Part 4—Our own music men, Over Here: Last Friday night, Carl Bernstein said it was time for a change in the way cable news covers Trump.
It's hard to argue with that! Could it also be time for a change Over Here, in our own liberal world?
We actually think it is! In our view, the liberal world hit rock bottom last year when Donald J. Trump pulled an inside straight and ended up in the White House. When you lose to a ludicrous candidate like that, it's almost surely time for a change in your own tribe's pitiful practices.
In what way should our liberal world change? For one suggestion, let's return to Paul Krugman's column this Monday.
Krugman's column ended as shown below, with a question about Trump voters. For background, see Part 2 in this award-winning series.
Krugman ended as shown below. To us, this passage seemed illustrative, and it seemed somewhat peculiar:
KRUGMAN (3/20/17): [W]hy did so many Americans vote for Mr. Trump, whose character flaws should have been obvious long before the election?Krugman has long been the journalistic MVP of our liberal world. We were saddened by that passage.
Catastrophic media failure and F.B.I. malfeasance played crucial roles. But my sense is that there’s also something going on in our society: Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like, mistaking bombast and belligerence for real toughness.
Why? Is it celebrity culture? Is it working-class despair, channeled into a desire for people who spout easy slogans?
The truth is that I don’t know. But we can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience—not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic...
In part, we were saddened because Krugman almost seemed to be searching for "the reason" which would explain 63 million different votes, cast by 63 million different people.
That would be an extremely dumb thing to do. Technically, Krugman doesn't do it in that passage. But he almost seemed to drifting in that deeply tribal direction.
Krugman did something else in that passage. He said that "many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like." He seemed to offer that as a major explanation for all those votes for Trump.
As he cast this aspersion, Krugman seemed to say that the "many Americans" to whom he referred can all be found Over There.
The dumbbells were all Over There, in the tents of Those People, The Others.
He said he doesn't know how they got so dumb, but the dumb ones are all Over There.
We would very strongly dispute each of Krugman's points. We don't think it's gigantically hard to understand why people would vote for Trump. More significantly, the specific dumbness Krugman describes has also been on wide display Over Here, within our liberal tribe.
In our view, it's true! In our view, many conservative-leaning voters have, in fact, unwisely trusted a succession of con men over the past thirty years.
They've trusted Rush Limbaugh; they've trusted Trump. In our view, these assessments were unwise.
That said, we the people have always been inclined to fall for the blandishments of con men. And uh-oh:
Over the course of the past thirty years, we liberals have repeatedly been conned by such types Over Here. In the process, we've tolerated the rise of a world which inexorably led us to Trump.
We failed to see through our own music men, and own music men have been many. We in the liberal rank-and-file have tolerated horrendous leadership.
These leaders have routinely sold our interests away. Just as it has ever been, we haven't been able to see this.
What types of music men have we accepted? Let's start with the behavior of mainstream and liberal journalism during the Clinton-Gore years.
During that period, the crazy claims which constituted "Trump-before-Trump" sometimes came from the right. Jerry Falwell paraded around selling a film about the Clintons' many murders.
The mainstream press corps gave Falwell a pass. As this sick arrangement developed, we in the liberal rank-and-file peacefully napped in the woods.
Jerry Falwell was selling his ludicrous film in the mid-1990s. By that time, the more consequential wars against the Clintons and Gore had taken shape within the upper-end mainstream press.
We've recited this history a million times. Nothing will ever make career liberal con men discuss it.
Whatever! For reasons which are rarely discussed, the most consequential wars against both Clintons and Gore largely came from the elite mainstream press, not from the hard right. These wars were driven and enabled by figures admired by Us.
"Many Americans" couldn't see through Trump? We liberals couldn't see through the figures to whom we refer!
The great turning-point in modern political history came when Candidate Bush nosed past Candidate Gore. People are dead all over the world, though it has become blindingly obvious that we liberals don't actually care.
The war which permitted Bush to squeak past Gore was conducted by mainstream and liberal figures. Unfortunately, "many Americans" in our own liberal tends were unable to see what was being done by the high-profile figures to whom we refer, including those who were being made rich by the near-billionaire Jack Welch, conservative CEO of NBC News and its cable arms.
Even when told, we liberals weren't able to see what was happening. To make a fascinating story short, consider two astonishing facts:
To this very day, no one has ever written a profile of Chris Matthews' astonishing conduct during Campaign 2000, in which he waged war against Candidate Gore and against Candidate Clinton, and in the years which followed, during which time he continued his misogynistic attacks on Candidate Clinton.
