Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Distortions And Smears"

A couple weeks ago I did a series of posts in which I highlighted the egregious conduct of the mainstream press towards Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the process, I think I disappointed Democracy Lover, because I seemed to be advocating for Sen. Clinton, even though I have stated that I much prefer Sen. Dodd as a candidate because of his stance on restoring the Constitution, and Rep. Kucinich because of his stance on socio-economic issues. The reason I was defending Sen. Clinton against the scurrilous, inaccurate, and psychologically problematical attacks from Tim Russert and Chris Matthews is summed up by Glenn Greenwald today:
I'm not trying to be Ron Paul's advocate but, still, outright distortions and smears are distortions and smears.

One does not have to support a candidate for office to decry bad, dishonest, scary-creepy journalism. All one need consider is a bit of journalistic history to see a pattern, which Greenwald highlights:
It has become fashionable among certain commentators to hurl insults at Ron Paul such as "huge weirdo," "fruitcake," and the like. Interestingly, the same thing was done to another anti-war medical doctor/politician, Howard Dean, back in 2003, as Charles Krauthammer infamously pronounced with regard to Dean that "it's time to check on thorazine supplies." Krauthammer subsequently said that "[i]t looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again."

For a long time now, I've heard a lot of people ask: "where are the principled conservatives?" -- meaning those on the Right who are willing to oppose the constitutional transgressions and abuses of the Bush administration without regard to party loyalty. A "principled conservative" isn't someone who agrees with liberals on most issues; that would make them a "principled liberal." A "principled conservative" is someone who aggressively objects to the radicalism of the neocons and the Bush/Cheney assault on our constitution and embraces a conservative political ideology. That's what Ron Paul is, and it's hardly a surprise that he holds many views anathema to most liberals. That hardly makes him a "fruitcake."
This whole concept of singling out and labelling as "weirdos" and "fruitcakes" political figures because they espouse views that are held only by a small number of people is nothing more than an attempt to discredit someone without having to do the work to engage their arguments. It's actually a tactic right out of the seventh grade cafeteria. It's just a slothful mechanism for enforcing norms.

Again, I am not supporting Rep. Paul, or Sen. Clinton. I am calling out the way journalistic and political narratives are used that include inaccuracies, character assassination, and outright lies to destroy a candidate who is perceived to be "outside the mainstream". Digby makes this larger point best (as always):
This is not about Hillary. All you have to do is read The Daily Howler's archives to see that the press ran the same game on Gore, to an almost comic degree, and we all watched them help the Republicans turn John Kerry into a "phony soldier." They'll do it to Obama, to Edwards or any of the rest --- they've already laid the groundwork on all of them. This is nothing personal. The Clinton Rules apply to any Democrat. It's just the way the Village does business.

THAT is my point. If Obama believes he will be treated with respect by these people he is either naive or delusional. If Edwards thinks the haircut/"Breck Girl" narrative will disappear should he get the Democratic nod, he is kidding himself. While it is true there is a visceral hatred and fear of Sen. Clinton among many of our top "journalists", do not think this will impede them from howling with rage at whoever the Democrats nominate.

That's why I don't hate on Hillary, or attack her from the left. The fire is raging all over the place, and will consume any Democrat who runs for high office. To pretend otherwise is to deceive oneself. To think it possible to engage in serious discussion and criticism outside this larger, hate-filled framework is to live in cloud-cuckoo land. It isn't about Clinton, or Paul, or Obama, or Edwards, or Kucinich. It's about the distortions and smears.

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