Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Republican Candidates Don't Deserve All The Fun Slamming The Media-- But Bernie Is Too Busy To Bother


Matt Taibbi's new Rolling Stone piece on the seriousness of Bernie Sanders starts with a good solid slam on the corporate media elites and know-it-alls. Having noted that "Big money already has a stranglehold on the process of government" said "Big money even owns most of the media companies that employ those pundits who are all telling us now to worry about how "realistic" Sanders isn't," Taibbi savages media elites who give the money elites entirely too much weight in the primary process. "The media response to the Sanders campaign," he wrote, "has been alternately predictable, condescending, confused and condescending again. The tone of most of the coverage shows reporters deigning to treat his campaign like it's real, like he has a chance... Campaign-trail reporting is like high school: a brutish, interminable exercise in policing mindless social rules. In school, if someone is fat or has zits or wears the wrong clothes, the cool kids rag on that person until they run home crying or worse. The Heathers of the campaign trail do the same thing. Sanders is just the latest in a long line of candidates-- Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, to name a few-- whom my media colleagues decided in advance were not electable, and covered accordingly, with a sneer. When we reporters are introduced to a politician, the first thing we ask ourselves is if he or she is acceptable to the political establishment. We don't admit that we ask this as a prerequisite, but we do. Anyone who's survived without felony conviction a few terms as a senator, governor or congressperson, has an expensive enough haircut, and has never once said anything interesting will likely be judged a potentially 'serious' candidate." The elite have not included Bernie Sanders-- obviously both the most serious candidate running, as well as the one who has set out the most interesting policy agenda-- in that category.
If you're wondering why no Mozarts or Einsteins ever end up running for president in America, but an endless succession of blockheads like Rick Perry are sold to us on the cover of Time magazine as contenders, it's because of this absurd prerequisite.

Ultimately, what we're looking for is someone who's enough of a morally flexible gasbag to get over with the money people, and then also charming enough on some politically irrelevant level to attract voters... Bernie Sanders bluntly fails the Rick Perry test. In fact he pretty much defines what it means to fail that test. It isn't just that he doesn't kiss babies or comb his hair or "deftly evade answers." He's also unapologetically described himself as a socialist, which makes him a giant bespectacled block of Kryptonite for Beltway donors and mainstream journalists alike.

...[W]e've been trained not to care about which old ladies are freezing to death this week because some utility somewhere is turning the heat off, or who's having their furniture put on the street by a sheriff executing a foreclosure order, or who's losing a leg to diabetes because they didn't have the money for a simple checkup two years ago, etc.

None of those characters make it into campaign reporting. As good as we are at the horse-race idiocy, we suck that much at writing about these other things.

Watching Bernie slog forward to an audience of political gatekeepers who wish he would stop being a bummer and just kiss more babies shames me into a confession. I find myself giving up on this process all the time.

Donald Trump, a man whose idea of policy is a big wall, was the Republican frontrunner for months, and ceded the lead to a man who wants to fight immigrants with drones. This whole thing is a joke. At times, the only thing you can take seriously about any of this is the gambler's question of who wins.

I got into the act a few weeks back, gushing about how Trey Gowdy's Benghazi hearing solved Hillary Clinton's voter-sympathy problem. Quite a development in the soap opera! But a million miles from anything that matters.

Successful politicians today on both sides of the aisle are sprawling celebrity franchises. They seem always to be making piles of money and hobnobbing with Beautiful People when they're finished moving the status quo in some incremental direction, which some hack somewhere will always be willing to call change.

Whether it's the Clintons with their foundations or Al Gore with his movies and his carbon-trading interests or the Bush/Cheney axis of hereditary politics and energy commerce, we expect the politicians who make it to the big time to cash in somewhere along the line because, hey, this is America. Donald Trump, if elected, would find a way to turn being the president into a moneymaking operation.

Sanders is a clear outlier in a generation that has forgotten what it means to be a public servant. The Times remarks upon his "grumpy demeanor." But Bernie is grumpy because he's thinking about vets who need surgeries, guest workers who've had their wages ripped off, kids without access to dentists or some other godforsaken problem that most of us normal people can care about for maybe a few minutes on a good day, but Bernie worries about more or less all the time.

I first met Bernie Sanders ten years ago, and I don't believe there's anything else he really thinks about. There's no other endgame for him. He's not looking for a book deal or a membership in a Martha's Vineyard golf club or a cameo in a Guy Ritchie movie. This election isn't a game to him; it's not the awesomely repulsive dark joke it is to me and many others.

And the only reason this attention-averse, sometimes socially uncomfortable person is subjecting himself to this asinine process is because he genuinely believes the system is not beyond repair.

Not all of us can say that. But that doesn't make us right, and him "unrealistic." More than any other politician in recent memory, Bernie Sanders is focused on reality. It's the rest of us who are lost.
The media doesn't deserve all the blame, of course-- just what they've earned. I'm astounded at how progressive politicians have gravitated to the non-progressive candidate over Bernie. On this page you will find all the Members of Congress (2) and all the House candidates (4) who have endorsed Bernie and are running on his platform. God bless them! Obviously, you would expect the conservative Democrats-- especially the Wall Street owned Blue Dogs and New Dems like Jim Himes, Ann Kuster, John Delaney, Ami Bera, Eliot Engel, Joe Crowley, Steve Israel, Patrick Murphy, Terri Sewell, Scott Peters, Kathleen Rice, Loretta Sanchez, Henry Cuellar, Cheri Bustos, Carolyn Maloney, Mike Thompson, Sean Patrick Maloney, Kurt Schrader, Jim Cooper, Gregory Meeks, David Scott, Don Beyer...-- to jump at the chance to make common cause with Hillary. But it would have been refreshing to see more progressives either embrace Bernie, the way Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison have, or at least praise both candidates profusely the way Alan Grayson, Ruben Gallego, Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan and Donna Edwards (as well as Elizabeth Warren in the Senate) have. Instead, there's been an unseemly march of solid progressives-- from Jan Schakowsky, Mike Honda and Judy Chu to Jim McDermott, Ted Lieu, Jerry Nadler, Matt Cartwright and Jim McGovern-- into the Clinton Camp. (sigh)

If you'd like to chip in to help Bernie get elected-- and to make the media elites look as foolish as everyone already knows they are-- you can contribute to his campaign here.

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger Mf Lehman said...

Taibbi is a national treasure. He writes and, you know, gives a shit about substance, which his colleagues are carefully screened to ensure that none do. And really, who can top the idiocy of the following, from sub-genius John Cassidy: "[Sanders] can't win the primary," Cassidy wrote. "And he will occupy the space to the left of Clinton, thus denying it to more plausible candidates, such as Martin O'Malley." (!)" According to a recent Baltimore Sun poll, after eight years as our Governor, 4% of Maryland Democrats - Maryland DEMOCRATS! - support O'Malley for president. Eight years! Can't make it outside the margin of error! Now that's plausibility, baby!

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neither Jews nor Romans were too fond of that Yeshua guy either. Yet look who got the last laugh on them!


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