Our leadership is astoundingly weak!


Joan Walsh attempts a rant: Over here in the liberal world, our intellectual leadership is just extremely weak. Consider what happened yesterday morning when Joan Walsh attempted to stage a rant.

She started with words of praise for all the brilliant recent writing by all the other liberal leaders. This will become relevant just a bit later:
WALSH (8/28/13): I’m finally getting around to writing about the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom commemoration this week, mainly because, for a change, so much of the writing about it has been so excellent. Frankly, most of what I’d have wanted to say has been said: Plenty of people have pointed out it was a march for “jobs and freedom,” though the jobs part later got lost...

The heroes who never get enough credit—particularly labor leader A. Philip Randolph and his amazing ally and organizer and strategist Bayard Rustin—have gotten lots of coverage this week...Over and over we’ve heard the great story of John Lewis’ fiery first speech draft—attacking Kennedy’s civil rights bill and promising a “nonviolent” version of Sherman’s march to the sea—as well as his bowing to Randolph and toning it down.
You get the idea. Everyone has been great!

Well—everyone has been great over here in our tribe. Over there in the other tribe, the work has been shockingly bad:
WALSH (continuing directly): Yet with all this amazing coverage from the left, the right has gotten almost everything about the march wrong, in a way that’s actually shocking, though I guess it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should be glad that they start from the premise that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great American hero, albeit one they think his commemorators are misrepresenting. Maybe it’s progress that a man once reviled as a Communist and thoroughly disrespected by the mainstream media—as evidenced by his hostile interrogation on “Meet the Press” the Sunday before the march—is now lauded by righties from Bill O’Reilly to Laura Ingraham to David Brooks as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed—but by the left, not by them.
Walsh named three figures from the right whose work has been shockingly wrong. She didn’t bother quoting anyone, a practice which makes press criticism shockingly easy.

We'd like to see some quotes. That said, we were most surprised by the inclusion of Brooks. When did he portray Dr. King “as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed by the left?”

We didn’t recall his Tuesday column that way. We decided to double-check what he said on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Oops! In his very first statement, Brooks paid tribute to Randolph and Rustin, the heroes who never get enough credit! This is the very thing Walsh singled out for praise, when it was Done By Us:
BROOKS (8/25/13): Can I just pay tribute to the two men who really organized the march, and that's Bayard Rustin and Philip Randolph? They were men, especially Randolph, a man of immense dignity, who believed in peaceful direct action, as Doris [Kearn Goodwin] just said. You go after your opponents, you go relentlessly after them, but you always do it with superior emotional discipline and self-control, and you force them, the racists in that case, to display their own evil. And you transfer the whole debate that way by a superior dignity, and that was part of what the march did. It took a strategy, which was deeply thought through, and it expressed to the nation, and it showed how you make social change.
Brooks paid similar tribute to Randolph and Rustin in Tuesday’s column. One day later, Walsh praised us liberals for doing this, then trashed Brooks for his work, which was said to be shockingly wrong.

As she continued, Walsh explained what Brooks and the others did that was shockingly wrong. A political movement which tolerates work like this is just a failed, empty tribe—a guild, a social club, a juvenile support group:
WALSH (continuing directly from above): These faux-devotees of the great MLK, these history-challenged concern trolls, remember only King’s admittedly inspiring line about wanting his children judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” They don’t remember that he was a radical, in fact, a socialist. That he was about to launch a multiracial Poor People’s Campaign that was unpopular even with some of his top lieutenants, who didn’t think the movement was ready to venture beyond black issues. They forget the New York Times editorialized against his joining the movement against the Vietnam War (a move that even some of his closest allies, including Bayard Rustin, second-guessed). Their tributes never mention that he died supporting a strike by mostly African-American sanitation workers in Memphis.
That’s just embarrassing, in several ways. By the way, was Dr. King really a socialist? In Salon, a web comic book, we will suppose that he was.

