Both Sides Do It

The Republican Party always has a new plan for taking down Clinton Obama, and that plan always makes room for liberal discontent. Here’s Greg Sargent yesterday:

While it’s true that disapproval of Obama on the economy is running high over government’s failure to fix the economy, the independents and moderates who will decide the presidential election agree with Obama’s overall fiscal vision — his jobs creation proposals and insistence on taxing the wealthy to pay for them. They also recognize that Republicans are more to blame than Dems for government’s failure to implement those proposals. But as Steve Kornacki recently noted, blaming Obama for failing to transcend politics as usual despite determined GOP opposition may be the best way to give indys and moderates a reason to vote against Obama even though they generally agree and sympathize with him. And so, after doing everything in their power to prevent Obama from successfully transcending partisanship and achieving transformative change — even if it meant repeatedly opposing solutions to profound national problems they once embraced — Republicans will now attack him for failing to transcend partisanship and achieve transformative change.

And who will help them achieve this? Why, none other than the professional poutragers of the left, for whom the president has indeed failed “to transcend partisanship and achieve transformative change.” That line is their battle-standard, and under its flapping tassels everything is terrible and it is the president’s fault. They would be this way for any Democratic president, not just Obama, but their rhetoric has reached fever-pitch in a disturbingly-familiar harmony.

Consider the recent nontroversy over the National Defense Authorization Act, or as I call it, ”death panels for freedom.” Calls to veto the NDAA are exactly like teapublicans playing chicken with national debt default. The dialectic of poutrage also demeans progressive language; for example, Greenwald narrows the very definition of “civil liberties” to position Ron Paul, who objects to the Civil Rights Act, on the president’s “left.”

As I keep saying, the Greenwaldians and Hamsherites are being ratfucked, but neither understand nor care. They are as sure of their opposition to the Obama presidency as any teabagging wingnut with an ugly sign. Like the folks at Mo Brooks’ town hall, they only know that the president must go; the details — who, what, how, and what comes after — are unimportant. They are fixated.

When they denounce “blind worship” of the president, they actually describe their own blindness to any explanation of events that does not center on the president as the sole bad actor. Some of this, especially among the younger netroots-set, can be ascribed to poor civics education in America. If you neither understand or care how government works, you will tend to identify the most prominent face in politics as “the government.”

Readers may also recall Jonathan Chait’s recent essay on the problem of liberal discontent with presidents who inevitably fall short of unrealistic expectations. Republicans are also quite aware of progressives’ reactive and fissiparous nature; in fact, they plan for it. Let’s flash back to the midterm elections with Booman:

(The GOP) knew the left would get dispirited and frustrated and start fighting amongst themselves. They knew their own base would love it and reward them for it. They knew the media wouldn’t be an honest referee. They knew that in a bad economy, white majority America would respond to their ACORN/Henry Louis Gates Jr./New Black Panther Party/Shirley Sherrod/Health-Care-is-for-minorities/Sharia Law/Ground Zero mosque/illegal immigration themes. And they knew that if they only stuck to the plan, there wouldn’t be a damn thing the Democrats could do about it. And there wasn’t. They went scorched Earth, and if you’re honest, we didn’t have the tools to combat them.

We still don’t, and the Earth is now being scorched by fire-breathers leveraging that progressive discontent. To what end — for what motive — is not at all important. In America’s winner-take-all political system, they might as well be Republicans because the effect is the same. There is no room for compromise in poutrage politics: anyone who dares to stand against their absolutism is a “cultist” because they are a cult. Obama-hate is their magical fetish. If that sounds like the heyday of Sarah Palin-worship, you are getting the picture.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com IrishGrrrl

    You get 100 pts for using “fissiparous” in a sentence!  :)  Seriously though, nice, concise break down of poutrage on the left and the potential effects.  

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Fun to say, isn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/Emilia1956 Emilia1956

    Call them what they are: racists. I do. And it’s fun to do that, because it’s true.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com IrishGrrrl

    Makes me feel slightly lispy to be honest

  • http://twitter.com/Norbrookc Norbrook

    I set off a lot of fireworks when I called them racists last year, and most of the leaders of the poutrage movement are indeed closeted racists.  I can look back and do a “compare and contrast” with their actions during the Clinton administration, to now.  

    I find it remarkably telling that someone like Michael Moore, who was busily telling everyone to “send a message” by not voting says absolutely nothing about what is happening in Michigan.  He has an opinion about everywhere else but what Republicans are doing in his literal back yard.  I find it equally interesting that most of the professional Left live in “very blue” enclaves, and only talk to each other.  It’s a little circle of mutual reinforcement. 

    It’s clear that their agenda tracks with the Republicans.  They don’t want a Democratic administration, particularly one led by a black man.  It’s obvious from their continued babbling about “failures,” while ignoring the very real – and horrific – results of Democrats staying home, not just in the House, but in states like Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan.