Wednesday, March 09, 2011

David S. Broder (1929-2011)


Is it always required that we fib about the departed?

It's not dancing on the man's grave exactly, but it seems important not to enshroud the dearly departed in blankets of lies.

by Ken

Washington Post political writer Dan Balz writes on the paper's website, presumably for tomorrow's edition: "David Broder was the best political reporter of his or any other generation."

Um, no, Dan. Maybe at the start a case could have been made that he was somebody to watch. But for the bulk of his dreadful career, he only placed in the top million political reporters because so many of the others were so god-awful. And of course since he became a journalistic icon, generations of up-and-comers have followed in the footsteps of his god-awfulness, that smarmy voice of oracular Village conformity.

Come to think of it, it's kind of alarming to hear this kind of folderol coming from a writer currently making his way up the ladder of the Post's political team. Dan Balz started there as someone worth watching. Is he telling us that his goal is to be totally Broderized? Goodness, that's depressing.

I don't take any great pleasure in stomping on the departed, but I really abhor the common practice of lying about them. David Broder was an outsize symbol of one of the crucial things that's wrong with American political life -- the media being in on the overlords' fix -- and had himself acquired enough cachet that he was more than a symbol: He was a vital force in the mediocritization, conventionalization, and stupidification of the controlling media elite. Any writer who aspires to covering American politics might do well to post his picture on their wall with the legend: "DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU."

An immensely useful corrective to the Broder hagiographizing (I don't know if there was such a word, but there is now) is the extraordinary speech Michael Moore made the other day in Wisconsin, "America Is NOT Broke," which Howie offered in both video and printed-text form in a post called "WE HAVE HAD IT! America's Financial Coup d'état."

Here's the video again:

If you haven't watched or read this remarkable speech, this would be a good time to do so -- or to rewatch or reread it. Just as a tease, or reminder, let me recall, first, how Michael began:
America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

And then how he concluded:
America ain't broke! The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from now on. Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it's one person, one vote, and it's the thing the rich hate most about America -- because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakeable basic fact: There are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them!


"It's one thing for a nation to be downwardly mobile during a recession. It's quite another to be downwardly mobile during a recovery -- but that looks to be precisely what's happening."

Continue with Harold Meyerson's WaPo column today, "Where's the economic recovery?" You have to wonder how long the Post will continue to tolerate its few opinion-mongers who remain in steady contact with reality -- Meyerson, and E. J. Dionner Jr., and Gene Robinson, and . . . and . . . surely I must be leaving someone out. It's hard to keep track amid the growing gaggle of right-wing geese, made possible in large part by the mealy-mouthed Broderized "centrists" who've done so much to enable the rise of the right-wing media noise blockade.

I'm not sure you can afford to not read any of Meyerson's column, but let me offer this nugget as a tease:
We didn't arrive at this predicament accidentally. Since the early 1980s, when General Electric's widely admired chief executive, Jack Welch, declared that the primary goal of the corporation was to increase shareholder value, America's corporate managers have been faithfully rewarded for treating their employees as necessary - or unnecessary - evils, to be shed whenever possible, or replaced by foreign or temporary workers, and most certainly not allowed to form unions or receive wage increases. Thirty years later, this form of shareholder capitalism has swept the field of nearly all opposition, with results - chiefly, the eclipse of the decent-paying job - that grow more glaring with each passing day.

There's a lot more to be said on the subject, and we'll try to cover some of it in the days and weeks to come.

In good part there's so much to be said on the subject because David Broder and the people who admire and imitate him have so successfully kept this whole subject off the journalistic table.

Labels: , , ,


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Eddie said...


At 6:17 PM, Anonymous me said...

Broder croaked? Hallelujah! I've hated that asshole for many years.

Good riddance, and I hope he burns in hell.

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Michael's speech — Rachel called it a barnburner, and imo it's that indeed but so much more — I'll allow may end up making as much history as any of his films. I have to hark back to King's I Have a Dream for oratory that moved me so.

To paraphrase Michael, wage earners spend and keep money in circulation; the rich, banks etc. hoard it. The image that comes to my mind is someone who's "donated" three liters of blood; carried to its extreme what you have is a corpse. In a 180° from, say, Henry Ford's policy — pay workers well enough to buy what they make — the obscenely rich have become completely detached financially from the rest of us. To oversimplify but not a lot, Walker and the Kochs et al are simply trying to finish what Reagan started.


At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Atlanta Roofing said...

Why is it when someone passes on it becomes de rigueur to purify their memory. Broder was a capable writer who personifie¬d the beltway attitude rather than stepping out of it. He never met an opinion he couldn't homogenize into a mushy blob. He rarely stuck his neck out or adopted a position that showed any originalit¬y or deviated from convention¬al wisdom. He was an example of exactly why print journalism has sunk to the level of irrelevanc¬y it now enjoys.


Post a Comment

<< Home