Saturday, August 11

:: Never Forget

Some of us haven't gotten over the horror that was the 2000 elections; those of us with the Sicilian Alzheimers never will. We'll go to our graves remembering the stupid, awful things people said and did to tear down Al Gore and set in motion a chain of events that continues to cause untold misery in this country and around the world.

And that is why I really appreciated the most recent Daily Howler post. In the Friday, August 10 edition, Bob Somerby (the man behind the Howler) takes on an enervating statement by some fellow who I gather is well-regarded in progressive circles. I now quote the Daily Howler's quote of one Eric Boehlert waxing poetic about his righteous keyboard tapping peers:

As Altercation's YearlyKos correspondent, I came away from the Chicago convention amazed at what the netroots have been able to build, and in such a short period of time. I'm stating the obvious when I say that Al Gore would have been elected president if the netroots existed in 2000, if only because that inventing-the-Internet nonsense would have been shot down in a matter of days."
OH! Oh, no you didn't just write that, you.... putz! I clearly remember the disgusting spectacle of progressives piling on Gore in 1999-2000. Lucky for me, I can rely on Mr. Somerby to articulate my umbrage (because if I had to do it on my own, we'd be here all day).
Many net-rooters would have been supporting Bill Bradley—and Bradley and the Bradley campaign were pimping every RNC attack against Gore’s troubling character. As we noted earlier this week, it got so bad by the fall of 1999 that Bradley and the Bradley campaign even began pretending that Gore was responsible for the Willie Horton matter, back in 1988... In March 1999, would the net-roots have risen to Gore’s defense? Oh sure! Here’s a well-known liberal blogger in February 2000:

HUFFINGTON (2/6/00): Bradley has warned voters to watch for Mr. Gore's "tricky" way with words, going as far as to compare him with Richard Nixon...In fact, not only this campaign but Mr. Gore's entire career has been laden with untruths—all demonstrating a pattern of serial abuse of language, truth and reality.

He invented the Internet, discovered Love Canal and was the inspiration for "Love Story." He lives on a farm, was "always pro-choice" and claimed that, "unlike Sen. Bradley," he had co-sponsored the original McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill—even though Mr. Feingold was not elected to the Senate until Mr. Gore had already left to become vice president.
Somerby rightly points out that the same myopia is at work this cycle, with Obama as this year's Bradley and Clinton playing the part of Gore. No matter what Bradley said or did, he was the good guy who wasn't part of the establishment, who spoke from the heart, who was "real." Gore was "more of the same," programmed by consultants and special interests, a fake and a liar. Within the Democratic family, Bradley's statements were taken at face value while Gore's were scrutinized for political motives. By the time Bradley - who clearly was not going to win the nomination - dropped out of the race, enough progressives were turned off to Gore to make the Cult of Nader a real threat.

In fact, I would love to see research on the number of Bradley supporters who wound up voting for Nader in the general. The Bradley and Nader campaigns were temperamentally dissimilar, but both cultivated and relied on an aura of purity to make up for deficits of experience and policy breadth.

And so we find ourselves back in the same leaky boat. Obama's supporters defend his "if they won't, we will" soundbite-ready lunge at Pakistan's sovereignty - but if the same statement had come from a Republican, they'd (rightly) be screaming about Iraq the Sequel. Instead, Obama's supporters proudly point out that Republicans have no right to criticize him because they themselves support the same policy.

If Hillary had said it, I guarantee you Obama supporters would have sneered about her cozying up to the neo-cons for a kegger of Bush Lite. They would point out that her position makes her no different from the Republicans, but it would be a negative, not a positive. As it stands, her "just keep it in your pants for now, big boy" response is derided as "just" a slap on Obama, as opposed to plain common sense which was also a slap at Obama because he wasn't using any when he spoke.

Likewise, with the kerfuffle over taking money from lobbyists, Clinton is derided for pointing out the obvious: that lobbying is a profession that is neither inherently good or evil; that lobbyists represent a variety of interests, including those of "real" people; and that just because you accept a campaign contribution from an individual lobbyist does not mean you are agreeing to a quid pro quo vote on legislation the lobbyist supports. Of course, this is seen as evidence (and we can thank Jon Stewart for promoting this belief) that Hillary is a hypocrite and a liar. Obama, on the other hand, is positively saintly, even though... (and here I once again am relying on the Daily Howler, which provides this quote from a story in the Los Angeles Times):
In his campaign finance statements, Obama has disclosed that he has returned more than $52,000 given to him by Washington lobbyists, though there is no law against taking money from them.

Even as he shuns donations from lobbyists, Obama has taken more than $1.4 million this year from law and consultancy firms that have partners who are registered to lobby, a Times analysis of Obama's fundraising shows. He has received hundreds of thousands more from corporate executives while turning down money from their lobbyists.

"This may be an imperfect ban, but it is an important symbol of the kind of administration that Obama will have in Washington," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.
Needless to say, really, that Edwards does exactly the same - turns down a relatively small amount of contributions that come directly from registered lobbyists, using it as cover to accept far greater sums from what you might broadly refer to as "corporate interests."

Personally, I have no problem with Clinton, Obama or Edwards accepting money from lobbyists and/or "corporate interests." I do have a problem with Obama and Edwards using rhetorical sleight-of-hand to make this into a political purity test, and I certainly have a problem with the progressives who go along with this bullshit. At least, at least if you are going to attack somebody using innuendo instead of facts, get off your high horse when you do it.

1 comment:

tim said...

hey there - dead on.

I gotta tell ya though that Boehlert was just going hopeful and poetic - normally he does excellent work on the horrors of the msm - but he doesnt see the bradlye-nader-obama nexus.

I am working with both of them on a new project - a kind of chorus and tour to yell about the media.

Somerby is one of the few folks I know who really get seems that you do to.

Send me an email will ya - Ill keep ya informed on what we are doing and hopefully we will be coming to what city you wriye from

Tim Howe