No one knows what might happen now. For the insurgents, it means a scalp they will surely use to purge the GOP of any further dissidence. But the insurgents were also backed by the establishment, including Tim Pawlenty, who’s supposed to be the reasonable center.
What we’re seeing, I suspect, is an almost classic example of a political party becoming more ideological after its defeat at the polls. in order for that ideology to win, they will also have to portray the Obama administration as so far to the left that voters have no choice but to back the Poujadists waiting in the wings. And that, of course, is what they’re doing. There is a method to the Ailes-Drudge-Cheney-Rove denialism. They create reality, remember?
Of course, liberal journalists being gobsmackingly gobsmacked over Matt Drudge is nothing new. His run-ins with the establishment date back to the Clinton era:
You can tell the phoniness of the anti-Drudge consensus by its blustering incoherence. Former White House spokesmen Joe Lockhart and Mike McCurry often refused to answer press questions that emanated from rumors circulated by Drudge. It was, they averred, beneath them. Did it ever dawn on them that for almost a year Drudge was telling the truth and the president was telling grade-A, USDA-approved whoppers? You’d think the man who helped break the Lewinsky story would have gained some level of respect in its wake. But no. In the official wisdom of Washington, the
hacks who rewrite White House press releases day after day are far more distinguished than the man Bill Clinton once referred to as “Sludge.” (Full disclosure: Drudge’s site has carried a link to my work for months, along with links to dozens of other writers.)
When Drudge’s ill-conceived TV show was canned last year, his critics salivated. Frank Rich, a reliable barometer of bien-pensant liberalism, unloaded this bizarre opinion: “Journalistic watchdogs should be overjoyed at their nemesis’s ignominious exit from the tube. We should be thrilled that he no
longer has the power to terrorize the nation’s news cycles with his apocalyptic bulletins.” The pooh-bahs of journalism schools were equally dismissive. Marvin Kalb, Harvard’s chief press chin-stroker, has called Drudge a “conveyor of gossipy information.” Joan Konner, big macher at the Columbia Journalism
School, has said Drudge is “by no reasonable measure working in the public interest.” Give me a break. You can understand why the White House or Hillary Clinton might be happy to see Drudge take
a fall. But fellow journalists? “Thrilled” that the man who was the first to air the Lewinsky story might be silenced? “Overjoyed” that a lone hack with a phone and a modem might be quashed? Here’s a brief list of stories Drudge has aired first: the intern, the dress, the cigar, the MSNBC merger, Jack Kemp’s
vice presidential nomination, Seinfeld’s $1 million-per-episode salary, Kathleen Willey’s trauma, Princess Diana’s death. In recent months, Drudge has pioneered the story of Dick Cheney’s openly lesbian daughter and Hillary Clinton’s hospitality in the White House for her campaign donors. I don’t know why Rich and Konner think airing these stories is not in the public interest, but it seems to me that hypocrisy, law-breaking, and corner-cutting among our political leaders are subjects worth raising.
Yes, if you haven’t guessed yet, that was an earlier version of Andrew Sullivan, in the New Republic, way back in 2000. If only 2000-era Andrew could remind his current incarnation, “You can tell the phoniness of the anti-Drudge consensus by its blustering incoherence.”