...Mona Charen and the Center/Left Center/Right waxworks creatures who make up her weekly Bulwark podcast.
This "Beg to Differ" pod is almost always amusing in a horribly cringey way. For example, this week featured five senior citizens who have, between them, never read a single work of SF, never written a line of code, never had to so much as fiddle with the BIOS on a laptop, and still whisper about the way your smartphone can track you as if it were a state secret...all opining in that hilariously ignorant pundit gas-baggy way about AI.
AI, we learned, is a Land of Contrast. Might be bad. But maybe not. Might be helpful. Might seduce your spouse. Might destroy millions of jobs...but maybe also create millions of jobs. The only thing Reagan-era relic Linda Chavez was sure of was that Big Gummint wasn't up to the job of regulating it because Big Gummint is stupid.
Also did you know your smartphone...can track where you are!
It was like listening to Steve Carell's 40-Year-Old-Virgin trying to fake his way through a discussion about sex.
Except there were five Steve Carells.
These fucking people.
But what caught my attention was how accurately these chatter among these goofs captures the gnarly, indestructibly toxic roots of A) Both Siderism and B) the Search for the mythical Reasonable Republicans that they are absolutely sure are trapped somewhere inside the current GOP.
From Mona Charen in The Bulwark:
Is the GOP Tiptoeing Toward Normality?
It’s too soon to breathe easy, but something is stirring.
This is has been the Elite Conservative Weasel two-step since David
Brooks invented this gavotte some time in the late 1800s. Step one: despite
the clear evidence of your senses, the Right is not nearly as insane as it
appears, and its rogue bad actors will soon -- very soon! -- be
overtaken and beaten back into the sewers by the GOP's
Bitter Better angels. Step two: despite the clear
evidence of your senses, the Democrats are very nearly as bad as the GOP and
its dirty, hippie, commie extremists (that's you and me) hold that party hostage very nearly as
completely as the extremists in the GOP.
It's all lies. Filthy, stupid, obvious lies. And yet the branches and the poison fruit of these lies can be seen everywhere.
The New York Times is positively stacked with these goofs, from the most ancient member of the Times' op-ed page Both Siderist cult, Tom Edsall, to its newest hire (and one of The Bulwark podcast's newest, bestest buddies) Astead W. Herndon, whose recent headlines have included:
The Fight to Define Extremism
Conversations with two lawmakers reveal how the parties regard, and exploit, the other side when it comes to questions of extremism.
The New Terms of Abortion Politics
A 15-week federal minimum. Court reform. Abortion activists on both sides are already preparing their 2024 playbooks in an uncertain post-Dobbs landscape.
And whither the Sensible Center?
The Backup Plan for Lost Voters
Millions of voters are dissatisfied with the prospect of another Trump-Biden matchup. Could there be an alternative?
And, of course, some of that sweet, sweet Ohio diner magic ruralism:
The New Demands of the MAGA Right
What are the issues animating the Republican base? We head to a gathering of the conservative grass roots to find out.
Yes, despite the glares-so-bright-that-if-you-look-directly-at-it-you'll-burn-out-your-corneas fact that Both Sides Don't -- that no fair-minded sentient being could possibly look at the Democrats and the Republicans and conclude that, welp, y'know, the Extremes on Both Sides -- this is the fairy tale that the entire Beltway media is pot-committed to telling.
From Talking Points Memo:
The False Equivalence Between The ‘Far Right’ And The ‘Hard Left’
Throughout the debt-ceiling crisis, news reports have wrongly suggested that each party's activist wings balance one another out.
Here’s how, in its lead story Thursday, the New York Times described the House’s vote to resolve Republicans’ self-imposed debt-ceiling crisis:
“With both far-right and hard-left lawmakers in revolt over the deal, it fell to a bipartisan coalition powered by Democrats to push the bill over the finish line, throwing their support behind the compromise in an effort to break the fiscal stalemate that had gripped Washington for weeks.”
It’s not just the Times. This false equivalence between the two parties’ activist wings has been on display in press coverage throughout the debt-ceiling votes. Politico Playbook on Sunday described Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal’s mixed reaction to the debt-ceiling compromise as indicating that the bill may have “a chance to win votes from some on the far left.” A Washington Post sub-headline that same day noted that “far-left and far-right corners of the House have criticized the compromise.”
These descriptions conjure a world in which the wing of the Republican Party defined by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chip Roy (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is somehow balanced out by the wing of the Democratic Party defined by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Jayapal, Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Greg Casar (D-TX), Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)...
So back to Mona Charen's Bulwark podcast, with Special Guest Villain, David French, who, went from writing standard wingnut garbage for the National Review to the New York Times op-ed page so fast that he still has Times assembly lube on him.
