Saturday, November 06, 2004


Out with the MSM, in with the HBM

The Has-Been Media

Forget the mainstream media. The label no longer works. There's a new mainstream in town, and you're reading a poor representative of it. The old order merits a new label: The Has Been Media.

The HBM once ruled supreme in the councils of American opinion, but it has been slipping of late -- and absolutely jumped the shark with the presidential campaign of 2004.

If you want proof, consider the reactions to George W. Bush's victory last Tuesday. Katie Couric wore black for two consecutive days. Dan Rather’s neurons and synapses exploded in a nuclear flash. Peter Jennings and George Stephanopoulos wondered aloud about the public’s concern with a thing called “moral values.” And these were the people who took George W. Bush’s victory graciously.

The former elites reacted with the chablis-and-brie equivalent of a primal scream. They jotted out their rantings, and published them. Consider a few of the most prominent losers. First, Paul Krugman:

“President Bush isn’t a conservative. He’s a radical – the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state. And thanks to a heavy turnout by evangelical Christians, Mr. Bush has four more years to advance that radical agenda.”

Translation: Permit me to deconstruct. Begin with the phrase, "America as it is." He views our wondrous land not from street level, but from the lofty perch of the faculty lounge. Paul Krugman’s America is a place not of homes or schools or neighborhoods with trees and grassy lawns. You can find his authentic landscape indoors -- specifically, in Washington agencies that dispense checks to those who fill out the requisite forms.

To illustrate the utter cluelessness of his opening peroration, conduct the following thought experiment. Think back to the moments immediately after the September 11th attacks -- the instants when America seemed under assault, and each of us thought immediately of the people, places and things we treasured most. Now ask yourself: In those parlous moments, did you once worry about the records room at the Department of Health and Human Services? Did you torture yourself with concern about the integrity of the social security trust fund?

Of course not! Marbled buildings in Washington do not constitute “America as it is.” They symbolize the delusion that wise people in the nation’s capital solve our problems by formulating plans and creating agencies. As for me, my thoughts about the real America drift in other directions. Meanwhile, back in the lumpenproletarian America, most of us harbor more mundane concerns. I, for instance, think about sitting on the couch each evening with my wife, catching up on the day’s events. I ponder the best way to teach my son how to dribble with his left hand and get his homework done on time. I wonder why jazz is so hard to learn.

But I digress. Krugman closes by identifying the bogeyman: “evangelical Christians” -- fiends who take scripture seriously rather than as poetry to recite when you’re trying to wriggle out of trouble. Here’s the agenda Krugman considers radical – the belief that we all ought to chart our own destinies, without aid from or obeisance to, Uncle Sam. If that’s radical, count me in!

More sour grapes:

Then there's Tom Frank talking about the “conservative rebellion” in America:
“It is an uprising of the common people whose long-term economic effect has been to shower riches upon the already wealthy and degrade the lives of the very people who are rising up. It is a reaction against mass culture that refuses to call into question the basic institutions of corporate America that make mass culture what it is. It is a revolution that plans to overthrow the aristocrats by cutting their taxes.”
This sort of speaks for itself: Socialist cant, not even warmed over.

She has issues:

Yet nothing quite matches the bitter reveries of Jane Smiley, who has produced one of the most heartbreakingly angry pieces I have ever read. The gist is that everybody who disagrees with Jane is an ignoramus, and therefore a threat to the safety and well-being of all.

First comes this attack on her own blood relations: “(T)he good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)”

Then comes the insight that Republicans are butchers:

“Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states. There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a ‘knock-down-drag-out,’ where any kind of gouging, biting or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today’s red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights…. The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America.”

And finally, a peroration on faith:

“Here’s how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you – if you don’t believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell…. Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent…. Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor…”
“The reason Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulation that were protecting those whom they considered their rightful prey – workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, and we see the outcome now – Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm.”

One feels compelled to give the poor woman a hug, or whisper a prayer in her behalf, since little else seems likely to quell the throbbing in her unhappy heart. One other note: Smiley’s anti-capitalist essay appears on Slate, a website underwritten by the most successful businessman of the last century, Bill Gates.

Trying to picture a leather-clad Dan Rather, on water skis, having jumped the shark?

Imagine no longer. It is here.

Consider this my application to become the Official Photoshop Monkey of your new blog. Blogs need Photoshop Monkeys. Don't let anyone tell you different.
John Kerry ran his campaign as basically a carbon copy of Bush. So, why is the Left so upset that Kerry lost? 'Cause they knew Kerry was lying, and Bush means it.
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