Part 4—Our endless agreement to lose: Over at Slate, Jamelle Bouie had a message for Hillary Clinton.
Candidate Clinton, he seemed to say. Please don’t bring us together!
To some small extent, we jest. And in fairness, Bouie was offering advice which is now thoroughly standard within the liberal world:
Below, you see the headlines from Bouie’s piece at Slate. This is now thoroughly standard advice within the liberal world:
What Scott Walker Can Teach Hillary ClintonWe’re not even saying that outlook is “wrong.” We’re here to say that we were struck by the way that standard advice interacts with an early chunk of Bouie’s piece.
Forget all this talk about uniting America. It’s a fool’s errand.
Below, you see the way Bouie began. Given the advice those headlines announced, we were struck by his second paragraph:
BOUIE (3/24/15): Hillary Clinton has been polarizing her entire political career. But now, ahead of a second presidential run, she wants to be a uniter, not a divider. People should “get out of the kind of very unproductive discussion that we’ve had for too long, where people are just in their ideological bunkers, having arguments instead of trying to reach across those divides and have some solutions,” she said, speaking to labor leaders and policy wonks during a Monday event at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that doubles as the Clinton administration-in-waiting.We always gag when liberal writers refer to “the welfare state.” We also balk when writers refer to people like Clinton as “polarizing.”
Elsewhere in Washington, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities—another left-leaning think tank—released its analysis of the new Republican budgets. “Each budget plan,” notes the CBPP, “derives more than two-thirds of its [approximately $5 trillion] budget cuts from programs for people with low or modest incomes even though these programs constitute less than one-quarter of federal program costs.” This includes billions in cuts to tax credits for working families as well as trillions in cuts to health care for low-income people. At the same time, House Republicans are mulling huge tax relief for the wealthiest Americans; later this week the House Ways and Means Committee will consider a bill to repeal the federal estate tax.
Clinton hasn’t announced a full agenda for 2016, much less a campaign for president. But when she does, it will stand on the opposite bank of anything offered by Republicans, with a vast distance between the two. She will give a plan for growing the welfare state. They will offer a plan for gutting it.
This suggests that she created the polarization, rather than the Republican propagandists who have been seeking to drive us apart, in the dumbest possible ways, for more than two decades now.
Those are relatively minor points. We were most struck by Bouie’s accurate portrait of those Republican budget plans.
Those plans would eliminate programs for families with modest incomes. At the same time, they would generate giant savings for the lucky duckies who are so rich that they might have to pay federal estate taxes.
Very few Republican voters will ever pay a cent of federal estate tax. On the other hand, tens of millions of Republican voters are people with modest incomes.
In short, millions of Republican voters would be harmed by those GOP budget plans. But in this same piece, Bouie ends up advising against trying to “bring us together”—against trying to cross the red/blue divide in search of votes.
Once again, we aren’t trying to single Bouie out. The advice he gives in this piece is now thoroughly standard.
In the narrowest sense, we’re not even necessarily saying he’s wrong.
That said, his account of those new budget plans understates the extent to which red and blue voters are being jointly looted by current policies—by the ludicrous costs of American health care, by federal tax policies.
Good God! Why shouldn’t progressive figures try to “bring us together?” In a wide array of ways, average voters, red and blue, are being looted together! Why shouldn’t progressive figures actively point that out?
Conservative voters are getting ripped off in the same ways liberal voters are. But when have you seen progressive figures even try to create that conversation about the real shape of our world?
That conversation is rarely even attempted. Very few progressive orgs have ever tried to create a discussion about the massive joint looting.
What do we tend to do instead? Consider the latest ludicrous moment, which went worldwide on Fox.
This ludicrous moment occurred Wednesday afternoon. It occurred on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, where very few people saw it.
Wednesday evening, the folk at Fox took this latest moment worldwide. We’ll let the Washington Post’s Eric Wemple describe this latest moment.
Warning! Based on the videotape Wemple provides, his account is unfair to Michael Steele. The rest of his account is sadly accurate.
Jamilah Lemieux, who authored this latest moment, is a senior editor at Ebony:
WEMPLE (3/25/15): Freshly announced presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made news with his claim that he became a fan of country music after rock-and-roll music disappointed him with its response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The MSNBC afternoon program “Now with Alex Wagner” used Cruz’s music comments as the jumping-off point for a discussion among guest host Ari Melber, Joan Walsh, Michael Steele and Jamilah Lemieux.On the videotape, we see no evidence of Steele’s reaction to this latest brilliant remark. Wemple gets the rest of it right:
“Nothing says ‘Let’s go kill some Muslims’ like country music,” said Lemieux in kicking off the festivities. The comment came off as something packaged, premeditated. While Walsh and Steele giggled, Melber remained stone-faced, vouching for the pluralism of the genre. “Well, but I mean, there’s plenty of country music that doesn’t have that message,” he said.
Moments later, Melber returned to the matter, telling viewers: “We have a programming note. A few minutes ago on this program, a guest made a comment about country music that was not appropriate, and we want to be clear this network does not condone it.”
Walsh chuckles appreciatively at Lemieux’s masterful wit—but then, Walsh would feel she had to. Guest host Melber never smiles, then comes back to apologize.
(In one way, Wemple is kind to Lemieux. He omits her second witticism, in which she notes that Cruz’s remarks were made—where else?—in Lynchburg!)
Very few people saw this latest moment live. Five hours later, it went worldwide on Fox.
Millions of people got to see us liberals at our dumbest. When the tribal divide is enabled this way, the plutocrats happily win.
In recent years, we liberals have kept creating conversations to nowhere. We’ve reviewed a few examples this week.
Sometimes, these absurd conversations come from our corporate moguls, like the very strange Howard Schultz.
Sometimes, these conversations come from famous liberal publications like Rolling Stone.
Sometimes, they come from the millionaire hosts who minister on corporate cable, people like Lawrence O’Donnell.
Increasingly, these conversations start when we liberals go around inventing facts which create perfect victims of perfect incidents—perfect incidents which just keep falling apart.
Sometimes, these conversations to nowhere come from our college presidents. And from their assistant professors, who are willing to march into lecture halls and tell the children this:
HARRIS (11/19/14): Research on assault characteristics has revealed that about half of reported incidents involve alcohol, Orchowski said. Many sexual assault perpetrators are repeat offenders...In fairness, the highlighted statement is a paraphrase written by a student journalist.
Orchowski said only about 20 percent of sexual assault victims correctly labeled their assaults as “rape,” often reporting them as results of miscommunication or bad dates.
That said, does anyone doubt that our liberal assistant professors are willing to make such wonderfully peculiar statements? That we modern liberals are routinely unable to see that such statements are even peculiar at all?
The wide range of voters, red and blue, are being jointly looted. But you will rarely hear that problem described on The One True Liberal Channel.
You will rarely see any attempt to explain this fact to red voters.
What are you going to see instead? On MSNBC this week, Chris Hayes—who started with a lot of promise—was declaiming in astounding detail about Tucker Carlson’s emails.
Also about the emails of Buckley Carlson, Tucker’s brother, who was said to have a weird name. To watch the segment, click here.
It isn’t that Hayes’ statements were wrong. The problem with that segment is different:
Hayes, who started with so much promise, was staging the latest conversation to nowhere. All next week, we’ll be discussing the million ways we liberals now practice to lose.