Longtime readers of this blog are already familiar with the legendary Joey Tabula Rasa, but let me hip any newcomers to who he was and why he still matters.
Like Tom Friedman's handy fleet of taxi-driving everymen, and Peggy Noonan's acres of oracular yard signs, and Bret Stephens special lesbian friend ("Oldest Living Confederate Lesbian Tells All...To Bret Stephens"), and the patrons of "This Ohio diner..." and the plain, god-fearin' "independent" folks who whisper their plain, god-fearin' "independent"truth to Salena Zito, Joe Tabula Rasa is literally legendary in the sense that he does not now and never has existed as a real human in the real world.
(more after the jump)
Joey was a hodgepodge of David Brooks' elite Beltway Conservative opinion's about what plain, god-fearin' "independent" people should think about the Iraq War; opinions that Mr. Brooks apparently gathered by circle jerking with his fellow elite Beltway havers-of-opinions as the Acela Corridor train whisked him from his suburban Washington D.C. home to his offices in Manhattan and back again.
Joey was a construct: a blue collar muppet through which Mr. Brooks could channel his ardent support for Bush's Iraqi Clusterfuck and Mr. Brooks' seething contempt for Liberals.
But to make Joey a credible muppet, Brooks' had to invent him as an unformed, uninformed, independent lad who believed what he believed because he was being swayed by the Mighty Forces of History and the Obvious Awfulness of the Left and not because Brooks' was typing up his own biases and shoving them into Joey's mouth. As such, in Act One of Brooks' little drama about Joey's political awakening, Brooks' describes his fictional character as someone who...
...doesn't know much about history
...has no firm idea of what labels like liberal and conservative mean.
...[has] been glued to the cable coverage of the war and is ready to form some opinions.
Then we arrive at Act Two, in which Brooks' literally describes his fiction as a play --
Over the past months, certain facts and characters have entered his consciousness, like characters in a play he is seeing for the first time.
-- in which Joey, who "likes to think of himself as fundamentally independent"...
...sees that his country is an incredibly effective colossus...
...sees a ruling establishment that can conduct wars with incredible competence and skill.
...[sees] the people who get to do the most exciting things are not members of the meritocratic elite--Harvard and Stanford alums who start software companies. They are the regular men and women of the armed forces.
...and in which Joey learns Important Lessons about Liberals::
Joey looks at the people living in their dream palaces--the Arabists, the European elites, the Bush haters--and he knows he doesn't want to be like them. He doesn't want to be so zealous and detached from reality...
They march against the IMF and World Bank one day, and against whatever war happens to be going on the next. Joey is not sure what these people are for...
He knows that they tend to come from Hollywood and academia...
He just senses that they are cloistered worlds, removed from day-to-day reality, and he doesn't plan on spending his life there...
And in the Final Act, Brooks explains how there are millions of Joeys out there, and all of them are on the side of God, George Bush and the editorial board of the Weekly Standard, and not on the side of the faithless, Liberal scum:
Joey isn't one of a kind. There are millions of Joeys, and variations on Joey.
But however quickly time marches on and however radically fortunes change, the need for Conservatives to keep reinventing Joey remains constant.
Seven years after David Brooks manufactured Joey to amplify his own, relentless cheerleading for Duyba and to tell us Liberals that history was gonna fucking bury us, the Right outfitted the Joey myth with a stupid hat and a Gadsden and called him a Tea Party: "independent", uninformed about politics, mad at Both Sides but ultimately moved by the Mighty Forces of History and the Obvious Awfulness of Obama to side with the Republican party.
This was a Very Big Lie, that was taken up as gospel by all the usual elite Beltway havers-of-opinions.
Longtime readers of this blog are already aware that I spent fruitless years of shouting into the abyss that the Tea Party was nothing but a Republican reputation rehabilitation machine designed. For fuck's sake, just look at them! As I wrote back in 2009:
Most newly minted “independents” seem to be little more than Republicans who are fleeing the scene of their crime, but at the same time still desperately want believe in the inerrant wisdom of Rush Limbaugh. They are completely incapable of facing the horrifying reality that they have gotten every single major political opinion and decision of their adult lives completely wrong, so instead they double-down on their hatred of women and/or gays and/or brown people and/or Liberals, and blame them for the miserable fuckpit their leaders and their policies have made of their lives and futures.
Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin, they have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms...
And with the help of all the usual elite Beltway havers-of-opinions, they bulldozed right over us and got away with it. Then, years after that Very Big Lie had served its purpose, all the usual elite Beltway havers-of-opinions suddenly noticed that, golly, it turns out that those "independent" Teabaggers were actually just run-of-the-mill Republican base voter assholes after all! Hahaha! nd they we knew it all along! Hahaha! (h/t Heather at Crooks & Liars)
After the Teabagger lie was all used up and Trump began carving a path to winning the Republican nomination by speaking to the Republican base in their own, unfiltered, racist mother tongue, the Beltway havers-of-opinions quickly put a fork in Joey's hand and moved him to an Ohio diner where ol' Joey held forth about everything under the sun, and the Washington Post and The New York Times sopped it up with a biscuit. And thus the genre of Magic Ruralism (tm) was born:
Noun: a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of political fantasy.
That's how versatile Joey is. Professional opinion-havers can prop him up anywhere, have him say anything, and assert that he speaks for millions, which is especially useful when you're trying to bend the Democratic party to your will.
Which brings us to our Never Trump "allies": that tiny clique of recently-former Republican who now have a huge megaphone thanks to the billions in free publicity they have gotten from cable news over the past six years. To tell that rest of this tale, I could've thrown a dart at the Never Trump org chart and picked any of them to fold into our conversation since virtually all of them tell a version of the same fairy tale, but today I picked Shouty Joe Walsh because today he spent a solid hour scolding Democrats for not doing more to win over his version of Joey.
If you have ever listened to Joe Walsh's podcast (and really, why would you) you will know that he repeats over and over again that he speaks to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of Trump voters and "independents" every day. What qualifies as "speaking" and how this is physically possible I have no idea, but Walsh insists on the truth of it, and he presents it as the top line of his You Can Trust Me resume. Joe knows what Murrica thinks because Joe talks to "real" Murricans every day.
And Real Murrica is where his version of Joey lives.
His version of Joey is an Electrician, so we'll call him Joe the Electrician. According to Walsh, these are the salient characteristics of Joe the Electrician, and as you read them, note how nearly perfectly they align with the characteristic of Joey the Teabagger, Joey the Ohio diner patron and the OG Joey Tabula Rasa.
Joe the Electrician is "normal" Murrican and not one of those elites.
Joe the Electrician is an "independent".
Joe the Electrician doesn't really pay attention to anything because Joe the Electrician is a working man who works eight or nine or ten or eleven or maybe even twelve hours a day.
Joe the Electrician doesn't watch the news.
Joe the Electrician definitely doesn't watch CNN or MSNBC.
Joe the Electrician does watch Fox News but only "sometimes".
And yet somehow Joe the Electrician has developed deeply-held opinions about the state of the political parties. Specifically...
Every day, I engage with lower-information voters who aren’t political & who don’t like either party. Every one of these voters tells me a variation of: “Republicans are assholes, but Democrats are pussies who don’t get me.” EVERY SINGLE ONE.— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) May 21, 2022
To win, Democrats need these voters.
According to Walsh's podcast, Joe the Electrician will admit that Trump is a conman. Just as Joey the Teabagger would disavow Dubya.
But all Joeys in all times and places will always eventually end up blaming "Both Sides" and then somehow finding a way to take a break during their 12 hours days to vote for the fucking GOP every fucking time.
But however transparent Walsh's bullshit may be...
Walsh: If you wanna stop now and stop listening to me now you can...but I think it'd be a real big mistake if you did. Democrats don't fight! Think about what that electrician said! I hear it all the time. From "independents", Center/Left, Center/Right! All the time! From low information voters "in the middle" all the time!... Democrats are not fighters and right now they're losing regular people who want a fucking fighter!
