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The Myopia-based Party
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, December 23, 2007

Andrew Sullivan observes that the Democratic base seems tolerant of "smears and lies" and that, like "Paul Krugman, they seem to want more of the polarization of the past, more politics as revenge." Following that, he posts a disturbing and myopic reader letter...
Maybe it isn’t that the base wants more polarization, smears and lies. Maybe it is that they accept the reality of what the Republicans will throw at any democratic candidate. After watching the right wing noise machine in the past two elections, maybe it is just reality to accept that the smears are coming and to want a candidate that will stand up to it. That is just reality at this time. I personally would love to do away with the polarization and the smearing. However I have no confidence that Republicans are going to stop playing as dirty as they always have and that the main stream media will follow along meekly with their attempts to smear democrats.
The writer really seems to believe that the Right has a "noise machine" that "smears" his own side, while the Left has merely suffered those slings and arrows with no equivalent offense. The cycle of "sides" believing this of their opponents probably dates back to pre-historic tribal politics.

One of the points Matt Bai makes in his excellent book about the rise of the Progressive Coalition is their apparent ignorance of, or disuse for, history. Quoting Bai...
"One of the hallmarks of netroots culture was a complete disconnect from history – meaning, basically, anything that had happened before 1998. The political consciousness of most of the bloggers seemed to begin sometime around impeachment, when they had first tuned in. Whatever had gone on before then ... all of these things felt as ancient to the bloggers as the underlying causes of the Peloponnesian War, and about as useful. It wasn't just that the bloggers didn't know much about the political world before impeachment, it was that they didn't want to know, either. So burning was their contempt for "Washington insiders" and the "mainstream media" that they were moved to dismiss not just the individuals who fell into these categories, but all the knowledge such people had accumulated. In a sense, the way the netroots saw it, the more you knew about Democratic politics before 1998, the less relevant you actually were."
Santayana said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

To which, I would add: "Those who did not learn history will try to rewrite it."
 
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Anytime I see "right wing noise machine" I stop reading.
 
Written By: dawnsblood
URL: http://
Well, we could always be like the right and pretend like 1992-2000 didn’t happen and the Republican congress didn’t debase the congress one nutjob after another. Bai regularly has his head up his butt in his desire to make everything equal to everything else. Democrats don’t like the Iraq war and Bush’s execution of it, but a Republican called him a rapist ergo they’re the same thing. There is no noise machine, its a product of your imagination.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
The "him" in question is Pres. Clinton.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
It certainly seems to me that there has been more attacks from the right — Atwater, the attacks on Clinton, talk radio, and even in this blog the attacks on Ried, Pelosi and Kerry that are very personal and make it sound like the Democrats are all dishonest folk who hate America. No, maybe each side feels itself the victim more, but it seems pretty clear the right really has been worse than the left, at least until recently. At this point, though, both sides disappoint me.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yeah, Ollie W, its the bad, ole, meanie right that is behind everything. I bet they even contaminating your precious bodily fluids too.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
"Well, we could always be like the right and pretend like 1992-2000 didn’t happen and the Republican congress didn’t debase the congress one nutjob after another."
That’s pretty much exactly what I’m talking about, Oliver. You seem to think that the Republicans did something new and uniquely objectionable. You seem to genuinely believe that smears, hyperbolic rhetoric, misuse of power and personal attacks were somehow unique to Republicans, and that it began during (coincidentaly!) the period during which you really began paying attention to politics.

That perception isn’t a result of Republicans being uniquely bad - it’s a function of confirmation bias. You are (a) predisposed to hear and believe things you already believe, (b) living in a time when that kind of information is far easier to find, and (c) self-selecting information sources, jobs and outlets that reinforce your prejudices.

It’s very easy to imagine the other side has uniquely dishonest and vile people. There is more than enough anecdotal evidence that such people and moments exist, but it is also a lazy, bigoted and parochial generalization.

As a rhetorical PR tactic, that’s probably helpful. But as analysis of political discourse and practice through history, it’s embarrassingly naïve. There is no "they started it". That tiger has been chasing it’s own tail since the beginning of recorded time. You’re just the latest generation that woke up, took sides and re-wrote history for your own benefit.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Let’s see, Democrat-subsidiary organization NAACP ran ads linking Bush to the dragging death murder of a black man that happened in Texas. I’m not sure that one can be topped. Dems have accused Bush and Cheney of going to war for personal gain. Hell, we’re talking about a Democrat party so overcome with BDS that 35% of them have deluded themselves into thinking that Bush knew in advance of 9/11 but didn’t do anything to stop it with another 39% of Dems "not sure" whether or not Bush knew about 9/11. It’s commonplace in virtually every leftist website and protest march to see Bush being compared with Hitler.

