Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chait's Comedy Gold

So, yeah, Jonathan Chait wrote a howler in the New York Times, where he brought the rank rightish apologias of the National ReviewNew Republic to the Times. It's a typical Chaitesque piece where he talks about how horrible the "Left" is and how they're all delusional and about how everybody that "mattered" thought that Obama's stimulus was huuuuge.

(Yep. That's right. To Chait, Paul Krugman doesn't matter.) The funniest bit, though, comes later. It isn't the bit where he studiously ignores everything that Bush succeeded in pushing through Congress to focus on Social Security, the one bit where he didn't. It wasn't even the bit where he treated Colin Freakin' Powell as some sort of nonpartisan barometer of opinion, when he was one of Bush's Cabinet members. No, the funniest bit has to be the part where he says "In the position of choosing between the agenda he came into office hoping to enact and the short-term imperative of economic rescue, he picked the former."

You may ask "When the hell did he do that? He didn't succeed in winning any Republicans over for health care, and every other significant bit of his agenda either didn't pass or was so watered down as to be unrecognizable." And that's just it: he doesn't say. He did mention cap-and-trade and financial reform, but both are examples that liberals are right about this: his "capital banking" was absolutely useless and unnecessary, because it didn't buy him a damned thing when it came to the point when he started trying to actually pass his agenda. Never mind the Republicans; even his own party members treated him like a supplicant, instead of the leader of their party and the damned President of the United States.

Bush was never, ever treated that way by Republicans, even when they disagreed with him. They weren't that dumb. Tthey knew very well that Bush's people would PUNISH them if they fell out of line. DINOs never had to worry about that. Why would they? The only people that Obama ever punished were the very progressives that Chait so thoroughly and utterly despises.  So the DINOs stomped all over this "agenda", again and again and again, with progressives getting more and more convinced that Obama was either powerless or a closet Republican. Progressives feel that they've been had. Progressives know that they've been had.

It's funny, yes, but it's also somewhat sad.  This isn't the only misrepresentation of progressives' criticism. The whole article is absolutely littered with them. It's a stack of strawmen built so high that satellites may crash into the top layer. Yet I can't help but think that these cartoonish versions of progressives are how Chait actually views us. Everything he writes just reconfirms it, including his submission to the biggest newspaper in America.

I wonder whether it's even his fault. When Washington is so thoroughly, utterly hostile to progressives, when it's a town so thoroughly dominated by the Republicans and their conservative-movement owners, how could he possibly resist it? He probably never even meets progressives. I suspect that, at this point, he just knows us from the stereotypes that he inherits from the Republicans and DINOs around him.

So we get articles like this, where he knocks down strawmen and hopes that nobody notices. It'd be funny...if it weren't so sad.

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