Monday, June 24, 2024

Both Siderists Racing Endlessly Through The MAGA Rat Maze

There's a part of the brain of those afflicted with Compulsive Centrist Disorder that Trump and the Republican Party have broken forever.     Broken like Kirk and crew broke Norman's brain in I, Mudd. 

The existence of Trump and the Republican party presented them with an unresolvable paradox, and many of them have gone mad trying in vain to square that unsquarable circle.  

Take, for example, Mr. William Galston, who "holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he serves as a senior fellow. Prior to January 2006 he was the Saul Stern Professor and Acting Dean at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland..." an several other academic and political resume items.  He is also a contributor at the vile Federalist Society, and a columnist at Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal.

He is also a hardcore, life-long slightly-left-leaning centrist, and honestly, among all of our "allies", these sorts are just the fucking worst.  Because they do the work of the radical Right while wearing the jersey of the Sensible Left-Leaning Centrist.  

Specifically, as the Right kept rocketing further and further down the political color spectrum into Infrared Crazytown, to maintain their Sensible Left-Leaning Centrist credentials this species of cage-fed academic pundit was always too happy to pull up stakes and relocate the "center" further and further to the right.  In Galston's case, after Democrats elected Barack Obama (who might as well have been built in a Sensible Centrist lab) and, in response, Republicans began an eight year, racist primal scream and embarked on a plot to destroy Obama by any means necessary...

...from high atop his academic ivory tower, Galston surveyed the scene and concluded that, damnit!, what Murrica needed right now was Moar Centrism!  Moar Both Siderism!  And so he and a number of other useful idiots grifters founded No Labels, about which I wrote a long thing two days after they launched, and which as proven to be an extremely accurate and prescient bit of blogging.  

If you want to read it, it's here, "Dead Center".  

That was in 2010.

In 2014 -- fully six years into the relentless Republican campaign of slander and sabotage -- Galston once again cast his gaze across the political landscape and, as a Sensible Left-Leaning Centrist, concluded that the country's best way forward was to get behind a group of clean-cut, well-meaning rising rising Republican stars who called themselves the "Young Guns".  From the Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2014:

A Cautious Step Toward Republican Reform

Challenging conservative orthodoxies on tax policy and education, but not going far enough.

By William A. Galston

As a member of the gang of insurgents who prepared the way for Bill Clinton's presidency, I know something about reforming a political party on a losing streak. The conservative manifesto "Room to Grow," released May 22 by the advocacy group YG Network—the YG stands for Young Guns—offers a glimpse of a similar effort among today's Republicans...

The document's scope is limited—deliberately, I assume. It has nothing to say about foreign policy or hot-button social issues such as same-sex marriage. The focus is on economic opportunity and mobility for people striving to enter the middle class or struggling to remain there. The frame is narrowed even further. "Room to Grow" is all but silent on the budget, trade and immigration. It touches on tax reform and Social Security only tangentially, and on Medicare only in the context of the Affordable Care Act...

The document's emphasis on the middle class is a thinly veiled repudiation of the Romney campaign, whose emphasis on "job creators" reduced the 2012 Republican convention to a gathering of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. As Sen. Mitch McConnell noted at a "Room to Grow" public event last week...

By acknowledging and cataloging the challenges facing the middle class, policy analyst Peter Wehner takes a large step toward reality in the "Room to Grow" introductory chapter...

And then comes the yummy-yummy Both Siderist gravy that Sensible Left-Leaning Centrists slather on everything they write

It isn't just the fault of one administration or party, and the American people know it. "When it comes to Republicans and Democrats," Mr. Wehner writes, "the public's attitude is: A pox on both your parties." Conservatives, he says, need to "set aside their habit of speaking as if the very same solutions we offered a generation ago would work equally well today."...

Sure, it doesn't go far enough.   And sure, there are critical issues that are, as yet, too hot to touch.  But just maybe, with sober-minded elders like Mitch McConnell to guide them,  those crazy kids will turn this whole cockeyed caravan around!

Throughout the remainder of the Obama administration, the entirety of the Trump administration and the first two years of the Biden administration, No Labels (and it's legislative arm, the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus which, fun fact, never actually solved any problems) remained dogmatically committed to the proposition that everything was always the fault of Both Sides, and that only Sensible Centrist movement of some kind could save the nation from the Extremes on Both Sides.

When, in fact, No Labels has only ever truly served one purpose.  From The Intercept, December 4, 2018:

Here’s a Better Name for No Labels: Republicans

Far from remaining aloof from politics, No Labels has been swooping down into the fray in recent years on behalf of Republicans and conservative Democrats.

As we all know by now, journalists, academics and think tanks acting as stalking horses for terrible Republican ideas while masquerading as Sensible Centrists are the lollipops in the mouths and butter in the asses of the Beltway media.   

