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Let's Just Say It: The Republicans AND the Media Are the Problem

Alterman’s dishonest tribalism

Alterman asks, “Why, after everyone else has given it up, do members of the mainstream media persist in helping to hide—and therefore empower—the radicalization of the Republican Party?”

Alterman’s being dishonest here. Tell me—how much attention has been drawn to the aggrandizement of power by the POTUS, the increasing transformation of the United States to a police state, to the subversion of law by the POTUS, to the deep state surveillance we are subjected to? Chances are, if you ask the average person on the street about whether he/she knows about the lawlessness and authoritarian nature of our government, you’ll get a blank stare. (See the analysis of James Petras for more.) The establishment media aren’t talking about it, so people don’t know. Alterman is participating in this charade, too. He’s a smart guy, and certainly knows better. His tribalism and partisanship seems too blatant to be sincere.

Alterman says that “President Obama collaborated in the charade. He was so invested in the notion that both sides could just get along and legislate together that he couldn’t part with the illusion he had helped to create. His communitarian rhetoric, together with his compromise-in-advance legislative strategy, was always oriented toward inclusiveness, consensus-building and, ultimately, political passivity.”

This posture of bipartisanship, of playing with the other team actually reveals the enormous consensus that the two parties have, rather than bridging a (nonexistent) chasm that the public is led to believe exists. Obama must appear to be a team player, seeking the cooperation of his “rivals”. It’s easier for him to justify his right-wing, pro–ruling class policies; he and the Democratic Party propagandists, er, strategists can explain it to the masses as “pragmatism,” “compromise.” If he were to propose right-wing policies himself, the progressive flock who have followed him might begin to question his lupine teeth.

Read Paul Street. You’ll see what a lie it is for Alterman to claim that “the net effect of this legislatively was that, rather than reversing the right-wing policies of the Bush administration, Obama has, despite his significant accomplishments, largely continued them. ” Alterman must think the public is underinformed or has poor short-term memory. Are we to forget that the Democrats were in power from 2007–11? Why is Alterman justifying the right-wing policies of the first two years of Obama’s administration on the GOP?

But that leaves us with the question, Why didn’t Obama reverse the right-wing policies of the Bush administration? Answer: Because he’s not a progressive!

From 2007: “Liberals pin their hopes on a ‘good Democrat’ Is Obama different?” (Socialist Worker)

From 2007: “Obama’s Audacious Deference” (ZNet)

From 2008: “Post-partisan harmony vs. the rule of law ” (Salon)

From 2011: “Obama’s ‘bad negotiating’ is actually shrewd negotiating” (Salon)

Read Lance Selfa’s updated book The Democrats: A Critical History. The blue team has been shifting rightward for decades. The Democratic party is as subservient to the ruling class as the Republicans.

BTW, it’s worth noting that Obama attended private high school and was in elite institutions through Harvard Law. Does anyone think that such environments wouldn’t shape one’s worldview?

Rather than criticize the POTUS from a radical left vantage and apply pressure, Alterman wants Democrats, progressives and liberals to cheer Obama’s policies. What a deception.

Rather than wasting time watching Newsroom, why not actually study radical politics and history and acquire some clarity about what’s going on? Alterman is a guardian of the elite faith and his snake oil sounds appealing, but he’s offering a far too conventional explanation.

As Howard Zinn said, “The pretense in disputed elections is that the great conflict is between the two major parties. The reality is that there is a much bigger conflict that the two parties jointly wage against large numbers of Americans who are represented by neither party and against powerless millions around the world.”

Vivek Jain

Richmond, VA

Aug 3 2012 - 9:55am

Let's Just Say It: The Republicans AND the Media Are the Problem

Obama should have gone to war on day one

Alterman’s following paragraph aptly summarizes President Ohama’s leadership faults:

Part of the problem, for far too long, was that President Obama collaborated in the charade. He was so invested in the notion that both sides could just get along and legislate together that he couldn’t part with the illusion he had helped to create. His communitarian rhetoric, together with his compromise-in-advance legislative strategy, was always oriented toward inclusiveness, consensus-building and, ultimately, political passivity. As a result, Obama allowed the Republicans to stymie his ability to act on behalf of most of his agenda, beginning with the underfunded stimulus and carrying through with virtually every single initiative he undertook throughout the first two years of his term.

Bush cowed the Democrats into falling in line on the tax cuts (even McCain balked at the give away to the wealthy) and the Irag war. Obama should have gone with the most aggressive stimulus package possible and fought tooth and nail and in front of the public. Instead, it was the tepid stimulus (and “Obamacare”) that may sink his chances of re-election. In the real world outside of GOP spin, the weak stimulus (which saved the economy but could not energize it) made it impossible for Obama to now obtain the central economic stimulus needed to salvage the economy.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Jul 30 2012 - 12:17pm

Let's Just Say It: The Republicans AND the Media Are the Problem

The "dirty little secret"

As a former journalist who covered politics, I was guilty of the very thing Alterman condemns, i.e., passing on the assertions made by politicians without checking their veracity. I rationalized this by telling myself that deadlines made verification impossible. But the deeper truth was that I knew that if I verified one politician’s statement, I would have to do that in every case and that, eventually, I would have a lot of angry politicians on my hands who would refuse to talk to me. That’s the dirty little secret of political journalism: journalists are overly reliant on their sources for the “exclusives” that editors are always pressuring reporters to get. (The irony, which no one talks about, is that the “exclusives” are rarely that big a deal.) No one talks about the problems inherent in journalists cozying up to the politicians they are supposed to cover without fear or favor. Alterman is also completely on target when he criticizes the news media for failing to call out the Republicans as the radicals they are.

 

John Kirsch

Mazatlán, MEXICO

Jul 28 2012 - 10:42am