Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, originally had started a fundraiser to help sabotage the Republican primaries, but scotched the monetary angle when criticism came pouring in about its tainting of the political process. No matter: PrioritiesUSA is spending its own tainted cash for attack ads. The objective of the Democrats seems to be this: drag out the GOP nominating process as long as possible in order to weaken all the candidates and make Obama a shoo-in.
This is wrong on so many levels. It reeks of desperation. It reveals Democrats to be in thrall to a Cult of Personality. The only beneficiary of a drawn-out food fight among the Republicans will be President Obama. It will not be the electorate. The more we can be distracted by the phony culture wars, the birth control fight, vaginal probes, presidential theology... and the more we can manufacture outrage and portray the president as a victim of a smear campaign, the easier it will be for Obama to continue his own far-right policies. The more an unhinged Rick Santorum can fill the airwaves and the blogs, the less we will notice, or care, about the shadow wars, the abuses of the surveillance state, the war on whistleblowers, the war on drugs, the war on poor people, the stealth privatization of schools, that too many of us are permanently unemployed and underemployed, and that the American Dream is just so much hot air.
The presidential contest the Democrats prefer will be between a right wing corporatist and a racist lunatic -- not between two right wing corporatists. We must not, cannot notice that the entire process is ruled by oligarchic special interests. The pretense of choice must be maintained, no matter what the cost. Here is how Moulitsas put it yesterday:
Of course, I realize that this (voting for Santorum) makes some of you squeamish, and if you live in one of those states and don't want to participate, you don't have to! (We also stopped fundraising for it, focusing instead in message mobilizing.) But there's too much at stake to worry about idealistic notions of what democracy should be. Luckily for all of us, Team Obama isn't restraining itself based on such idealism. They're playing to win, and this latest action is essentially strategic vindication for Operation Hilarity.The action he refers to are the Obama SuperPac ads running in Michigan against Romney, who is not even the nominee yet. This tactic of an incumbent president involving himself in another party's nominating process had been unheard of until now. Citizens United is proving to be a real radical trend-setter, isn't it?
David Sirota of Salon has written a fine piece on the dangers of focusing on the manufactured culture wars during a drawn-out Republican primary. He disagrees with the conventional wisdom of the Democratic veal pen that the longer the Republicans can duke it out, the more they will expose their awfulness to the public at large. In fact, the opposite will occur:
We are already too far to the right as a nation for our own comfort and our own good. It has become the acceptable new normal to have a Democrat in the Oval Office who is openly anti-union (he pulled OFA, his official campaign arm, out of the Wisconsin labor protests a year ago), fiscally conservative (Catfood Commission), anti-environment (he nixed his own EPA's ozone rules), pro-corporation and Wall Street, job-destroying free trade proponent, and ad infinitum. His base is left slobbering in gratitude over the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which has yet to increase women's pay), his same-sex marriage slow evolution and other liberal tidbits.Straightforward as this hypothesis is, I don’t buy it — I believe the longer the Republican primary battle continues, the more the GOP’s most extreme proposals are given a mainstream platform, the more their ideas are granted public credibility and the more conservative propaganda is invisibly woven into our most basic political assumptions. In other words, I believe in the Goldwater Principle, which suggests that while the eventual nominee may fail to win the cycle’s general election, the elongated nomination contest — with its news cycle dominance and hardcore ideological edge — will help permanently shift the supposed mainstream “center” of our public debate to the fringe right.
The corporate media have fallen down on their own job, abysmally. The so-called progressive cable TV shows no longer delve into substantive issues. Even renegade Keith Olbermann has stopped questioning or criticizing the Obama Administration. It's all about ginning up outrage at the latest antics of the GOP candidates. Citizens United has extended the process by bankrolling fringe candidates, and the TV stations are raking in the advertising bucks. They have discovered that lunacy is a commodity and an eminently lucrative one.
You don't hear much criticism of the White House during this election season from the more popular liberal blogs, either. In fact, the fomenting of fear is on a definite upswing. Just glancing over at the headlines in this site's blogroll and elsewhere this morning tells the story: "Romney: 'Nuclear Weapons Will Be Used if Obama Elected!""; "Our Nation of Moaners"; "Forced Births in the Bad Old Days"; "Santorum Excommunicates 4500 Christians!"; "Virginia To Impose State-Sponsored Rape by Forcing Women to Get Vaginal Probes!"
MoveOn.org is having hysterics. Can you contribute $15 right away to stop the Republican "Let Women Die!" bill? $top letting the Republicans make the war on women's health a wedge issue by helping us ensure that it will continue to be a wedge issue!
The only thing we have to fear is corporate Democrats telling us how much we should fear Republicans. This stuff reminds me of the alien abduction craze of years ago. UFOs were kidnapping people right and left, and there were always probes involved. Forget about the looming Iran War. There is a war against women, people! It is so much more fun to be scared about imaginary things, like Rick Santorum. Heck, even I write the occasional blog post about Rick Santorum. But I don't give this marginal human being power and nonstop publicity he doesn't deserve in order to make "my side" look good.
"Villager" pundit Ezra Klein of The Washington Post and MSDNC is beginning to see the light. A little. He explains "why voters can't trust their own political party." It's because politicians care more about getting elected than they do about the needs of voters. Duh. But it is not the media's job to explain policy to the hoi polloi, sniffs Klein. They are, after all, just the stenographers:
Perhaps my biggest frustration with the U.S. news media (and yes, I am a card-carrying member) is that we permit the two parties to decide what is “left” and what is “right.” The way it works, roughly, is that anything Democrats support becomes “left,” and everything Republicans support becomes “right.”Well, at least he is being honest about clarifying his self-imposed limits. It is simply not in his job description to give us a crash course on substance. Klein seems to echo New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane's infamous column which rhetorically asked if reporters should be calling out politicians on their lies. This paragraph from the Klein piece made me cringe:
There are good reasons for this. It isn’t the media’s job to police political ideologies, and it wouldn’t be a good idea for us to try. But that leaves ordinary voters in a bit of a tough spot.
Parties -- particularly when they’re in the minority -- care more about power than policy. Perhaps there’s nothing much to be done about this. And as I said, it isn’t clear that the media, or anyone else, should try. But it puts the lie to the narrative that America is really riven by grand ideological disagreements. America is deeply divided on the question of which party should be in power at any given moment. Much of the polarization over policy is driven by that question, not the other way around.Okay, Ezra. All politicians are scum, but just keep continuing to parrot what they say, give them a free platform and wring your hands in despair. Don't call them out publicly, by name, but do write a generic column every once in awhile to ease your conscience. I guess Ezra never reads ProPublica, or learned about muckraking in college.