Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006
After watching the Sunday chatfests, I suspected that the punditocracy has now gone through denial, anger, and bargaining, and is now in acceptance, or at least depression, about Joe Lieberman's upcoming defeat today. But not everybody has given up.

Martin Peretz of TNR, writing in that well-known Democratic organ the Wall Street Journal editorial page, is horrified that clones of George McGovern are taking over the Democratic Party. And Mr Peretz knows all about peaceniks; he used to be one himself:

Peace candidates know only one thing, and that is why people vote for them. I know the type well. I was present at its creation.

I was there, a partisan, as a graduate student at the beginning, in 1962, when the eminent Harvard historian H. Stuart Hughes (grandson of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes) ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent against George Cabot Lodge and the victor, Ted Kennedy, a trio of what in the Ivies is, somewhat derisively, called "legacies." Hughes's platform fixed on President John F. Kennedy's belligerent policy towards Cuba, which had been crystallized in the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco. The campaign ended, however, with Hughes winning a dreary 1% of the vote when Krushchev capitulated to JFK just before the election and brought the missile crisis to an end, leaving Fidel Castro in power as an annoyance (which he is still, though maybe not much longer), but not as a threat.

You can practically hear Marty Peretz humming to himself:

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

And should Joe Lieberman go down to defeat, bringing down with himslef all hopes of Democratic success in the midterms (which no doubt is why people like Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin are supporting him) Peretz knows that it is the wicked blogosphere who will be to blame:
The blogosphere Democrats, whose victory Mr. Lamont's will be if Mr. Lamont wins, have made Iraq the litmus test for incumbents.... If Mr. Lieberman goes down, the thought-enforcers of the left will target other centrists as if the center was the locus of a terrible heresy, an emphasis on national strength.

One of the many pleasures to being a pundit in the traditional media environment is the license to take no responsibility when you are spectacularly wrong, or even to edit your own opinions after the fact, turning your foolishness into insight. Just ask Chris Matthews, who recently said, "I‘ve been against this war from day one, and that didn‘t cost me my job." (Perhaps it didn't cost him his job because Matthews was, until quite recently, the only person who knew he was against the war.

I often suspect that those pundits who whine loudest about us rude, crude bloggers aren't really furious with bloggers so much as with the internets. For them, it must be a bit like living through a horror movie, "I Know What You Wrote Last Summer". This is the end of a trilogy including the terrifying "I Know What You Wrote About Invading Iraq" and, most horrifying of all to those who pretend not to be right wing hacks, "I Know What You Wrote in 2000".

For most of us in the left blogosphere, the bizarre events in 1999-2000 that originally put George Bush in the White House were central to changing the way we viewed politics. For two solid years, one of the best candidates put forward by either party in the past 50 years was universally mocked, his manhood and even sanity repeatedly questioned, all over events that never happened and quotations that were manufactured by the media. In the end, he narrowly won anyway - but then the opposition insisted that the votes couldn't be fully counted, because it might cost their guy the election - and that same media, incredibly, went along, asserting that fully counting the votes was a scheme to steal the election.

For many of the youger bloggers, this was a first look at national politics. But even for a greybeard like myself, who can remember the murder of RFK, it was clear that something had gone drastically wrong. Watching these events, without any way to make our own voices heard, quite a few of us decided that progresive values, and indeed simple decency, had no voice in our national debate. And as the blogosphere emerged in the next few years, we saw an opportunity to bypass the phony 'progressives' in the national media and give our values a real voice, through our own blogs, communities like Daily Kos, and alternative media like Air America.

If Martin Peretz had been as outspoken in supporting Lieberman as a wingman 6 years ago as he is in backing Lieberman today, there might very well never have been a Bush administration. Peretz was, in 2000, one of the editors at TNR, which was supposedly ground zero for pro-Gore advocacy in the media. But TNR, which did endorse Gore, was silent on the anti-Gore drumbeat in other media. Peretz himself solicited an article on the topic from the brilliant Bob Somerby - for so many of us the only real voice of sanity in that election. But TNR never published that article or any other on the subject. It has published no such article to this day that I know of. If TNR, the closest thing to an actual liberal voice that the national media still respects, had been actively reporting the falsehoods that were being spread about Gore, the outcome would probably have been different; American kids wouldn't be dying today in Iraq and the WTC towers might well be standing. But that didn't happen and the lies about Gore have long since become a mythology that even Peretz believes. Quite recently, in a post ironically entitled "OK I'm a Gore Flack" he couldn't help repeating one of those ancient lies: "Anyone who does these rounds is comfortable in his own skin, even if he once took some bad advice to wear 'earth tones' from Naomi Wolf."

In the end, it's not hard to see why Lieberman is so beloved by the DC media elite. Lieberman has embraced a warped model of bipartisanship which seems to involve something just short of total surrender - go ahead and support an energy bill with billions in giveaways to the world's wealthiest corporations and nothing that will actually address what may be our most urgent problem - a few hundred Connecticut jobs have been thrown in and makes it OK. He actively supports the position that Democrats to his left, those who believe that an opposition party has the right to actually oppose, are ruining the party and of questionable patriotism. And with these values, he thinks himself above acountability and is morally offended when real Democrats, especially Democratic bloggers, call him on his crap. The 'liberal' DC pundits don't just back Joe because he's a friend, they back him because he's them.