Part 3—From earth tones on to this: Why do we say that the problem is us? That we liberals have turned out to be too dumb, too tribal, too uncaring to function in a democracy?
By now, the evidence of our shortfall is overwhelmingly clear. Let’s review an example which preceded the killings in Paris this week. Let’s consider the anguished, angry post by Joan Walsh at the new Salon.
(We’ll assume the piece was done in good faith—that Walsh wasn’t deliberately toying with Salon’s target audience.)
Walsh was railing against Chris Christie, a favorite tribal villain. What had her so upset with the New Jersey kingpin?
Here’s what: Christie roots for the Dallas Cowboys, not for a local NFL team! According to Christie, he’s engaged in this conduct since childhood!
That’s what had Walsh so upset—the fact that Christie roots for the Cowboys, not for the Giants, the Jets or the Eagles. And please note: There isn’t a hint of irony in Walsh’s remarkable piece.
Good God! Before she’s done, Walsh declares, with no visible irony, that Christie’s lifelong preference for the Cowboys is “incredibly creepy” and “frankly un-American.” She lists it as the third reason, out of three, why Christie will never be president.
Walsh is a “liberal” intellectual leader. She’s one of our tribe’s ranking TV stars. Increasingly, the truth is clear—the problem is plainly us:
WALSH (1/7/15): [T]he first disqualifying issue I spotted in this clusterf*ck of male ego was Christie’s explanation for why he supported the Cowboys: because all his home teams “stunk” when he was a kid.This is Christie’s third strike, Walsh says, mixing her sports metaphors a small tad. Chris Christie will never reach the White House because he roots for the Cowboys!
Personally, I think Americans are entitled to support whatever sports team they want. But it’s incredibly creepy that Christie himself says he became a Cowboys fan because his hometown teams “pretty much stunk” when he was growing up. The local New York Giants and Jets, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles (New Jersey is split that way), were indeed win-challenged during Christie’s wonder years. But the governor also confided that he didn’t even join his beloved father’s fandom because, again, his dad’s team, the Giants, “pretty much stunk.”
I don’t have a problem with the fact that Christie didn’t root for his father’s team. I didn’t either, but for the opposite reason. I’m a baseball fan, and I didn’t root for my father’s Yankees. But that was because the Yankees were the dominant team in my childhood, and my mother and grandmother rooted for the New York Mets. While I loved my father, I believed the Mets needed my attention more, because they were the underdogs.
Christie doesn’t have to share my sympathy for the underdog–and obviously he doesn’t, he’s a fan of overdogs. But to turn away not only from his father’s beloved team, but all of his local teams (he hates the Philadelphia Eagles particularly) is one of the most vivid examples of Christie’s grasping, kissing-up character. In particular, by rooting for the dominant Cowboys as a child, Christie showed us early that he was going to be the governor (though never president) for the 1 percent.
I’m on record long ago saying Christie won’t be president, first because of his anger issues and later because of his lame Bridgegate problems. This is strike three. His entire political career is built on his Springsteen-loving, frank-talking Regular Joe appeal. Bruce Springsteen doesn’t root for the Dallas Cowboys. Plus, Americans root, root, root for the home team (yes, I know that’s baseball, but still), and Christie’s embrace of a faraway team, just because they were winners, is frankly un-American.
It’s incredibly creepy that he roots for that team! Frankly, it’s un-American!
Quickly, a confession:
Back in the day, we wondered why liberals like Walsh just sat and watched as Candidate Gore was trashed, for two years, in similar ludicrous ways. (Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones! Al Gore said he invented the Internet!)
By now, we have an apparent answer. People like Walsh are so tribal—and frankly, so dumbfoundingly dumb—that they “reason” in similar ways.
(We know—this seems counterintuitive. But as you know if you read Salon, the proof is everywhere.)
For the record, sixty-three comments were appended to Walsh’s piece. We find only a few which complain about its manifest lunacy.
