Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Pre-Exculpatory Phase

The esteemed Ronald Radosh, who was himself once a left-liberal, presents an enlightening piece on the pre-election positioning being attempted by the Mainstream Media:

As it becomes clear that Mitt Romney might actually win the election, desperate Democrats are beginning to develop a new spin about why Obama might lose. That they are doing this two weeks before the election gives us a glimpse of just how scared they are. First, the New York Times’ top political reporter, Matt Bai, suggests that if Obama loses, blame could be put on none other than his most important campaign asset, Bill Clinton. Bai writes:
But there is one crucial way in which the 42nd president may not have served the 44th quite as well. In these final weeks before the election, Mr. Clinton’s expert advice about how to beat Mitt Romney is starting to look suspect.

At first, Bai says, the Obama campaign tried to depict Romney as “inauthentic and inconstant, a soulless climber who would say anything to get the job.” But after the public got to see what Romney was really like in the debates, that effort ground to a halt. Instead, Clinton argued they had to portray Romney as an extremist conservative. That, after all, is what Clinton did when he ran, portraying himself as a centrist in between far left elements in his own party and right-wing Republicans opposed to him.

But didn't Obama do the same -- present himself to the electorate as a pragmatically minded slightly left-of-center statesman determined to bring all sides together -- in 2008? If memory serves, it worked to the extent of a 7% popular vote margin and over 300 electoral votes. Besides, Clinton had essentially the same sort of opposition: George H. W. Bush was a very slightly right-of-center figure, who had governed in a fashion that put whatever Reaganite-conservative views he might once have held very much in doubt.

Casting one's opponent as an "extremist" is a workable tactic. Indeed, it always has been, for "extreme" has always meant "heartless" or "conscienceless." The key implication of "extremist" is "doesn't care what the policies derived from his ideology would do to ordinary people." Few voters are unconcerned about the well-being of other Americans. At least, few will admit it.

As Radosh observes, Clinton's advice derived from his own success. That made it especially attractive to a candidate desperate to win and devoid of any ideas of his own. We may never know whether Clinton proffered that advice in full knowledge that, given Mitt Romney's particular character and political leanings, it was sure to fail, but as Ernest Hemingway might have said, isn't it pretty to think so?

However, there's an even more interesting point behind this one. Now that a major Republican victory seems likely, Matt Bai might not be defending Clinton -- once his foremost political idol -- or Obama -- the "god that failed" -- but he most certainly has it in mind to defend left-liberal ideology.

It seems inevitable, in retrospect, that Obama's failure to persuade Americans to grant him a second term would be characterized by his media annex as a personal failing, whether Obama's or someone else's. Perhaps the "someone else" will be Bill Clinton, as Matt Bai is suggesting; perhaps it will be his Cabinet secretaries or other close advisors; perhaps it will be his campaign managers. It will not be the policies Obama advocated and shepherded through Congress, nor the raft of anti-Constitutional executive orders he's issued, nor any policy he's espoused but has not yet seen enacted. The media cannot allow, even by implication, that those policies, so sharply at variance with Obama's 2008 campaign posture, proved massively destructive and distasteful to the nation.

The ideology and its protection from substantive examination are paramount. Why else do left-liberal polemicists consistently refuse to condemn Communist states? Why else would left-liberal spokesmen be so incensed at any mention of actual evidence against their positions? Why else do they insist on blaming individuals -- preferably non-Democrats, of course -- for why they couldn't get the results they promised?

The Left's media allies will only defend individual liberal champions if such a defense doesn't threaten left-liberal social-fascism as a set of concepts and policies. A charismatic figure can only take his hangers-on so far; the ideology, on the other hand, is a perpetually renewable meal ticket. The Left's defense of its "rice bowls" will always trump all other considerations.

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