Posts Tagged ‘Matt Drudge’

The Victimhood Complex of the Right-Wing

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Andrew Breitbart, while claiming to be some sort of serious journalist, more closely resembles the papparazzi that hound celebrities. (And as he apparently regularly checks any blog references to himself: Hello Andrew, and welcome.)

The stories he has broken seem to place as much emphasis on the “reporter” as on the subject — most notably the pimp at ACORN — but today’s newest right-wing talking point (in video form) is similar:

More bothersome to me than this shallow and callow approach to news is what it reveals about the story of victimhood that seems to so excite the right-wing these days.

I remember a time when the right-wing thundered in righteous indignation over the subversive and un-American nature of claiming moral authority and material advantage by victimhood — the core of the conservative critiques of affirmative action, political correctness, hate crimes, the value of diversity, and welfare. They highlighted with glee any case where race-baiters, scammers, or any other purported victim claimed race, gender, or some other prejudicial factor without good cause. But that was the 1990s. By the 2000s, right-wingers had begun to adopt the tactics of those few authentic race-baiters as their own.

In 2008, Sarah Palin mastered this flip — flinging charges of sexism and misogyny against all of her critics as she winked and engaged in name-calling and gutter politics. She was a post-modern demagogue — and excited all the passions for and against her that demagogues rely on to gain power — but she explained away all criticisms of her as part of her victimhood, as a right-winger and a powerful woman. It was a brilliant move.

Marked by Sarah Palin’s rise, the right wing has constantly claimed victimhood: Michelle Bachman warned of concentration camps for conservatives; Rush Limbaugh claimed he was on the president’s enemies list; Glenn Beck declared that his words were so powerful, powerful people were attempting to silence him; Matt Drudge warned that the FCC was considering enacting a tax that he called, “a Drudge tax;” TownHall sent out emails claiming conservatives would be denied medical treatment under ObamaCare;  and of course, Sarah Palin herself has posited giant conspiracies against her, and positioned herself as the victim of her neighbors, bloggers in Alaska, her daughter’s one-time boyfriend, David Letterman, Katie Couric, Rahm Emanuel, and of course, the “lamestream media.”

Andrew Breitbart himself doesn’t seem to claim to be a victim. He happily engages in political war. But the news his sites promote are consistent with this culture of victimhood that has come to dominate the right-wing. There are few better examples than this video as discussions of policy or of politics are left behind in favor of a short video in which a right winger is shown as the victim of the left. Congressman Bod Etheridge’s reaction was no doubt inappropriate. But calling this an “assault” is such a glaringly obvious attempt to play the victim. It’s unclear how much the video was edited — but the facial blurring of the anonymous college student further adds to the obviousness of this attempt — but in typical Breitbart fashion, it has the potential to extend the story as the identity of the student is released in the coming days.

This culture of victimhood is pernicious because it is self-reinforcing — and helps insulate the right-wing from adapting to political circumstances — and may even, in the worst of all worlds, lead to the Republican nomination of Sarah Palin for president.

Reacting to Obama’s Nobel Prize

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Andrew Sullivan has the “reax.”

Two struck home for me. Mickey Kaus and Joshua Micah Marshall.

Kaus:

Turn it down! Politely decline. Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Result: He gets at least the same amount of glory–and helps solve his narcissism problem and his Fred Armisen (‘What’s he done?’) problem, demonstrating that he’s uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he’s started to realize it. …

I’m not sure Obama can really do this – but on principle it seems the right thing.

Marshall:

This is an odd award. You’d expect it to come later in Obama’s presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration. [my emphasis]

Matt Drudge is claiming that Obama will “accept award on ‘behalf of Americans and America’s values’…” That seems like his best bet to me, so it’s not surprising they landed on it.

Kathryn Lopez of National Review meanwhile has been (like many other right wingers) tweeting many different bitter sentiments – but this one struck me as true:

@kathrynlopez: from a friend: “I feel as if the Onion has really overdone it today. And everyone fell for it.”

In the end, the award would have made more political sense after some accomplishment – but the reasoning behind the award is sound. As the Nobel Committee wrote:

Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play…Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future…For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman…

The Nobel Prize for Peace then is not awarded for some tangible accomplishment, but rather as an endorsement of  an approach. This isn’t how we see the other Nobel awards – which reflect either a lifetime of achievement or some great achievement in some particular field which creates the confusion.

It creates a rather high class problem for Obama as he tries to figure out how to manage these expectations. I’m not sure giving the award now was a good political decision by the committee. And my first reaction was incredulity. But if you remove the expectation that this award is about some great accomplishment, then it makes sense.

[Image not subject to copyright.]

