Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is Hamsher the left's Limbaugh?

Some of you may remember David Frum's Waterloo article that got him fired from the American Enterprise Institute. Most of us thought it was an accurate critique about how the Limbaughs of the right had captured the Republican Party.

Lately I can't help but think about how one paragraph of that article fits so perfectly with what I see people like Jane Hamsher doing on the left. I'll quote it with the italicized words altered to make the point.

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and the blogs, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Blogs thrive on confrontation and recrimination. When Jane Hamsher supports efforts to primary the President, she was intelligently explaining her own interests. What she omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that she also wants Democrats to fail. If Democrats succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Jane's readers get less angry. And if they are less angry, they read the blogs less, and see fewer ads for Citibank.

Works, doesn't it?

Let's not let Hamsher do to the Democratic Party what Limbaugh has done to the Republicans. As an alternative, I'll simply quote what then-Senator Barack Obama wrote at Daily Kos in September 2005.

The bottom line is that our job is harder than the conservatives' job. After all, it's easy to articulate a belligerent foreign policy based solely on unilateral military action, a policy that sounds tough and acts dumb; it's harder to craft a foreign policy that's tough and smart. It's easy to dismantle government safety nets; it's harder to transform those safety nets so that they work for people and can be paid for. It's easy to embrace a theological absolutism; it's harder to find the right balance between the legitimate role of faith in our lives and the demands of our civic religion. But that's our job. And I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.


  1. When the basic values of any society move away from the sustaining principles of honesty, integrity, fairness, justice, and concern for the common good, and become instead the ceaseless search for more power and money and fame, there will always be the Limbaughs and Hamshers grabbing for as much center stage as they can get their hands on. In a free speech society, I can't see any way to prevent this, or to prevent gullible people from buying their snake oil.

    One hope I hang onto is that there are more of us than there are of them. People who spend their time out there in the trenches, rather than lapping up the rancid brew these kind of narcissistic jerks offs serve up day in day out.

    Another hope is that responsible reporters will step up big time, to investigate and expose the real motives behind the actions of those that manipulate and exploit people and the media for their own selfish ends.

    Keep up the good work, gal!

    (scribe here)

  2. Thanks scribe.

    I've sort of had my own rage on about this since attending NN. I'll need to let it go eventually because, as you say, these folks are an insignificant dime-a-dozen.

    But they piss me off!!!!!!

    That's why I quit going to DK in the first place. So perhaps I should have known better.


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