlopers. To understand Washington that’s where you have to begin.
Broder turned Pres. Clinton’s moral failings inside out and made it all about them, the D.C. community who considered Washington a small town.
If Hunter Thompson's coverage of politics in 1972 was (according to George McGovern's 1972 campaign manager, Frank Mankiewicz) "the least factual, but the most accurate" of all the correspondents, the award for being "the most factual, but the least accurate" correspondent of his generation must go to David Broder.

The eponymous Father of High Broderism (from the Urban Dictionary)
The worship of bipartisanship for its own sake, combined with a fake "pox on both their houses" attitude. The main goal is the establishment of a permanent ruling class of Washington insiders, our betters who know better. It is their rough agenda which is sold as "centrism" even when it has no actual relationship with the political center in a meaningful way. The establishment of an aristocratic class in America.
and its staunchest Fidei Defensor (from Rick Perlstein)
Richard Nixon ran the most secretive presidential campaign in national history—even making reporters sit in rooms far from the crowds and watch his events on closed-circuit TV. George McGovern made Nixon's secretiveness a major focus of his campaign—begging Nixon every day to debate him. And yet somehow Broder recollects a situation of equivalence. I think it shows how his mind works—and why our political press corps is so badly broken.
David Broder sired and suckled an entire generation of well-heeled, well-connected, establishmentarian insider merchants of Beltway Common Wisdom who have made a massively profitable cottage industry out of displacing honest reportage in favor of passing around empty "process" stories, vapid D.C. gossip tricked out in somber political rhetoric and the status and style updates of Very Serious People like Tennessee Williams' proverbial "dirty postcard".

And the glue that holds the whole ugly, toxic scam together is the relentless, reflexive, completely-dishonest buffering of any and all Republican crimes, treasons, hypocrisies and obscenities...of any any any venue...on any given day of the week...with the Broderite mantra of "...but the Liberals": a habit so ingrained b y now in the Villager Hive Mind that the Center-Right Shill Factory known as Politico could not help but go out of its way to take a gratuitous swipe at the dirty fucking hippies in the middle of their eulogy to Mr. Broder (emphasis mine):
Broder, who grew up in Chicago and was a graduate of the University of Chicago, revered the political process and admired those he saw as rational voices focused on achieving results. That sometimes opened him up to criticism from ideologues on the left, who saw him as the epitome of conventional, inside-the-Beltway wisdom. But he also earned respect from prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle, many of whom released statements soon after news of his death was announced Wednesday.
Sorry, Politico, but however much of a legend his hard, on-the-ground, sandal-leather reporting on what the Average Roman thought about the first Punic War ("Hiero II of Syracuse shoulda listened to his general onna ground!") may be, David Broder's lasting legacy is ultimately a tragic one.

For against the tide of imaginary of dirty hippies who were forever plotting to mess up his lawn, and in the name of an idolatrous worship of the God of Fake Objectivity, the Dean of the Washington press corps' most enduring contribution to his profession has been as the Patient Zero of a lethal strain of syphilitic Villager Centrism which may be more responsible than any other single factor in all-but wiping out anything resembling honest national political journalism in America.

And that is the definition of tragedy.

UPDATE: Welcome Vanity Fair readers and many thanks to the matchless James "The Enforcer" Wolcott for pointing you in my direction.

No comments: