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Belmont Club

The House that Jack Built

March 30th, 2012 - 10:42 pm

What is at least partly driving  Al Sharpton’s call for civil disobedience if the city of Sanford doesn’t arrest George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin? What is at the heart of Keith Olbermann’s dispute with Al Gore? Why are Rosie O’donnell and Oprah Winfrey no longer best friends? What has made the Huffington Post bloggers sue Arianna Huffington?

A subject as old as the ages; a matter discussed in the Bible which has gone by many names down through time. A matter so solid some have called it the foundation of society — even a memorial to dead presidents on which their likenesses are emblazoned. Found in large quantities it is called grand. The central pole of the Big Tent is made of it. Yes, we’re talking about money.

The chief problem with money, as Walter Russell Mead observes, is that the Blue Model is running out of it. Once upon a time the money was just out there. The dollars were mooing and lowing like the buffalo on the Great Plains. The only problem was divvying it up. But now that it’s getting harder to come by, a whole host of professions based on the dollar hunting and skinning business is becoming endangered. Mead describes the situation in his vivid prose:

The dream machines of the blue social engineers don’t sail serenely across the azure sky anymore. Think of the various carbon exchanges and environmental planetary schemes; think of high speed rail proposals like California’s $100 billion train to bankruptcy; think of Obamacare. These days the experts, “social entrepreneurs” and smart young blue twenty somethings fresh out of the Ivy League whomp up social programs with as much verve and dedication as their New Deal and Great Society predecessors, but the new Dreamliners don’t take off. At most they roll around the runway, emitting clouds of noxious smoke; wings fall off, windows pop out, turbines misfire and the tires go flat.

The Big Tent is the house that  jack built. And jack has left town.

So don’t be surprised if the the Big Tent is sagging at the edges. The marketing department has been particularly hard-hit. Al Gore’s Current network was paying Keith Olbermann $50 million to attract viewers they hoped to have.  Olbermann was supposed to be its primary liberal voice. But the New York Times explained that Olberman wasn’t attracting anybody, even though he acted like he was:

In his 40 weeks on Current TV, he had an average of 177,000 viewers at 8 p.m., down from the roughly one million that he had each night on MSNBC. Just 57,000 of those viewers on any given night were between the ages of 25 and 54, the coveted advertising demographic for cable news.

Talking Points Memo quoted a source which said “Olbermann failed to show up for work without authorization, missing almost half of his working days in the months of January and February. Olbermann asked for a vacation day on March 5, the night before Super Tuesday, according to the source. He was told it would be a breach if he took the vacation, which Olbermann did.” For his part, Olbermann said he would sue Gore. In the end, perhaps, they both needed and deserved each other.

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