What makes that passage an embarrassment? Again, only a child would say that offenses like the ones she lists would make someone’s work shockingly wrong. To wit:

The march occurred in 1963. The Poor People’s Campaign didn’t occur until 1968. Many people have remembered Dr. King’s role at the march with mentioning that later effort, or the (admirable) circumstances of his death.

Meanwhile, no one has said that Dr. King was a socialist, because of course he wasn’t, except in comic book land.

Question: Did Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter remember those things about Dr. King? Did they remember Dr. King as a socialist when they spoke yesterday? Go ahead! Spend your weekend rereading the things they did say!

The worst part of this gong-show effort is its lack of quotes. Walsh savages three people for work that is said to be shockingly wrong without ever quoting anything any one of them said, without even offering a link.

Where did Brooks describe Dr. King as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed by the left? Walsh doesn’t even bother to give us rubes a link. In the comic book world we liberals are crafting, such things are no longer needed. We just ask for the tribal support.

Walsh has turned out to be a truly horrible figure. For years, she averted her gaze from the sliming of Clinton and Clinton and Gore as she kissed ass and curried favor with cable powers that be. Now that she is a paid cable hack, she is spreading the dumbest kind of pseudo-liberalism all around the world.

Just reading her name makes young liberals dumber. If you doubt that, gaze again on the way she started that piece:

Walsh praised “all this amazing coverage from the left,” specifically citing the way our brilliant liberal writers paid tribute to Randolph and Rustin. In the very next paragraph, she lights into the (unquoted) Brooks, who has spent the last week paying tribute to Randolph and Rustin!

Walsh is badly in need of a rest. Young liberals, for whom there is so much hope, are badly in need of relief.


  1. So I see the headline "Our leadership is astoundingly weak" and then I read a post about Joan Walsh.

    Bob, what inhabitants of what planet would consider Walsh to be a "leader"?

    1. The far planet Zarkon, where we allow female historians to grope elephants.


    2. There are many kinds of leaders, Anon, not just those in elective office.

  2. OMB

    Lambasting O'Reilly, Ingraham and Brooks without quotes is indeed an embarassing offense. At the next meeting of the liberal movement* I shall make a motion
    to have Walsh stripped of her leadership. If I meet any resistance (I have mastered all the hand signals necessary to get the matter before the General Assembly)
    I shall quote the silence of Krugman-Drum-And-Dionne as evidence they are with me and Bob on this issue!

    * You are not familiar with the liberal movement?

    We are a tolerant but failed empty tribe—a guild, a social club, a juvenile support group. We don't meet often, but when we do we take up demands by bloggers that journalists be fired. ( It is noble work, like housecleaning and lawn mowing, and the most interesting man in the blogosphere often has us working overtime.

    B (A regular Emperor doing extraordinary work now that extraordinary people no longer walk among us.)

  3. Salon still exists?

    1. Joan Walsh is one of our liberal LEADERS?

    2. In the World According to Somerby, she is an absolute giant because she gets face time on cable TV.

      In the sane world, this might be called "picking the low-hanging fruit."

    3. Intellectual leadership is self selected. It is up to the movement to demonstrate the appropriate intolerance for failure or clotting of the epistems.

  4. well, but I don't think Brooks was really praising them with this garbage

    "You go after your opponents, you go relentlessly after them, but you always do it with superior emotional discipline and self-control, and you force them, the racists in that case, to display their own evil"

    ascribing to them a nasty technique Brooks employs, but not something that is commendable.

    1. Exactly. And if Brooks understood the Civil Rights Movement in the context of Gandhi, he would know that it wasn't the evil of people that the movement sought to expose, but the evil of a system.

  5. Bad as Walsh can be, The Daily Howler does some cherry picking, non-fact hyping himself. For instance, even if Brooks is clear here, what of Ingram and (sometime Daily Howler subject of respect) O'Reilly? Isn't it likely that, if Bob did some homework and read them, he'd find them pretty much guilty of what Walsh accused them of? And Couldn't the Daily Howler, if he really cared about King's legacy, investigated enough to find that what Walsh says about Dr. King and The is largely true? Sorry Bob, it is.