(One shining example: “This is a ridiculous article, and if one lets a politician's sport team allegiance influence their vote, than that person is ridiculous too.”)
Alas! Walsh is a liberal “intellectual leader.” And uh-oh! At the new Salon, her “liberal” readers seemed to think that this manifest drivel made sense.
Quite plainly, the problem now includes us! Emerging sites like the new Salon are making this fact—and this terrible problem—abundantly clear.
This sort of thing goes on every day. Now that the liberal world has emerged from its sleep in the woods, we ask a very basic question:
Absent a better class of gatekeepers, are we humans bright enough to make a democracy work?
Coming: Reams of examples
"Personally, I think Americans are entitled to support whatever sports team they want."
"Christie’s embrace of a faraway team, just because they were winners, is frankly un-American."
Doubleyou T the eff, Ms. McCarthy??
Some people apparently have never heard of the expression, "tongue-in-cheek." Nor of the reality that the tribal conflict that is supposedly abhorred is a zero-sum game. If you play, and you must if you really care, you play to win. If a little humor can be employed in the process, all the better.ReplyDelete
How can anyone write what Walsh did and not hate themselves for their own stupidity?ReplyDelete
I feel really, really bad for poor Mr. Christie.ReplyDelete
Joan Walsh is a race-baiting left-wing fanatic.Delete
Don't feel too bad for Christie. After all, he does root for an out-of-town football team.ReplyDelete
Joan Walsh long ago became silly. To state the obvious: to hold her up as an example of why "the problem is us" as if you couldn't pick a dozen even more silly and obnoxious and morally ugly conservative pundits in about five minutes is much sillier.ReplyDelete
We're not having a silly contest with the conservatives. We should be trying to avoid looking foolish like this. It is no excuse that conservatives are worse.Delete
No, but it is a fact that that there are conservative pundits who are equally as "silly" and far sillier, if your standard of silliness is Joan Walsh.Delete
Somerby never seems to get around to judging that branch of the "mainstream 'press corps'" or their impact on the "american discourse".
Writing a column that criticizes conservatives would be (1) too easy, (2) a reinforcement of the tribalism that Somerby thinks impedes our ability to find common cause on important issues. Somerby could write a "feel good" column that makes readers feel more intelligent and better people than those awful conservatives, but that would go against everything he has been arguing about how we can make progress and attain progressive goals. You are missing one of the main points of this blog.Delete
Oh, now I get it.Delete
Telling us for the umpteenth time that he loathes Joan Walsh helps us "make progress."
Apparently, this is your first visit to this site. His continuously strident and on-point observations, for lo these many years, is that the "mainstream press corps" overwhelmingly tilts right in their coverage.Delete
"Corp" is appropo, given that most political reporting is expected to make a profit for the corporation that makes the news. Real reporting has always been a money-loser.
His MO is to point out the silliness of liberal discourse in the mainstream media; to exhort "liberals" to raise their game.
The idiocy of the right is self evident, and in no need of clarification.
Yes, if only Joan Walsh would "raise her game," all would be right with the world.Delete
By the way, use the "incomparable archives" to check out how Somerby fawns and drools over Megyn Kelly if you think idiocy of the right is self-evident to even Somerby.
The incomparable archives reveals that all this fawning and drooling occurred in the 12/17/13 blog entry in which TDH notes that Megyn Kelly conducted what he thought was an excellent interview of Bill Burton, a deputy press secretary under Obama. For those who haven't memorized the archives:Delete
Kelly kept interrupting Burton and refocusing him. In our view, she did so appropriately and skillfully.
If more interviews were conducted this way—on both sides, on all cable channels—we might find ourselves drifting back toward a more intelligent discourse.
We’re not saying that interview does or doesn’t typify Kelly’s work. But if you want to take a chance on thinking better of someone you’re expected to hate, we’ll recommend the seven minutes you can see by clicking here.
Kelly was cordial but kept the interview on topic. That time. Might be typical, might not, but that time her work was good.
Not exactly a herd of fawns or a bucket of drool.
