Friday, April 18, 2008

Bitter?

ABC's debate, bittergate and the Jeremiah Wright treatment have shown us how pathetic our political culture has sunk. And now the Democrats have internalized the narrative! Thanks Hilbillary and the DNC.

Three articles have caught my eye throughout this phase of the agitprop:

Bill Kristol's ominous "The Mask Slips" which exposes the centrist millionaire Obama as the closet Marxist that we know all silver tounged Ivy Leaguers are,


Paul Krugman's opportunistic "Clinging to a Stereotype" which "debunks" for the liberal set the tenuous link between the poor and backward ideas,

and

Mark Schmitt's "What's the Matter With Bitterness?"


All three articles take on the issue of economic stress and reactionary politics. One, Schmitt's take, embraces the link while the others shamelessly exploit the link for partisan political purposes. Schmitt's take goes to the essential politics of the time; if the Democratic Party is to even be a liberal party of the New Deal type they must look at the last 30 years as a time of speculation and supply side redistribution in the upward direction, including the Clinton years. Schmitt correctly realizes that if the US wants to maintain the standards of living and mobility for the working class that existed from 1945 to 1970 a new deal has to be dealt. He gives up on the answer but the below post on Germany is at least a swat in the right direction.

From Schmitt's article:


"While Tom Frank's claim was that Republicans had, in effect, tricked voters, Obama was suggesting something different -- that the Democratic Party had tricked them as well. "They fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not," he said, in the context of explaining (to a supporter who was planning to go to Pennsylvania on his behalf) why people might be cynical about another 10-point plan or promise from a politician.

That's an indictment of the Clinton years as sharp as Clinton's indictment of Gore and Kerry. Obama is basically arguing that the 1992 campaign that promised "Putting People First," with a sharp, substantive agenda of public investment and health care -- the basic Truman/New Deal package -- instead put the bond market first, delivering balanced-budgets, NAFTA, welfare reform, and symbolic appeals to the suburban middle-class swing vote. The near-full employment economy of the Clinton years was a boon for many poorer areas and families -- many cities recovered from the crisis of the late 1980s, African Americans did well, and much of the Rust Belt economy improved. But it did very little for the coal, steel, and textile towns in the region that Gore lost, areas dependent on transferable industries disproportionately affected by globalization.

Why not bring that critique?"

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Anonymous said...

I recall reading someplace a good take from the left on Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas by Mike Davis -- I think it was in his book of essays, In Praise of Barbarians. Elsewhere Davis deals with the same themes that are raised in this post -- The New Left Review for one. http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2651 And a discussion, which I haven't yet seen, but promises to be interesting, which can be found here -- http://repositories.cdlib.org/cstch/ss/2006-B/

Paul