Thursday, October 30, 2008


Kevin Drum recently posted from his new digs at Mother Jones, complaining about Bob Somerby:
But here's what I don't get: why does Bob think that liberals are giving away a "giant political advantage" by not harping on this constantly? Frankly, I'd be delighted to harp away if I actually thought this was one of the top 100 issues that might help the future of liberalism, but it's not, is it? Media criticism in general helps our side, but what exactly would it gain us to relate everything back to Al Gore's decade-old mistreatment with the Ahab-like intensity that Bob does? Wouldn't it just cause everyone to tune us out as cranks and fogeys? Anyone care to weigh in on this, on either side?
C'mon, Bob, stop being a crank and an old fogey! You're really harshing the mellow here. Can't you just move on, like the rest of us Iraq War supporters have, and understand that we don't care if Al Gore was robbed? I mean, he's a boring crank, too, and it really puts a damper on the cocktail weenie circuit if you bring up his name.

Bob Somerby may take the treatment of Gore a little too personally, given that he is a close friend, but the foundation of his argument is far more sound than the shaky underpinnings of the Blogger Boyz. Indeed, haven't we just watched a repeat of the same phenomenon, with the press going apeshit about the horrible, lying, murderous Hillary monster who wants our Precious destroyed? Kevin asked for a response, and Bob provided one:

And no, there really aren’t “100 issues” that would better serve “the future of liberalism.” It’s absolutely, completely absurd that Kevin would say such a thing.

Repeating: Most voters have never heard a word about the situation Kevin described. For that reason, they’re strongly inclined to believe the GOP’s relentless complaints about bias. They hear endless claims about bias toward Palin; they never hear a single word about what was done to the Clintons and Gore. Surely, Kevin knows why that is. Once again, let’s make sure that we all understand:

In the early 1990s, conservative power was sweeping through Washington. In large part, this took the form of endless, nasty attacks against both Clintons. They were both liars; they were both sex fiends; why, they hung decorative condoms on the White House Christmas tree. Beyond that, of course, they were murderers. By 1999, large blocks of cable “news” time were being devoted to this insanity. And go ahead, Kevin—when you “come down,” you can check it out! When Hardball and Hannity pimped those vile murders, not a single career liberal player offered one word of protest.

By 1999, there was simply nothing you couldn’t say—as long as you said it about the Clintons. And then, about Candidate Gore.

The mainstream press corps accepted all this; indeed, they were the principal malefactors. So, of course, did your “liberal leaders”—weak, unprincipled, hackworthy men who run with the Sally Quinn crowd.

And they refused all enlightenment. In 1996, Gene Lyons published Fools for Scandal (How the Media Invented Whitewater), the most important political book of the decade. But go ahead—try to find a single reference to Lyons’ book in your “liberal journals.” And go ahead—see what those same fiery journals did when Gene and Joe Conason published The Hunting of the President in early 2000. Of course, you probably know what they did—they all agreed to keep their traps shut. By that time, these broken-souled losers had completely rolled over for those joint RNC/MSM narratives. They had adopted their masters’ commands. To this day, they have never looked back—or wanted you to do so. Candidate Gore had every advantage, Josh told you in 2002.

Beyond that, see what they did when the MSM turned its sights on Candidate Gore. In March 1999, it seamlessly happened—the venom aimed at President Clinton was instantly, seamlessly transferred to Gore. And what did your liberal leaders do? Some ran and hid—and some played along! Indeed, the Bradley campaign was built around dishonest panders to the insider press corps about their hatred of Clinton and Gore. And the “left” of your party played this sick game. By December 1999, the Bradley campaign was even pretending that Gore had been responsible for the gruesome Willie Horton debacle. Disgracefully, Bradley himself began to say this the next month—even though he’d said the opposite, in some detail, in his own 1996 book. But so what? One pundit challenged this balls-out lying. Sadly, it was Morton Kondracke. Every good “liberal” shut up.

That’s right! The weak-willed men at your “liberal journals” went along with this deeply unprincipled trashing. You can still find their names on those mastheads. And oh yes! You can find the U.S. Army deeply entrenched in Iraq.

