Michael Tomasky and Ed Kilgore!


Can't anyone here play this game:
For what it's worth, we're inclined to agree with Michael Tomasky, who we met once or twice a long time ago and the cut of whose jib we like.

These headlines sit atop his New Republic piece. We're inclined to agree with this:
Elitism Is Liberalism’s Biggest Problem
There are plenty of non-deplorables in middle America. The Democrats need to learn how to embrace them.
Is "elitism" really our biggest problem? At present, we'd put it up there with the current excesses of so-called "identity politics," which recently had black assistant professors telling people not to vote for Candidate Clinton because, on one occasion twenty years in the past, she used a term which was in wide use at the time.

That advice struck us as very dumb and yes, it helped elect Trump. That said, our liberal team is full of people from various sectors offering such advice. Our team can be very, very dumb. How did you like Kathy Griffin with the shrunken head?

In his piece for the New Republic, Tomasky talks about the problem of "elitism"—of liberal disdain for the people of "middle America." It seems to us that that's a very large problem, politically, intellectually, morally.

Alas! As is the custom among the career class. Tomasky doesn't name any names as he alleged this problem. Because we're always eager to help out, we'll go ahead and name one, although there are many more:

We'd have to say that Paul Krugman is on a jihad which is driven by such condescension. We think his recent work has been very dumb, and that such work drives votes away.

(In fairness, he has posed with no severed heads.)

This sort of thing has gone on forever—until you read Ed Kilgore. At New York magazine, Kilgore wrote a rebuttal to Tomasky's piece. It appeared beneath this headline:
Do Coastal Liberals Hate Middle America?
Let's face it, that question is basically dumb. Presumably, the answer is plain:

Some coastal liberals pretty much do, and then again quite a few others don't. We're not sure what makes this hard.

Plainly, though, this is hard. At various points in his piece, Tomasky seems to be new to the simplest points of logic. How in the world could anyone, let alone a major journalist, compose a passage like this?
TOMASKY (5/30/17): This glass-half-empty mindset must change, and it must change most dramatically with respect to how elite liberals view the rest of the country. There are plenty of liberals out there in middle America, and plenty of liberalish moderates, and plenty of people who lean conservative but who aren’t consumed by rage and who think Barack Obama is a pretty cool guy and who might even have voted for him. These people are potential allies. But before the alliance can be struck, elite liberals need to recognize a fundamental truth: All of these people in middle America, even the actual liberals, have very different sensibilities than elite liberals who live on the coasts.
"All of those people in middle America have very different sensibilities than elite liberals who live on the coasts?"

Obviously, that statement has to be false. It's hard to imagine how a journalist could compose such a puzzling sentence—and Kilgore proceeds to misrepresent it, if only a tad, as he shoots it down.

That said, Kilgore is busy playing Pollyanna as he responds to Tomasky's critique. On what planet was this passage typed?
KILGORE (5/31/17): [W]hile you can always find professional or armchair liberal observers who have the attitudes Tomasky condemns, they are not really found that often among people in the business of running for office—you know, the liberal politicians Middle America is presumed to hate. I can’t recall ever hearing a Democratic politician spit contempt at people for being religious. Democrats have gone far out of their way to express support for the Second Amendment, and now regularly talk about “gun safety” rather than gun control. And conspicuous displays of patriotism and of respect for the military were as common at the coastal-elite-dominated 2016 Democratic National Convention as at the aggressively Middle American GOP confab.
The problem isn't so bad, Kilgore says, because Democratic candidates don't "often" display the attitudes Tomasky describes.

In that passage, Kilgore is setting the bar rather low. He goes on to say that he can't recall ever hearing a Democratic politician "spit contempt at people for being religious."

That sets the bar under the ground.

Beyond that, maybe it all depends on what the meaning of "spit contempt" is! Quite famously, our candidate in 2008 said that Those People "cling to their guns and their religion," thus making them hard to reach. Our next candidate, eight years later, quite famously said that half the people who favored the other guy were from a "basket of deplorables."

It was one of the most appalling, tone deaf, ridiculous statements a candidate has ever made. Does our team perhaps tend to look down on The Others? That comment might tend to say yes.

Kilgore is cast in the role of Candide in this debate; he looks around, seeing no evil. Tomasky describes a general problem, but he fails to cite a single example of this allegedly widespread tribal problem, and he makes weirdly sweeping statements about what Those People are like. Meanwhile, might we ask this:

Did someone decree that racism had to be one of Tomasky's (only two) reasons explaining The Others' votes?

On balance, we tend to agree with Tomasky. In our view, low-IQ "liberal" condescension has been a political (and moral) problem for decades. In the age of targeted tribal news, it has become a gigantic political flaw.

(Remember when Rachel spent two weeks dropping dick jokes on The Others' heads? We can pretty much assure you that The Others do.)

Still and all, we'd have to say that we were struck by the careless work done by both these writers in debating this deeply important point. Is this really the best our self-impressed liberal team can do? Again and again, our liberals sites and our liberal orgs have been providing an answer to this question.

Is this really the best we can do? We keep hearing this answer:



  1. Bob Somerby is an idiot.

    1. The pot, calling the kettle black.

    2. Greg, the imitator does not have a Google account so his name appears black. Yours appears green. It is easy to tell you apart that way, even if your content weren't different.

    3. Hey thanks! From now on he is, rightfully Dark Greg.

  2. Bob Somerby is definitely not an idiot. He's been very right on multiple vitally important issues over the past 20 years.

    But this is an issue that's harder than most, and I don't think that he's entirely right or even entirely fair about it. Certainly there are people on the left who make stupid comments and who exhibit some level of contempt toward others, for various reasons. And certainly that's not helpful.

