MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2022
Hill is transfixed by the Other: In our view, David French offered some good, sound advice in a recent essay for The Atlantic.
As he started, French pounded away at Tucker Carlson's recent "remarkable claim"—his "remarkable claim" that it was the United States, and President Biden himself, who sabotaged the Nord Stream pipeline late last month.
In line with his common practice, Carlson's offered a clownish foundation for his eye-popping claim. "A Washington Post analysis called [the claim] 'shoddy,' and that’s charitable," French said.
If anything, we think the Post—and French himself—were being a bit too polite, given the gong-show reasoning Carlson offered in support of his eye-popping claim. That said, what made French's essay especially striking is a basic fact about French himself:
French is a conservative of long standing. But he's also anti-Trump—and in this essay, he was trashing the apparently disingenuous conduct of Carlson.
French is a conservative of long standing—but so what? In his essay, he attacked the "gullibility" of the modern-day conservative rank and file when they swallow "shoddy," unfounded claims like this laytest claim by Carlson.
That said, French built his essay around a larger theme:
At highly partisan times like these, the animosity we feel toward the other tribe may tend to make us all foolish.
Below, you see the headline which topped his essay, and the key part of his argument:
Hatred Makes Fools of Us All
Because I live in deep-red America, I’m more immediately familiar with right-wing conspiracies and right-wing conspiracy culture than I am with the most toxic elements of contemporary progressive America. And here’s one thing I see virtually every day: Hatred is making people foolish. Hatred is making people gullible.
The process works like this: The more negative your view of your opponents, the more likely you’ll believe even the wildest claims against them. We saw this quite starkly on January 6. Masses of Americans descended on the Capitol, fervently believing some of the dumbest and most transparently implausible lies I’ve ever seen.
In French's view, political hatred can make everyone foolish. "The more negative your view of your opponents, the more likely you’ll believe even the wildest claims against them," he says.
In recent years, the tendency to believe crazy claims has been visible among many members of the conservative rank and file. On its face, the theory known as Pizzagate seemed to be baldly insane, but one person believed the Pizzagate claims which such ardor that he drove hundreds of miles to come to D.C., where he shot up a pizza joint.
That was just one person. But the lunacy of Pizzagate led to the lunacy of QAnon—and in this survey by PRRI, 16 percent of respondents said they agreed with the very strange claim which lies at the heart of this "theory."
(Gack! According to PRRI, 25 percent of Republicans said they agreed with the very strange claim, but so did 9 percent of Democrats.)
According to French, our political hatred can make us gullible, foolish. In stating this theory, French said he was more familiar with right-wing conspiracy culture than with "the most toxic elements of contemporary progressive America."
As liberals, we may not believe that any such "toxic elements" exist within the political culture of our own blue tribe. We'd avoid the word "toxic" ourselves, but French's theory suggests the possibility that political partisans of all stripes may be susceptible to flawed judgment at this point in time:
FRENCH: We’re all vulnerable to our own animosities. We’re all far more prone to believe allegations against opponents than we are to believe allegations against allies. What must we do to counter this temptation? I like a rule established by a person who follows me on Twitter: “The more I emotionally like the vibe or content of a tweet,” they wrote, “the less I should trust its veracity.”
This is good practice. Be skeptical of your instincts and desires; they’re tainted by bias. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves slipping into our own versions of Tuckerism—so blinded by partisan animosity that we’ll fall for almost anything. Hatred can make fools of us all.
Phyician, heal thyself, French says. More specifically, we should all "be skeptical" of our "instincts and desires," which are likely to be "tainted by bias" at partisan times like these.
French's essay appeared in The Atlantic. In our view, it contains good advice—and he took that one last shot at "Tuckerism" as he ended his piece.
A few days later, a second essay appeared in The Atlantic. This essay was written by Jemele Hill—and for us, it brought French's essay to mind.
At this point, let's be completely clear:
In our view, Hill says nothing which we would describe as "toxic." She says nothing which comes close to matching the apparent craziness of the Pizzagate or QAnon lunacies.
Hill says nothing like that. Beyond that, Hill is a good and decent person. But she's also an ardent liberal / progressive, and this is a highly partisan, highly tribalized time.
Hill's essay appeared beneath the headline shown below. For us, her essay recalled some of what French said:
Herschel Walker’s Candidacy Is Just Insulting
It's easy to see why present-day liberals might be puzzled and disturbed by the possibility that Herschel Walker is on his way to the Senate.
On this morning's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough described Walker as the least qualified person ever nominated for the Senate by a major party. It isn't hard to see why someone might offer that assessment, and it isn't hard to see why Hill describes Walker as a "buffoonish candidate."
Still and all, we thought of French's recent essay when we read Hill's piece. Tomorrow, we'll look at some of what Hill said, and we'll start to tell you why her essay made us recall some of the things French said.