We seem to have a problem confronting the premise of the post. Bob claims that this exceeding silly Walsh article, and maybe others like it, prove "we are the problem." It's a very weak premise. Joan Walsh rebooting the right's stupid "what team do they root for" meme on a slow news day is idiotic. But it does not need to long, partisan, expensive investigations like the Right's abuse of the press has for decades. So, no, we are not the problem, and most liberals would feel the same way about Walsh's dumb article that The Daily Holler does.Delete
Greg, if most liberals would feel the same way about the dumb article, why are pundits such as Walsh popular? It makes sense to complain about the liberal media, and ignore the right wing stuff, since we can only expect to change the media outlets that we support. It does our cause no good for me to write a stern letter to Fox News, since I don't watch it. However, if the newspaper, to which I subscribe, starts writing useless, silly articles, then I *should* write a letter to them and complain. Bob is complaining about the media outlets that are frequented by liberal and progressive people. When they waste your time with useless information, you should complain.Delete
So how "popular" -- or more to the point, "influential" -- is Joan Walsh?Delete
Do you take your marching orders from her? Neither do I.
Oh, I get it. There must be legions of "progressives" far dumber than you and I who do. Otherwise, Somerby would look rather silly in his repeated attempts to elevate her as some sort of "spokesperson of the left."
Why we can never know exactly how popular any of these people or news outlets are ( remember in the vast scheme of things, by paying attention to any of this stuff at all, we are freaks) your point is well taken. In Walsh's case, not that long ago She actually did worthwhile work on a fairly regular basis. It's no surprise that She has found it easier to criticize Bush than Obama. She even once drew cheers from The Daily Howler for coming clean about Chris Matthews (!). So in her case, she just slid into the muck that is the new Salon with it's desperate appeal to younger readers. On your broader point, I disagree, if you are looking at the overall problem, as The Daily Howler is here, you can't just look at the left in isolation. Yes, I know there are plenty of people who critique Fox nowadays, but that's no reason to let them slide. Or the Newshour, for that matter. Your buying into a kind of triangulation, I've seen left bashing left journalists apply it for years, and guess what? The left comes out the loser.Delete
I don't think the left is a loser because it attacks itself. I think it is a loser because of the garbage appearing in its name. If we were not self-critical, observers would think we all bought into that crap.Delete
Yes, conservatives can be equally silly. E.g., when Hillary Clinton first ran for Senate in NY, there was a big controversy over whether she really had grown up a fan of the Yankees, as she claimed. That silly attack doesn't seem to have hurt her political career. I don't Christie will be hurt by this silly football rooting criticism.ReplyDelete
It's funny you should mention that. I was listening to NPR earlier today and they were discussing the Christie/Cowboys issue. The general consensus was high praise for Christie because he is not some phony politician like Hillary who claimed to be a Yankee fan. It was simply stated matter-of-factly, without any dispute or contradiction from anyone. It's funny how this silly attack on Hillary has become chiseled in stone, when we know that it was complete bullshit.Delete
Open season on Hillary. Last night Jay Leno said she lacks energy compared to Elizabeth Warren, whatever that means. Personally, I think someone with the gravitas to be president should do less arm waving, but the criticisms don't have to make sense. Note that this is coming from the left.Delete
A rule of thumb says that says that if someone has spent too many years in the public eye, that person will no longer be regarded as real Presidential material. That may be Hillary's problem. Warren looks fresh and new, so people attribute greater energy to her.Delete
I have never heard of or read such a rule of thumb. Can you cite a source?Delete
Afraid not. I spent some time using google, but couldn't find the source. I guess I just didn't have the right combination of words. I may have seen it several years ago in the WSJ's Best of the Web.Delete
"Can you cite a source?"Delete
Of course he can't cite a source. He pulled it out of his ass like he always does.
It's been open season on Hillary for a long, long time. It was open season on her in 2008, it was open season on her during President Clinton's first term. It has fuck all to do with being in the public eye too long.
