Monday, October 27, 2014

Thomas Frank still thinks like a Republican

I suppose that it should come as no surprise that most of the people on the left who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) are former Republicans. No - I'm not buying into some tin-foil hat conspiracy theory that these folks are simply infiltrators. What's more likely is that they've been steeped in the ideology of dominance as the only form of power - or as Audre Lorde would suggest - they continue to cling to the idea that the master's tools can dismantle the master's house.

So low and behold, I find out today that Thomas Frank, the current spokesperson for leftist ODS now that no one is paying any attention to Glenn Greenwald, is a former Republican. He validates my theory about all this in his recent column titled: We are such losers.

Frank's point in this article is to suggest various similarities between Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama (apparently they're losers as far as he's concerned). Along the way he demonstrates his white male privileged ignorance by suggesting that the demographic changes we see today will no more shift politics in favor of the Democrats than the wishful post-Watergate assumptions of the 70's. And he actually assumes that President Carter's symbolic gesture to turn down the White House thermostat and dawn sweaters was indicative of his embrace of austerity rather than about energy conservation. That's some major level ignorance!

But overall Frank's message about these two presidents eerily mimics the Republican obsession with the futility of intelligent policies over those steeped in ideology. Here's the money quote at the end.
The moral of this story is not directed at Democratic politicians; it is meant for us, the liberal rank and file. We still “yearn to believe,” as Perlstein says. There is something about the Carter / Obama personality that appeals to us in a deep, unspoken way, and that has led Democrats to fall for a whole string of passionless centrists: John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. Each time, Democratic voters are enchanted by a kind of intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.

We are such losers.
Whenever you hear one of these idiots talking about "centrists," its helpful to replace it with "pragmatists." That becomes obvious when, at the end of the quote, Frank mocks the idea that Democrats "are so scientific." In other words, he thinks we're losers because we are wedded to pragmatic ideas that are grounded in science rather than a rigid adherence to ideology.

All dressed up in his liberal sheep's clothing, Thomas Frank sounds an awful lot like a Republican to me.


  1. Not for nothing, but Greenwald made his bones writing for, which is also Frank's latest writing home.

    1. Yes, I've noticed that. Salon seems to have an attraction to former Republicans turned liberal who suffer from ODS.

    2. Yes. See also Sirota, David.

  2. Divorcing oneself from facts, from the difficult measure of actually READING bills and policies, is totally comforting because it permits the same freedom to rant that the GOP and extremists have. How can you get a good hard-on if you actually KNOW what has been done well, what has succeeded, what has NOT failed? Far better to create the strawman that can be trashed and burned without a lick of reference to reality.

    I despair of our nation's slide into desiring some visceral 'gotcha'. Back in the 70s there was a press to get in touch with 'feelings' and divorcing those from intellect. That was seen as a huge step forward - you were angry. Period. You were happy. Period. You were upset or passionate or anguished or... without any reflection on why or whether the feeling was appropriate to the experience. No longer "I think therefore I am". It was "I fee so therefore I am and to hell with why." Sorry if PBO doesn't float your boat with quickie satisfaction, but for those of us whose emotional satisfaction comes in second to our intellectual self respect, this president has filled the bill on every issue. Life is complex not simple, and simplistic gut-level fuzzies are utterly, totally, and historically irrelevant. Solid policy helping millions is all that matters. I expect better from Frank, but I watch as more and more people go for the gut instead of the intellect because accolades from the EmoProg crowd is all that matters.

  3. I was shocked at Frank's take on "we liberals". So off the wall, I wondered if he had turned his essay over to someone else and forgot to edit or even read it. It could be that as a former Republican he has no clue about what liberalism is all about.

    Barack Obama was never going to be a true liberal in the most liberal sense of the word. The president has to be a pragmatist and we were never going to get everything we asked for. We should have got more than we did, but overall Obama has done more than I ever expected, considering the viciousness of the Republican blowback.

    What I get from these attacks from the left is the sense that they've given up any need to look to the common good in order to make demands that, if they stood back and looked at the big picture, seem too close for comfort from those on the right.

    We won't survive as a country if both the left and the right join forces to denounce our government We need big government. Big government is the only entity powerful enough to get the job done. We need honesty, we need scrutiny, but we don't need a public made paranoid about every aspect of our government, which is what we'll get if even the progressive pundits continue to go on the attack against our president. The Republicans will win if it doesn't stop. And that's a fact.