At present, our own blue tribe is battering Walker extremely hard. Is it possible that we're going to get him elected in the process?
Could the ardor of our opposition actually win Walker votes? By most accounts, the race in Georgia is quite close, and we can't say the answer is no.
Tomorrow: How we (may) look to Others
"In line with his common practice, Carlson's offered a clownish foundation for his eye-popping claim."
Oh dear. You sound like a total idiot, dear Bob, we're sorry to say.
...also, ironically, you do sound 'blinded by hatred'. Hatred towards political opponent of your brain-dead liberal cult.
Tsk. This is getting tiresome. Oh well...
"You sound like a total idiot, dear Bob..."Delete
And yet, there will be folks here swearing Bob isn't a conservative.
Listen Pigboy Mao, you define the tiresome, and the loathsome.Delete
Dimbot "Mao" is a perfect example of what Somerby is talking about. His hatred of Democrats has him uncritically swallowing anything Tucker says, which is ironic given that he accuses Democrats of uncritically forming their beliefs. Tsk, oh well.Delete
So tiresome that you’re the first to enter a comment with very tiresome regularity.ReplyDelete
"That said, French built his essay around a larger theme:ReplyDelete
At highly partisan times like these, the animosity we feel toward the other tribe may tend to make us all foolish. "
Somerby italicizes the part that begins "At highly partisan times..." as though French has said this, but he didn't. This is Somerby's paraphrase and not a quote.
Then Somerby presents an actual quote, saying that French is warning both sides of being foolish. However, French explicitly says that he is more familiar with his side than with toxic progressives, and goes on to warn those on his side to explore statements most thoroughly when you agree most with them. He implies that the left should do the same, but he is not calling the left as foolish as the right. That is Somerby's construction.
This idea that left and right are both equally bad is called bothsiderism. French does seem to be supporting a kind of bothsiderism, but he explicitly calls on the right to examine people like Tucker Carlson. He is not talking to members of the left, nor is he attacking the left in his editorial. That is Somerby's addition to French's words. French explicitly mentions the foolishness of 1/6, which was conservative, not progressive.
There is a great deal of evidence that the excesses of the left are not nearly as extreme as the right. Yes, both sides can be foolish, but there is no equating sedition with even the worst examples of "cancel culture" or "wokeness". The right has gone stark raving bonkers across the Republican party, while the left is its same old self. There is no equating the two, not even when Somerby tries to put his own words in French's mouth.
"It's easy to see why present-day liberals might be puzzled and disturbed by the possibility that Herschel Walker is on his way to the Senate. "ReplyDelete
Somerby has been demanding that journalists examine Trump's mental health, but Herschel Walker's mental illness is widely recognized and acknowledged even by the candidate himself. Walker is still having such problems. As such, he is unfit before anyone mentions his lying and his failure to behave properly toward his children, his inability to form a coherent sentence, his lack of grasp of issues, and his obvious lack of competence for the job.
Somerby suggests that Walker is "on his way" to the Senate. The latest polls show a very wide gap between Walker and Warnock. No sane person thinks Walker will win. Sane people are wondering why he was ever encouraged to run, why Trump endorsed him, and why he is being treated as a viable candidate. Jemele Hill is one of those sane people.
Somerby doesn't tell his why he is going to attack Hill's essay. He merely teases and leaves us to wonder what he thinks she did wrong. As usual. I for one doubt she has done anything wrong, other than being black, female and a journalist, and thus Somerby's favorite target. Somerby implies that he will be calling Hill foolish, tomorrow. Meanwhile, she is tarred and he has provided no evidence of any wrong statements, but we have an extra day to think poorly of HIll before Somerby has to put up any facts.
My own analysts are jumping up and down and shouting "unfair, unfair"!!!! They expect substance when someone is maligned, not just name-calling, but they're funny that way.
Here is why Trump endorsed Walker and why Walker supports Trump:
"On Monday during his 2020 Republican National Convention speech, Heisman Trophy-winning former running back Herschel Walker told the world he has learned a lot from President Donald Trump.
Walker first met Trump in 1983 when he was drafted by the New Jersey Generals. The team was part of the short-lived United States Football League, which Trump owned at the time.
Walker says he immediately formed a friendship with the famous real-estate developer, one that has lasted over the last 37 years.
“I’m talking about a deep personal friendship,” Walker said on Monday.
The two shared good times (for instance, when his and Trump’s families went Disney World together, “there [Trump] was in a business suit on It’s a Small World ride,” Walker said. “That was something to see”). But Walker, who after retiring from the NFL more than 20 years ago now owns poultry and food company Renaissance Man Foods as well as other businesses, says Trump has taught him important lessons over the years. "
Meanwhile, Walker is unpopular with black voters because of his distancing himself from civil rights efforts while he was building his football career:
"Mr. Walker, who is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans, is unpopular with Black voters. And nowhere is the rift more stark than in the rural farm town where he was raised about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta."