Stopping the Democrats from Descending to Sarah Palin’s Level

Monday, August 10th, 2009

By using the phrase “un-American,” Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are undermining the Democratic brand – threatening to bringing themselves down to the level of Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and Ann Coulter.

If you read the op-ed currently being misrepresented/hyped by Matt Drudge – “Pelosi/Hoyer op-ed in Monday USATODAY calls townhall protesters ‘un-American’…” he says – you can see they only use the phrase “un-American” once. They write:

Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.

This statement is uncontroversial. Yet it also is clearly designed to generate attention and it is making news because Democrats so rarely engage in this type of demagoguery – and because Drudge and his allies are trying to create an impression of a thuggish White House pushing its agenda using tactics adopted from the worst Republican politicians (identifying opponents as “un-American,” compiling an “enemies list,” declaring things justified by “national security” when they are really power grabs.) Democrats, liberals, and progressives have largely refained though from calling their opponents “un-American” or “terrorists” – even as matters grow extremely heated. Political attacks and populism are part of politics. Accusing the other side of representing the entrenched interests who their side’s agenda benefits (organized labor, environmental groups, abortion rights groups, etcetera for Democrats; big corporations, the wealthy, pro-life groups, the NRA, etcetera for Republicans) will always be part of the game.

But there are clear lines – and Democrats have largely respected them. John Kerry could have accused George W. Bush of negligently being responsible for September 11 – and he would have won had he done so. But it would have damaged the country. Karl Rove, knowing this is what he would have done, saw this vulnerability and did what he could to counteract it – but he still saw it was Bush’s weakness. Democrats could have made a concerted push to demagogue every policy Bush instituted after September 11 as “un-American” and “giving in to the terrorists.” But instead, they did not cross this line – despite the fact that Karl Rove and George W. Bush and those Republicans running against them equated the Democrats with “therapy for terrorists” and sympathy for the terrorists’ aims. Sarah Palin infamously inflamed crowds talking about Obama’s sympathy for terrorists and asserted that there were anti-American parts of America that wouldn’t vote for her. There are some who claim that these demagogic tactics are equaled by the Democrats who have claimed that Republicans are representing the rich at the expense of the poor and similar claims – but there is a clear difference between the approaches.

But as Democrats are becoming increasingly frustrated with the hardball politics of the opponents of health care reform, they are clearly tempted to try to tap into the Rovian playbook. For example, even mild-mannered Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein wrote (in what was overall an extraordinarly good column) that:

[Republicans have] become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

The level of frustration on the part of the Democrats – aware that what they are actually proposing is popular – but seeing the public debate beginning to turn against their attempts to put into law these popular measures is growing exponentially. Neither Pelosi nor Hoyer nor Pearlstein have descended to the level of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, or Ann Coulter.  But by pushing the line – they threaten to undermine the Democratic Party.

Hardball politics is one thing. Calling your opponents “terrorists” or “un-American” is another.

A Week Off From Blogging

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

You’d be surprised at how exhausting it is to churn out one to four posts a day, with at least one containing an original thought and most others some small spin. Or at least, you’d be surprised at how exhausting it is in addition to a full-time job.

So, to start the summer, I’m going to take a week off.

Now that Judge Sotomayor has been leaked as Obama’s nominee, I realize I don’t have much of a dog in this fight – at least not so far. My big concern for this nominee is their position on executive power. Sotomayor doesn’t have much of a public record on these issues – as Charlie Savage explained, she:

has never worked in the federal executive branch and sits on a court that hears few executive power cases.

I would have had to comment and get excited if the nominee had been Elena Kagan (negatively) or Diane Wood (positively). Or Harold Koh, though he wasn’t on the list this time around (positively.)

Matt Drudge is already on the case – bringing racial issues to the forefront and making the innuendo-driven case against the Judge – while acknowledging the opposition will be futile.

I’ll leave this fight to others. For this week, it’s time to take a break.

Of course, I reserve the right to jump in if I feel so compelled – so check back if something extraordinary happens in politics.

I will – of course, continue to Twitter this week. If you haven’t already, follow me there.

Joe Campbell: I’m Not a Sexist Because I Disagree With Angie Harmon

Monday, March 30th, 2009

 

Contra this tirade which the Drudge Report is somewhat inexplicably promoting. (Inexplicable because it seems like such a fluff story of Hollywood conservatives elites.)

Joe Campbell (me) is not afraid to come out and say he doesn’t like how Angie Harmon is insinuating Barack Obama is accusing people of racism — but he’s sick of having to defend himself from being deemed a sexist.

