Saturday, November 11, 2006

Political Psychology

Great article at TPM about David Brooks and others like them and why they insist on mercifully defending a corrupt, hypocritical politics while voiceferously attacking made up enemies like the netroots and Ned Lamont:
It’s The Ghost of Left-Liberalism Past that spooks aging neoconservative and liberal war-hawk pundits. They keep summoning that ghost to displace a gnawing, growing anxiety borne of hypocrisies they dare not face in themselves: These are people who've done a bit too well in corporate America as we know it now to challenge its increasingly degrading seductions, inequalities and worse. Yet they’re too well-meaning to be comfortable defending it, either -- except when they can find enemies and evils that are far worse, at home and abroad.

...Obsessing about what the late Michael Kelly called the left-liberal "sandalistas" is fundamentally a dodge, and it only reinforces a taboo on criticizing new configurations of capital, employment and consumption that are eviscerating social trust. Tuesday’s vote was in part a protest against that evisceration, for which conservative Republicans, their apologists and certain Democratic fellow-travelers like Joe Lieberman bear a lot of responsibility and have no answers. To shout that most liberals have none, either, isn't an answer.

...Similarly, the War on Terror has never been threatened by an anti-war movement, whether led by Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan or Ned Lamont, as much as it has been undermined by that war’s own architects and apologists. “The Good Fight” against terror isn’t selling because Beinart and others have distorted that undertaking badly. Lamont felt driven by such nonsense and Lieberman’s truly awful record of supporting it to ignite the spark that changed the national conversation.

Since the War on Terror is indeed different from the one in Vietnam, Lamont supporters have protested it and its Iraq miscarriage very differently from the way anti-war movement of the 1960s and ‘70s protested. But that hasn’t stopped [Slate columnist Jacob] Weisberg from invoking the ghost of McGovern and Brooks from writing that Lamont supporters “rationalize their [outrageous] behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country.”

When someone writes this way without realizing how accurately he is describing himself, he certainly won’t tell readers that Lamont lost mainly because most Republicans voted for Lieberman -- who estimates that 75 percent of his voters were either unaffiliated or Republican -- and that, even so, Lamont carried Connecticut’s largest, poorest and least-white cities against Lieberman overwhelmingly: Hartford by more than two to one, Bridgeport by nearly two to one, New Haven by three to two. Is that a Net roots triumph? Hardly. Does Brooks’ “comic sociology” hold the answer? Silence.

But who got all this going in the first place? Who, trapped in their own illogic and then their belated discovery that the world is a place too hard for Wilsonian idealism, wound up in the arms of a Senator who’d gone hook, line, and sinker with the Bush National Security Strategy? Can’t pundits and reporters stop peddling the line that Lamont was the candidate of Moore, Sharpton, and That’s not who he is or ever was, and it’s not what 40 percent of Connecticut voters endorsed, and Brooks, Beinart, and Weisberg should resolve not to insult them by reducing them to the demons in their own fevered imaginations.

"Resolve not to insult them by reducing them to the demons in their own fevered imaginations." What a great point, and a really good article about people who cannot extricate themselves from 60s and 70s paradigms and who cannot acknowledge the influence their own privilege has on their need to defend the status quo. Read the whole thing.


Bill Levinson said...

"Can’t pundits and reporters stop peddling the line that Lamont was the candidate of Moore, Sharpton, and"

But Lamont WAS's handpicked candidate, and he knowingly and willfully consorted with Al Sharpton, a well-known racist and anti-Semite. MoveOn, in turn, knowingly and willfully allowed its Action Forum to serve as a platform for racist and anti-Semitic hate speech of the worst imaginable kind.

The fact that most of Hartford (once the home of Mark Twain and the industrialists who were doubtlessly the models for Twain's Connecticut Yankee) voted for this individual is disgusting. The brains and character obviousy left Hartford with the factories.

I don't know if Michael Moore stuck his nose into this or not, but I do know that John Kerry welcomed him.

Steve said...

How did Free Republic's hand picked candidates do? The Dump Murtha campaign was a flop. Katherine Harris flopped. Jim Talent flopped. Santorum flopped.

The hate speech jab is a pretty sad straw man. Are you the same Bill Levinson from Freep? If so, you may want to pull some punches if you're talking about hate speech. Some of that character's comments (e.g. calling people "Jews in name only") are bordering on pedantic. Certainly not to mention the comments at Freep and the other angry conservative blogs.

Elaine is right on. Conservatives are tilting at windmills. Lamont lost this campaign not because he was out of touch - he just didn't run a good campaign. The big losers of this campaign are the slash and burn conservative groups like Move America Forward and Concerned Women for America, who thought that they could win races by running negative ads and constantly invoking 9/11 and blaming liberals for every problem under the sun. They were wrong.

Elaine said...

Thanks, Steve. Very well put.

Bill, it is sad that you have to insult the voters of Hartford, Connecticut to bolster your point but it is predictable.

Steve is right, Bill has created a straw man argument with his Al Sharpton, guilt by association accusations. At no point did Ned Lamont engage in any hate speech during his campaign or support it. To say or imply he did is just dishonest, and your reasoning is flawed.

I do find it fascinating and ironic that you (Bill) are engaging in exactly what Jim Sleeper accuses pundits of your party of doing: creating a straw man to avoid facing the issues in your own party (for instance, if you want hate speech and racism, look no further than the Bob Corker and George Allen campaigns). And, as Steve said, most of our candidates beat incumbents, yes incumbents, who were hand-picked to appeal to the conservative base