Sorry, kids! The American public will never think we’re “cranks and fogeys” because “we harp on this so much!” Let’s be frank: The public will never hear this at all, because our leaders will never tell them about the disgraceful things they did in thrall to MSM power and influence. They won’t mention Ceci or “Kit;” indeed, when Ceci and Kit got briefly criticized in the summer of 2000, Jane Mayer heroically jumped in the stew, saying it was all due to sexism! (Happy with how that bullsh*t worked out?) For these reasons, “media bias” remains a powerful tool—a powerful tool for the GOP. They’re playing this card very hard this week—because it’s one of their strongest.

Last week, Naomi Judd began telling voters that no one has ever been trashed like Palin. Quite naturally, voters tend to believe such claims, because they’ve never heard anything different. In our view, Mother Jones should call Mother Judd and tell her the things he wrote in that post. We’ll offer this one small guess to Kevin: You’ll likely find Judd a damn sight more honest than the players who work in your yard.

“Liberal bias” is a powerful card, a card they’ve spent fifty years perfecting. They play this card because it works; it keeps working because our side has refused to debunk it. As we’ve long said, we refuse to tell the public the truth about the press corps’ recent conduct. One side keeps saying things which are bogus. And one side won’t say what is true.

Conservative power blew into town—and the millionaire “press corps” bowed down before it. To this day, the career liberal world won’t tell the public the facts about what happened next. Mother Judd has never heard a word about the matters Kevin described. And, with Mother Jones fretting so hard, it’s quite clear that she never will. ...

One side plays this game to win. On the other side, Kevin is palling around with careerists.

We've seen it happen all over again this year, except that it was conducted inside of the so called liberal political arena.

If I have a criticism of the Incomparable One, it is that his analysis does not extend much beyond his presentation of the fact of the Left's cooperation with the Right's maniacal jihad against the Clintons and Al Gore. Then again, that's not his objective. He has set for himself the sisyphean task of simply telling the truth. It is people like Bob that Hannah Arendt means when she says "Facts need testimony to be remembered and trustworthy witnesses to be established in order to find a secure dwelling place in the domain of human affairs." He is a trustworthy witness testifying about the facts on the ground, no matter the desire of the courtiers to dismiss the destruction of political accountability.

But the question remains - why has the intelligentsia of the Left turned so implacably against people whose stated policies and observable acts are not substantively different than those who won that group's support? The embrace of The Precious shows that it is not merely the media being anti-Democrat - they loved him from the get-go and are eager to see him coronated in exactly the way they lusted for Bush in 2000. I think the answer has come out this year that the bias is class and acculturation. Upper class, cool, urbane, and not too interested in the details. That's for the underlings to handle.

It's the politics of people whose need for government resources and services are at a remove but substantial, like defending a financial system, rather than immediate and actually fairly modest, like some help paying the heating bills when the fuel companies price gouge. It is a politics that is disdainful of people in need. It doesn't like people who aren't from the right class and culture, and is suspicious of people who think too much about how to fix things that threaten people in need. It admires those who use power to take what they want.

As I said before, it is a politics of catering to the winners rather than defending the losers. What offends the Drums and Marshalls and other "pro-war before we were anti-war" suck-ups on the Left most about Somerby is that he keeps defending a "loser." Al may have won back some of these guys with the environmentalism and Nobel prize, but fundamentally they all still despise Gore as a loser, and they thought of him this way before the debacle of 2000.

They want their own Reagan, someone who will make them stop feeling like losers, even if it means losing touch with the principles they claim to hold.


Update - Also read Vast Left's latest on Corrente, When windmills attack, is it quixotic to notice?


Anonymous said...

The media critique should be non-partisan and non-ideological.

Either the media tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth or we hold their feet to the fire until they do.

We need more people like Bob Somerby

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting on this! I snarked all over Mr. Drum in comments on his efforts (another one last night) to send down the memory hole the complicity of liberal opinion leaders in the war on Big Dems. Your class critique of where they're coming from is spot-on, particularly regarding Drum, last seen angrily instructing his readers last month to support the bailout and his friends Bernanke/Paulson OR ELSE! Too funny that guys like him call themselves liberals, but I guess Drum prefers the more anodyne and upper-class "progressive" tag.

empty said...

It is interesting that the reluctant approval bestowed by many of these guys on Gore happened mainly after various award committees had "validated" him.