Friday, October 02, 2009

The Hacks, the Whores, the Purchased Fellows

(This post got delayed few days due to family stuff and a insane work week.)

Bob Somerby points again to the origins of why the Left makes no lasting headway against Movement Conservatism. My emphasis in bold, Bob's in italics:

But such is the heartbreak of Friedman Disease. Here’s how it’s defined in the medical texts: The inability to be truthful about the Clinton/Gore years.

This disease has always driven the press corps, including its mainstream and “career liberal” factions. It drove the press corps during that era; it has driven the press ever since. It has driven the Marshalls, the O’Donnells, the Olbermanns, the Corns—the Dionnes and, of course, the Gene Robinsons. Frankly, it has driven the Riches. And of course, the disease is contracted from small, slimy microbes which breed on the set of Hardball.

But uh-oh: Taylor Branch had never played Hardball before last night! He arrived on the set in good health.

This disease has always served the interests of the big rollers who have made a joke of your discourse—who began to consolidate their power during the Clinton/Gore era. From that day right up to this, a Hard Pundit Law has obtained, enforced from precincts on Nantucket: To get on Hardball, you had to contract Friedman Disease—to agree that you never would tell. And the weak little hustlers all caught the disease. Taylor Branch, arriving from outside the system, showed up last night in good health.

Go ahead—observe it again. You never see this on these programs. Taylor Branch made an accurate statement!

The New York Times and the Washington Post drove the Whitewater scandals.

Gene Lyons wrote the book on that matter—in 1996! But so what? The entire “career liberal” world—the O’Donnells; the Olbermanns; the Dionnes; the Joshes—ran off screaming into the woods. Given prevailing winds of change, they knew they mustn’t tattle or tell.

This is one of the present but unidentified elements of Boehlert's Bloggers on the Bus, the degree to which the 2008 campaign became the event that exposed the cooptation of most A-list writers in Left Blogistan by the mainstream media, and a big slice of the B-listers, too.

This is why Somerby has placed Josh Marshall squarely with the anti-liberal talking heads like Dowd and Matthews. When he talks about "weak little hustlers", he is talking about the very people that Boehlert both praised as having influence, yet also backtracked on, wondering aloud at how little influence they had compared to the levels of noise they created.

Marshall, more even than Markos, is the quintessential "purchased fellow" in Left Blogistan, someone who had his awareness rased by The Howler and The Horse and who imagined himself following in their footsteps. His writings about Trent Lott and the assault on Social Security materially affected politics for the better. As I said in some post last year, I once has TPM as my home page because of how Marshall was able to use his connections to rake up the muck. I don't bother with Josh anymore as he has become the subject of Somerby's posts, deliberately seeking out the powerful and comfortable who are more concerned about Bubba's weight than about his long slide back into the poverty that condemned his grandparents to toil and early death. Like other people afflicted with Friedman Disease, Josh is on his knees looking for a pacifier to suck on.

Somerby gets dismissed as a crank because he won't quit pounding the drum (though he's not been pounding Kevin Drum as much as in times past) about the Clinton/Gore years, his focus on the events of that time being represented as mere partisanship for Gore. Why won't he give up on that loser? Somerby's point is simple:
What the media did to the Clinton/Gore administration was conduct a political war against liberal interests as such. Accepting the terms of the debate about Clinton/Gore is a material blow against the politics that administration represented.
It doesn't mean that administration was beyond criticism. It means that the efficacy of the political attack on the administration is inseparable from the social and class based attacks on the individuals at the heart of the administration. Paul Krugman gets this. As he says in today's column, The Politics of Spite:

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let’s not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

Krugman draws a direct line between the demonization of the Clintons and the political objectives of the Movement Conservatives. I get this. The Purchased Fellows (which I think I will use instead of Blogger Boyz from here on out) do not appear to be capable of getting this, certainly in part because their own sense of self is inseparable from their very confused disdain for things working class. In today's post, Somerby reminds us:

“It is possible to sympathize with Clinton,” Thomas grandly allows, showing the greatness of his high class. He then shows why any informed observer—any observer like Branch—would have felt that way in real time.

