Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain's Houses on Planet of the Chimps

Lambert asked if I would write about John McCain's houses, since that is the topic of the day. Sure.

Classic over-confident bubble investor. He has too many, but needs to hold on to what he has until the market gets better and he can sell without a loss. If he's looking at foreclosure, though, he should just walk away.

Or you can visit Bob Somerby who obliquely gets to the true problem here in his marvelous post today, Planet of the Chimps. A few key paragraphs:
Robinson couldn’t quite make himself tell the truth—but even he felt required to say that McCain was “just being flippant.” But in Weisman’s prose, a joke becomes a straightforward assertion. And this brings us to a basic rule for those who would understand their press corps: If you want to know who the press corps is hunting, just see which candidate’s jokes they transform into straight assertions.

We know, we know! Some of us are such chimps ourselves that we want to believe that McCain’s wasn’t joking. Olbermann, our side’s uber-chimp, has been flinging this poo this whole week. (Along with so much more. Good God, that man is a chimp!) But at any rate, fairly or not, our longings are being rewarded this week: The press corps has widely acted as if McCain’s joke was a serious statement. It’s as we told you long ago: This is not a campaign in which the press corps will be group-pimping the Republican candidate. And that represents a major change in recent political journalism.

We won’t attempt to capture all the chimp-like work on display today—although if you like seeing poo flung about, we’ll recommend Josh Marshall’s efforts. (Or just go read Olbermann’s transcripts.) Instead, we’ll offer a few basic thoughts about the shape of this major change in the press corps’ conduct:


Why they’ve flipped: As we’ve told you, major elements of the mainstream press have lost patience with the Endless War Culture. Other elements of the press genuinely favor Obama; almost surely, Chris Matthews wasn’t kidding about that “thrill up the leg.” Under these stresses, the group nervous breakdown of the Clinton/Gore/Clinton era has, in many ways, run its course. And remember: These life-forms are thoroughly chimp-like. They react in one way to those they disfavor—by flinging poo all around. It would be too much for them to discuss McCain’s errors, flips, contradictions.

In our view, it has been a bit embarrassing this week—watching Obama campaign against McCain’s joke. In our view, you suspect a candidate has little to say when he campaigns in that fashion. But as the press corps starts pimping Obama’s new narrative, you see the shape of an important new fact: Major elements of the mainstream press are, at long last, switching sides. It has been a very long time since they flung poo to the right.

“McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he owns!” It isn’t clear that this is accurate, and the narrative it serves is largely inane. But you live on a planet of chimps; it’s driven by people who just can’t get serious. This morning, poo is being flung in a new direction. Your discourse got even dumber this week. And good lord! Some chimps have switched sides!
Somerby is trying like crazy not to let the Democrats and the Obama campaign not to have it with both barrels. It may be a momentary advantage to have the press corps treating McCain with a hint of a shadow of the bile and contempt they have heaped upon the heads of Gore and the Clintons, but it is exactly this behavior from the press that should be the object of unrelenting criticism and which should keep Democrats on their guard - it is a mode of reporting that can very quickly come back and target you.

At the moment, the press is still more than not treating The Precious as the media darling. Thus, shit-slinging (I lack Bob's good manners) is seen as an OK way to promote your candidate and forward your political objectives, such as WKJM eagerly aping Olbermann. But Olbermann is just as happy to trash Democrats when it suits him. As Sergeant Waters said in A Soldier's Play, "They still hate you," referring to the contemptuous treatment he receives as a black man despite his efforts to ingratiate himself with white officers specifically and white society in general. He is a useful tool for them to use to keep other blacks in line, no matter how much he tries to convince himself otherwise, no matter how horribly he treats his men in order to get approval from the commissioned officers.

News flash to Democrats - The press corps, they still hate you, no matter how many houses belong to John McCain.



Anonymous said...

I guess I disagree with both you and Somerby when I sense that y'all think this isn't a legitimate issue and is "beneath" us. Frankly, and I mean this with a lot of respect and with a nod to your own confessions about your background, that's the Stevensonian in you talking. You know, the good government, clean politics, intellectual, we're above the visceral appeal approach. Sure I agree there's a certain element of cheap feces flinging here, but it serves a wholly valid political point - helping to demolish once and for all the ruse that our conservative pols are salt of the earth jes plain folks that we can trust over those effete elitist liberals. As Greenwald has pointed out, a lot, the seedy reality is that these guys are rich, spoiled, often morally decadent dudes who've either had everything handed to them or cheated their way to the top, and yet they speak for a philosophy that would deny help to anyone who needs it. Somerby himself has called on career liberals not to assist or stay mum in letting them get away with this specious myth building and to stop it in its tracks. I read his stuff this week on this, and yeah, I agree the incident plays on some level to the insipid personal stuff the MSM loves. We don't have to leave it there, though, not if we use it to point out that the Republicans are led by the rich, for the rich and nothing but the rich, and that the incident is very revealing of that underlying reality. And that when the public hears their sanctimonious lectures about elitism, the public can be primed to react to it as empty bullshit put out there by plutocrats who want to cut their benefits and obstruct any effort to help them. I hope we use it that way, and if we did, I think we'd serve a lot of the objectives that both you and Somerby have been talking about. Just saying.

Anne said...

It's my opinion the press has flipped because their boss, the top 1%, wish it so. It seems the GOP and McCain are still too much middleman between the owners and the rest of us to be viewed favorably . However Obama is pure corporate puppet. His very nothingness is part of the attraction and in a Party of mushy, eager enablers too. Obama also the brings the threat of hot and cold running social discord as an added bonus.
The top 1% would like nothing more than to ram through economic shock and awe as the distracted TWP and AA go at it.

I believe the top 1% want Barry, but will settle for McCain if they have to. It's a win win for them and I have never seen elite Dems work harder than in their service.I have never seen elite Dems fight harder than they do against Hillary Clinton... the actual Dem among them . They cannot not do enough, they so desperately want to be the new servant.

IMO McCain would be Bush 3.0 , but Barry would be Bush 5.8 and that's why they want him.