Monday, March 22

If It's Not Too Much To Ask, Could You, Oh, Bother Looking First Next Time?

David E. Sanger, "News Analysis: Big Win for Obama, but at What Cost?" March 21

I'M pretty sure by now that I'm on record as completely baffled by what people--or journalists--think they get out of the entire complex of Conventional Wisdom, Faux Balance, and the convenient pocket-sizing of everything which has happened politically over the past fifty years into an insipid fairy tale about "Conservatives" and "Liberals" and Evil Hippie Stepmothers.

I mean, at some point aren't you supposed to take stock of things on your own? Maybe it's lost in the Haze, but I don't recall spending my twenties and thirties--and forties, Mr. Sanger--parading finger puppets of Churchill and Joe Stalin across my desk and making 'em fight it out like G.I. Joes. Whom does this sort of reporting satisfy? Whom does it benefit? It solves a "problem" of media bias which dates to the Nixon administration and your own first pair of Garanimals, sir, the "problem", in general, being that Red Scare ratfuckers like Nixon were cheesed off about being portrayed as Red Scare ratfuckers, and, in the specific, that his expectations of the Popular Press continuing to do the White House's stenography on Vietnam were not being met. In both instances we might note--as if it still made a difference--that the Press (eventually) got it right, that Nixon was the most prolific cornholer of small mammals to hold high elective office since Jefferson Davis, and that our little Jungle Excursion was so swathed in lies, mis- and malfeasance as to make Iraq II look like a decent investment. Again, as if it still made a difference.

I don't get it, and I don't get why anyone would be willing to churn this shit out, or how he'd possibly take offense when people don't believe it. Doesn't, for example the CW include a sort of sneering condescension to anything labelled "PC"? That when we are "forced" to trim our sails to the prevailing breeze which says that people with learning disabilities should not be referred to as Retards, nor every mosque as a Terrorist training facility, we are somehow being artificial ? What's more artificial than the idea that the Right in this country is always loyal, always honest, and always entitled to have its opinions frame one side of the debate?
WASHINGTON — The House’s passage of health care legislation late Sunday night assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system.

Okay, not to get too sensitive right off the bat, but why is this said this way, like you stayed up all night reading opera librettos? Did anyone use the hyperbole, or the "social welfare system" rhetoric, when Bush got Left No Child Behind? Can you really get to be the Chief Washington Correspondent for the Newspaper of Record without realizing that "reshaping the nation's social welfare system" is precisely the Right Wing critique of the thing?
At the core of Mr. Obama’s strategy stands a bet that the Republicans, in trying to portray the bill as veering toward socialism, overplayed their hand. Fueled by the antigovernment anger of the Tea Party movement, Republicans have staked much on the idea that they can protect the country by acting as what the Democrats gleefully call the “Party of No.”

I'm sorry; gleefully? Sheesh, they're the party of historic majorities in both Houses. If they'd been a little more gleeful about their opponents being the "Party of Complete Irrelevance, Utter Failure, and No Ideas Except More of the Same" to start off with maybe we'd have avoided this mess altogether.
But there is no doubt that in the course of this debate, Mr. Obama has lost something — and lost it for good. Gone is the promise on which he rode to victory less than a year and a half ago — the promise of a “postpartisan” Washington in which rationality and calm discourse replaced partisan bickering.

Y'know, Mr. Sanger, you tell me. Like Faux Balance reportage, the goddam thing was so preposterous on the face of it you couldn't seriously imagine a rational man would say such a thing. So he was either lying to get elected, or he got an Ivy League degree in political science, was president of the Harvard Law Review, taught Constitution Law at the U. of Chicago, and served a term in the US Senate while being utterly oblivious of the last fifty years of American history, or he has the most complete case of naiveté known to medical science. I don't need your answer to that, mind you. Just tell me why it reverberated among a certain segment of the public, half of them bloggers, and where they disappeared to the minute the thing got tough.

There was never any "promise" of postpartisanship. Take him to task for having trotted it out, or give him credit for playing Rope A Dope with the GOP, if you choose, but fer chrissakes, healthcare didn't shred our Precious Hopes of Capitol Kumbaya. The Republicans will vote in lockstep to refuse the Pope a visa if they think it would benefit Obama. There's nothing whatsoever he could do about that, though he could have predicted it, like every casual observer of American politics.