Why is it possible to sympathize with Clinton? Good lord! Because the New York Times and The Washington Post (and the networks; and the news magazines) “were part of a giant scandal machine that dominated official Washington” during the years of his presidency! This is a truly remarkable statement. But just like Friedman last week, Thomas brings us this remarkable news exceptionally late in the game—about fifteen years too late. And why is Thomas telling us now? Enjoy the comedy gold:

The endless string of special prosecutors and the media's obsession with Whitewater seem excessive in retrospect.
In retrospect, the war against Clinton seems obsessive! So says Evan Thomas, lying right in your face. In retrospect!

In this morning’s New York Times, Paul Krugman recalls just a few highlights of that disgraceful era. These things “seem excessive” to Thomas—now. But not so at the time!

It didn’t seem excessive to Thomas when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton helped murder Vince Foster.

It didn’t seem excessive to Thomas when Jerry Falwell spent years peddling the Clinton murder tapes—remaining an honored guest on Meet the Press, and on cable “news” programs.

It didn’t seem excessive to Thomas when Dan Burton was shooting up pumpkins in his back yard, showing how Foster may have died.

It didn’t seem excessive (or strange) to Thomas when the original special prosecutor got canned by a panel of right-wing judges—and was replaced by a well-known conservative functionary.

It didn’t seem excessive to Thomas when Fools for Scandal published the documents the New York Times had disappeared in the course of inventing the Whitewater “scandal.”

It didn’t seem excessive when a first lady was called a “congenital liar” by a bungling major columnist. It didn’t seem excessive when the Village called her every name in the book as they pretended that she had lied about the Cubs and the Yankees. It didn’t seem excessive when the Post published that disgraceful piece by Andrew Sullivan, two days before the 1996 election. (Headline: “Clinton: Not a Flicker Of Moral Life.”) It hadn’t seemed excessive when that same baboon had published that crap by Betsy McCaughey, in 1994—a piece whose fraudulence became quite clear in rather short order.

These events made perfect sense at the time! To Thomas, they only seem excessive in retrospect! By the way, did it seem excessive when the Post and the Times invented all that sh*t about Candidate Gore, then pimped it for twenty straight months?

Look at what was done, and by whom, the Incomparable One says, and ask whose side you are on? What of the last political season will only seem excessive "in retrospect"?

The Purchased Fellows, in need of good incomes, health insurance, and insider connections, succumb to Friedman Disease. They seem befuddled by the way in which ordinary America is mostly going "meh" at The Precious. They don't understand the bumper stickers (like I saw in my company parking lot this week) that has a picture of Bush and a picture of Obama flanking the words "So what has changed?" They don't understand why people like Taylor Branch speak respectfully and affectionately (though also sharply and critically) about Bill Clinton.

To do that, you would have to be able to respect the person, his political vision, and what he was trying to accomplish for ordinary Americans in the face of the Movement Conservatives' height of power.

Doing that will get you unpurchased, real fast.



Marsha said...

"Like other people afflicted with Friedman Disease, Josh is on his knees looking for a pacifier to suck on."

Oh. Wow. I mean, really wow!

Sums up the past 17 years perfectly. But sadly, I also understand that research into a cure for Friedman Disease has been scraped by this Administration.

Wonder why?

Bob Harrison said...

How did I miss this post? Wonderful as usual. I especially liked your invention of the Purchased Fellows-- Blogger Boyz always did seem way too cool for those buttheads.

Oh. And you and Bob are absolutely correct. Back during the Star Inquisition I told a GOPer friend of mine that the country must be in really good shape for everyone to interested in the Clenis. It truly was in good shape then.

Anglachel said...

Bob, I cannot take credit for the "purchased fellows" epithet. That is borrowed wholesale from The Incomparable One himself, who had it in an early sentence in the main article.


Koshem Bos said...

This country didn't have an unpurchased crowd for a long time. The Joshes were always mainstream short of a topic or two.

A place with no progressives, us, is a grey Hardball place. Agitating and blogging is not going to help.

We are slated to sell and buy garbage in the media and on Wall Street.