It is easy to find counter-examples. Bill Clinton becomes more popular as time goes by. So has G. H.W. Bush. Jimmy Carter is certainly more popular now than ever before. Kerry is more popular, even though he is unlikely to run for president again. Al Gore got a lot more popular.Delete
It is a travesty to talk about Hillary's lack of energy compared to Warren after she spent 4 years globetrotting and keeping down trouble around the world. Warren sits in an office and offers opinions, generally on a single subject. Leno is an idiot. People should understand that a presidential candidate doesn't have the same leeway to say inflammatory things and not attribute this to some personal flaw of Hillary's -- in this case, he was using coded language to say she was too old for the job, too tired. What a jerk!
The problem with Hillary, as stated by POTUS Obama, is that she doesn't have "new car smell."Delete
There was a scandal in Los Angeles when it was revealed that Mayor Villaraigosa was receiving free tickets to sports events. He argued that publicly supporting LA teams was part of his job, not recreation. I think you cannot have this both ways -- either it is part of a political figure's job to support local teams or it is personal and not a requirement. If the latter, that politician should be able to support whoever he or she wants without criticism. If the former, then supporting other teams would be a dereliction of duty, but in that case the tickets should be a legitimate job-related expense. If Christie paid for his own tickets, he should get to root for whoever he wants without criticism.ReplyDelete
"If Christie paid for his own tickets, he should get to root for whoever he wants without criticism."Delete
Which he didn't (I don't think you can buy seats in the Owner's box), and he also traveled to the game on a private jet arranged for him by the Cowboy's owner. That's the real scandal.
Why? What quid pro quo can the Gov of NJ do for him?Delete
The state of New Jersey may deem the governor's free owner's box tickets to Cowboys games an ethics violation
New Jersey’s executive branch ethics rules warn state officials that there’s “a zero tolerance policy for acceptance of gifts offered to you … that are related in any way to your official duties.” The ethics rules specifically prohibit public officials from accepting access to entertainment events from any person or entity that public officials “deal with, contact, or regulate in the course of official business.” The rules define one form of restricted gift as “admission to an event for which a member of the general public would be charged.”
In his role as governor, Christie has had myriad high-profile dealings with the National Football League and with Jones.
Under Christie’s watch, New Jersey officials delivered almost $18 million of taxpayer money to the league to offset costs associated with the 2014 Super Bowl. That included $8 million worth of sales tax breaks, plus millions more in security costs the state picked up for the league. All that was on top of New Jersey property tax breaks that benefit the league. It was also in addition to Christie pushing to give a Port Authority contract to a firm that is partly owned by Jones.
Christie has already said he’s interested in having New Jersey host another Super Bowl. The league has a deep interest in the state’s policy governing sports gambling. Meanwhile, with Christie potentially running for the White House in 2016, the NFL also has an interest in shaping the next president’s thinking on its antitrust exemptions and tax-exempt status.
Despite his state’s business with Jones, Christie nonetheless accepted free travel and game tickets from the Cowboys owner. The governor claims that an executive order he signed allows him to accept gifts from “personal friends.”
Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen says the situation “smacks of the Jack Abramoff-style of gift” — a reference to the convicted lobbyist whose influence-peddling operation involved giving lawmakers access to his FedEx Field skybox for professional football games.
Favors to the NFL aren't favors to Jones. Christie says the state's business with Jones occurred before he attended the game and became friends with Jones. I think at least part of the problem is that Christie is someone we don't like much and it is hard to watch him having fun in public office. The actual value of the tickets and train fare, which a lot to us, is trivial to people with actual money. A courtesy more than a bribe. Sadly.Delete
"Favors to the NFL aren't favors to Jones."Delete
I'm going to save that in my database of most stupid things ever said.
For a very heavy guy, Christie sure can tap dance through mine fields.
Gail Collins weighs in on this "issue" in the once great New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/opinion/gail-collins-on-duty-for-the-hug-watch.html?ref=opinion&_r=1ReplyDelete
War on Gore!ReplyDelete
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