At the DNC convention in 2004, the now-governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, said Bush "is a greater threat than Al Queda", Dems cheered and defended the ’fake but accurate’ Rathergate lies, Dems falsely accused Bush of "illegal" NSA wiretapping complete with fascist Amerikka characterizations, lying their asses off about "outing" Valerie Plame, "Screw them" Kos, etc, etc, etc

Unbelievable self-delusion how most nutroots liberals see themselves as being on the side of angels, when so many of them are filled with such hatred.
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
Willis, and so many like him, are political carpetbaggers.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Then there is Oliver’s childish conceit: "Like Kryptonite To Stupid" up on the marquee of his blog, which presumes that the views of his opponents are automatically stupid and that he, Oliver Willis, is the chest-thumping personification of the destruction of those views.

Kind of a stupid thing to think, much less prominently display.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Caught Pat Buchanan, on C-SPAN a week or so ago, refer back to how Richard Nixon was sure that he had the 1960 election stolen in Texas, St. Loius and Chicago, but, unlike a narcissistic Al Gore et al, felt it better for the nation that he not attempt a recount.

I’m sure this piece of history is completely absence from the netroots reality.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
" but a Republican called him a rapist"

I thought Juanitia Broderick was a Democrat. At the time, anyway.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"I predict to you, the oil-producing countries will drop the price of oil," Clinton said, speaking at the Manchester YWCA. "They will once again assume, once the cost pressure is off, Americans and our political process will recede."
Mark this quote down.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
We could always be like the left and pretend that 1964 did not happen.
Johnson vs. Goldwater
The nuke going off in the daisy field.
 
Written By: anonymous
URL: http://
Over the years, both sides have been guilty of dirty campaigning, but as JonH points out, there is something distinctive about the leftist nutroots mindset in how they see little or no wrongdoing on their own side. For that reason, I would argue they are MORE likely than conservatives to engage in the sort of over-the-top behavior I cited above, recently manifesting itself again with their "Petraeus/Betray us" smear. You see, liberals feel justified in supporting this kind of behavior and worse, because in their minds, it’s only giving the Republicans a "small taste of their own medicine", an attitude which is reinforced by by left leaning blogs, where the "we’re innocent victims of dirty Republican tricks" mindset is prevelant. Not an isolated opinion among a few, but an attitude shared (my opinion) among most of the netroots left.

As another example, look at how most leftists have transformed Karl Rove into a near-mythological superhuman "evil genius" figure. It’s not that some Republicans have electable and popular qualities and views, or that some Dem candidates had serious flaws.. nope, it’s Karl Rove’s genius dirty trickery which ’stole’ it from the virtuous (in their minds) Dems, all because they were too meek to fight back against evil Republican treachery. How many countless times did we read from lefties how "Diebold stole the election" for the Republicans? Of course, you can find some of this same victim-rationalization on the right ("Vince Foster’s death was covered up by the all-powerful Clinton machine"), but I just don’t see it anywhere near the degree on the right that I see on the left. No doubt I’m blinded to some extent by my own biases, but I think there is an objective truth in what Jon Henke has observed.

Anyway, it’s Christmas eve and I need to get my good-cheer on :) Merry Christmas!

 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
So burning was their contempt for "Washington insiders" and the "mainstream media" that they were moved to dismiss not just the individuals who fell into these categories, but all the knowledge such people had accumulated.

Hmmm. Who does this sound like? Michelle Malkin? Hugh Hewitt? Instapundit? Ace of Spades? Protein Wisdom? Two-thirds of The Corner?

Everyone other than you at Q & O?

Before removing the mote in thy neighbor’s eye, remove the beam in thine own.

Merry Xmas.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Glas, Ollie, read a little history of the country, just this country, focus on Congress, and then get back to us, okay?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I say those who never learn history, never learn FROM history. Have both the right and left played dirty politics? I would say yes, but the one thing that I have noticed in my 62 years is that few on the left will standup and condemn the dirty politics of their own. I flirted with the left during the final months of Nixon, but I noticed that the left continued to defend the indefensible long after it is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that they are wrong. That and the continued anti-Americanism shifted me back to the moderate right. History has proven to me that I made the correct decision. Have a Merry, Merry Christmas all.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
im curious glasnost, who’s the one third of the corner that you didn’t include?
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Ollie and Glasnost. The 2 bookends of self deception.

By the way, Merry Xmas to everyone no matter what their political persuasion.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
The really fun part is watching the kids discover what they think is all new behavior from the various members and departments of government.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I guess this stuff predating 1992 does not really exist. Good luck with rewriting that history.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
And I love some of Ollie’s sources for right wing propaganda....

Dick Morris?
CNN?

Who knew!

