Their audiences have not been buying what they're selling. Economics pundit Paul Krugman of the New York Times is even is reduced to whining that he's being called "evil" for denigrating Bernie Sanders supporters as "happy dreamers." (He provided no proof of the actual existence of any evil-accusers, however.)
Meanwhile, the anti-universal health care diatribes of Democratic Wonker Ezra Klein of Vox have been compared to those 90s right-wing Thelma and Louise ads from the Clinton era. Matt Yglesias has been castigated as a hypocrite for defending single payer health care during the first Obama campaign, but now belittling it during the first Sanders campaign. Etc, etc, etc. By far the worst of the worst of the Bernie- Bashers is centrist pundit Jonathan Chait. Gawker calls his "case against Sanders" not only dishonest, but dumb. Chait's latest gambit is to claim Sanders has no political experience, despite his long record of service in municipal, state, and national government.
That is only the backlash against the pundits, who operate with relative freedom. Surrogates for Hillary Clinton have definitely been put in their places. Chelsea Clinton has already gotten the Barbara Bush muzzle treatment, banished to private fundraisers among friendly members of her own social class. Attack dog-in-chief David Brock of Media Matters was chained and choke-collared by the campaign when he demanded Bernie's health records and accused him of not caring about black people.
Hillary Clinton herself has suddenly let up on her own direct attacks. This isn't because of any sense of human decency, but because focus groups were not reacting kindly to either her unfair Bernie-bashing, or her running on the fumes of the Obama administration as a way to pander to black voters.
The most powerful Bernie-Basher still left standing is President Obama, who really only succeeded in denigrating the progressive base, rather than the candidate himself, when he called Sanders a "bright, shiny object" -- as though voters are a bunch of shallow rubes instead of thoughtful citizens hungry for some basic human dignity in their lives. His smarmy paternalism and adherence to the status quo of unfettered capitalism could not have been made starker.
I suspect that Obama was just as ticked off about Bernie's Senate hold on the White House nomination of a Big Pharma shill to head the Food and Drug Administration as he was about Hillary's slide in the polls.
Obama might also have been reacting to last week's withering speech by his other nemesis in the Senate: Elizabeth Warren.
Warren as much as endorsed Bernie, and blasted both Clinton and Obama: (h/t Gaius Publius.)
Hillary Clinton has thus been duly forced ("shamed" would imply an actual moral compass) into postponing a couple of Wall Street money-grubbing events scheduled for today. Her tryst with the billionaires will just have to wait. So in that respect, the Sanders-Warren wing has already won. It is beginning to nudge the big money out of the political process. It's already making the pursuit of greed uncomfortable for both corrupt politicians and the wealthy donor class.
And as for Bernie's scheduled Oval Office meeting with Big Guy himself today, what is Obama going to do? Threaten to cut off Bernie's DNC funding? Threaten to not join him on the stump if he doesn't cede the nomination to Clinton, or tone down the populist rhetoric?
If Bernie Sanders has proven anything, he's proven that he can't be bought.
And really: can you picture Barack and Michelle joining Bernie and Jane Sanders on the campaign trail? I kind of doubt that the Obamas are going to be calling for a political revolution, and the break-up of the banks, and universal health care any time soon. They've got their own future careers and "initiatives" to worry about.
But back to that outbreak of Bernie-Bashing by media insiders last week, as well as its apparent hasty and probably only temporary retreat. How did Krugman, Chait, Klein and the rest belch out nearly identical anti-Sanders polemics all at the same time? Political philosopher Philip Mirowski has a great explanation about how this process of agnotology works in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste":
"It ventures far beyond the discrediting of this or that individual; it seeks to destabilize the things we were predisposed to take for granted, and insinuate a sharply targeted narrative explanation as one of those default presumptions,
"This does not appear to the public as overt strident propaganda; rather it presents itself as liberating, expanding the cloistered space of sanctioned explanation in an era of wrangling and indecision. There are two steps to this procedure: one is the effort to pump excess noise into the public discussion of appropriate frames within which to approach the controversy; the second is to provide the echoic preferred target narrative as coming from many different sanctioned sources at once; ubiquity helps pave the way for inevitability. To make this work, one must do both: amplify the impression of indecision and doubt on the part of the elect, while sharpening the preferred narrative as making a demand upon our attention. Doubt is their product, but eventual manufactured consensus is their profit."What Chait, Krugman, Yglesias, Klein and the affinity fraudsters of the Neoliberal Thought Collective have just attempted to accomplish for the Democratic Party is to destabilize and shoot down the growing public consensus that health care is a human right, and that the free market is harmful to our collective well-being. That they acted in unison, writing essentially the same words to denigrate both Sanders and his supporters, is proof of the inherent motivation of the establishment: to lower the expectations of progressives and supporters of Bernie Sanders. The neoliberal pundits' "excess noise" and fear-mongering about high taxes being worse than high payments to insurance companies came out all at once, in one very highly orchestrated, cacophonous neoliberal bellow.
The only trouble is, they have failed miserably to convince. They didn't get their reward of "manufactured consent." They have failed to gaslight us, just as Charles Boyer ultimately failed to convince Ingrid Bergman that she was the crazy one.
|Single Payer is Way Too Expensive, My Darling|
Their expected profits have turned into a monumental loss of their credibility and damage to their reputations.
