Part 3—Walsh goes off: With apologies, it’s painful to write about Joan Walsh when she discusses race, or when she pretends to do so.

Our basic ground rules:

Because race has played such a savage role in our American history, we think people ought to be measured and mildly respectful when they address the subject. Also truthful, of course.

Alas! When Joan Walsh brooks this most potent subject, she very much tends to go off. Below, you see the way she started the first of her two recent pseudo-discussions of race. We’ll include Salon’s twin headlines, which Walsh may not have composed:
WALSH (10/1/13): The real story of the shutdown: 50 years of GOP race-baiting

A House minority from white districts want to destroy the first black president, and the GOP majority abets them

On the day the Affordable Care Act takes effect, the U.S. government is shut down, and it may be permanently broken. You’ll read lots of explanations for the dysfunction, but the simple truth is this: It’s the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else. The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.
In comments, conservatives rolled their eyes at the idea that Walsh of all people was discussing “race-baiting.” Given Walsh’s performances down through the years, we’d have to say they have a bit of a point.

The fact that they have a bit of a point is bad for American interests.

In her piece, Walsh discussed, or seemed to discuss, the Republican Party’s relation to race over the past fifty years. As she started, she made a claim which she described as “the simple truth.”

We’ll do along with the part about “simple!” In this statement, Walsh is telling a very simple story, to the extent that we can determine what she’s actually saying:

The current government shutdown is “the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans.”

Is that right? Is the current shutdown “the culmination of” the GOP’s depiction of the government as an oppressor which works primarily to provide for blacks?

That is a vastly sweeping claim, a claim with several moving parts. It makes us white liberals feel very good to hear a brave truth-teller say it. But it’s a little hard to paraphrase that claim, especially when we get to Joan’s mystical follow-up:

“The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.”

Is that true? For starters, is it true that “everything” has “come apart” at the present time? More so than under the last Democratic president, the one who wasn’t African-American, when this very same Republican Party shut down this very same federal government?

Is Walsh making a true statement there? Or is she simply tugging her disc, turning race into a toy?

Personally, we don’t like people who make race a toy in the way this bad person does. As you may know, Walsh has been a bad person in many ways over the course of the past fifteen years, often in ways we pseudo-liberals were and are too dumb to notice and too meek to discuss.

That said, Walsh very much tends to make race a toy, dumbing us liberals way down in the process. A bit later on in this first of her screeds, she turns to the type of sweeping claim with which the world’s very bad people have always diddled the world’s swift-running herds:

Try to believe that a decent person would throw this gruel to us liberals:
WALSH: This is [Lee] Atwater talking to an academic interviewer in 1981, Year One of the Reagan revolution:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N–ger, n–ger, n–ger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n–ger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites … “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N–ger, n–ger.”

And then you say “Defund Obamacare,” and everyone knows why.
In that highlighted statement, Walsh makes a remarkable sweeping claim. She says everyone knows that “Defund Obamacare” is really a version of “N—ger.” In this way, Walsh tells us what tens of millions of people are thinking. What they’re thinking is evil and bad.

You have to be a very bad person to sell a big boatload of crap like that. And you have to be stupid to buy it.

The world of the right has been actively selling The Crazy for the last fifty years. Here on the left, we slept through the bulk of that period. At the end of Campaign 2000, for instance, Walsh was pretending that she hadn’t noticed what the press corps had just done for two years to Candidate Gore.

Walsh, who is a very bad person, was conning her liberal readers that way; her readers didn’t know that. She was also creating the path by which she would reach the top of the corporate-run liberal press world.

When very bad people ascend to such heights, they may peddle bullshit like this:
WALSH: Over and over, that’s how things got worse: Republicans who know better, who probably aren’t “racist” in the old-fashioned sense of believing in black inferiority and opposing the equality and integration of the races, nonetheless pander to those who are, for electoral gain. And when the election of our first black president riled up the racists and launched the Tea Party—supposed deficit hawks who tolerated skyrocketing government spending under George W. Bush—too many Republicans went along.

Today, the entire government has been taken hostage by leaders elected by this crazed minority, who see in the face of Barack Obama everything they’ve been taught to fear for 50 years. Start with miscegenation: He’s not just black, he’s the product of a black father and a white mother. (That helps explain an unconscious motive for birtherism: They can’t get their minds off the circumstances of his conception and birth.)
How crazy is Salon’s Joan Walsh, who is also a very bad person? She’s crazy right out of her corporate ascot, as she proves in that mindless passage, for which we liberals cheered.

