Still stunned after all these hours: Once again, we’ll recommend Melissa Harris-Perry’s recent piece about “electoral racism” as a genuine must-read column. Though we don’t mean that as a compliment—and no, the piece isn’t salvific.
Harris-Perry writes about race, our nation’s most important topic. But good lord, her work is truly awful, in a wide range of ways! We’ll offer much more about her piece next week. In the meantime, we’ll note one part of Joan Walsh’s reply at Salon.
Why are white liberals upset with Obama? Is it because of their "insidious" electoral racism? It’s sad to see the ease—and the manifest dumbness—with which the professor tosses this claim. But for today, let’s review Walsh’s account of the way the white liberal world reacted to President Clinton—and even to Candidate Gore!
White liberals battered Clinton too, Walsh says. In many ways, that statement is accurate—although for the most part, the liberal world was asleep in the woods during the Clinton-Gore era. That said, we were very much struck by a few of Walsh’s constructions in this passage:
WALSH (9/25/11): In terms of media, today's progressive media infrastructure didn't exist during the Clinton presidency…Salon came to national prominence to defend the president from the GOP witch hunt, but our writers and editors divided over Clinton's various achievements and disappointments. On MSNBC, liberals Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews helmed a lineup that was hugely critical of Clinton (today Matthews is one of Obama's leading defenders, while Olbermann, once a passionate supporter, has left both MSNBC and the Obama camp). The New York Times editorial pages, helmed by white liberal Clinton critic Howell Raines and featuring (once-liberal) Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich, savaged Clinton and Al Gore. White progressives at the Nation attacked Clinton harshly on NAFTA, welfare reform and his Wall Street-friendly economic policies, while defending him from impeachment, much like Salon.What a strange set of recollections! We have no idea why Walsh would call Matthews a liberal even today; it’s absurd to describe him as a liberal during his very ugly 1990s incarnation. And when was Maureen Dowd ever a liberal? It’s very strange to see the way these labels get handed out.
Beyond that, note the way Walsh recalls the treatment of Clinton and Gore. Did the New York Times editorial pages “savage Gore?” You might say that, but the trashing of Gore by Rich and Dowd doesn’t even begin to compare to the pathological attacks delivered by Matthews for two solid years. Joan Walsh still won’t tell you that about the great man for whom she vouches, although she surely must know it. But then, she still plays a great deal of Hardball.
Again, let’s try to get clear on the history. Was Matthews “hugely critical of Clinton” during the Clinton-Gore era? That’s a significant understatement, although it represents a step in the right direction from Walsh. But again: Matthews was massively worse toward Gore. For two solid years, he behaved in a disgraceful, pathological manner toward Candidate Gore. Absolutely no one did more to send George Bush to the White House.
Walsh still won’t tell you that! Just read her dream-like account, in which Frank Rich went after Gore, but somehow Matthews didn’t.
We’ll soon be posting chapter 6 of How He Got There; this chapter extends the story of Matthews’ repellent conduct during Campaign 2000. Twelve years later, career liberals still refuse to tell you the truth about these history-changing matters. They still refuse to tell you the truth about the way we all got here.
What the heck: This weekend, we’ll post a chunk of that chapter—a chunk which details Matthews’ behavior. Will Joan Walsh ever be truthful about her pal and benefactor? The evidence says that she will not. People like Walsh have kept you clueless for these many long years.
Concerning the brilliant work at the Nation: According to Walsh, “White progressives at the Nation attacked Clinton harshly on NAFTA, welfare reform and his Wall Street-friendly economic policies, while defending him from impeachment.” Perhaps. But right through October 2000, “white progressives at the Nation” were still promoting the RNC’s crackpot trashing of Candidate Gore. With three weeks left to go in the race, a silly sad crackpot “white progressive” was allowed to rant like this:
COCKBURN (10/16/00): What suppressed psychic tumult drives [Gore] to those stretchers that litter his career, the lies large and small about his life and achievements? You'd think that a man exposed to as much public derision as was Gore after claiming he and Tipper were the model for the couple in Love Story, or after saying he'd invented the Internet, would by now be more prudent in his vauntings. But no. Just as a klepto's fingers inevitably stray toward the cash register, so too does Gore persist in his fabrications.For the record, Matthews was worse. But that was your Nation way back then. Harris-Perry headlines this week.