Jemele Hill compares Walker to the more qualified Ralph Warnock and discusses why Republicans would have selected a stereotype of black dysfunction as their candidate against a much better qualified black man. It is difficult to see what Somerby may find to complain about in Hill's essay, but she focuses on race, and Somerby is "uncomfortable" with that entire topic.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are closing ranks and supporting Walker, with all of his flaws. Because, like Trump, Walker can apparently commit any wrong and be untouchable, because that is what the MAGA cult is like. It doesn't seem to matter how unqualified a candidate is, as long as Trump endorsed him and he remains loyal to Trump. Herschel Walker is pathetic, but that is no reason to elect him to the senate, especially when he is running against someone so well-qualified as Warnock.
The only way Republican voters will turn on Walker is if he calls for reparations for slavery.Delete
"At present, our own blue tribe is battering Walker extremely hard. Is it possible that we're going to get him elected in the process?"ReplyDelete
Here Somerby seems to be telling us that the more we campaign, the less likely our candidate will be elected. Is that true? Does campaigning against Republican candidates result in the other candidate winning?
Why would Somerby suggest such a thing to Democrats, if he is himself liberal and wishes to see blue candidates win? Note that today Somerby says nothing positive about Warnock, the Democratic candidate running against Walker. Instead, he attacks those calling Walker unfit, such as Jemele Hill. Is that how politics works today? Republicans campaign for their Republican candidate and we Democrats are told NOT to campaign for ours because it will paradoxically elect the Republican?
How foolish does Somerby think we are? He seems to be telling us to back off and ease up on Walker, since Republicans will only vote harder for him if we Democrats attack him. But how many votes do Republicans get? And is there really any chance that a MAGA Extremists will vote for Warnock, if only we say nothing about Warnock's virtues? But the rest of the electorate IS paying attention, and this is NOT the time to let them drift, without telling them that there is a better choice than the obviously unfit Walker. So, this is NOT the time to stop campaigning for Warnock and Somerby is not only full of shit but he is working for the wrong side here -- Republicans and Trump endorsed candidates to boot. While pretending to want to help us liberals. As if we cannot tell the difference between someone on our side and someone working against our best interests, as Somerby has been doing for quite a while now, at least 2015 and Trump's appearance on the scene. When Somerby told us not to support Hillary because she was a flawed candidate.
“Maybe it works. Maybe Walker defeats incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., in a state that’s had its recent share of close elections. And maybe political jersey color matters more than anything else — more than qualifications, more than damaging allegations and more than fitness for the job.”
“Yet the consequences would be enormous.”
“It would mean nothing else matters in our politics besides party ID. It would mean the GOP would support any candidate — no matter the allegations against him — to win control of the U.S. Senate. And it would mean a damaged nominee (who hasn’t been forthcoming about the allegations against him) serving for at least six years in the U.S. Senate.”
“It’s a high-risk move for the GOP, putting winning above everything else. It’s also a high-risk move for the state of our politics.”
What are the allegations against him?Delete
Google "Herschel Walker" and find out for yourself or you could follow some of the links people have posted here.Delete
The abortion allegations? It doesn't seem like that big of a deal.Delete
Then vote for him, if you don’t mind the lying and mental illness too.Delete
We need to stop making nice nice to Republicans.ReplyDelete
Who is we?Delete
In other words how do we, voters who are common people exert any influence on which Democrats run for office and what they do when they get there?Delete
By voting for and against candidates, donating to campaigns, telling candidates what you want them to do — participating in democracy.Delete
You're really that naive?Delete
DNC: We Are a Private Corporation With No Obligation to Follow Our RulesDelete
Only a media critic at Bob's level could review the Walker situation and not mention the word "abortion." If Bob was really was serious about compassion, he might consider how horrible it might be for Walker to get elected. He doesn't have Trump schtick to get him pass a fifth grader's reading comprehension and general intellect. Yes, that might put someone in the Senate in a tough position, no matter how attentive his handlers.ReplyDelete
if French isn't familiar with the toxic elements of progressive elements of America, how does he know they are there? Being "Republican but anti-Trump" is setting the bar pretty low on credibility, Granted, Bob is hardly alone in sinking to this....
Herschel Walker got good grades, but he is mentally ill.Delete
He’s a terrible candidate and his own family tried to tell his handlers that.Delete
Herschel Walker is a good, decent person. It's sad to see Cecelia abandon him.Delete
I never was a fan of Walker and your endorsement of him would validate that decision.Delete
I'd do him.Delete
Go away, Hunter, you’re embarrassing yourself.Delete
I'll bet that joke goes over big at your conservative websites but it isn't funny to persecute someone for political advantage, because he has the misfortunate to be the president's son. There's your famous lack of empathy again. Trump scapegoated the guy so you think he is fair game. But we already know you aren't a nice person, Cecelia.Delete
You’re so absurd and your self-vaunted empathy is control and paternalism.
