It’s Gergen’s World And We’re Living In It

Via Andrew, this graphic summarizing a Pew poll questioning what people do and don’t know:

The full poll is here, and Andrew remarks that “In a country where Sarah Palin is a serious political figure, I find it all too easy to believe.” Let’s revisit that Gergen and Taibbi Rolling Stone roundtable:

Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they’re just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That’s part of the Tea Party’s litmus test: “How far will you go?”

Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there’s no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.

Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.

Taibbi: I’m not saying that they’re small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they’re all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts. They’re voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that’s enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I’m not saying they’re beneath serious conversation. I’m saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

Forty percent of Delaware voted for O’Donnell. That’s crazy.

David Gergen makes up his own reality and responds to feelings and trite beltway babble. Matt Taibbi looks around him and reacts to evidence and data. David Gergen is considered a very serious person and advises Presidents. Matt Taibbi is not considered serious because he says fuck.

We’re so screwed as a nation.






112 replies
  1. 1
    MikeJ says:

    Why is voting for O’Donnell any crazier than voting for any other Republican who will vote exactly the same way she will?

  2. 2
    satby says:

    I’m afraid Taibbi will have a very tragic “accident” one day; the guy gets too close to the truth to make some folks comfortable.

  3. 3

    Matt Taibbi says fuck because he looks around and reacts to evidence and data.

    For example, the impeachment of Obama will be over the New Black Panthers case. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is about to release a partisan, cherrypicked document excoriating the Obama DOJ over its alleged racial bias in enforcing voting-rights laws. The astounding thing for me is that the Democrats refused to impeach Bush for the things he did (torture, lying about WMD’s, etc.), but here the Republicans will be impeaching Obama for something that Bush did: make the New Black Panther case a civil matter instead of criminal.

    Fuck.

  4. 4
    Nom de Plume says:

    The only part of that poll that surprises me is that only 26% know about Google’s phone software. I would have expected that to be near the top, along with whatever useless “royal” is planning a wedding this week.

  5. 5
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I’m confused about what you’re trying to get at with the Pew poll.

  6. 6
    SlyFox says:

    The next question to Gergen should have been, could a Tea Party candidate in 2012 win without moving to the left after the Republican primary? Thats one I’d like to know.

  7. 7
    JCT says:

    David Gergen makes up his own reality and responds to feelings and trite beltway babble. Matt Taibbi looks around him and reacts to evidence and data. David Gergen is considered a very serious person and advises Presidents. Matt Taibbi is not considered serious because he says fuck.

    Perfect distillation of what has happened to political discourse.

    Fuck.

  8. 8
    Mudge says:

    The thought of getting rid of the filibuster, as awful as it is, and empowering a full Republican majority in 2012 (or beyond) scares me to death.

    Yes, John, we are so screwed.

  9. 9
    Ken Pidcock says:

    Good for Matt Taibbi. I would like to have seen more push back against the “Oh, so you think Americans are stupid, do you?” crap.

    The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

    Some of the worst actors in human history were well washed and educated.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate.

    Hah. Taibbi is not dismissing them. He is rightfully alarmed that uneducated know-nothings have somehow seized power in the American electorate.

  11. 11
    DonkeyKong says:

    Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

    What Gergen is really saying to Taibbi is “Listen asshole, we have spent alot of money and time training these pavlovian conditioned racist goons, er tea party patriots to fuck themselves in the ass HARD, don’t fuck that up!”

  12. 12
    Felonious Wench says:

    Matt Taibbi said what I’ve been saying for months, and we’ve been saying here for months, the Teabaggers are just batshit crazy. The fact they’re attracting more people says more about the people than the legitimacy of their platform.

    I wonder sometimes how many people have really read the literature coming out of the Tea Party, and how many are just jumping on a train of soundbites.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: I am still bothered by the fact that people who should know better talk about the Tea Party as though it was something other than a subset of the GOP.

  14. 14
    steviez314 says:

    DELAWARE: 49% of Whites voted for O’Donnell.

    58% of White Men voted for O’Donnell.

    White America has lost its mind.

  15. 15
    burnspbesq says:

    The unfortunate reality is that there is a vast number of low-information voters out there who are easily persuaded to vote against their own interests. There is nothing that you, or I, or Matt Taibbi, can do to change that within any relevant time frame. Pretending they don’t exist is folly, and pretending that giving them the facts will make a difference flies in the face of all of the available evidence.