I see a trend in the Media Matters ’propaganda list’ - certainly anyone who says anything bad about Media Matters.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Democrats don’t like the Iraq war and Bush’s execution of it, but a Republican called him a rapist ergo they’re the same thing.
This is his entire site wrapped up in one sentence. Pretzel logic and Democratic pseudofact. Entertaining for three minutes...
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
... and now with Soros credibility!
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
the leftist nutroots mindset in how they see little or no wrongdoing on their own side.
Exhibit A: Oliver Willis.

I’m guessing you touched a nerve with him, Jon.

 
Written By: Beth
URL: http://bamapachyderm.com
Santayana said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

To which, I would add: "Those who did not learn history will try to rewrite it."
What about the people who know what the history is, learned from and it don’t care because they’re going to rewrite it anyway? That seems to be where we are now...

Well, we could always be like the right and pretend like 1992-2000 didn’t happen and the Republican congress didn’t debase the congress one nutjob after another.
LOL just proving the main point of the article in question....you’re a pip Oliver.

History started in 1992 I suppose?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Oh well, Merry Christmas to all...even Oliver
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Hey, I know people who said "FINALLY" when Reagan died. Nice folks.

I guess I will be okay when I do a dance on Carter’s grave, eh?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Hey, I know people who said "FINALLY" when Reagan died. Nice folks.

I guess I will be okay when I do a dance on Carter’s grave, eh?
As someone who likes both Reagan and Carter, I’d say if you do a dance on Carter’s grave you’ll be no better than those who said "FINALLY" when Reagan died. In my first election I voted for Reagan for President, but, despite having worked on the Abdnor campaign I ended up voting for McGovern for Senator (I spent about three or four minutes in the voting booth thinking about that vote). How many people can claim they voted for both Reagan and McGovern at the same time?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I am not planning to dance on his grave. That is my point.

I also don’t key cars with Gore bumper stickers or steal GOP yard signs.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s pretty clear that while there is considerable heat on both sides of the red-blue divide, the blue-staters are currently winning on the the nastiness front, claiming that they have been forced to it by the red-staters, as demonstrated by a routine survey from the diarists and commenters on Kos and Huffington Post, on up to the Democratic congressional leadership ("[sent] to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement." Rep. Pete Stark D-CA), as well as the various disruptions—booing, pieing—of conservative speakers, and unhinged electoral shenanigans as Harun mentioned.

Speaking as an ex-blue, I have been surprised at how intolerant my former side has become. I had always thought of us as the good, open-minded folks. Perhaps that was an illusion, though it does seem to me that in the Sixties, up until the Black Power/SDS/New Left phase, the progressive side was more tolerant.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
" it does seem to me that in the Sixties, up until the Black Power/SDS/New Left phase, the progressive side was more tolerant"

More tolerant or just not as loud or open in their condemnation of conservatives as racist bigots?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I’m not writing something originally profound here, in fact it is the thesis of Michael Walzer, but what you were a witness to was the transition of the Left. PRIOR to 1968, the Old Left LIKED America. They wanted to make America better, more just more equal, more Socialist, yes, but in their view a better America. You don’t have to agree with the idea that their "improvements" were really improvements, just understand that they liked the country. After 1968, as a nice point on the timeline, the Left HATED America. America wasn’t good, it was the source of all that was wrong with the world. Sure the US needed radical change, but this was not to perfect the US but to destroy it and remake it. America was a sexist, racist, homophobic, imperialist nation spreading misery, death, disease, and dependence throughout the developed world. And once the New Left became dominant that view of America, as the Scourge of the Earth, came to dominate. And once you hate your fellow Americans, you really aren’t likely to be too tolerant of them. After all are you too tolerant of the Kl*nsmen or Nazi’s living next door, and that was/is the New Left’s view of their fellow Americans, either knowing or unknowing Nazi’s. It’s the difference between seeing your neighbor as WRONG and seeing them as EVIL.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"what you were a witness to was the transition of the Left..... It’s the difference between seeing your neighbor as WRONG and seeing them as EVIL.
"

Ah, okay. Well said.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Yeah, that nails it pretty well.

My take is that we Sixties liberals fell in love with ourselves as moral actors—and to some extent it was true with regard to civil rights—but after the trauma of the JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations, Vietnam, and the disastrous ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago, followed by Nixon and later Watergate, we turned, out of a childish demand for purity, against America, and decided it was a largely evil force in the world.

Sadly many of us have continued to persevere in that decision.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Derb.. stuttaford.. ramesh ponurru.. are occasionally right, sometimes logical and usually civil. Even Jonah Goldberg sometimes makes reasonable, though usually trivial, points in blog posts, albiet while defending very silly arguments.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This thread is probably dead, but anyhow I’m not saying dirty campaigning started in 1992, but it was stepped up significantly by the right in the ’90s as the Dems twiddled their thumbs and got their asses kicked. Things have changed and now the right’s only refuge is to say the left hates America.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com

 
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