They absolutely cannot get enough of it, which is why No Labels never lacked for glowing publicity and a steady flow of dark money.  And you can see how useful such creatures are to schemes of some recently-former Republican Never Trumpers who dream of returning to their Bush/Cheney glory days.  Which is why Mr. Galston and his dreary "But the Democrats..." mantra is a cast regular on Mona Charen's weekly Bulwark podcast.   

But then, about five minutes ago a whole lotta people started to catching up in big a hurry with where your 'ol Unca Driftglass had been all along.  That was when No Labels began its most ambitious fifth column project on behalf of the Republican party; when, in a move guaranteed to drain votes from Joe Biden and accomplish nothing else, they announcing they were launching a foredoomed third-party run for president.

There sometimes comes a moment in the lives of at least some of these broke-brained, Sensible Centrist goofs when the terrors real world intrude deeply enough into their cosseted, Centrist comas that they suddenly realize just how close to the snapping jaws tyranny their little pink toes actually are.  

Then, in a fleeting moment of clarity, they actually do something.

From USA Today, May 13, 2023:

A Trump-Biden rematch? Pass, says this group searching for a third-party option in 2024
Whatever its rationale, No Labels’ pursuit of a third-party option has caused strife even within the organization. William Galston, another of the group’s founders, resigned in April after questioning the wisdom of its launching third-party campaign.

“My judgment is that an independent third-party candidacy would make Donald Trump’s return to the White House more likely, not less likely,” Galston said. “I decided I had to act on that belief.”
So good on him for that.  

However, that junkie itch of the hardcore Both Siderist is well nigh impossible to resist for long.  

And so, last week on the aforementioned Bulwark podcast, during a long and tedious discussion of the various shades and styles of partisanship (oh, the things I listen to for you people! :-), when Mr. Galston's turn came around, this is, in part, what he had to add to the conversation:

Will Saletan:  ...a recent survey in which 62% of Republicans said they were prepared to vote for a candidate who faced allegations of sexual harassment more than 40% would vote for a convicted felon more than 40% said they would vote for a candidate who compromised National Security and [professor of political science Shanto Iyengar] said that there was quote a huge partisan divide with more...with Republicans much more likely to ignore these things.  So to what extent do you think the partisan hostility accounts for this loss of self- policing within the Republican party or to what extent do you think other factors are more salient.

Galston, [after explaining that it would be way too much work to go through all the relevant studies and statistics] :...I'd really have to put in a lot of work to be able to answer your question at a social science level of rigor so let me just revert to informal punditry and say that it seems to me obvious that the worse you think would be the consequences for the country of the other side taking control the more likely you are to make excuses for the misdeeds of your own side.  The stakes are too high to allow those misdeeds to get in the way of the overall objectives which is to save the country from those evil people on the other side.  Uh... and I think from that standpoint... uh... y'know... uh... I think there's a certain symmetry between the two political parties at this point.  Namely each party, for different reasons, believes that a takeover by the other party would entail catastrophe for the country, uh, and that's so that's half of the answer...

Some of you may remember the final episode of the outstanding Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which the new WJM station management announced that it was going to keep idiot Ted Baxter on the payroll and fire everyone else.  All the talented, hardworking news professionals who actually made the show work.

In a moment of bravado, Ted threatened to resign if management fired the rest of the staff. However, when pushed, he immediately caved. This prompted, Murray Slaughter, the writer, to remark, "When a donkey flies, you don't blame him for not staying up that long." 

Same deal here.

There is no exit from the MAGA Rat Maze which does not involve conceding that both sides are emphatically not the same.  At all.  Period.  Which is why Compulsive Centrism Disorder/Both Siderism is not only every bit as much of a cult as MAGA Republicanism, these two cults exist in symbiotic relationship to each other.  

The further into Crazytown the Republican party goes, the further to the Right the Both Siderist cult must haul the fulcrum of Centrism in order to keep up the pretense of fairness and neutrality (and continue marketing themselves as the safe harbor from The Extremes on Both Sides.)   And, seeing that Both Siderists will reflexive respond to growing fanaticism on the Right by dragging the "center" rightward, the Republican party is encouraged to continue driving ever further in the direction of outright fascism.   

One cult is full of shrieking bigots, demagogues, grifters, perverts, imbeciles and heavily armed gun-nuts waiting for the signal to grab their muskets and take the fight to the streets, while the other cult is stocked with pundits, op-ed writers, academics and other mild-mannered users-of-correct-grammar-and-cutlery, but make no mistake, they're in this together.

Or, in the wise words of Omar Little...

"I got the shotgun.  You got the briefcase. But it's all in the game, though, right?"

I Am The Liberal Media


RagingMonkee said...

I Mud was the best! Thanks DG!

Steve in Manhattan said...

Galston's wife taught my Jurisprudence class. It could have been worse.