    Yes, in many respects they are crazy. So what? That doesn’t disqualify them from voting.

    They are out there, and they have to be dealt with or neutralized in order for any progress to be made.

    On that point, Gergen has the better of the argument.

  16. 16
    balconesfault says:

    I love how Taibbi stood by his point and didn’t back down. I wonder how many DC journalists either envy or hate him when he does that, while they know their own jobs rely on them going back to transcribing what’s commonly accepted.

  17. 17
    steviez314 says:

    AND NEW YORK:

    47% of Whites and 54% of White Men voted for Carl Freakin’ Paladino.

    White America has lost its mind.

  18. 18
    balconesfault says:

    @burnspbesq:
    They are out there, and they have to be dealt with or neutralized in order for any progress to be made.

    On that point, Gergen has the better of the argument.

    Not really. Because Gergen is making no argument as to how to deal with or neutralize them. He’s acting as if just acknowledging their legitimacy is all we need to do.

    Taibbi is laying out the pathway for neutralizing them. You start pointing out in the public square that the Tea Partiers are crazy, that they’re disinterested in facts, that they don’t really care if Fox and Limbaugh are propagandizing them – the Tea Partiers want to be fed propaganda.

    That’s how you neutralize them – you create a climate where someone says they’re with the Tea Party and those around them say “wtf?”

  19. 19
    SectarianSofa says:

    Damn. Well, I had missed this before. Props to Taibbi and rolling stone for not sucking.

  20. 20
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Matt Taibbi lived on the streets in Moscow, correct? He knows what a failed empire and post-totalitarian society looks like, up close and in person. David Gergen is the flip side of that – the only thing he knows is what the beneficial side of an imperial state looks like from the top. Each of them observes an aspect of our society which resonates with their experience.

    Taibbi looks around and sees a kleptomanical plutocracy and emerging mafia-capitalist state. Gergen sees torte reform.

  21. 21
    ItAintEazy says:

    I actually bought that Rolling Stone issue for that latest Taibbi article and that interview with Eminem (yeah, what?) that roundtable was a delightful and unexpected bonus :D

  22. 22
    Wag says:

    Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

    Gergen is right, but only in part, see emphasis above.

  23. 23
    Nick says:

    @burnspbesq: That’s the part that bothers me. I don’t think Gergen is saying “bow down to the tea party, they’re awesome” I think where he’s going is “Yes, Matt, ok, but now you need to deal with the fact that they’re a political force”

    Whether we want to mock them, or want to pretend like they don’t exist, they do. And they’re going to be passivied by some attack on Wall Street.

  24. 24
    Sister Machine Gun of Quite Harmony says:

    If America has lost its mind, then we have to be the responsible adults. Which is why you need to stop your fussing and moaning, get on the phone, and tell you #@$&@! Senators to ratify the START treaty. While the GOP may be crazy enough to risk a dirty bomb going off in a US city, we aren’t that crazy and are going to have to fight to restore some sanity.

  25. 25
    Taobhan says:

    I think Taibbi is right on the mark. A significant percentage of the American voting public is uninformed and doesn’t want the facts. They are voting for politicians who are going to ultimately hose the country but they don’t know and don’t care. So, when a democracy reaches this stage, I agree with John Cole when he says that our republic is royally screwed. It makes one wonder how much longer it can last if this trend continues into another election cycle or two.

  26. 26
    georgia pig says:

    You should know you’re one of the inmates when you can’t tell the difference between the inmates and the staff. Remember, there’s always one guy in the asylum who can fool you into thinking he’s sane, but later you find out he completely batshit, even more than the guys dancing with invisible fairies in the rec room. What even Taibbi misses is that the Gergens are also fundamentally crazy. Anyone having an institutional stake in this motherfucker of a country should be scared shitless that it’s starting to look like a banana republic or a corrupt Russian oligarchy. It’s not like there are a lot of other places to go.

    What do the very serious people worry about? Social Security fifty fucking years from now. What is their solution? Cut tax rates for rich people and raise the retirement age for current four year olds. So, are the Teabaggers any crazier than the Gergens? Understand why the Gergens can’t see it?