“Here’s my problem with this,” I quote myself, “I’m just going to come out and say it. If I have anything to say against Harmon it’s not because I’m a sexist, it’s because I don’t like what she’s saying and anybody should be able to feel that way, but what I find now is that if you say anything against her you’re called a sexist,” Campbell told a reporter for 2parse.com, the esteemed blog. “But sexism has nothing to do with it, I don’t care what genitalia she has or doesn’t have – or what gender she identifies herself as. I’m just not crazy about what she’s saying. I mean – I understand Obama has been in office for 69 days so it’s hard to understand how he hasn’t accomplished everything he promised he would. He only has about 1,400 days in office. I know he said he’s gonna do that and change and change, so okay … but he’s still got some time. There’s still a recession over here, woman, and you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that “we’ve got unemployment at an all-time high” (Unless you mean “all-time” since after Reagan was president.) If I’m going to disagree with Angie Harmon, that doesn’t make me a sexist.  It has to do with the fact that she sounds like an uninformed dolt. If I was to disagree with W, that doesn’t make me sexist. It has nothing to do with it, it is ridiculous.”

When asked to provide any examples of the accusations of sexism that provoked this tirade, Campbell finally fell silent. 

Angie Harmon has also neglected to provide any examples of accusations of racism. 

Unfortunately, Matt Drudge has only been promoting one of these stories, so the unfounded allegations of charges of sexism insinuated by Campbell will not gain as large of an audience as the unfounded accusations of Harmon.

Campbell admitted though that the fake umbrage-taking in the media circus was entertaining, even if it detracted from the overall political discourse. “But I get to promote myself!” he said.

[Image courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway licensed under Creative Commons.]

Drudge Jumps the Shark

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

It’s not news that Matt Drudge has always been very sympathetic to conservatives and the Republican party. He helped sell the Iraq war; he was part of the grand right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton; he campaigned enthusiastically for Bush against Gore and Kerry. But in the past month, Drudge seems to have lost the narrative and lost his touch.

Today, he jumps the shark with this ridiculous “headline” as he desperately attempts to make “news” that could shift the election.

In the beginning of this year, he seemed comfortable in his place driving the news media – demonstrating his eye for interesting stories that had been overlooked. He also seemed to be sympathetic to Obama.

The key thing that makes Drudge worth paying attention to is his eye for interesting and overlooked stories. It is based on that skill that he has gained such a following, especially among the media. He has demonstrated an eye for those details which drive campaign narratives, and although his right-wing leanings are well-known, he managed to keep his site from becoming pure propaganda.

Since September, Drudge hasn’t only been sympathetic to McCain – he seems to have lost his eye, as he promotes one story after another that lacks punch.

He seems to have lost it – and with this, he has jumped the shark.

Drudge’s Bold Red Headlines

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Drudge has outdone himself today with two unusually misleading headlines.

First, the blaring red super-sized font that announced that a McCain volunteer has been ATTACKED AND MUTILATED IN PITTSBURGH – which quickly became a small side story when the actual facts came out – that a woman with a McCain sticker on her car had been mugged outside an ATM. Awful – but not the political violence initially suggested.

Now, he’s put up a link to what he calls the “Most Accurate Pollster in 2004 Election” which puts the race within 1.1 points. Of course, a perusal of the breakdown shows that the poll has McCain beating Obama in the 18-24 year old age group by 74% to 22%. To repeat, McCain is – according to this poll – winning 74% of 18-24 year old; Obama is winning only 22%.

C’mon Drudge, old boy – you can do better than that.

To think – it was just a few months ago that Drudge had seemed to have shifted his support to Obama. It was subtle but there – just like his animus towards McCain. But then – roughly as the Paris ads went up, Drudge began his not-so-subtle attempts to throw the election to McCain.

I don’t know what happened – but it does make Drudge seem like he’s losing his touch.

Setting America Up to Fail

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Putting aside the controversy over whether the New York Times should have published John McCain’s op-ed piece – his piece itself illustrates the lose-lose strategy McCain is putting forward.

This line in particular from his unpublished op-ed struck me:

…if we don’t win the war, our enemies will.

What interests me about both McCain’s and Obama’s positions is that both have stuck to their general idea about what the next step would be despite the changing situation on the ground.

McCain was in favor of troops staying longer in Iraq when things were bad and getting worse; now that things are improving, he is still in favor of keeping our forces there.  Obama was in favor of pulling out of Iraq while the situation was deteriorating; and now that the situation is improving, he still is in favor of ending the occupation.  McCain’s editorial tries to hit Obama on this point, unconvincingly in light of McCain’s own seeming intransigence.

But it isn’t entirely accurate to call Obama’s and McCain’s fixed goals in spite of the changing circumstances “intransigence”.  The crux of the disagreement between the candidates is not the contrast that McCain sets up in his op-ed:

I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons.