    But the actual amount of the alleged contempt is much less than everyone seems to think, and that's because there's a right-wing propaganda machine that is very effective at finding isolated instances of stupid comments or actions and amplifying them into what seem to be real issues.

    In short, it's not the stupid comments by liberals that are the issue, it's that "middle Americans" have been misled by Rush, Sean, Fox, etc. to believe that most or all liberals are sneering and laughing at them, which simply isn't the case.

    It appears that Bob likes to chart his own course, and I certainly think that it's helpful for him to call-out people like Rachel Maddow for her BS, because it's not going to be helpful if liberal media mirrors conservative media. However, I'd appreciate if Bob turned his attention at least somewhat more often to the propaganda pushed by the right, which I think is the single biggest reason for the predicament we now find ourselves in.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Edgewise. I can't really disagree with your observations as noted in your comment, but I guess that I'd say that I was thinking more about people in "the real world" as opposed to bloggers and their commenters.

      I absolutely agree that there's a certain percentage of people who insist on taking perspectives to some very impractical conclusions, and those people are very unhelpful.

    2. But is this liberalism's biggest problem? I sincerely doubt it.

    3. I think Bernie Sanders is liberalism's biggest problem. He is continuing to divide the party in ways that will be destructive to our goal of flipping seats during the midterms. I think his campaigning with various candidates is likely to hurt their chances, not help them. And he is still anathema to many Clinton voters. It may also be that the Russia probe eventually looks at the campaigns of Jill Stein and Sanders and finds out some things that will hurt our party's chances down the road.

      In comparison, the idiocies of fringe liberals is not a big deal, especially since those people have always been with us and they aren't saying or doing anything particularly new.

      Have you all forgotten shows like Gomer Pyle and Andy Griffiths and Matlock and how the mainstream always jeered at them? Everything old is new again. Duck Dynasty and similar reality shows are self-parodies.

  3. Hey bob
    When are you ever going to be honest and include the fact that middle America also has a problem with elitism toward the coasts.
    Yiu started iut years ago as a media critic.
    I have not seen a criticism of any right wing crap from you in a long time

  4. Johnny
    I cant agree with you more
    You are not ignoring the problems from the left bas you are being accused of
    But like me you see thst conservpare equally guilty of their own brand of elitism and demonizing.
    I have read bob since 2002 and i agree with most of his points but his failure to call out the right and their non stop brain washing od middle america is getting to be a problem for me.
    There is so much destruction and violence coming from the right that to ignore it seems negligent.
    Tribalism cuts all ways

    1. Bob doesn't call out the right because he is on the right. Don't buy the lie that Bob is a liberal.

    2. Bob isn't a liberal. He is a progressive and a Sandernista.

    3. Bull. Bob is an old southern conservative white guy pretending that he's a liberal.

  5. Bob, just because you find an ally in print doesn't mean that they aren't full of shit.
    The right has been pounding into our heads since the end of WWII that liberal elites hate the common man.
    I submit:
    "It’s simple-minded—but it works. On our side, we stand in line to help. For decades, almost all conservative spin has derived from two simple messages. When you get to work with such clear messaging, being a conservative pundit is the easiest job in the world:
    Big government never did anything right. 
Liberal elites think they’re better than you are."
    - Bob Somerby 9/2/09

    And you have repeated this many times.
    If you want to know why educated, informed liberals and progressives have so much contempt for conservative voters, go on Facebook or Twitter and read the what defenders of Donald Trump write, or go on one of the right-wing blogs and read what these people say and believe about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and liberals in general.
    As Randy Newman said, "It's a jungle out there!"

    1. I agree. Bob does not discuss why so called working class voters pay attention to things are demonstrably not true and they vote against their own interests because liberals allegedly look down on them.

    2. Very true, but since 2009 Bob has kind of cracked up. I don't think he has said that many times. It sort of really does seem his once impressive fight against balderdash in the political press all had to do with fair play for my college buddy. Talk about elitist.

  6. I don't disagree with Bob, but IMHO the problem starts at an earlier stage: the Dems don't have a good positive program. They campaign on elitism and virtue, because that's who they are.

    In fairness to the Dems, this situation exists because of a lot of good things the Dems achieved over the years: voting rights for minorities, welfare and food stamps, Social Security and Medicare. IMHO these programs are somewhat problematic and need reform, but at the moment there isn't a large group of starving Americans, or elders living on dog food, or minorities unable to vote.

    1. More baseless braying from a pathetic jackass.

    2. "...but at the moment there isn't a large group of ...minorities unable to vote."

      Somebody is willfully sweeping the GOP's voter suppression programs under the rug.
      I wonder why?

    3. Yeah, David, everything wrong with this country is the "good" liberal programs need to be tweaked.


  7. Wow. Maddow derangement syndrome in full bloom. She hasn't been on the air in a week yet BS still has to stick in a little dig. He's just jealous of her success and his conservative male ego can't handle it.

  8. They've been radicalized in Fox News/ Limbaugh/ AM Radio madrassas.

  9. Is there anything to suggest the cruelly misused middle Americans even LISTEN to any of the outlets where they are, supposedly, so misused. Examples of this endless abuse are rarely offered, and are not convincing when they are. Do people in New York State and California sit around HATING people who are in other states? Where's the evidence that that is true. They may have come to resent the way they are given less representation for their votes, is that unfair? Was Kathy Griffin crueler than Ten Nugent, who dreamed of shooting Obama and was given an audience in the White House for his behavior? Isn't it probably true that the way these people are spoken of by liberals come not from listening to liberals but to how they are represented by the right's resentment machine, who get pretty much the same pass from Bob he always gave O"Reilly?
    So, fake Greg, yes, on these issues and a lot more, Bob has come to write like an idiot, and worse, a crashing bore.

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