  27. 27
    Nick says:

    @balconesfault:

    Not really. Because Gergen is making no argument as to how to deal with or neutralize them. He’s acting as if just acknowledging their legitimacy is all we need to do.

    This is true.

    Taibbi is laying out the pathway for neutralizing them. You start pointing out in the public square that the Tea Partiers are crazy, that they’re disinterested in facts, that they don’t really care if Fox and Limbaugh are propagandizing them – the Tea Partiers want to be fed propaganda.
    That’s how you neutralize them – you create a climate where someone says they’re with the Tea Party and those around them say “wtf?”

    Haven’t we been doing that? What if half the country is just as crazy? I mean, like John said, Christine O’Donnell did better in Delaware than John McCain did. What if we can’t neutralize them that way because half the country DOES NOT think they’re crazy.

  28. 28
    SectarianSofa says:

    I used to think gergen was a couple of orders of magnitude above Brooks in terms of reasonableness. (Comparing mainstream big media guys.) I haven’t paid enough attention to the Snooze Hour etc. to know of that might possibly still be the case.

  29. 29
    Lavocat says:

    @steviez314: No, OLD white America has lost its mind. They don’t like those uppity non-whites touching the levers of power.

  30. 30
    quaint irene says:

    We’re so screwed as a nation.

    John, are you gonna have that made up into a t-shirt? I think that’s the fifth time you’ve typed that sentence in the past 2 days.

    Not that I disagree with you.

  31. 31
    A Duck says:

    Gergen is the dictionary definition of apparatchik

  32. 32
    Upper West says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Me too as to the Pew Poll — those results are actually much better than recent polls as to what people know (e.g., the one that said 40 something % didn’t know Biden was VP).

  33. 33
    WyldPirate says:

    @Brachiator:

    Taibbi is not dismissing them. He is rightfully alarmed that uneducated know-nothings have somehow seized power in the American electorate.

    It’s even worse in the media. Here’s a sample from Morning Joe this morning when they were discussing the defeat of the proposal to extend IB for 3 months.

    Joe S. “Why did it get voted down and who were the Dems that voted against it”. Totally ignoring the fact that it was one of the 2/3 majority types of votes he should have been than familiar with.

    Joe S. Repeated the same old anecdotal evidence from his Florida buddies who are small businessmen that “I can’t find people to lay bricks for $17 per hour”. Never mind that a white collar person that is laid off doesn’t know how to lay bricks.

    from multiple people on the show: “Wow, $17/hour is good pay!”

    From Nora ODonnell– “Do you mean unemployment benefits are more stimulative than tax breaks?”

    This is from people getting paid hundreds of thousands to millions per year and whose job it is to be informed but they’re dumber than a goddamned box of rocks.

  34. 34
    Allan says:

    ZOMG POLLS PEW PEW PEW

  35. 35
    we can be heroes says:

    A round table presumes an exchange of ideas, but Gergen is so scripted, he always ducks back to his talking points even as Tabbi is veering wildly off script. Gerson’s always been a humorless stuffed shirt and here comes off as an ideologically blinkered prig as well. I’m glad Tabbi caught him off guard with the slam on Rubin, showing him up as just another courtier.

    Hart isn’t even really worth mentioning, is he?; he’s just another “liberal” place holder. Blah blah blah. Hey Peter: so what.

  36. 36
    Mike G says:

    It is elitist to its core.

    One of the village elders has pulled out his snuff box and lace hanky and is sniffing with disdain that one of the unwashed peasants has somehow gained entry to the gentleman’s club and has the temerity to act ‘elitist’. Credibility FAIL.

  37. 37
    J says:

    So someone (Tabibi) who is, I would guess, inclined towards justice (social and otherwise) and egalitarianism is the elitist, while someone (Gergen) who has spent his life as a fawning courtier of the rich and privileged and who supports policies (and sympathizes with movements) the actual and intended effect of which will be to further concentrate wealth and privilege in the hands of the few is the common man’s friend.

    This is the story of our times.

  38. 38
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    We’re so screwed as a nation.

    I think we all now know what it must have felt like to be a citizen of the Roman Empire circa 400 AD.

    Or to quote C3PO: “We’re doomed”

  39. 39
    wasabi gasp says:

    The great unwashed masses are always down for taking a bath.