In that first highlighted passage, is Walsh saying that the Tea Party is a bunch of racists? Not exactly, though she pleasures us with the kind of textual juxtaposition we used to decry when President Bush would stick al Qaeda and Iraq together that way.

(By the way, did government spending “skyrocket under Bush?” Not exactly, no! It’s amazing how much less such spending skyrockets if you adjust for inflation!)

But the genuine lunacy of this post is found in that second paragraph. In that passage, Walsh goes back to mind-reading tens of millions of people she doesn’t know. This time, her mind-reading concerns the way this crazed minority just can’t get miscegenation out of their crazy heads!

That’s an ugly thing to do and say, although people like Walsh have always done it, down through the annals of time. It’s also amazingly stupid. The fact that we liberals find this pleasing says unflattering things about us.

It shows how much we love to hate. Beyond that, it shows that we feel right at home with sweeping claims that are amazingly stupid.

According to Walsh, the voters who comprise the Tea Party constitute “a crazed minority.” When these millions of people contemplate President Obama, “they can’t get their minds off the circumstances of his conception and birth.”

Only a very stupid person would make such a blatantly crazy claim—a very bad person who seems to be a bit of a nut herself.

For the past fifty years, major groups on the corporate right have been aggressively selling The Crazy. For most of that time, climbers like Walsh averted their gaze from this obvious fact.

Darlings, pushback just wasn’t done! These climbers sleep-walked their way through life and maneuvered their way to the top.

In the recent years, a few ridiculous people like Walsh have begun to create money-making news orgs aimed at us liberals. It’s bad for liberals and other living things when crazy people like Joan Walsh peddle The Crazy this way.

Is race becoming a toy on the pseudo-left? We plan to write about that general topic all next week.

But how respectful is Joan Walsh when it comes to the vast brutality which constitutes our history of so-called race? Or is race a bit of a toy for Walsh, a way to run us pitiful rubes, who seem to enjoy being run?

Monday: What Kevin Drum said


  1. The disdain for Obama from the right is not because of racism. It's from their confusion that Obama is somehow (facts be damned) a liberal.

    That doesn't mean we live in a post-racial society, however.
    The majority against the ACA don't think their hard-earned tax money should pay for lazy ni**ers healthcare. Sorry Bob, but that's just plain true..

    1. The ACA doesn't pay for anyone's health care. I requires that everyone purchase health care if they don't already. Those who cannot afford it (the vast majority of whom are white) will be eligible for subsidies, but that is nothing new because we already subsidize whatever care poor people receive via emergency rooms and clinics and plans like MediCal. These costs should be cheaper as poor people have access to preventative care and can be offered care more efficiently than via emergency rooms in hospitals.

      I think the majority opposing ACA either believe lies told them by Fox News or don't believe they should have to pay more or be forced to join a plan against their wishes. Some seniors think their Medicare will cost more or that they will lose services. I don't see how those fears are racial. I do see that they are widespread and exacerbated by financial pressures, including job instability and unemployment and rising costs of everything affecting people's household budgets. Some people are worried because they don't know how or when to sign up but have heard they will be fined if they don't do it. Ignoring all of this and attributing opposition solely to race is race-baiting just as much as when Fox tells people that ACA will disproportionately help minorities at everyone else's expense. Is that what any of the Republican congress members are saying and does Fox explicitly say that?

    2. Sorry, Lindy. But the ACA calls for massive federal subsidies to broaden coverage and expand state-administered and federally financed Medicaid for the poor, the working poor, and those workers without health insurance benefits.

    3. Anon4:55, the ACA supports its request to the states to expand Medicaid withsome small new gaxes (like that on the medical equipment suppliers), not by redirecting general funds, so the average taxpayer will not be paying for ACA for others any more than they do already. Those states that decline to expand Medicaid can have their residents buy into subsidized health care via the federal exchanges. If you are arguing that offering subsidies to the poor is a handout, you are not seeing that preventative care will result in lower health care costs to treat the poor because they will not be visiting emergency rooms with advanced (and more costly to treat) conditions. It is much cheaper to treat a poor person by giving them asthma treatment (such as an inhaler or other prescription medication) than to deal with them when they are in the hospital with a life-threatening crisis. That's why budget projections say that the ACA will cost less than the current system, subsidies and all.

  2. Really important and saddening criticism.

  3. Walsh says Tea Partiers can't get their minds off Obama's race. But, Tea Partiers never talk about Obama's race. Ironically, it's people like Walsh and commenter Robert who can't get their minds off Obama's race.

    It's easy to play Robert's game. Try this one:

    Supporters of the ACA know that this mess of a plan will provide substandard medical care for poor blacks. Robert supports this law, because he wants black people to die.