The title of this episode? "Green Shoots of a Responsible Right?"
We join this Both Siderist human centipede already in progress.
David French: This is a reminder that an awful lot of Republican members of Congress weren't elected for performative reasons and when they have an opportunity to engage in non-performative governance they'll take that opportunity.
French will expand on this fiction later on.
Damon Linker: The whole thing illustrates in a complicated way something that I wrote about on my Sub Stack sort of recently about the way the Republican party is not only fighting between extremists and more moderate folks with the Trumpist faction if you will increasingly powerful, but there's also a different dimension to it between ideological commitments and the non-ideological or tribalistic commitments.
There follows a great river of double-talk about the differences between Club For Growth burn-it-all Republicans who want to destroy the government for ideological reasons, and the Joker burn-it-all Republicans who want to destroy the government because the fire would look cool and would fuck Biden up.
And then we get to Reagan-era fossil, Linda Fucking Chavez:
Chavez: ...but I also think it's important to look at what happened within the Democratic [party]. I mean you had, what, 46 members of the Progressive Caucus who voted "No" on the bill led by Pramila Jayapal? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not far behind. But those 46 members of the Progressive Caucus are also way out of step with America. Way out of step with their own party and I don't know what they think they are accomplishing by trying to rain on President Biden's parade. He's going to be the nominee and I think their actions were very destructive and we spent a lot of time focusing on the problems on the Right but there are problems on the Left in the Democratic party as well.
Charen: Well and just as with some of the more Radical Republicans these Democrats come from very safe blue districts themselves...
And they just go on and on and on. Except everyone sitting on that panel fucking well knows how this was worked.
This was a potentially world-ending crisis invented by Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans. And despite all the clever pundits jumping up and down, screaming that Biden was losing the "messaging war" and that he needed to publicly bitch slap My Kevin every hour on the hour, President Biden negotiated the country out of this Republican-manufacture hostage situation with about as good a deal as anyone could have imagined.
While absolutely pantsing the GOP in the process, all without ever suggesting that My Kevin's mother and father were, uh, never married.
And everyone sitting on that panel fucking well knows that it was the Democrats who saved the day, by providing more more votes to pass the damn thing than My Kevin's House majority was able to cough up.
And everyone sitting on that panel fucking knows that the progressives who voted against the bill did so out of principle and did not "rain on Biden's parade" in any way, whereas the "No" votes on the GOP side were from let-it-all-burn nihilists. And by carefully counting votes, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries was able to give those progressives a hall-pass to vote the way they voted so they could remain in those very blue seats in those very blue districts while still ensuring that the global economy didn't collapse.
Everyone sitting on that panel knows all of this, but I guess they assume their podcast listeners do not, which is why Linda Chavez could float such obvious bullshit unchallenged.
The clown shot continues.
David French: I've long been of the view that if you're looking at reforming the extremes of our parties Right has to reform Right, and Left has to reform Left. When Right attacks Left or Left attacks Right you tend to have the tribal rallying that distorts the whole analysis.
The sheer density of the Conservative bad faith, false equivalence and absurdity here is like some kind of pundit neutronium There is the bundling of Both Siderist claptrap with the assumption that the "left" -- whatever the "left" means in French's hardwired wingnut mind -- of the Democratic party is sorely in need of reform. It is not. It's also a giant "Fuck You" to all of us on the Left who have been right about the the Right all along. OMG, we only made things worse! And finally, if only the Left can discipline the Left then how the fuck is it that 80% of Never Trump content consists of recently-former- and current-Republicans telling us Democrats how to run our party, and incessantly bitching about how the Left is ruining everything?
More unicorn-hunting from French:
French: Mona reminds me of some of the divisions that we saw in the debt ceiling deal where you have a still existent responsible right that is often cowed and intimidated and becomes complicit in a lot of the worst excesses but every now and then it gets a spine...
French: ...but there are still Republicans who long for normalcy. They long for a more rational insane party they've just rarely had the guts to assert their will.
Hey, David. They will that they are bending to is the will... of Republican voters.
Y'know, the voting base you and Chavez and Charen all spent your adult lives helping to engineer and unleash on this country. The voters that nominated and elected Trump in 2016 and came out even stronger for Trump in 2020 after they'd seen what a degenerate lying bigot and demagogue he was. The voting base we irresponsible louches on the Left have been warning you clowns about for decades and which you clowns are now completely powerless to stop.
But please tell me more about how I should shut my dirty, Liberal mouth all the fraud and fuckery you clowns engaged in to bring us to this point, and instead I should start worrying about Representative Pramila Jayapal.