Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Buzzman Calls Me Out

Peach Pundit's Buzz Brockway called me out. Let the second round of the spin war begin.

I've been trying to put my finger on something for a while now. My gut has been telling me there is something different about what is happening with Obama and what happened with George Bush in his later years.

Then I read this yesterday and the mist began to clear.
"The heaviest hitters in the Republican party, and in the conservative media have loudly and proudly called for Obama's failure. Liberals who even softly criticized Bush were roundly shamed and called terrorist-loving-America-haters"
The entire piece is a little heavy handed but it is worth the read.

But why is it different? Is it because we are led by a black man? I am willing to admit I am not sure. Certainly not as sure as President Carter (although his statement is being conflated to ridiculous levels). And certainly not so sure that I would make asinine statements as my own Congressman has (also note who in the Atlanta press called him on it). But what I am sure of is there is a wave of irrationality. As to how large that wave is, I do not think we know.

And here is where I think I finally start putting my finger on the issue.

Even though we don't know how pervasive the irrational fear is, leaders (and there is little denying some of the people I am about to name have been embraced as leaders) on the right have trumpeted it as a "movement" and "patriotic" and as "mainstream". We've reached the existential moment where fear of the unknown or ignorance of the known is not only seen as rational political thought but a reason to proudly thump one's chest and declare patriotism.

The difference is even though the left has loons (if you want to know what I think about these people ask me some time about "cause junkies"), they don't usually prop them up as the "mainstream" as much of the right does with Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin. There are certainly exceptions, such as Dreher's spot on description of what Limbaugh is doing as "wicked", and they should be celebrated. There should be more.

The difference is here in Georgia the main Democratic blog, Blog For Democracy, certainly has its share of nutty commenters but they don't promote them to front page posting priviledges. Peach Pundit, the main Republican blog, on the other hand, promotes a person whose sole purpose in life appears to be calling any black Georgia politician who dares open their mouth a "race pimp".

I know the Republican party is not racist. I also know that those whining now that just because they disagree they are being called racist are disingenous. I also know that we are seeing things in the early days of the first black President that I'm not sure we've ever seen before. But, I'll save race for another time. Despite the desire of people to boil it down to a placard argument, it is complex and deserves unwavering attention. Also, I'm still not sure I've put my finger on it.

What I have put my finger on is the belief that although there are some Democrats speaking stupidly, there are far fewer Republicans speaking reasonably. Both should do better.


chamblee54 said...

At the start of the Clinton regime, there was a lunatic fringe right wing. They said, loudly, a lot of unreasonable things. In the 1994 elections, they put out the Contract on America, and the Repubs took control of congress.
Today, we have survived...somehow...eight years of Clinton and eight years of Bush. We have two wars raging. The National Debt has increased dramatically. We have a dark skinned President. And the right wing is loudly saying a lot of unreasonable things.
As I recall the pre internet 1993, there is not much difference in the lunacy level.

nast said...

Well, you say that about BfD, and I'd mostly agree, but then this was posted just the other day:

I got so ticked I nearly dropped them from the news feeder right there.

And Chamblee, I agree to an extent - this type of lunacy was there before, and probably always will be. But back then, it only subtly influenced the national discussion. With all the different forms of media these days, you can't escape from it. Now, the lunacy IS the discussion.

Rusty said...

Oddly, most of the really inflammatory stuff at BfD has been coming from Tom Crawford, a professional reporter covering the Legislature for decades.

griftdrift said...

It's a good point Nast. Maybe I am giving BfD because it is Tom Crawford. He's a journalist I respect greatly and the last thing I expected was him to go full bore loon. Frankly, I'm not sure how to deal with it.

I suppose for consistency I should call him out. But as Verbal Kent said in The Usual Suspects. What if you miss?

rptrcub said...

Weapons-grade stupid, I must admit, is not reserved for one party or the other.

Sara said...

I think it's probably about as nasty as it was during Clinton. I certainly remember things like the soldier who said Clinton shouldn't come to his base because he might get hit by friendly fire, etc. And hell, the Whitewater/Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky/impeachment shenanigans were nearly as ridiculously overblown as the the birther movement.

But there was no race aspect to use during the Clinton presidency, and unfortunately it's so easy to take something that was moderately offensive under Clinton and have it pushed straight into hugely offensive now simply because there are some things that should never be said to or about a black man. The current situation calls for simply a bit more sensitivity, but few on the right are willing to agree that they should be a bit more sensitive here. It's sort of like hanging and burning Bill Clinton in effigy would be offensive, but hanging and burning Barack Obama in effigy just brings up images of lynchings and sends things into a whole other plane of awfulness. And people shouldn't try to pretend that this disparity doesn't (or shouldn't) exist.

nast said...

On the flipside, those of us on the left hand side of the spectrum shouldn't try to find racist sentiment in every criticism launched at the President, because it gives the impression that no criticism is valid. And that's just not the case.

Unknown said...

Perhaps so much time has passed that my perception is off; or that I wasn't paying quite as close attention during the Clinton days. It seems much worse to me now.

It may be because while much of the shenanigans aimed at President Clinton were flat out BS, he did have some foibles (that's a nice way to put it, doncha think?) that were easily seen and also easy targets for criticism.

All this crap with President Obama (birthers, death panels, indoctrination, blah blah blah) are complete and utter BS with no legitimate thread of truth. No blue dress, no firing of travel staff, no failed health plan (yet).

Sara said...

But there was completely made up crazy stuff during Clinton years too--allegations that he had Vince Foster and Ron Brown killed, for example. I get what you are saying, though...there was some meat to a few of the allegations so it felt less like it was all complete fantastical nonsense. Hopefully there will never be any meat to the crazy shit they say about Obama.

Unknown said...

Meant to say to Nast: As the co-publisher of BfD, I love Crawford's writing, but sometimes he makes me flinch too. Any disagreement I may have with him is easily overlooked because of the quality of the writing.

Wes said...

For my money, and though I love everyone over at BfD, Tom Crawford is The Man. Don't lose him.

And he was spot on on the Massa Saxby thing.


nast said...

Thanks Catherine, I can certainly appreciate that, but the last thing I wanted to say on this was the entry in question didn’t strike me as attempted satire, and I can’t fathom that Tom truly believes that Saxby wants people whipped within an inch of their lives. So instead we’re left with an entry that, in my mind, was neither enlightening nor productive to any conversation. Now, I don’t mean to judge all of Tom’s work by that one entry, or imply that he shouldn’t be featured at BfD; but histrionics are histrionics, no matter how well composed. As Grift alludes in his post, the local political blogosphere is already drowning in that, and I, for one, was disappointed to see it creep into a site that I have found to be pretty level-headed.

Finally, I apologize for taking this thread somewhat off topic. I’ll make sure that any future issues (or kudos) I have for BfD will be left at your site (if I can ever get my login working again).