Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Electorate; The Mob: The NY Times Version Of Armageddon
Perhaps it is good that the NY Times is about to disappear behind a paywall; it may induce a less fevered and more contemplative environment in the newsroom:
Welcome to the mob: an angry, wounded electorate, riled by recession, careening across the political spectrum, still craving change, nursing a bloodlust.
It seems as if Obama and the Democrats made the mistake of believing that a heart once won was forever won, that people would be patient, and that the mob would accept their reasoning for
lack of results.
They were wrong. The mob is fickle. And it’s back with a vengeance.
And the bloodlust! Don't forget the bloodlust! We got a vengeful, bloodlusting mob going to the polls here to vote in an angry, wounded manner.
Is it really worth using all this rhetoric over people going to the polls to vote, which has been happening for over two hundred years? How exactly do the Massachusetts voters in any way resemble a mob? Isn't the very act of voting a commitment to working through established, constitutional, peaceful time-honored methods to create change? Aren't mobs groups of people who have thrown aside the peaceful, legal methods and proceed to direct violent action?
I truly do not think we should blur the lines between the legal and peaceful and the violent and illegal. The distinction is important.
The op-ed (which is by a Charles M. Blow, who has a blog), ends by quoting Obama's explanation to Stephanopoulos, which was basically "we forgot to communicate", and then expounding:
He underestimated the mob, and his agenda will suffer now that the emperor has no clotureSo now the mob is kinda bright? Maybe this ChBlow guy is just trying to whip up some blogging fervor. Here's a sample of his blog, which really is more about numbers and less about adjectives, although lately he has been in a frenzy about mobs. From which I quote his own words:
As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out, strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh.
And apparently more than a few NY Times columnists do have weak minds. Trying to inculcate a fear of the voters by depicting them as fundamentally irrational and violent is both ridiculous and somewhat dangerous, but it is not as ridiculous as failing to see the difference between voting and swarming the streets with pitchforks and lighted torches to commit group acts of violence.
Further, if one logically follows the ideas implicit in this sort of perverse punditry, which delights in depicting the voters as not being worthy of a vote, then one would feel concern about our constitution and feel a concern about whether the average person stands to lose his or her constitutional rights under it.
The Times has been twisting itself into a pretzel this week trying to avoid the conclusion that the message and policies of Obama were the problem in Mass. It's either Coakley was the problem or the voters don't know what they want or have lost their minds. It can't possibly be that Obama was promoting something that was not good for them or the country. Denial is rampant in the newsroom.
Beyond that, Blow as many other liberals have this week, is banging the "you rednecks are easily duped by the Republicans, we know what is best for you" drum of pedantry, hoping against hope that the poor rubes clinging to their guns and religion will come to their senses before they toss away this historic opportunity to let the liberals "do the right thing" in Congress.
George Will has an excellent column putting the Mass. election into context, and capturing the essence of the liberal mindset that produced the utter fiasco that the healthcare bill and Obama's presidency have become. Here's the money quote:
"The 2008 elections gave liberals the curse of opportunity, and they have used it to reveal themselves ruinously. The protracted health care debacle has highlighted this fact: Some liberals consider the legislation’s unpopularity a reason to redouble their efforts to inflict it on Americans who, such liberals think, are too benighted to understand that their betters know best. The essence of contemporary liberalism is the illiberal conviction that Americans need minute supervision by government, which liberals believe exists to spare citizens the torture of thinking and choosing."
Read the whole thing: http://bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view/20100121democrats_in_for_a_fall/
Then spend 5-10 minutes reading the comments on a post about the election or the healthcare bill on any of the popular liberal blogs. Will is exactly right about their attitude.
Well, the empty desks will certainly help keep it quiet, I'll give you that. The echo chamber effect might be exacerbated, though, unless they put in some wall hangings.
However, my bet is that many Democratic representatives have been pushed by their leadership further than they were comfortable. There is also genuine wrath in the left wing of the Democratic party over the health care proposals as they now stand. It's not so simple as left against right or GOP gainst Dem.
I do absolutely agree that there is an elitish strain of liberalism that is solidly rooted in insecurity and the need to believe that the average voter is a low-browed cretin picking unsuccessfully at his or her body lice - but many liberals don't fit that stereotype.
I think the Democratic leadership got themselves into this fix because they delberately quashed real debate in their own party, and this destroyed any internal corrections, thus launching the good ship USD Titanic Health Reform.
But still, nothing about this looks mobbish. Few rational people can look at that 40%! excise tax without genuine concern.
I agree with you that a lot of Dem reps were pushed out of their comfort zone by their leaders, but the Dems also put the inmates in charge of the asylum - for example by replacing Dingel with Waxman and putting Pelosi in charge rather than Hoyer. Maybe they wouldn't be that much different, but I think Waxman and Pelosi are are so far left they are in danger of falling into the Pacific.
I know the liberals are not happy with the Senate bill, and some aspects of the House bill too. But this is the group for whom it is not enough to have a Democratic majority, but who insist on essentially "cleansing" the party by targeting, through the agency of MoveOn and the Soros backed entities, those incumbent Democrats that aren't "liberal enough". I have some liberal frieds who are thoughtful and realize there are two sides to the argument, but I don't see any liberals denouncing the scortched earth extremism of these groups who are essentially fascist if you listen to what they actually say.
Agree with you about the impact of stifling dissent. They also made a grave mistake in dismissing the tea parties and the ferocity of those who showed up at the town hall meetings last year. The intensity of that response should have been a sign not to overplay their hand, but they dismissed all those people as wackos. In hindsight that was really dumb - how ofter do you see white people with jobs out protesting on the streets? That should have been their first clue.
The only difference here is that when HL Mencken said it he did actual research and wrote well. As elitist as Mencken could be, he at least had an understanding of the mob even if he didn't like it.
Charles Blow is merely pissed off that his side lost - when the mob chose his side they were rational and intelligent and when they chose the other side they were stupid, fickle, and angry.
A ninth-rate man like Charles Blow is taken by surprise at the MA election whereas an actual intelligent, thinking person trying to gauge public sentiment knew this was brewing. Obama supporters like to think Obama's intelligence ws the reason he got elected when more likely is was simply that McCain is an unlikeable sort. Charisma wins democratic elections more so than intelligence and policy, but it is the rare voter than will admit to such a thing.
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