According to Walsh's podcast, Joe the Electrician has no faith in President Biden because president Biden doesn't know how to give inspiring speeches.
Walsh: There are so many voters out there who vote Republican. They vote Republican and they don't want to, but damn it, 'cause, yeah, they're assholes, but at least they fight.
But how exactly does Joe the Electrician -- who Walsh swears never listens to the news or pays attention to much -- know what President Biden is or isn't saying about anything?
Walsh: But you know what? Lets have the hard talk, Democrats. Lets have the hard talk. It's not just messaging and it's not just style. On substance Democrats, you are increasingly not where most Americans who decide elections are. I'm not talking about your circle. Not talking about the progressives and the Far Left. I'm talking about all those people who are getable and decide elections. Not people on the Far Left and not MAGA. Everybody in between there who is getable.
The examples Walsh cites are inflation and gas prices, which Walsh will allows are not the fault of Democrats', but that "Biden is incapable of giving a speech" to explain all this to real Murricans like Joe the Electrician.
Walsh: And what are the Democrats talking about? Green energy Green energy. Solar. Renewable energy. Wind. Right now? Right now? When the average American is seeing a fifth of their paycheck going to fill up the tank every week?
Once again, the load-bearing wall holding up Walsh's entire tirade is that is that Joe the Fucking Electrician is furious that we "progressives and the Far Left" have the entire Democratic party in our thrall and that in the face of painful, real-world problems all we do is yell Green New Deal at and then go back to sipping our lattes and watching The Remains of the Day or some fucking thing.
So how the fuck does Joe the Fucking Electrician know that all Dems are talking about is "Green energy Green energy. Solar. Renewable energy. Wind." when Joe the Fucking Electrician doesn't watch the fucking news? Where exactly is Joe the Fucking Electrician getting all this very detailed and specific information about how awful Democrats are? Information that is apparently so devastating that it has concretized Joe the Fucking Electrician's opinions in such a way that just so happens to line up exactly with Walsh's opinions?
And what is Walsh's solution to all of Democrats' fatal out-of-touchness-with-Real-Murricans?
Walsh: Drill baby drill right now! Expand opportunities to frack right now!
Then, still operating his Joe the Fucking Electrician sock-puppet, Walsh freaks out over electric cars.
Specifically, he cites citing an out-of-context fragment of a speech by the Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to prove that all we Democrats ever do in the face of the real concerns of ordinary working stiffs is throw our crazy, elitist Green New Deal bullshit at them and then go back to sipping our aforementioned lattes and watching Pride and Prejudice because The Remains of the Day is over.
If you are interested, here is a link to the transcript of the entirety of Secretary Granholm's remarks she gave during an in-depth interview on CNBC on March 8th of this year. And the reason I want you to know the specific program and date of this appearance by Secretary Granholm it to point out that this full and detailed conversation took place in the middle of a work day when ordinary working stiff Joe the Fucking Electrician was presumably busy overcharging someone to change a light socket.
Also that these remarks were aired on CNBC and if Joe the Fucking Electrician doesn't watch the news and definitely doesn't watch CNN or MSNBC, then Joe the Fucking Electrician absolutely ain't tuning in rebroadcasts of CNBC after a hard day pushing electrons.
So where the hell did Joe Walsh (in the voice of Joe the Fucking Electrician) get the idea that this is all Democrats do?
Well it turns out that one of Charlie Kirk's goons at Turning Point USA did post an out-of-context, 34-second clip of Secretary Granholm talking about electric cars. And as happens every day in wingnut media, this out-of-context, 34-second clip was, in turn, raptured up into the GOP propaganda Valhalla where it was
-- by a well-known cable news outlet.
Can you guess which cable news outlet it was?
I'll give you two hints.
First, it's the one "news" source that Joe the Fucking Electrician admits he does watch, but, y'know, only "sometimes". Second, it's the cable news outlet at which employed Joe Walsh for a number of years to talk shit about Democrats.
