Punch Lines

I tried, I really did. I wanted to be all Zen about the craziness, see if it blew over, ponder the leaves and the grass and the comng of a really lovely spring to Cineville. Grade papers, go to brunch, see a movie. Breathe, breathe.

Just when I thought I was out, they keep pulling me in!

Ironically, the episode of Friends excerpted above aired in local syndication Thursday night, the day after the absurd debate in Philadelphia, and in the midst of the even more absurd defenses from David Brooks and National Review, and the ultimately self-destructive responses from Clinton supporters like Joan Walsh and Tom Watson (I can respect Watson more than Walsh because he's at least upfront about his fandom, although both of them have had enough intellectually dishonest moments in this campaign season that they should really form a band and go on the road as the Disingenuous Duo). The Daily Show had a funny takedown of the George-and-Charlie show, and Digby and Glenn Greenwald, as usual, do a good job of framing the larger media narratives that ABC's performance both fuels and is fueled by (Greenwald also corrects the narrative that Obama is "hurting himself" by *gasp* actually quoting polling data that suggests he's closing the gap in PA; do you think Joan Walsh, Salon's editor-in-chief, even notices what her own website publishes?).

I expect nothing from Chris Matthews, National Review or the increasingly disgusting "jus' folks," gun-toting silliness of the Clinton campaign. But I sometimes think there's a Stockholm Syndrome even among liberal politicians, bloggers and commentators when it comes to these narratives-- that we've lived so long with the word "gate" attached to every political misstep or scandal that we've subconsciously absorbed the methods of the right and don't even see them as a problem anymore. Josh Marshall discusses that succinctly here, and I would only add two things: 1) Please spare me the recurring trope-- used by Walsh, Chris Matthews, and Maureen Dowd, among so many others--of "I'm just a working-class Irish person..." (which is tired and vaguely racist and immensely self-deluding) as an excuse for misconstruing Democrats' personal histories and policy proposals and dissembling about your own anxieties surrounding black and female candidates; 2) how is what Obama said any different than what Thomas Frank was celebrated by so many good lefties for writing in What's The Matter With Kansas? How is it different than what Bill Clinton said in 1991? How is it different than analyses that occur in academic journals and conferences? How is it different than the kind of material that Salon's been publishing for the last decade? Is it somehow deeper and more acceptable when it comes from the mouths of journalists and academics than actual presidential candidates? Or is the real 'bitterness' in the commentariat, who sense that a shift from the Clintons to anyone else as the center of Democratic politics would mean the loss of a good gig for folks on both the right and the left?


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