They counted on the stupidity and party tribalism of the masses, and all they got was ridicule. They were sorely disappointed.
On that theme, here are a couple of my recent New York Times comments.
The first was on the blog-post by Krugman (linked above) in which he hilariously used Obama's endorsement of Clinton and insult to Bernie supporters to bolster the agnotological point of his thought collective buddies. He pretended to be absolutely stunned -- even paranoid -- at the criticism he's been getting, going so far as to churlishly accuse his critics of calling him "evil." (Actually, he is merely banal. And not as cute as Charles Boyer.)
Krugman again attacks the straw man who insists that anybody not in the bag for Bernie is a monster and pure evil. I think that the pejorative term being bandied about is "Bernie Bro."* Although rumored to be roaming the landscrape, the existence of this Chimera has yet to be proven. No photographs are known to exist.
|The Bernie Bro of Plutocratic Nightmares|
Also, the term Pragmatic Progressive, or "pragprog," is an oxymoron. (this is a reference to the meme of Clinton as a "progressive who gets things done".) The word is commonly used to describe an extreme centrist (socially liberal, economically free-market conservative, usually wealthy). It first became fashionable to be a PragProg back in the day when Obama was playing his mythical game of 11-dimensional chess with his Grandiose Bargaining pawns of austerity and safety net cuts.
Anybody wanting universal health care is an airhead these days, according to the PragProgs. People wanting to survive and get paid $15 an hour are considered radical.
Frankly, I am getting sick of hearing about all the battles that Hillary has fought, how battle-scarred Hillary is, etc. I keep getting this picture of Saint Sebastian in drag. Oh, those arrows of outrageous multi-millionaire fortune.
|Saint Hillary of the Scared, Scarred and Sacred Heart|
This is not about the hurt feelings of pundits and wonks -- much to their chagrin, apparently.
How about showing some concern about the 99%, who are not only scarred, but still bleeding copiously from their many wounds? (wage stagnation, underemployment, poverty.)
That is what should be making you furious. That is the true evil.
In his "Hillary Clinton Stumbles" column published on Monday, Charles Blow implicitly chides his media colleagues, and directly blasts the candidate herself, for the recent mindless frenzy of Sandernista sucker-punching. Although he, too, casts doubt upon the Sanders agenda, he at least stays comparatively civil in his criticism of it. He doesn't lie like other liberal pundits and accuse Bernie of wanting to rip away health care from millions of people.
When Hillary was asked on camera if she'd release the transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, she just laughed sarcastically. The millions of dollars she's taken from banks, insurance companies and the private prison industry simply expose her new=found populism as a cynical campaign tactic in the mildewed playbook of triangulation and corruption.
People aren't stupid. People are mad as hell, and justifiably so. People are attracted to Bernie Sanders not because they believe he'll bring change overnight, but because they know he's the real deal. Simply being honest and sincere is enough of a winning ticket in this crazy election year.
Bernie Sanders now deservedly owns the national bully pulpit, and we aim to keep him and people like him there, regardless of how this election turns out. He's a master of the Art of the Possible. He brings into high relief the ongoing failure of the political imagination. Don't count out a landslide victory - with more progressives riding into Congress on his coattails -- just yet.
Charles Blow, by the way, is to be applauded for not joining his media colleagues in the ongoing vicious attacks on both Sanders and his "pie-in-the sky" supporters. Mr. Blow's observation that Hillary Clinton is now hypocritically wrapping herself in the mantle of Obama (her erstwhile nemesis) is right on target.
Who cares if Hillary thinks she's battle-tested? We're sick of war, and that includes the class war.*Update: I spoke too soon about the neolibs temporarily holding their fire. Because Krugman is back on the attack, this time attacking.... Bernie Bros! (I guess he didn't read my comment to him last time, about how Bernie Bros are figments of the Clinton camp's imagination.) In any event, Krugman again wails about the punditocracy being unfairly attacked by rabid proponents of health care for all, rather than railing about the desperate 30 million people not getting any health care at all. He really is starting to sound unhinged. Here's my latest riposte to him, to which I added the link to Warren's speech at the end. (I really don't know how much longer I can keep this up):
I made fun of the term "Bernie Bro" over the weekend in a comment on this blog. It's a stupid pejorative being used by lazy thinkers to describe people who support the policies of Sanders. "Bernie Bros," as the name implies, are a group of oafish sexist pigs out to defeat Hillary for the sole reason that she is a woman.
Bernie Bros do not exist. If there are any soundbites or film of these boors heckling Hillary at her campaign events, I haven't heard or seen them.
Therefore, it is very sad to see Krugman joining in this infantile smear campaign. Since I support Bernie myself, does that make me a Bernie Ho? Do tell.
Painting us all with the same broad brush is a sign of desperation.
Contrary to Establishment belief, we don't want single payer health care now, now, NOW!!!!! If you actually listened to Sanders, you would have heard him say that the best way to accomplish our goals is to elect him, elect more progressives, give him the bully pulpit for two presidential years, and then hopefully vote in a Democratic majority in the 2018 midterms to start transitioning to single payer. Sure, this might not work. But just giving up and not even trying would be plain suicidal for the vast majority of us. Of course, to hear the neoliberal thought collective tell it, our demand for not only a decent life, but for bare-bones survival, is a radical pipe-dream.