    I don't seriously mean that. But, see how easy it is to show that someone else is a racist?

    1. Sorry, DaviidinCA. The majority against the ACA won't pushback too much to help out their neighbor. It's "the rest of 'em" they have a problem with.


    2. Also, based on my response earlier, WTF does this mean :
      "Ironically, it's people like Walsh and commenter Robert who can't get their minds off Obama's race."

      Hint: Checkout the 9th word in my first response, and try to figure out what it means. Use a Dictionary if you have to.


  4. Walsh goes overboard and Bob says that makes her "a bad person", and apparently a paid shill of either media mavens or the Democratic party establishment or both, the way Fox employees are paid hacks. By the way, who is the equivalent of Rupert Murdoch on the left - is it Arianna Huffington (someone whose liberal credentials are questionable, but is not too similar to Murdoch)? I think Bob himself often goes overboard when somebody mentions racism in a way he does not approve.

    But so what if the left side of the media is not perfectly objective, as Bob apparently demands? Fox News is considered to be very valuable to the Right in activating the base, and base turnout is very important in some elections. Can't the Left fight back with similar tactics? Also many swing voters or "independents" are probably persuadable - does Bob think that sober, reasoned discourse (or whatever he advocates) will always do the trick?

    1. You don't have to be liberal yourself to create a TV network that makes money catering to liberal views.

    2. Shorter Skeptonomist:

      Does truth matter? Not really, as long as MSNBC turns out the base! Who needs facts when lies and calumny will motivate The Rubes to vote for Democrats!

    3. So you're advocating that Dems use a sort of mirror-image southern strategy , Skeptonomist?

    4. Right, Cecelia.

      Unless of course he is saying in a political knife fight, it's absurd to demand that one side and one side only adhere to the polite rules of an Ivy League debating society.

      Think of this, dear child. In the wake of the 2008 election, with the nation still basking in the historic moment of what had just happened, more than two months before he was even sworn in, with the entire globe still on the brink of financial collapse, the voice of the "angry white man" movement that has been courted by the GOP at least since the first election of Richard Nixon publicly said on his radio show: "I hope he fails."

      Think about that for a minute.

    5. Anon7:48, "angry white male" has become just as much a racial dog whistle as "welfare queen".

      What Skeptomomist was excusing is the use of race and our painful and shameful racial history, as a political utility. And that prefaced upon the justification of "they do it".

      One of the seminal signs of adulthood (as well as not being a zealot) is knowing that this may be the way you operate in a street gang, but it's not how societies should behave, and it's not what we should teach our children.

      At the very least, let this sort of thinking lurk in the proverbial smoke-filled back rooms. Don't proclaim it as good and justified in the broad daylight.

    6. (different anon here:)
      '"angry white male" has become just as much a racial dog whistle as "welfare queen".'
      That's a joke, right? Where is the welfare queen equivalent of Rush Limbaugh and imitators like Hannity, Liddy, etc.? Is there even one angry black woman inculcating phantom grievances over hundreds of radio channels to her soul sisters every day? And whose listeners are programmed to see the word "ditto" as a badge of honor instead of a mark of lizard-brained shame?
      Your comments are rarely honest, but this is a new low.

    7. Oh, you're right, it's quite the contrary. The "angry white male" trope isn't used by radio talk show hosts or other ne'er-do-wells.

      It's a standard meme of reputable journalists, divisive politicians, and cliched blog board denizens alike.

    8. CeceliaMc @ 3:55 PM

      You go girl!

    9. Bang on, hardindr. It's hard to imagine that MORE stupidity is the way up. It's kinda like "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." We're supposed to fight stupid with stupid? How is that going to work?

  5. So, let me get this straight. The Southern Strategy is a figment of Joan Walsh's imagination, as are the tactics of Donald Segretti and Dwight Chapin and the strategies of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. The Republican Party has not, since the days of Nixon's presidency, systematically fanned and exploited to the full any racist inclinations among voters. It is therefore bad journalism for Joan Walsh to take for granted in one column/post all the research documenting what she seems to be imagining, and it is also bad citizenship to call out these imagined tactics and strategies since to do so is just making race a toy.

    I'm no great fan of Joan Walsh, and her post is indeed unhelpful if not unfair in ascribing to a large group motivations she cannot assume for every person in it, but I do not see in her post the hate Bob ascribes to it, and I wish Bob would at least acknowledge explicitly that the political right has indeed fanned and exploited racist inclinations among voters for many decades now. (Or is he worried about losing some of his devoted followers here? Or losing his privileged perch as the only person who understands race issues in all their complexity and really cares about black children?)

