Friday, March 07, 2008

Clinton and Obama, who's bad? Who's good?

In criticizing E.J. Dionne and David Brooks, Bob Somerby articulates the problem of imagining which candidate--Clinton or Obama--is good or bad. First of all, our fetid press corps doesn't tell the truth about our Democratic contenders. They invent story lines to fit their own prejudices. Yes, that's right--they are biased and paid handsomely for their opinions.

Sadly, the same can be said for the present bias in the Left Blogosphere that's fractured into separate camps--Clinton versus Obama. I daresay that some of the A-List loudmouths in the 'sphere have jumped on their respective campaign gravy trains in part for the sake of their PayPal accounts and advertising cha-ching. Don't be so naivé to think that money and peeps aren't a driving a factor. It's not true for all but the transformation of once rational bloggers into mainstream media parrots--validating Matt Drudge, Ann Kornblut, and other Villagers, for gawd's sake--gives one pause.

From The Daily Howler [emphasis added in bold]:

BROOKS AND DIONNE, TOGETHER AT LAST: In today’s Post and Times columns, E. J. Dionne and David Brooks express a similar view of the Democratic campaign. “Clinton has shown she is willing to say anything about Obama to bring him down,” Dionne mournfully writes. But then, Brooks is on a similar wave length. Speaking of Obama, he says this: “When he was under assault in South Carolina, he rose above the barrage and made the Clintons look sleazy.” A bit later, he presents the boo-hooing, goo-goo view of recent events: In Texas and Ohio, “Clinton attacked [Obama], and the attacks worked.” Rachel Maddow couldn’t sob it out better.

We’ll probably examine this view of the race in more detail next week. But please note: Almost surely, this is not the way the Clinton campaign would describe these matters. Did Obama “rise above” in South Carolina? The Clinton campaign would most likely say that Obama, his campaign and his surrogates played the race card during that period, making a string of claims (some of which, to be honest, were completely absurd) which painted the Clintons as slobbering racists. Sean Wilentz doesn’t speak for the Clinton campaign, but his recent piece in The New Republic probably captures the Clinton camp’s general view of these matters. [Link]

Which campaign’s view of these matters is right? It’s always hard to sort out such matters. But quite commonly, the “press corps” adopts one view or another during the course of our White House campaigns. During the primary race in Campaign 2000, for example, the mainstream press corps’ brilliant savants widely adopted the story-lines being pushed by Bradley and McCain, their widely-beloved twin authentics. Result? Al Gore now holds the Nobel Peace Prize—but at the time, Dionne’s brilliant colleagues were reciting a mantra: Al Gore is willing to do and say anything! Dionne was too gutless to speak at the time—and this morning, he recites the same line, this time aimed at Clinton. “Clinton has shown she is willing to say anything about Obama,” the sage instructs. Alas! He kept his trap shut during Campaign 2000, speaks up unwisely today.

For ourselves, we’ll stick with prior assessments. When we watched the South Carolina debate, we thought this: We’ve never seen a three-person debate with three candidates this good. When we watched the two-person debate from LA, we thought this: It’s a shame that one of these two has to lose. The human brain is deeply (and dumbly) wired to trick us into “us and them” thinking; if we surrender to what it directs, we end up thinking that one candidate in a race is The Very Good Person, and the other is Very Bad Indeed. This is often a silly appraisal; we think that’s basically true in this case. But understand: In Campaign 2000, Dionne’s tribe cast Gore as The Very Bad Person—and Dionne never voiced a word of complaint. Today, Gore holds the Nobel Peace Prize—and the man this cohort helped put into office has made a vast wreck of the world.

How do you like the kind of judgment these savants have displayed in the past?

Al Gore is willing to say and do anything! And not only that: He’ll lick the bathroom floor to be president! They repeated it over and over again, presenting utterly ludicrous “proofs.” When people like Dionne failed to dissent, many liberals and centrists came to believe that it must be basically accurate. So it was that E. J. Dionne displayed his destructive cowardice.

Dionne hid from service back then, refusing to challenge his cohort’s behavior. Today, he himself recites their old line, this time about Vile Clinton II. It’s great to see Brooks and Dionne together at last, but we’ll stick with our previous views: We’ve never seen three candidates that good. It’s a real shame that two have to lose.

It's time to stop demonizing either candidate. One can have preferences--I know I do 'cause I only have one vote--and we should hold Hillary and Barack accountable for her and his words and deeds. But to repeat the nonsense and the characterizations--The Clintons are racists!--that the press corp has infused into Campaign 2008 is just plain stupid.

I wish Hillary would send Mark Penn packing and denounce and reject the idiotic, specious claims some of her surrogates have said. I also wish Obama would banish Jesse Jackson Jr., from his campaign for his unforgivable sexist diatribe against Hillary's "tears" and threatening African-American superdelegates for supporting Clinton. Furthermore, Obama himself should apologize for his own sexist dog whistle and for associating with homophobes.

I could go on and on, but the truth is neither campaign has been perfect. People say the dumbest things.

But nothing--nothing!--is dumber than carrying water for the Village.

Now let's get to kicking GOP butts and their sycophants in our rancid press corps.