Ed Driscoll

Reelin' in the Years with the Ruling Class

In 1977’s It Didn’t Start with Watergate, Victor Lasky took a presidential-level snapshot of the power of the media in the sixties and seventies:

Shortly after the 1968 presidential election, [Lyndon Johnson, the outgoing president] had sought to warn the Vice President-elect about the antagonistic nature of the media.

“Young man,” he told Agnew, “We have in this country two big television networks, NBC and CBS. We have two news magazines, Newsweek and Time. We have two wire services, AP and UPI. We have two pollsters, Gallup and Harris. We have two big newspapers — the Washington Post and the New York Times. They’re all so damned big they think they own the country. But young man, don’t get any ideas about fighting.”

Perhaps surprisingly given their obsessive lip-service to the words like “tolerance” and “diversity,” today’s elites have very little tolerance for the diversity of today’s demassified media, as Walter E. Williams notes in his new column:

Charles Krauthammer, in his Washington Post column (8/27/10), said, “Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed,” pointing out that overwhelming majorities of Americans have repudiated liberal agenda items such as: Obamacare, Obama’s stimulus, building an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage, lax immigration law enforcement and vast expansion of federal power that includes unprecedented debt and deficits.

The nation’s elite and the news media see being against the Obama-led agenda as being racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, mean-spirited and insensitive. Paul Krugman, columnist for The New York Times, has a different twist expressed in “It’s Witch-Hunt Season” (8/29/10). Krugman says that the last time a Democrat sat in the White House, Bill Clinton, he faced a witch-hunt by his political opponents. “Now,” Krugman says, “it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse,” asking, “So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?”

Professor Krugman and others among America’s elite blame some of the rage on talk-show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. They are only partially correct. What talk shows have accomplished is they’ve ended the isolation of many ordinary Americans. When the liberal mainstream media dominated the airwaves, Americans who were against race and sex quotas were made to feel as though they were racists and sexists. Americans who were against big government were portrayed as mean-spirited and uncaring. What talk radio and the massive expansion in non-traditional media have done is not only end the isolation, but more important, the silence amongst ordinary Americans.

And as Angelo M. Codevilla writes in his thesis on America’s Ruling Class, such disdain for the masses is very much a bipartisan affair. Or as Allahpundit noted last night:

I just finished watching Karl Rove trashing GOP Senate primary winner Christine O’Donnell. It was on Sean Hannity’s FNC show. Might as well have been Olbermann on MSNBC. The establishment Beltway strategist couldn’t even bother with an obligatory word of congratulations for O’Donnell. He criticized her “character” and “rectitude” and claimed she hadn’t answered questions about her financial woes. She did so here. Rove mocked her security concerns as “nutty.” Yet, her concerns have been more than justified. See here.

Rove came across as an effete sore loser instead of the supposedly brilliant and grounded GOP strategists that he’s supposed to be. Expect more Washington Republicans to start sounding like Tea Party-bashing libs as their entrenched incumbent friends go down.

Ed Morrissey adds:

What does Mike Castle’s crash and burn among Delaware Republicans say about their party organization?  After all, we have heard oodles of commentary about how Delaware Republicans are moderates who might get energized by the Tea Party but supposedly aren’t looking for conservative candidates.  Instead, they convinced Castle to leave a relatively safe House seat instead of looking for someone who hadn’t backed a government takeover of the energy sector in cap-and-trade (in a coal-dependent region!) and co-sponsored the DISCLOSE Act.  Perhaps had the GOP establishment listened a little more carefully to Delaware Republicans, who turned out relatively heavily in this election, they wouldn’t find themselves crying in their lattes this morning.They stuck with a liberal, establishment candidate in a cycle where liberals and establishment figures are uniquely unpopular.  Had the Republican leadership been in touch with Delaware Republican voters, they might have found a more suitable candidate for the popular mood, and would not have had to deal with Christine O’Donnell and her outsider bid.  They have no one to blame but themselves.

Instead of pouting, Republican leaders in Delaware and around the country need to unite around the nominee, who was chosen by the Republicans in Delaware.  Had Castle won the nomination, they would have demanded unity themselves, and rightly so.   If they want to continue to issue snarky, anonymous asides and in essence take their ball and go home, don’t expect the electorate to follow them into battle in the future.  Rarely have I seen such childishness from the supposed leaders of a political establishment, who set the very rules and customs they now want to ignore because they just got embarrassed on a national stage.

They’re all so damned big they think they own the country. But young man, don’t get any ideas about fighting.

To be honest, I doubt Spiro and LBJ would be that surprised that the ruling class (that they themselves perilously stood atop for a brief time) doesn’t act all that much different today than in 1969, except that they’re angry that information no longer flows exclusively from the top down. And has enabled the booboisie, as H.L. Mencken contemptuously dubbed 7/8th of America nearly a century ago, to have the temerity to rise beyond their station.

Update: Byron York adds, “It’s not every day you win the Republican Party’s nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate and the Republican Party tells you to get lost.  But that’s exactly what happened to Christine O’Donnell here Tuesday evening.”

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