Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Eric Alterman rips Kaus a new one.

No complaints here, but I'd like to highlight a certain passage as particularly insightful:

Where is the Journal’s equivalent of William Safire? How is that Howell Raines was one of Bill Clinton’s most devoted enemies and great fan of the fanatical Ken Starr? (Maureen Dowd was no picnic on that score either.)

Where is the Times’ equivalent of John Fund, who worked with Paula Jones’ lawyers, Richard Mellon Scaife agents and other nefarious individuals to try to bring down Clinton? Who are the Times’ Bob Bartley and Jude Wanniski, proud papas of the disastrous supply-side ‘riverboat gamble’ of the early eighties? Where — now that the nutty Abe Rosenthal is out to pasture — is their equivalent of supernatural dolphin-imagining Peggy Noonan, whose paeans to both Bushes and Ronald Reagan are practically pornographic in their naked hero-worship? (And by the way, Rosenthal was on their side too.) When has the Times done anything as loony as trying to blame anti-abortion terrorism on the sixties, or corporate accounting scandals on Oval Office blowjobs? What Times editor ever celebrated the kind of “bourgeois riot” in Florida that helped land “W” in office?

Besides ripping apart Kaus' comparison, this highlights an important point: conservatives have been far, far, far more aggressive in attacking their political opponents than liberals have, long before 9/11 gifted the conservatives with being able to wrap themselves in the flag whenever they or their president were criticized for anything, whether in regards to the war on terrorism or not. This isn't just on the part of the American Spectator or Rush Limbaugh- this goes all the way to the most mainstream conservative news sources in America, and is pretty consistently the case.

(which is why Coulter is getting her own ass handed to her by the fact checking of Tapped, Scoobie Davis, and others, but I digress...)

This is really why I don't buy the "liberal bias" argument... even if most journalists actually were liberals in some way (which I don't concede), the sort of things we expect of conservatives- to be devoutly partisan, utterly unapologetic, and utterly dedicated to their movement- are simply nowhere to be found on the left, which bends over backwards to accomodate even those it finds nauseating (like the Times with Safire and Salon with Horowitz), and which can't really be described as a movement in any way, shape, or form.

One more quote:

This phony equivalence argument is just one fashion in which the right dominates. There are many others. (Hmmm, maybe there’s a book in this.)

There is: this is what "Blinded by the Right" is really about. Not the stupid gossipy bits, but the examination of a movement totally dedicated to electoral success, policy influence, and integrity of its members and its message, no matter the cost. What struck me about the book wasn't how goofy the right was or how dishonest, but how dedicated and disciplined they were when it came to sticking with their talking points, using intimidation tactics and ad hominem attacks to shock and disarm their rhetorical opponents, ensuring as much media dominance as humanly possible in ways that really mattered, being unapologetic about their beliefs yet willing to pretend to be more centrist than they are in order to get those votes and get the presidency (and then, in the case of Reagan, singlehandled deifying an inunspiring and senile president and an utter failure of an administration, economically)...not to mention creating an entire army of pseudo-scholars to crank out so much partisan nonsense masquerading as real research that nobody could possibly debunk it all (even if Academe realized the danger that think tanks represented, which it obviously doesn't).

I had said a while back that I was going to write a detailed examination of Blinded by the Right and a defense, but honestly... it simply isn't necessary. Whether the little points are true or not, the portrayal of a successful and focused (yet utterly amoral and frightening) society of people dedicated to obtaining power is shocking and educational enough that the rest could be all lies and it simply wouldn't matter.

Hillary Clinton had warned us about this, and we hadn't listened. Now Brock has warned us about this, and I hope that this time we're listening. If the left doesn't learn the lessons that the right's ascendency should teach us, they'll remake the country in their own image- and, by extension, the world.

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