Monday, November 3


"If Obama wins, he won’t have an ideological mandate. Reagan could blame his predecessor for most of the nation’s problems in 1981 far more legitimately than Obama will be able to in 2009, especially now that Iraq war has taken such a positive turn. "

--John H. Taylor, "Richard Nixon's chief of staff from 1984-90"

"SoHo is now a shopping centre. And so is Paris. You wouldn't go to Paris to learn anything about music or movies in the way I did. You'd go there to shop."

--Philip Glass

Bill Kristol, "I Am Marie of Roumania, Tra-la, Tra-lay". November 3

George Eff Will, "Manifold Historical Minutia Which Would Extenuate Obama's Ostensive Victory, Just As My Insouciant Bow-tie Has Mocked The Evanescent Gauds of Masculine Fashion Lo These Many Years". November 2

Glenn Greenwald, "God these people are dicks. Stupid dicks." November 2

TODAY'S quest began with a weekend comment (at Roy's ) from Susan of Texas, seconded by Michael Harrington, concerning mentioning the word "mandate" as frequently as physically possible over the next four years. Adds Mr. Herrington, "I remember 1984-86 and I'm ready for some motherfuckin' payback" [emphasis in original].  This, then, would be the second bit of proof that Mr. Herrington is not the same Michael Harrington whose appearances on Firing Line almost made up for William FuhBuckley: because the latter is dead, and because he'd remember the Same Mandate Shit, Different Election from 1980.

Along the way we found this from Kevin Drum, just in time to set a new personal standard for links in a single post, which suggested that the waxworks at ABC This Week predicted an Obama landslide, large-scale Democratic gains in both the House and the Senate, and a subsequent move to the right by both parties (Republicans, because that'll be all that's left, and Democrats, because the new seat gains will come from moderate and Republican areas).

So before we ask whether that's accurate, let's ask ourselves Who th' fuck are these people, and why do they define American politics for the teevee networks? Ever the optimist, I first tried to find the video while simultaneously avoiding ABC's web site. My quixotism was rewarded with a view of Last Week's panel: Will, Cokie, Sam, and Peggy Noonan. Aren't at least two of those people technically deceased? Can someone point me to the ABC news exec who thinks that panel offers something? Or who imagines that, with a bridge club like Will, Roberts, Donaldson, and Stephy on hand, there's anything which might possibly come out of Peggy's mouth, other than last night's Jack and Cokes, which isn't already covered?

This at least got me to run screaming to yesterday's video, and the comparative early peas of Will, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, and Mark Halperin. Now first, before I forget it, Halperin, it wasn't Yogi Berra who said, "It's very difficult to predict. Especially the future." It was noted banjo-hitter and utility infielder Enrico Fermi. Yogi said, "You can observe a lot just by looking," which you might take into consideration, since, for one thing, he might not have to keep reminding people he didn't really say all the things he said.

Donna Brazile. Listen, fine, she's as entitled to moisten a seat at these snoozefests as anyone else, but that's the point. Have you ever heard a word come out of her mouth that would make a difference about anything? Another battle of the Fucking Former Strategists. Seismic. And balanced by Mark Halperin.

I know we've been over this before, but is there no way your panel could be made to resemble, even slightly, the electorate you're analyzing? Nobody's young, nobody's living paycheck-to-paycheck, nobody can even remember having done so, or ever spoken for people who do. Hell, in two weeks, with an ideological range running from mild and moderate Democrat (one) to High Church Royalist, you can't even find a Palin supporter. Two weeks, ten people, three females, one African-American, who is also one of the females--as the historic election of America's first black muslim syndicalist draws nigh!--while all the rest qualify as the natural constituency (but not the unpleasant backwoods snake-handling wing, oh no!) of the Wealthy White People's party. There's no room at the table for Joe Conason? None for Glenn Greenwald, who might dangerously remember "Dean" Broder opining, just a year ago, that Bush could be on his way back (and who might then recall the Dean was echoing...Mark Halperin)?

Anyway, anyone who's surprised to hear a flight of teevee pundits predict that the collapse of the most ideological right-wing administration in modern history, (taking much of the country along for the ride) would lead to both major parties moving rightward has simply not been paying attention.

As for the mandate stuff, well, I'm not only old enough to remember how it was tossed around in 1980--in precisely the way the GOP's Federalist forebears had used the Alien and Sedition Acts--I'm still just functional enough to recall the Bush camp using the term in December, '00, after losing the election.  Under the circumstances (that is, since words presently mean nothing whatsoever in politics), we shall see whether it's worth it to revive the argument to prop up the Democratic party (A Mandate for Moderation!). But then it's been clear for two years now that there's a mandate to replace the most incompetent and reviled administration in history, and that means eradicating anything remotely resembling its legacy. I know actual socialism as defined by actual people with actual undamaged thinking is out of the question, but how 'bout expanding the Court again? (If you made it thirteen that'd be one for each Circuit.) I suppose, also, that time will tell whether an overwhelming voter turnout, and participation via contributions and voluteerism, can be flushed down the toilet with impunity in 2009 the way the Democrats ignored the mandate to stop the war in 2007. It's not like I expect 'em to be asking that question on This Week or anything.

And the Trail of the Mandate took me to the Republican Mouthpiece response, where, with utter repudiation looming, the tactic of last resort is to dress the whole thing up in clown nose and rainbow wig. Kristol demonstrates, once again, that the competition for Most Hallucinatory Times Columnist is not quite the MoDo runaway it might appear:
Barack Obama will probably win the 2008 presidential election. If he does, we conservatives will greet the news with our usual resolute stoicism or cheerful fatalism.

And Will reassures us that the more Change changes, the more closely it resembles the doubletalk of the Golden Age of Reagan:
Coloradans and Nebraskans will vote Tuesday on measures to ban government-administered racial preferences in public employment, public education and public contracting. Voters have emphatically passed such measures in California (1996), Washington (1998) and Michigan (2006). If Colorado and Nebraska pass those measures, that will be evidence -- not counter to, but in addition to, the Obama candidacy -- that Americans are eager to put racial politics behind them.

Which reminds us: George Eff Will was an Affirmative Action hire for ABC in 1980. Aren't we overdue for a new one?


handdrummer said...

Bill Kristol: Doesn’t that comment embody everything that liberals (and many conservatives, including me) find creepy about smug establishment back-scratching and gatekeeping in America?

Definitive proof there is no God. If there was one, Smug Billy's head would have exploded from irony shock after making that statement.

Pot. Kettle. Black..except black isn't near dark enough.

Grace Nearing said...

Barack Obama will probably win the 2008 presidential election. If he does, we conservatives will greet the news with our usual resolute stoicism or cheerful fatalism.

Kristol never visits Freeperland, does he?

Anonymous said...

If McCain wins this election today (& martial law is established tomorrow, etc., etc.), we'll know RFK jr. and Palast were right, and then Kristol's smug tone will seem to have been like something other than dementia after all. . .


James Stripes said...

If Obama carries North Carolina, Florida, and North Dakota, he will have a mandate to mop up the mess left behind by George W. Bush. He's leading in the polls in Florida, where he'll squeak by, and in North Carolina, where the polls cannot be credible when race is an issue (and it's always an issue there), and he's behind in North Dakota.

If the Democrats move any further to the right, we should call them Republicans because they will have become the party of Goldwater and Nixon. I don't think there's any territory remaining to the right of the Republican party of the past decade or so, unless you go full circle around to the National Socialist Party that won some power in 1933.