Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blue skies ahead



Politics seem overheated right now. Liberals are starting to get mad as hell, and they're starting to get on the phones. The immediate factors that I can think of are
It's a topsy-turvy world, and all these events are jumping on everyone's last nerve.

In the long run, the Republicans cannot maintain their grip on power. They're notoriously corrupt as a party now, and when they're not completely screwing the pooch on idiotic initiatives like the Medicare prescription plan, they must actively hide their beliefs in order to stay in office. Lastly, of course, Bush is still incompetent and he is still extremely unpopular, although you wouldn't know it from all the "Bush Bouncing Back in Polls" news articles. We can only hope he has more Townhall meetings, where the animatronic president can terrify the adults with his incessant cud-chewing, jaw-twisting action.

Calculated Risk has a wonderfully cheery graph of the most recent Gallup poll on party identification. The Gallup news release goes on to say:
Overall, in 2005, basic party identification was even -- 33% of Americans each identified as Republicans, independents, and Democrats. When independents' leanings are taken into account, the Democrats gain an advantage -- 48% of Americans either identified as Democrats or leaned to the Democratic Party, while 43% identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party. That represents the largest Democratic advantage since 2000. Democrats have typically held an edge in partisanship in modern U.S. political history, so the recent changes can be thought of as a return to the past.
Environics will release a large poll soon that could possibly explain some of the movement in independents. As Garance Franke-Ruta summarizes it

Despite the increasing political power of the religious right, Environics found social values moving away from the authority end of the scale, with its emphasis on responsibility, duty, and tradition, to a more atomized, rage-filled outlook that values consumption, sexual permissiveness, and xenophobia. The trend was toward values in the individuality quadrant. ...

“While American politics becomes increasingly committed to a brand of conservatism that favors traditionalism, religiosity, and authority,” Adams writes, “the culture at large [is] becoming ever more attached to hedonism, thrill-seeking, and a ruthless, Darwinist understanding of human competition.” This behavior is particularly prevalent among the vast segment of American society that is not politically or civically engaged, and which usually fails to even vote. This has created what must be understood at the electoral level as a politics of backlash on the part of both Republican and Democratic voters: Voters of both parties, Environics data show, have developed an increasingly moralistic politics as a reaction to the new cultural order.

The rest is here. So this is one way to understand what is happening. Mainstream media commentators like O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh and Malkin put forth an aggressive, know-nothing form of journalism/advocacy. They lie ceaselessly, and it works in the short term, because they only have to persuade roughly a third of the population, none of whom is paying too much attention. In addition, this endless parade of nonsense starts to poison the water. Erstwhile liberal or moderate members of the press begin to believe the democrats are inherently weak and evil, and that President Bush is beloved and popular, no matter what the evidence.

Digby analogizes this state of affairs to the anti-semitism in Gentleman's Agreement, the terrific old movie with Gregory Peck. He writes about the beltway media:
Many of us out here in the country are seeing a capital that operates in dozens of ways on a Gentleman's Agreement that Democrats are bad. Our values are wrong, our leaders are dishonest, our philosophy is weak, our policies are ridiculous and our beliefs are immoral. The conventional wisdom is crystalizing into prejudice.
The problem is, this is all foolish prejudice, and it is magnificently beside the point. America is in a losing war, that we were lied into. We Americans torture prisoners now, even innocent ones. Our economy rests on unsustainable consumerism and debt. We're about to install a justice who believes that anything the president does or corporations do is inherently good. None of this is the Democrats fault, and many Democrats in office have done their level best to stop.

The press, by falling for the talking points that Rove issues, is in extreme dereliction of duty, and the old excuse of "we annoy people on the left, and we annoy people on the right" will no longer work to excuse shoddy, indefensible reporting.

Cat photo from PepperLand networks

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