Rather, the crux of their disagreement is about the wisdom of the Iraq adventure and the overall strategy of establishing some kind of neo-empire in the Middle East.  McCain believes that the Iraq War was necessary and strategically sound – and that although he may not call it an empire or neo-empire – he believes America must have an established military presence in the Middle East as a matter of policy.  Obama is suspicious of this view – believing that any form of imperial influence exerted over the Middle East will cause a backlash greater than the benefits – and he specifically pointed out before the war, and has kept pointing out, that the Iraq adventure was strategically “dumb” and that it was benefited our enemies in the Middle East even as it has undermined our friends.  By taking out Iraq, we removed Iran’s regional foil – and we set up an Iraqi regime that has become a regional ally of Iran.

There are two competing sets of suppositions here:

First:

  • If our invasion of Iraq was ill-conceived.
  • If the invasion of Iraq was the right decision but poorly executed.

Second:

  • If our continued presence there continues to create problems both for our military and for the Iraqi government.
  • If our continued presence could help stabilize the country.

On the first question, the country and the world have overwhelmingly come to believe the first option.

On the second, the answer is less clear. What is clear is that:

  • We do not have enough of a military presence to stabilize the entire country – only relatively small portions of it.
  • We have been acting as a buffer between some of the ethnic groups composing Iraq (even as our invasion and the aftermath hypercharged tensions between the groups.)
  • We are degrading our entire military and investing exorbitant amounts of money in the the country (at a time when our government is testing the limits of the world’s tolerance for our fiscal insolvency.)
  • We are inspiring more extremists than we are killing – as even Don Rumsfeld admitted.
  • Our presence in Iraq has made us more vulnerable to Iran and less able to take any necessary actions against Iran.

These commonly accepted facts demonstrate our short-term tactical limits and our tactical utility – but most of all, they demonstrate that our long-term strategy is underming our position.  From the Iraqi perspective, Maliki clearly thinks that it is best for Iraq if America leaves as soon as possible.  Analyzing what we know about Iraq leads to the same conclusion.

The only possible long-term salvation that could come from this debacle is if Iraq becomes an American-friendly, stable democracy.  Which is possible, but not the most likely conclusion based on the facts as they are now.  It is a possiblity based on a desperate hope.  But even this long-term possibility would necessitate that we demonstrate that we are intent to leave Iraq as soon as possible – and certainly as soon as we are asked.

McCain – by focusing on our short-term tactical successes (and ignoring our tactical limits and our strategic errors) – is bringing America down the wrong path – and setting us up to fail.  By saying, “if we don’t win the war, our enemies will,” McCain is attempting to impose a framework on Iraq that does not apply.  The Iraqis themselves defeated Al Qaeda and the extremists after they became tired of their extremism – with our troops playing a supporting role.  One of our primary functions in Iraq is preventing a civil war between the Iraqi ethnic groups.

The question is: Is McCain himself so deluded as to see Iraq as simply a battle between us and our enemies – like World War II – or is he merely using this framework to allow him to use Iraq as a political weapon and to paint his opponent as a “weak-kneed liberal”?

The 188-Minute Workout

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I appreciate that Matt Drudge is in the tank for Obama, but this is a bit ridiculous.

I find it hard to believe that ABC News published the story, let alone the fact that Drudge is linking to it as his biggest story.  It’s virtually inexplicable.

Unless Drudge has some angle on this that he has yet to reveal.

Otherwise, this is just silly.

The Drudge Primary

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Matt Drudge is far and away the most influential force in journalism and political coverage today. He has dominated the political press coverage ever since he broke story after story in the summer of 1997 almost singlehandedly keeping Monica-gate alive. In 2000 and 2004, he was a major force in the conservative message machine as it attacked Al Gore and John Kerry. But in the past year, as Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of the Politico observed:

[Matt Drudge has] emerged as an unreliable ally for the GOP, while trumpeting Obama’s victories and shrugging at his scandals.

“It’s clear to us that Barack Obama has won the Drudge Primary, and it’s one of the most important primaries in this process,” conceded a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also acknowledged that Drudge’s treatment of Obama could make the Illinois senator more electable in November.

The article offers several explanations for Drudge’s apparent preference for Obama. Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, suggests that Drudge has a good sense of the “zeitgeist” and can see it shifting. Although I think that must be a factor, the more convincing explanation seems to be Drudge’s reputed libertarian streak. McCain is probably the most anti-libertarian candidate the Republican party has – from his positions on civil liberties in the War on Terrorism, to the use of government as a tool against big business, to limiting free speech for campaign finance reform. Obama, though in favor of more economic intervention than McCain, does seem to be more sympathetic to libertarianism as a whole – especially with regards to civil liberties.

Whatever the reason, Drudge, so far, has seemed to tilt towards Obama. And that could be a major factor in the lead-up to November.

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