    Will Bob be discussing this recent Kevin Drum post, "Conservatives' Biggest Fear: Being Called Racist"? My bet is he will be, and if he views it favorably, I'd share that response. But it's interesting to compare Drum's tone and mode of argument in that post to Bob's in this post (and nearly every one he writes). Also, instead of naming others (will Bob excoriate him for not naming names?), Drum cites only his own failings in previous posts. And Drum concludes this post, "But just as there's no way to not talk about this [race and the right's race-mongering], I wish there were some way to talk about it that didn't instantly estrange conservatives even further—but that also didn't water the truth down into mush. I imagine I'll be wishing for that for a very long time."

    Drum's thoughtful tone and disinclination to attack others in any way that could seem mean-spirited -- gee, maybe Bob cold learn something from Drum.

    A final note. I may be mistaken, but I believe that spending did skyrocket under Bush, though the way the costs of the Iraq war was kept out of the regular budget can obscure that fact.

    1. Just because Atwater describes a strategy doesn't mean it was employed much less widely employed, nor does it mean it worked and is the motivation for large numbers of Republican voters beyond the highly visible racist fringe. Attributing racist motives to people when there are obvious alternative motives equally or more compelling is every bit as evil as Bob claims, in my opinion.

      The right and left are both engaging in race-mongering -- that is part of Bob's point. We can see it when the right does it, but we are unaware of our own use of race for our own purposes on the left. We do not see the mote in our own eye.

      Drum's tone arises because he has a paid job to defend and Bob does not, so Bob need not be as circumspect as Drum. I see a great deal of projection in Drum's column. People on the left are far more afraid of being called racist than those on the right. I think those on the left apply the term racist to those on the right because for them, that is the worst thing you can say about another person. I think that qualifies as hate.

      "Skyrocket" is a subjective term used to influence readers. How much does spending have to increase before you say it skyrockets? Depends on your political affiliation.

    2. Actually, if you read the entire interview you'd see that Atwater was saying that no matter how directly racist the early appeal was in 1954, by Reagan's time even the so-called coded appeals to racism had gotten so abstract and unattached to issues of race in the public dialogue.

      "And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me - because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'"

    3. Lindy, Drum makes some of Bob's main points here but, frankly, much better, not just because he criticizes himself but because, if other posts, he explores the Republican party's and the rightwing media's efforts to fan and exploit any racial biases that might linger in their audience. For principled conservatives to deny or downplay the Republican party's reliance on exploiting lingering racism among voters is, at best, wishful thinking.

      To ascribe Drum's tone to the fact that he is being paid, well, maybe (evidence, please?) -- or maybe he's just more interested in persuading people of his argument than of his own righteousness. In any case, as an independent, unpaid blogger Bob is utterly free to criticize liberals without scornfully castigating them the way he constantly does. (And saying "us liberals" does not mean he's including himself among those he is criticizing, btw. In fact, it would be nice now and then to get some evidence that Bob is in fact at all liberal on anything other than wishing that Al Gore had become president.)

      I have no idea what you mean when you say that people on the left are far more afraid of being called racist than those on the right. Afraid in the sense that people on the left care more about racism and its legacy than those on the right? Are more likely to examine themselves, in case they unwittingly harbor racist attitudes? Anyway, Drum cites a study that concludes that conservatives who get their news from rightwing media are very sensitive to being criticized as racist, while liberals are not. Whether it's a good study, I don't know. But I think it's unfair to suggest that Drum is just projecting.

      I don't find it helpful to throw the term "racist" around and don't do so myself, but I think it's kind of weird to say that whenever people on the left do apply the word to someone or suggest that racism is among the motives in some group's policies or actions, they're necessarily full of hate. How are people supposed to phrase their analyses and characterizations when they detect racism in play? Not easy to do so constructively, as Drum observes, but since it's not easy, when people do call out the racism they believe they see in less than constructive ways, that doesn't mean they are full of hate or thoroughly misguided.