Did you guess? I'll bet you did. From Fox News:
Clips of Energy Sec. Granholm laughing off gas price concerns resurface as pain at pump intensifies
The article concludes:
The clip was viewed over 1.2 million times.
Anyone wanna bet that Joe the Fucking Electrician, if he actually exists, has no idea who Jennifer Granholm or what she does?
Anyone wanna bet that at least ten of those 1.2M views were Joe Walsh preparing to do exactly what he use to do when he was a syndicated Hate Radio host? Loading up his Outrage Musket with some bit of trivial, out-of-context claptrap so that the can blast the entire Democratic party as out-of-touch, pointy-headed elitist wimps?
And the most ironic part of all of this is how much depth Secretary Granholm goes into during the interview that that Joe the Fucking Electrician definitely never saw on exactly the topics that Walsh insists Democrats never talk about.
There was this:
GRANHOLM: Well, first of all, I think it’s really important that we not finance Putin’s war and I think that’s why so many people in America have felt that way too. Surveys have shown over the past few days that up to 70% of Americans agree that they are willing to even sacrifice themselves by paying more at the pump in order to not fund that war. If you combine this, of course with the sanctions that have already been collectively announced against Putin, these are extremely damaging. Now, let me just say that we know that the United States is in a privileged position in this way because we have, we don’t rely that much on Russian oil and we don’t rely on Russian gas at all. We know that our allies across the world may not be in that same position and so we are not asking them to do the same thing. But for us, for our nation for our citizens, this is an important statement.
GRANHOLM: We should be boosting all around the world and in the United States, and we should be investing in moving toward clean energy as well. That’s what our message is here at CERAWeek, we want to see increased supply. We want to see it in the United States to the extent that the industry can do that. We want to see us move as well toward solutions that don’t have us relying on fossil fuels from countries that do not have our interests at heart. We have to do both, and we have to accelerate.
GRANHOLM: There is nothing that would have increased production. If the Keystone Pipeline had been approved, it wouldn’t have even been built by now so that is just a talking point. There is this administration under this administration, oil is almost at record production. By the end of this year, it will be at record production. Natural gas is at record production, liquefied natural gas is at record production, every molecule that we can liquefy, we are exporting in terms of natural gas if there is a facility to liquefy it. There are six, excuse me, 9,000 permits that have been issued that are not being taken advantage of and I say that to encourage the oil and gas sector to take advantage of the permits that they have. There are 20 million acres of public lands that are under lease right now by the oil and gas industry that are not being used that are not being produced on and remember that 90% of oil drilling is on private lands and not public lands. So this is not about that, those are talking points. What we want to do is to say we are in an emergency, we have to increase supply so that we cannot, so we can make sure that people are protected at the pump and we have to move to clean energy solutions with great accelerating both right now. But clean is in the end where we should be so that we don’t find ourselves in this position again.
GRANHOLM: ...This is Putin’s war, these are Putin’s increases and we cannot allow it to stand so it may take a bit. And this sacrifice, we are fortunate that we are not being asked to sacrifice our sons and daughters to go and fight this war. But we may have to take on other sacrifices and it makes me so proud that so many Americans are willing to pay a little bit more at the pump in order to accelerate the end of this war.
GRANHOLM: Yeah, I think there’s a sense of urgency about this. We are in active discussions with our allies. As you know, we just did a release of 60 million barrels collectively as a collective action with the International Energy Agency last week. And we will be having further discussions both internally to the US but also with our allies.
And, well, she goes on like that.
So what have we learned?
A couple of things.
First, that you should never trust a Never Trumper. And never, ever take what they say at face-value. They may hate Trump, but they're still Republican born and raised. They still despise us and they still have no compunction about lying just like Trump -- lying about crowd sizes and lying about Democrats -- to fire up their followers and try to bend Democrats to their will.
Second, while Joey Tabula Rasa in all of his incarnations my not exist, as long as Conservatives need sock puppets to barf their stupid opinions out of a blue collar mouth, Joey will never die.