James Lileks once described the overculture as:
That twitchy, cheery, idiot blare produced by a stratum of coastal types who think the rest of America truly gives a shite whether Lindsay Lohan lost her Blackbird at a party last week, and who actually know who Anna Wintour looks like.
In other words, wide swatches of the Internet and especially newspapers, except for a few outliers such as the New York Post, Washington Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and virtually all television networks except for Fox News. (And of course, the fountainhead itself, academia.) This is the high ground that left have controlled since the days of the first mass media — the radio networks formed in the 1920s.
During the naughts, the left’s pattern of argument ad hominem via these platforms boiled down to a few recurring themes. In addition to reductio ad Hitlerum charges of racism ran amok. These are just a few of the incidents I remember off the top of my head; no doubt, there are plenty of others:
- Point out a double-standard amongst leftwing sportswriters? Racist.
- A perceived slowness in responding to a hurricane? Racist.
- Democrats who voted in the primaries for Hillary rather Obama? Racist.
- Democrats who supported Hillary rather than Obama? Racist.
- A police call on a black college professor? Racist.
- Disagree with a leftwing president’s economic policies? Racist.
- Disagree with the idea of (further) socializing medicine? Racist.
- Accuse a leftwing president of duplicity? Racist.
- Investigate corruption in a quasi-governmental leftwing “community organizing” agency? Racist.
- Investigate a self-admitted communist and 9/11 “truther” working in the Obama administration? Racist.
But the quotes from grizzled political hacks Bill Clinton and Harry Reid that emerged this weekend, featuring less than nuanced language to describe a newcomer to the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, courtesy of John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book Game Change, put quite an interesting spin on all that. As Allahpundit wrote at Hot Air, “What a treat to hear how the Lords of Tolerance talk to each other behind closed doors.”
The left’s radar systems (presumably built by General Electric, an owner of MSNBC, the home of Olbermann, Matthews, regular guest Janeane Garofalo, et al), can detect, when it suits the purposes of advancing The Narrative, ala Maureen “You lie, boy” Dowd, the subtlest penumbra of an aura of a subatomic particle of racism in utterly everything.
But if so, what does it mean? First, these quotes further makes hash of the endless attacks on the Tea Partiers this summer and fall. Back in October, when racialist howls were emanating near-daily from the left, Victor Davis Hanson wrote:
The charge of racism has been leveled against critics of President Obama’s health-care reform by everyone from New York Times columnists, racial activists, and Democratic legislators to senior statesmen like Jimmy Carter (“It’s a racist attitude”), Bill Clinton (“some . . . are racially prejudiced”), and Walter Mondale (“I don’t want to pick a person [and] say, ‘He’s a racist,’ but I do think the way they’re piling on Obama . . . I think I see an edge in them that’s a little bit different”).
But are Obama’s critics really racists?
It is a serious charge. If true, it means the hope of a color-blind society is essentially over after a half-century of civil-rights progress. If false, it means that we have institutionalized vicious smears as legitimate political tactics — and, in the process, discredited the entire dialogue that surrounds racial prejudice.
With this weekend’s publication of the campaign-trail remarks from Clinton and Reid (and Reid’s acknowledgment that he was quoted accurately), I’d like to think that just like that, all of the efforts by MSNBC and the rest of the legacy media to paint the Tea Parties as racist have, at best, suddenly dried up, or at a minimum now have a new-found counterargument.
After the quotes from Clinton and Reid, in addition to President Obama’s “typical white person” line, Rev. Wright, Al “white interlopers” Sharpton, Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson, Al “digital brownshirts” Gore, etc., etc., the far left are due for some serious introspection into what is permissible speech by their current and former highest office holders and figureheads, both behind closed doors and on cable TV. (This might even involve something a tad more serious than a “summit” for TV cameras involving cold yeasty beverages.)
Despite the EPA’s best efforts to eliminate CO2, I’m not holding my breath waiting for it happen, though.
Update: Related thoughts from Ann Althouse, who asks, “Is Harry Reid a Racist? It Depends On What The Meaning of ‘Racist’ Is:”
If by “racist,” you mean somebody who feels antagonism toward black people, then Harry Reid isn’t a racist. Harry Reid thinks we are racists.
If by “racist” you mean somebody who would use other people’s feelings about race in a purely instrumental way to amass political power, then Harry Reid is a racist.
As Glenn Reynolds adds, “Well, that’s a generous assessment.”
Update: Ed Morrissey detects the faintest signs of a double-standard in President Obama’s response to racial outbursts by a pair of senate majority leaders.
Update: More slight-double standards spotted here:
Mrs. Feinstein also said that “I saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott.”
But several Democrats — including Mrs. Feinstein — did in fact target Mr. Lott after his remarks. “This statement casts a dark shadow over Sen. Lott’s ability to be a credible party leader,” she said in 2002, according to an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin news story.
“I can tell you if a Democratic leader said such a thing, they would not be allowed to keep their position,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, said of Mr. Lott in 2002.
Sen. John Kerry also called on Mr. Lott to resign, saying “I simply do not believe the country can today afford to have someone who has made these statements again and again be the leader of the United States Senate,” according to a Boston Globe article.
You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in the swamps of DC as a Senate majority leader.
Update: Patterico on “Harry Reid’s History of Racial Posturing.”
Update: Much more on Reid’s remarks from Baldilocks.
Update: “The Democratic Double-Standard on Race: I’ve Lived It”, Lurita Doan, the former administrator of the US General Services Administration, writes at Big Government. Meanwhile, Investor’s Business Daily explores, “‘Macaca’ A La Reid.”