      Perhaps it's worth sharing that I grew up in the 1950's and 1960's in a liberal Republican household (my parents became Democrats in the late 1960's), and I remember going door-to-door with my mother to get signatures in a fair housing campaign, and my parents supporting my older brother's participation in the Great March on Washington. In other words, I remember a day when liberals in both parties were active civil rights advocates. (I also remember when many conservatives and some otherwise liberal Democrats in the north, not to mention the Dixiecrats who morphed into today's southern Republicans, were outright, unabashed racists.) My parents were very active in local Republican politics, mostly in order to fend off the conservative Goldwater types. The John Birchers, crazy fringies from my parents' point of view, were an embarrassment even to the Goldwater types they knew. Now the John Birchers and the heirs of the Dixiecrats have pretty much hijacked the Republican party. What's really scary is that mainstream journalists, whatever their political leanings, seem oblivious to this history and slaves to a "balanced" journalism that amounts to little more than stenography, which enables the craziest voices on the right to shape far too much of our public discourse. When Drum makes some points that resonate with Bob's post here, he does so in a larger context of examining issues like that, while Bob never does. After a while, the things Bob does not discuss begin to matter as much as the things he does discuss. Well, we'll see which Drum post he actually takes up and how he handles it.

    4. You can lose your job for being labeled a "racist" in academia. Your friends will shun you if you seem even a little racist, in liberal circles. Liberals bend way over backwards to avoid any slightest imputation of racism to whatever they say and the surest way to shut someone up is to suggest they are being a bit racist. Look what happened during Clinton's campaign -- Obama's folks neutralized Hillary by claiming that Ferraro was racist and and that Bill was being racist when he said Obama's war opposition was a fairy tale. African American support for Hillary went from around 50% to 5% after those accusations. On the liberal blogs, people supporting Hillary were routinely labeled racist, to get them to shut up and to keep others from listening to what they said. It was very ugly. Applying the term racist to keep liberals on-track happens nearly as often as applying it to conservatives to make them look evil or stupid. Some of us think it trivializes the real phenomenon of racism and makes it much harder to address racism in the world.

      I don't like Drum much because of the way he conducted himself during the 2008 campaign. He is concerned with maintaining as broad a readership as possible because that is what determines his paycheck. He does that by pretending to be even-handed or circumspect but I think he is being cowardly and self-serving. In that, I think he is a lesser version of the NY Times columnists who use their podium to talk about trivialities. Drum has some interesting technical columns but I just don't see him taking many principled stands (the way Greenwald has, for example). If he does, he won't be able to work his way up to a cushy spot like Rachel Maddow holds.

    5. The words "heartland of America, small-town values" is supposed to = "white", whether (that fact is) true or not.

      Those of you slow-on-the-uptake need to catch-up.


    6. Goodie! Another troll.

    7. CeceliaMcOctober 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM,

      Yup. that's why Reagan was never President and was jettisoned from the public debate after his "strapping young bucks buying steaks with Food Stamps" crack.

      Meanwhile, here on earth...

    8. Before the EIB card, around here strapping young bucks used to get them from their girlfriends and trade them out for cigarettes and beer,

      Get a clue.

      None of that negates the fact that Atwater was making a point that was more complex than the meme about it.

    9. So Atwater's point is it's getting harder and harder to court the bigot vote? Goodie for us.
      Doesn't mean the GOP hasn't (and still isn't) trying.

  6. It's not easy to understand the vehemence of the reaction by millions of people to a President who is extraordinarily moderate, really a moderate Republican at heart who promoted a health care legislation that enhances private-sector marketplace competition and was the brainchild of a decidedly Republican think/propaganda tank. It's very hard to get a handle on it, and yes, as crazy as many right-wing reactions to Clinton were, they were far more politically calculated and less visceral than they are now.

    Walsh's view is one explanation, and it's a reasonable one because ii is hard to see another one with equal explanatory power. That TDH thinks it is so outlandish shows how isolated he is from strong Republicans from the South and the heartland. Walsh is entitled to her opinion.

    It appears that TDH really objects because he thinks it is bad tactically to say such things about people. But these are people who are never, ever under any circumstances going to swing over to our way of viewing the world. Why we should worry about their feelings so much, as opposed to isolating them from polite company and eventually driving their like-minded representatives out of political offices wherever we can, is a bit unclear.

    1. Here we return to Bob's point. There was this same vehemence of reaction to Clinton, who was also moderate. And it was every bit as visceral. Look at the comments and conduct of conservatives in response to Hillary's campaign and tell me that was less visceral than the response to Obama. The alternative explanation is that the Republicans decided to engage in take-no-prisoners partisan politics and enforced party discipline to the point that they drove moderates out of their own party and eliminated the possibility of compromise (by getting rid of all compromisers) in order to achieve its own political goals. Were those political goals even remotely racial? No, they are goals related to the financial interests of powerful people and their corporations. I find that this explanation has a great deal more explanatory power than the idea that the country is full of closet racists who have become so virulent despite improvement in race relations that they cannot tolerate even the presence of a president who is part racial minority. And the racial explanation does nothing to explain why the Republicans absolutely refused to cooperate with anything Clinton wanted to do, including his previous attempts to reform health care, to the point of shutting down the government in the same way as has occurred this time.