To this very day, no one has ever written a serious profile of Maureen Dowd's astonishing journalism—no one except Clark Hoyt, her own newspaper's public editor, whose blistering profile of Dowd's treatment of Candidate Clinton was widely ignored back in 2008.
Simple story: Within the guild, Matthews and Dowd were each too powerful to be discussed by their unprincipled colleagues. In these ways, we liberals were sold down the river by a full battalion of mainstream journalists, many of whom we foolishly regard as our liberal leaders.
"Many Americans" couldn't see through Candidate Trump? As a general matter, we would be inclined to agree with that judgment.
But "many Americans" Over Here have been unable to see through the vast assortment of gong-show artists who have been loosed upon us by various corporate suits. We can't even see through the clowning of Maddow! Why should The Others see through the nonsense of Candidate Trump?
Krugman's lament about Those People's blindness came at a propitious time. In this very same week, one of our dumbest music men would peddle his latest trombone.
We refer to head buffoon Frank Rich, who is known as "the great Frank Rich" when he's dragged out for musical purposes on the Maddow Show. Consider this blowhard's track record:
Start with the headlong chase after Bill Clinton's ten blow jobs. During that period, Rich authored the definitive dumbest remark in support of the greatness of Gennifer Flowers, a disordered person whose credibility ought to rated at zero.
Jump ahead to Campaign 2000. Once the primaries were over, Rich spent the whole of 2000 insisting that Bush and Gore were two peas in a pod. From a very high platform, he kept telling the liberal world that there was no difference between them.
Let's move to September 2002. As war with Iraq was being sold, Al Gore delivered a major speech warning against this move. (Almost no one else did.)
Rather than hail the most prominent liberal to make such a speech, Rich savaged Gore's for his unsightly motives, which Rich had somehow divined.
As for Rich himself, he never made a clear declaration concerning the proposed war; he then went on sabbatical as decision day drew nearer. A few years later, after the war had gone bad, Rich ran around to the front of the line. He wrote a best-selling book about the war which made him a larger lib hero.
In 2006, Gore starred in the film about climate change which went on to win an Oscar. Speaking to his brilliant friend Don Imus, Rich trashed Gore's motives all over again. He compared the Oscar-winning documentary to a high school instructional film.
Even the film's commercial success, and the eventual Oscar, didn't alter Rich's perspective. Finally, when Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Rich executed an instant 180. Overnight, he went from unrelenting ridicule to silly ridiculous fawning, as is the way of his ridiculous kind.
Frankly, "many Americans" in our own liberal tents haven't been able to see through ridiculous figures like Rich. Perhaps we ought to consider such facts before we puzzle over the failure of Those People, Over There, to see through a figure like Trump.
This week, of course, our biggest buffoon continued to give us liberals his trademark bad advice.
In a pitiful essay for New York magazine, Rich implored the liberal world to continue loathing and trashing Those People. This is terrible, ugly, stupid advice, advice which comes to us live and direct from the man who started out as the famous "Butcher of Broadway."
Rich went to Harvard, of course. Given that opportunity, he seems to have learned little except the best ways to kick down. Our Harvard man's pitiful headline is this:
"No Sympathy for the Hillbilly"
Sad! Over Here in our liberal tents, we haven't been able to see him for the false prophet he is.
Alas! We live in a time when a vast array of corporate entities teach us to loathe The Others. In case you haven't noticed, this is a very good way to make money on line, or in cable.
Rush Limbaugh has long been one such major corporate entity. Over Here, we're now creating our own.
It's true! Regular good and decent people will frequently be influenced, in harmful ways, by persuasive music men with prehistoric tribal pleadings.
That said, our tents are full of such music men Over Here. Krugman's column notwithstanding, this phenomenon isn't restricted to the judgments reached Over There, by Those People, The Others, hillbillies.
Krugman's new column moves in a much wiser direction today. He correctly describes the flow of this destructive game, noting the way "the media" have misled the wider world about the works of Paul Ryan.
Regular people, decent and good, have always believed music men. This morning, Krugman's aim is true. On Monday, he was kicking down—and forgetting to kick Over There.
Christopher Matthews was Trump before Trump. He got very rich in the process. He was working for Jack Welch at that time. This couldn't be mentioned because the rest of our liberal heroes wanted those Welch paydays too.
No one has ever told the liberal rank-and-file about that noxious history. On the leadership level, our own moral squalor is rank, epidemic—our own squalor, that of our own music men, the ones who got rich Over Here.
Next week: Who are Those People?