April 30, 2008

The Little Progressives that Could, Who Can't

My most recent essay about the Wright-Obama controversy is here. I've mentioned for several months that I plan to write at least two or three articles about what I consider to be the especially dangerous aspects of Obama's candidacy, and the very notable dangers that would be represented by an Obama presidency. I will get to those articles, finally, in the next week or two -- in large part, because these pieces will connect in many ways to other themes I will be developing (including in the series on contemporary tribalism, which I will also begin very soon, also finally).

I mention the following in connection with these matters. Several hours ago, I read this post on the Wright-Obama affair. "Betrayal"! Jesus F. Christ. It is one of the most deeply shocking and offensive posts I have read in the last few years. If you don't understand why I find it so shocking and offensive, I will be explaining that in a subsequent post (or two). Look for it (or them) on Friday or over the weekend. First, I need to put out the fire that reading that post started in my hair and that has now spread a bit through my apartment, and clean up the damage.

For the moment, I want to comment very briefly on this passage:
Reverend Wright called into question the entire premise of Obama's campaign, a campaign built on changing the very nature of politics, when he said, "he did what politicians do."
"Changing the very nature of politics." Wowee. Shazaam! If its "very nature" is changed, I kinda suppose it's, um, not "politics" any longer, right? What is it? Macrame? Sweet potato casserole? With melted marshmallows on top? Mmmmm. I mean, what?

Is this supposed to be serious? C'mon, I mean, serious? It reminds me of a similar kind of line peddled by Ezra Klein:
"...the media should, in its role as guardian of some minimal level of competency within the political process..."
About which, I could only write:
Is that one of the roles of "the media"? Really? I mean, honest to God?

Isn't Klein supposed to be a member of the "reality-based community"? Well, I suppose he never said it was this reality.

So, you know, he's covered there.
(That and other Klein goodies are handily collected in one place, for your edification and intellectual advancement.)

Ohhhhh-kay. I get it now. There's a seminar, right? Maybe given by Media Matters or some other enlightened, high-minded propaganda operation progressive think tank? Perhaps the seminar is called: "The Little Progressives that Could: How to Keep Your Sheeple Inspire Your Readers for the Great Fight!" And they hand out a little book called, natch, "The Little Progressives that Could: Simple Sayings to Light the Way." On the cover, a lovely picture of Obamarama is plastered on the front of the brave little engine.

Do Not Even Think of saying: "But, Arthur! The Little Engine succeeded!" It's a book. For children. Very young children. It has no applicability -- zero -- to complex issues of political systems, their transformation, and how (and whether) such transformations can be effected. Many learned people write books on these extremely challenging subjects -- very long, complicated, dense books. For adults. Take your Norman Vincent Fucking Peale, and you know what you can do with it.

Anyway. Much more about that genuinely appalling post from Digby anon. I don't delude myself that my essays here have any effect on progressives, or on anyone else. Hell, I can't get more than five or six people to even give a damn about the imminent onset of World War Fucking III. And it's more than obvious than my meanderings here have had zero impact on Digby, who was one of the progressive bloggers discussed in "Blinded by the Story: Liberals and Progressives as Political Creationists." Because more than a year after that post (and after this very relevant follow-up, "Once More into the Land of the Blind"), I read this in another Digby entry:
I have to assume that the telcoms have been secretly monitoring members of congress and the Bush administration's communications and are blackmailing them. There is just no other adequate explanation for this immunity nonsense to keep coming back over and over again.

Permit me to be immodest, and remind you that, in "Once More into the Land of the Blind," I wrote:
This is exactly what I observed about this perspective: "Some other factor must be making them do it, because they would refuse to behave in that manner if they could act in accord with their deepest convictions." And now we know the mysterious X factor that is making the Democrats act in the way they do: BLACKMAIL!
Examples of this kind are one of the reasons I sometimes say, again immodestly, "Yes, I Told You So."

With regard to Digby's observations: of course, there can't be any other "adequate" explanation. None at all -- except for all the explanations set forth in "Blinded by the Story," "It's Called the Ruling Class Because It Rules" (lots about the immunity issue in that), and in many other essays here. Never mind. I never wrote any of it.

But Digby, about this:
James Carville famously called Bill Richardson "Judas" recently for endorsing Senator Obama over Hillary Clinton. I would say Wright has a much greater claim to the name.
All I can say is: Lady, you have some fucking nerve. I'll be explaining that in detail in the next few days. (See here and here for a preview [and see John Nichols].) But if you want to go down that road, try these comparisons from Chris Floyd, which have the distinction of being just and accurate:
On Monday, Barack Obama humiliated and demeaned himself with yet another denunciation of his old friend and mentor, Jeremiah Wright. But there was no "national dialogue on race" this time around -- just cold, flat-out condemnation. Obama even declared that Wright was "not the same man I've known for 20 years" anymore -- echoing the newly crowned King Henry's blast at Falstaff: "I know thee not, old man; fall to thy prayers." There were even gospel echoes in Barack's blast:
And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, "Art not thou also one of his disciples?" He denied it, and said, "I am not." (John 18:25)
You should read all of Floyd's post, which is extraordinarily unusual in that it discusses in detail what Wright actually said. O dangerous scheme!

This primary from hell has been useful in certain respects. It has revealed a great deal about both remaining Democratic candidates, and it has shown those who are still capable of seeing and identifying what is in front of them much about the online progressive movement. It was indisputably clear much earlier (and I wrote about this fact even before the 2006 election), but now it is has been burned into the minds of some of us with a ferocious fire: the Democrats and most of the "leading" online progressives represent nothing even approaching the solution. They are precisely, ineradicably, unalterably the problem. Beyond this central, immovable fact, and in place of an understanding of history (by which I mean more than the time between elections, and more than even one or two decades) and an appreciation of political theory and reality, culture and the numerous and complicated ways in which a multitude of factors interact, we have empty slogans from children's books and shitty, fifth-rate melodrama. Awesome.

All of which is, of course, what I have been saying for quite a while, in different ways, in many, many essays. And I will have much more to say about all this in another day or two.