      Politics is not about how people view the world. It is about how we resolve conflict in order to achieve common goals. War is an extension of politics. The last time a group of people within our government refused to compromise to this extent, we had a civil war. The part I find hard to understand is why the powerful entities behind the scenes think they would benefit from another civil war, but for all I know, they benefitted from the last one.

    2. So you're prefacing a charge that it's endemic racism that is motivating machinations against the ACA, upon the basis that conservative objections to Clinton's plan were more about political strategy and less about hate?

      THAT argument is easier to believe than any one having to do with conservative ideology?

    3. Lindy, I completely agree with your last comment. We're more on the same page than I realized. (Though I don't agree with you about academics and racism. Yes, there is some group-think, but not as much as people assume. And you don't get fired just because someone throws a label like "racist" at you. It just doesn't work that way.) I would only amend or emend your last comment to stress that the right has used race to exploit any possible advantages they might gain in elections, and that their doing so has caused far more damage to our civic discourse and our country's policies than the excesses of anti-Hillary commenters when she was running against Obama for the dem nomination.

      I'd add that I didn't read blogs during that nominating process and, aside from reading newspapers and news publications and watching TV (only a little cable), I talked to friends and acquaintances, liberal (including fellow campaign workers) and a few conservative. I suspect that comments on blogs tend not just to magnify but to distort. (So I'll be quiet for now!)

    4. Hillary was attacked based on gender by both the right and left whereas Obama was largely attacked on race by the right. Why do you think racial attacks do greater damage to civic discourse than gender-based attacks? Does it not matter that women are so greatly underrepresented at all levels of government? Go back and look at that photo of Obama's speechwriter Jon Favreau posing with the life-size Hillary poster and you'll see what kind of treatment she got from the left. It is easy to find: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/12/obama-favreau.html

    5. You are right Lindy. No photo better represents the treatment Hillary got from the left.

      We don't know the youngish Jon Favreau. He probably writes speeches very well.

      Clearly in that photo he depicts himself as boorish and sexist, an inexperienced poorly behaved boy who
      probably regretted his digital assault once sober.


    6. Lindy, I couldn't tell at first whom you might be addressing when you ask, "Why do you think racial attacks do greater damage to civic discourse than gender-based attacks?" Why would anybody think that, I wondered? Who here suggested they would? Then I figured out you were probably responding to the part of my comment where (in my mind) I was comparing the steady assault by the right on Obama ever since he first became president, a matter of years, to attacks on/treatment of Hillary during one (admittedly very long!) primary season. You've completely misinterpreted both the narrow point I was trying to make and the context from which I made it.

      You should know I am a woman and a dedicated feminist since college (late 1960's), and, given my upbringing, since all my life, really. I refuse to prioritize race/women's/gender issues -- they are all inter-related. Really, without going into my personal history, the things to which I have devoted my professional and personal adult life -- it's kind of unbelievable to me that I am being lectured to and berated by you (whoever you are) about feminist issues of this elementary kind. (In the immortal words of CeceliaMc, "sheesh.")

      I know (and knew at the time) all about the favreau pic, btw --I managed to stay informed without being an internet addict. (And I did mention "excesses," didn't I?) But apparently I hit some button with you I didn't even know about. Sorry, but please try being a little more generous. The lack of generosity among commenters at this site is why I left it a while ago (and am probably going to leave it now, even though comments were beginning to get a little interesting again).

      Anonymous says, "You are right Lindy. No photo better represents the treatment Hillary got from the left." Could I just say that, from the perspective of my generation and my politics, the idea that Favreau is anything more than vaguely left is laughable. How old are you guys? Did Favreau have to makes choices between, say, the Weathermen and SDS? (sheesh.) From my perspective, both Obama and Hillary Clinton are sort of mashes of Eisenhower/Nixon Republicans. NEITHER is at all "left."

    7. Liddy also forgets, as a southern Dem who was progressive on matters of racial equality, the ire Bill Clinton provoked (the ugliest from the right crazies of his state, Huckabee has been given a pass on some mighty ugly stuff here) may well have been race based. Remember the long standing racist rumor about him having fathered a black child? Somerby is essentially an apologist for the legacy of White Racism in the south. Some of what he says about Walsh is true, but should be viewed in that context.

    8. "Somerby is essentially an apologist for the legacy of White Racism in the south."

      LOL. Man, you've really out-done yourself. You really get upset when someone threatens to take away your toy, don't you?