Though unlike many a paid observer:
“Let’s face it, he’s failed in the effort to be the nonpolarizing president, the one who can use rationality and calm debate to bridge our traditional divides,” said Peter Beinart, a liberal essayist who is publishing a history of hubris in politics. “It turns out he’s our third highly polarizing president in a row. But for his liberal base, it confirms that they were right to believe in the guy — and they had their doubts.”

Doubts allayed? I missed the memo, but then those guys don't send me any, anyway. You still have a bunch which decided to fritter away an historic election (they're "Revolutions" when the Republicans get victories of that magnitude) and who somehow managed to get held hostage to the likes of Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, and the anti-choicers of his own party. The administration let single payer die without so much as touring the trenches, let protection of the insurance industry's PAC contributions take precedence over protecting people, and only got seriously involved when it became obvious he was up flail creek without a personal flotation device. Six months after his inauguration the hard-core of a party which had left the country in shambles, and which he had defeated that previous autumn, in no small part because of its disastrous track record, had taken over the national debate with crudely-lettered misspellings of serious misrepresentations. Then the whole thing comes down to Democrats facing the choice between electoral disaster for doing nothing, or electoral disaster for doing what they'd pledged to do, and it takes 'em nine more months to make up their minds. If this alleviates Doubt the word has a definition I'm not familiar with.
“In the short term Obama will get a boost, because the narrative is that he came back from the dead and got done what no president has managed to do in 70 years,” said Peter Wehner, who was a political adviser to President Bush. “But once people discover that their Medicare taxes are going up, that there are deeper cuts in Medicare Advantage, that there are court challenges to many provisions, and that the process of getting it passed created a portrait of corruption, it won’t sit well.”

Okay, now, pardon us for a moment. Peter Wehner, formerly a functionary for the Worst President in United States History, makes a half-dozen, highly partisan, and unfounded claims about the legislation, including "creating" a "portrait of corruption". So what does the Times' man have to say about this?
Perhaps so

"Perhaps", in this instance, meaning "well, a Republican said it, and maybe there is some evidence somewhere which might be formed in such a way as to back this up, although he provided none and I can't investigate it, since this would be unfair to conservatives".

Listen: what we really ought to have learned by our majority, from fast-food commercials if nowhere else, is that these people can use the I'm Being Honest approach same as someone who's actually Being Honest; it's the default position. This is how grifters, hookers, and House Minority Leaders stay in business.

Y'know, Mr. Sanger, I hate to keep pointing this out, but it's your country too, the one which has a military force, and the attendant price tag, greater than the next fifty countries combined. And it's that same country, yours, too, which has a healthcare system that ranks between Costa Rica's and Slovenia's, except in cost per capita, where we are again Unparalleled. These are factual matters, but somehow you can't fit them in to 1300 words, which do manage to include the infokibble that "many have come to believe" that Social Security "must change or go broke". It's your country, too. If the truth isn't important, then why do you do what you do? If it is, then why do you do what you do?


Pangborn Lionheart said...

Bravo. And without a superfluous word. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

And here I was defending print journalists for not having their heads up their asses nearly as much as broadcasters.

Anonymous said...

And here I was saying print journalists have their heads up their asses far less often than broadcast types.

Murr Brewster said...

Oh thank you.

bjkeefe said...

Thanks for this. I knew I couldn't bear to read Sanger, or worse, AdNags, the morning after such a happy night, and I was hoping you'd get after them while waiting for Our Mr. Brooks's next piece to get burped out.


bjkeefe said...

And jeez, was it really necessary for Sanger to make Jonah Goldberg's "liberal friend" Peter Effing Beinart the go-to guy for the "other side's" perspective?

CAPTCHA, how say you? VERSHOR!

Anonymous said...

TBogg turned me on to you, for which (among other things) I'll forever be grateful to him.


LittlePig said...

that there are deeper cuts in Medicare Advantage

Lemme get this straight - this Republican is pissed because there will be LESS Socialism?

bjkeefe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brock said...

Another great piece. Keep up the wonderful work!

"If the truth isn't important, then why do you do what you do? If it is, then why do you do what you do?"

Man, more people need to read this.

jackd said...

Is my memory on the fritz (likely) or did Beinart recently take a big ol' draught at the Well of Stupid? Lumping Clinton and Obama together with Bush as "polarizing" takes some kind of prize for false equivalence, doesn't it?