That’s why you seethe at a blogger.
No one has scapegoated Hunter. He’s taken advantage of everything he possibly could take. Just as they all do.
"If you're a liberal or moderate Democratic politician in America, you'll get decent coverage from the so-called liberal media some of the time, but the same reporters will turn on you in a heartbeat. (Did any positive stories about President Biden appear in the top "liberal" news outlets between the fall of Afghanistan and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act?) And if you're a Democrat enmeshed in scandal, it's quite likely that you'll lose the support of your voters as well as previously supportive media outlets -- maybe that wasn't true of Bill Clinton in the previous century, but ask Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and Andrew Cuomo if it's true in this century.Delete
However, if you're a Republican in good standing, there's an excellent chance that no one in the right-wing bubble will give you a hard time for, for instance, making bigoted and conspiratorial pronouncements like Marjorie Taylor Greene, or being involved in sexual abuse of teenagers like Jim Jordan. And don't get me started on Donald Trump. If you have the full support of the tribe, no one in the right-wing media will ever say a discouraging word about you.
The Black press writes critical stories about Walker and West. Sports outlets publish negative pieces on Walker; the music press regularly criticizes West. But in the Republican oasis, it's all good: West is a fearless truth-teller, and Walker is a humble, upright man of God."
No More Mister Nice Blog
"Some of those voters have recoiled from Mr. Mastriano’s opposition to abortion rights under any circumstance, or from his strident election denialism. But the race between Mr. Mastriano, a state senator, and his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro — a Jewish day school alum who features challah in his advertising and routinely borrows from Pirkei Avot, a collection of Jewish ethics — has also centered to an extraordinary degree on Mr. Shapiro’s religion.ReplyDelete
Mr. Mastriano, who promotes Christian power and disdains the separation of church and state, has repeatedly lashed Mr. Shapiro for attending and sending his children to what Mr. Mastriano calls a “privileged, exclusive, elite” school, suggesting to one audience that it evinced Mr. Shapiro’s “disdain for people like us.”
People like us. We all know what that means. And we know what Cecelia means when she says:
"No one has scapegoated Hunter. He’s taken advantage of everything he possibly could take. Just as they all do."
"Could the ardor of our opposition actually win Walker votes? By most accounts, the race in Georgia is quite close, and we can't say the answer is no."ReplyDelete
In what universe does ardent campaigning earn a candidate fewer votes?
Herschel Walker could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Ave. and he wouldn't lose any Republican votes. But if we dare to support our candidate, we may earn him fewer votes than if we do nothing? If you are stupid enough to believe that, Somerby has a bridge between Crimea and Russia to sell you.
Who knew Hunter Biden is persecuted and Jewish.ReplyDelete
Not that it helped the Kushners.
Anonymouse7:20pm, I’m pretty sure Somerby was suggesting that it can backfire when white folks start whaling on a black person’s flaws.ReplyDelete
Which, no doubt, would be just one aspect of your endless race-baiting were Walker a Democrat.
Who knows what you mean when you say they.ReplyDelete
Once again you put words in Somerby’s mouth that he didn’t say.
For one thing, Blow isn’t white, nor are quite a few vocal critics of Walker. Second, Walker’s own family and black home town are not supporting him. White people are, and that carries little weight with black voters. Third, are you aware that Warnock is black and a pastor in MLK’s church?
Oh, yes, I vaguely remember hearing about Walker and Warnock. I’m vaguely aware too that there’s been a well-deserved media pile-on of Walker that is not the case with Warnock’s battles with his ex.ReplyDelete
I WELL-understand that this can have a cumulative effect, I’m not worried about it, but did point out that your casting of the situation as being you being bludgeoned by Bob for “daring” to support your candidate is your usual whacked-out tyrannical two-year-old mentality.
He isn’t saying that any black candidate is untouchable. He is saying no one likes us liberals and we drive voters away by being liberal. He said liberals elected Trump by being so darned liberal. The rest is stuff you made up.Delete
No candidate is untouchable. Not all election races are the same, so swallow your Somerby vendetta for three seconds.Delete
You’re not going go drive blacks away by doing too liberal in this race. It is arguable that you could get people’s backs up by being too critical.
BTW- no one does like militant anonymices.Delete
Liberals are silly, but alright. They’re just liberals.
I didn’t make this crap up. An anonymouse did.Delete
“Herschel Walker could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Ave. and he wouldn't lose any Republican votes. But if we dare to support our candidate, we may earn him fewer votes than if we do nothing? ”