    9. Lindy, I have to disagree that Republicans have driven the moderates out of their party. Maybe out of office, or out of positions of power, but not out of their party. if that was true, they would be losing a lot more elections than they are. I had some hope in 2012 that after moderates got defeated in primaries that Democrats would win in the general election, but that did not happen in Kansas. Instead, Democrats got shellacked again.

  7. Did he work in

    (1) The media's treatment of Gore
    (2) Whether Zimmerman was told not to get out of the car
    (3) Test scores (MEGO)


    Please note that there is ONLY name calling against Walsh and no argument.

    Please also note that he ONLY rails about the money he thinks liberal media stars are making and NEVER about the verifiable mega-millions made by Limbaugh, OReilly and Hannity.

    1. It's hard to understand why you think he should rail about the money OReilly, Limbaugh and Hannity make. Does anyone reading this blog not know or dispute that these guys are paid hacks?

      Or do you think any criticism within our tribe must be counter-balanced with criticism of the other tribe?

  8. Many republicans racist? Ignore Nixon, Attwater, Reagan,Thurman, Helms, Lott, etal.
    Southern strategy? What?
    Explicit racism was replaced by coded terms. Everyone knows this. Lying to one's self is not a good thing.
    Once LBJ got the Civil Rights & Voting Rights acts through the Congress (with enormous help from republicans like Everett Dirksen, Jacob Javitts and Hugh Scott) the recalcitrant Southern states went from democrat to republican. You could look it up.
    Obama as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose?
    No biggee!
    Tea partiers just wanna have fun.

    Show where the GOP has been racist?


  9. I think you may have a problem with women in the media.

    1. To state "I think" rather than "I know" and "may" rather than "do" suggests, using BOB's categories, that you are a well behaved girl. That means you could be descibed thusly: "Hattie is an inexperienced commenter. She may very well be a nice person. We just don't know." Or it may lead to "Hattie is retelling another favorite tale among our detractors, overlooking our analysts fine work defending Hillary Clinton against
      sexist attack. She is clueless."


  10. It's clear that Republicans employed a "Southern strategy" to help them win elections. It's also clear that race was a major element of that strategy.

    Today, as commenter mch notes above, "the John Birchers and the heirs of the Dixiecrats have pretty much hijacked the Republican party."

    The new "crazies" in the Republican party are Ayn Rand devotees. Tea Partyers are mostly white, mostly very conservative. They get their news from FOX, and they like Sarah Palin, and even George W. Bush. Tea Partyers define the modern Republican party.

    Did Joan Walsh make valid points in her column? Absolutely. Bob seems to be complaining about the pine tree scrub that's obscuring his view of the oak forest.

    ObamaCare is based on Republican ideas. It's not a "government takeover" of health care. There's no public option. The U.S. spends far more on health care than all other developed nations, and gets less in return. And when asked, the public overwhelming favors the major components of ObamaCare.

    So what explains all that conservative disbelief?


  11. Urban legend and lindy -- I have a different definition of "moderate" than you do. The federal government is already very, very big. "Big" in terms of spending, power, and influence, To me, a "moderate" wants to keep the government the same size. A conservative wants to shrink government's size and power. A liberal wants to grow government's size and power. By this definition, Obama is a liberal, and so was George W. Bush. That's why the Tea Partiers disapproved of the policies of both these Presidents. Bottom line: tea parties are focused on Presidential actions, not race or personality.

    1. Yes indeed David in Cal. I recall early tea partiers storming the House and even spitting on Members of Congress when they passed the Prescription Drug Plan of Bush. It was the end of Hastert's Speakership and put the nail in the Hammer's coffin after he rammed this bill down people's throats. Too bad it took the Koch Brothers time to get the Tea Partiers organized and funded. Otherwise they would have stopped that federal intervention into our local schools under No Child Left Behind.

      I can't tell you, as a fellow conservative, how my heart leapt for joy when the Tea Partiers got their name by storming the USS Abraham Lincoln when it pulled back into port and tossed that "Mission Accomplished Banner into the bay.

      I still laugh my bottom line off when I think of that poster with Bush and the Longhorn in his nose.


    2. D in C,

      With all due respect (and I don't mean that as snark), I think these are crappy definitions because they depend on a simplistic definition of "big."

      A "big" government in a nation of Jeffersonian yeoman farmers is quite different from "big" government in a world of globalized capital. "Big" government didn't arise through the calculating machinations of evil bureaucrats, it arose in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion in response to the unprecedented challenges of the 20th century (i.e. global war and economic collapse).

      It's also a crappy definition because, well.... it's crappy. I dispute the assertion that "liberals" want to increase the size of government as an article of faith. A bigger government might be the consequence of some liberal goals, but this is not inevitable. Some liberals have at times become quite exercised about reducing the size and scope of the military industrial complex and the scope of government surveillance, for example. But if you are willing to just reassign people according to your schema, then anything goes.

      The only faction that wants to shrink government as an ARTICLE of FAITH is the libertarian wing of the conservative faction. I see their simple-minded dogma on my university campus on the leaflets posted by the college libertarians: "Less government, more freedom." As if when you shrink government freedom happily rushes in to take its place. Really? Ask the Somalis about that. Ask the CEOs of global corporations what their plans are for promoting freedom after all those pesky national governments step down.

      Finally, it's a crappy definition because a lot of sensible people on the left would like government to be right-sized, according to an intelligent assessment of our historical situation, not get bigger, or stay the same size according to some silly ideological fixation.

    3. cacambo, those are some pretty crappy leaflets, too.
      I hope when they are offered to you, you pass by with a firm, but polite, "No thank you!

    4. The Tea Party sounds a lot like the Ross Perot movement of the 90s, the opposition to the savings and loan bail-out of the 80's and the balanced budget amendment movement of the 70's. Jerry Brown (then as now Governor of CA) ran for president in 1976 on the balanced budget amendment.

  12. "Joan Walsh is Sean Hannity now!" (Howler's Greatest Hits, 2012)

  13. OMB (Anonymous Blind)

    Yesterday, at 5:28pm, Anonymous had the nerve to ask:

    "Did he work in

    (1) The media's treatment of Gore..."

    Why yes, yes he did:

    "At the end of Campaign 2000, for instance, Walsh was pretending that she hadn’t noticed what the press corps had just done for two years to Candidate Gore."

    Therefore "....it’s painful to write about Joan Walsh when she discusses race, or when she pretends to do so. ....Walsh has been a bad person in many ways over the course of the past fifteen years....You have to be a very bad person to sell a big boatload of crap like that.... Walsh, who is a very bad person...When very bad people ascend ....How crazy is Salon’s Joan Walsh, who is also a very bad person? She’s crazy right out of her corporate ascot...Only a very stupid person would make such a blatantly crazy claim—a very bad person who seems to be a bit of a nut herself."

    And, to top it off, she's a money making mind reader!
    "Walsh goes back to mind-reading tens of millions of people she doesn’t know....It makes us white liberals feel very good."

    It is painful to write that Anonymous is pretending, nuts, or a very blind person. But I repeat myself. It makes me feel very good, so the rest of you white liberals feel that way too.


  14. From the New York Times:

    "Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. " [Yes, the same Ed Meese who, as Reagan's attorney general, helped to lead the cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal.]

    "The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization...The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort."

    "One of the biggest sources of conservative money is Freedom Partners, a tax-exempt “business league” that claims more than 200 members, each of whom pays at least $100,000 in dues. The group’s board is headed by a longtime executive of Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by the Koch brothers, who were among the original financiers of the Tea Party movement"


    @ David in Cal: the Tea Party is a tool of the plutocrats. Oh, and using your definition of "liberal" (growing the size and power of government), the Reagan was a "liberal."

  15. Monday: What Kevim Drum said

    Why bother? THEY already have him.

  16. Yeah, there are a lot of people in this country who think that Obama is not worthy of being president. I would bet that many of them thought the same about Obama's opponents in the primaries and general elections. Is it such a surprise that millions of Americans look at all of them, the whole lot of those politicians - McCain, Clinton, Obama, Romney, Biden, etc. and shake their heads, "Is this the best we can do?"

    I don't know who the Republicans would have to put up for me to vote for Hillary Clinton for anything. It so offended me that the president's consort grabbed power (her healthcare effort that failed and she was not held accountable). Honestly, I don't understand the mentality and it had no place in the US. It reflected badly on her character.

    1. Yeah, there are a lot of people in this country who think Obama is worthy of being president - in fact, many of these people elected Obama president twice. I would bet that McCain and Romney supporters thought their candidate is worthy of being president in the primaries and general elections. Although we are a nation that is dealing with many problems and issues, I'll bet that many people view politicians as their elected leaders, especially those who have been elected to office, and they say "They're the best we have."

      I know there are many Republican putative presidential candidates who I could not nor would not vote for if they ran for President. I find it offensive that after squandering a budget surplus in 2001 and then ringing up the deficit tab for 8 years, Republicans then turn around and blame the guy stuck with the tab. Although I understand the mentality - wealth transfers to the very rich are good for the rich - honestly, it had no place in the US. It reflected badly on the policies of Republicans.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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