  40. 40
    geg6 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    On that point, Gergen has the better of the argument.

    WTF are you talking about? Taibbi does not say they shouldn’t be taken seriously. In fact, he says we should and it’s alarming that we are at such a pass in this country that crazy people have to be taken seriously. Whereas that sack of shit Gergen is shocked, shocked, I tell you, that anyone would characterize the morans as crazy.

    Gergen has no argument, let alone gets the better of Taibbi. Taibbi pwned Gergen.

  41. 41
    suzanne says:

    Matt Taibbi is not considered serious because he says fuck.

    This is so true. Even among some on the left, there seems to be the attitude that expressing emotion is an indicator of weakness in one’s argument. On the last post about this exchange, one person commented that s/he didn’t know why so many on the left admire Taibbi for saying things like, “Fuck the bastards”. I don’t know why emotion and fact are considered mutually exclusive, or why some people still can’t tell the difference.

  42. 42
    StevenDS says:

    Never forget the phrase: Talk sense to a fool and he will call you foolish.

  43. 43
    Mark S. says:

    This post and the last one crystallize the elitist strategy for fucking the rest of us.

    OT–Northwestern, Illinois and the Big Ten have agreed to run their offenses in only one direction Saturday at Wrigley Field because of concerns that the stadium’s outfield wall is too close to the field behind one end zone.

    Why are they even bothering to play there then?

  44. 44
    MaximusNYC says:

    This exchange is so revealing. It exposes the perverse pretzel-logic pseudo-populism of the Village elites like Gergen. Since the rise of Reagan, these people have labored to convince themselves that conservative blowhards represent “real America”, and that the blowhards’ views must be taken seriously as the authentic perspectives of the heartland.

    Of course the people who have internalized this are the most elite, out-of-touch types to begin with (see David Brooks and the Applebee’s salad bar). It’s precisely because they know nothing about the diversity of the heartland that they’re so gullibly willing to believe that all heartlanders are Tea Partiers.

    Taibbi isn’t afraid to bluntly say that the emperor wears no clothes. Gergen is, naturally, appalled by this, because in his world, “vox populi, vox dei”. And he — like so many other Beltway types (including plenty of Dems!) — has been conned into thinking that angry white conservatives = “the people”.

  45. 45
    StevenDS says:

    On a side note, this was probably the funniest part of the discussion:

    Speaking of 2012, which of the Republican presidential hopefuls benefited the most from this election?
    Gergen: There’s no question that Sarah Palin has gained more from this as a Republican kingmaker. But I imagine there’s going to be a search for someone else to serve as the bridge-builder I mentioned earlier. To me, the leading possibility, if he can overcome the brand-name problem, is Jeb Bush. Two years ago, you would have said, “Impossible.” Today, quite possible. He’s a much more viable candidate today than he was two years ago, and he’s one of the few people I know who could bridge the various factions within the party and hold people together. So I’m putting my money on Jeb Bush as a potential star who might emerge and unite the party.

    Taibbi: Whew. I was already depressed this morning, but thinking about another Bush as the better-case scenario in an either/or political future makes me want to douse myself with kerosene and jump into a blast furnace.

  46. 46
    burnspbesq says:

    Add re Taibbi: his heart is clearly in the right place, but he needs to learn two things: (1) invective is no substitute for evidence, and (2) profanity is a poor substitute for analysis.

    Whether he’s actually an asshole or not, he comes off as one.

  47. 47
    ET says:

    25+ years ago political elites (of which Gergen is one), would have dismissed Tea Partiers for the same reasons Taibbi did. The only difference is that today Tea Partier mentality is the bulk of GOP sentiment in stead of a few fringe types that could be easily dismissed. These views and the people that proudly carry the Tea Party banner are the driving force and can’t be ignored anymore especially by people who want to be seen as fair, balanced, unbiased and not elitist establishment types.

  48. 48
    Surly Duff says:

    @Nick:

    That’s the part that bothers me. I don’t think Gergen is saying “bow down to the tea party, they’re awesome” I think where he’s going is “Yes, Matt, ok, but now you need to deal with the fact that they’re a political force”

    OK, but Taibbi is not discounting them as a political force; he is simply pointing out that they are unwilling to consider facts and evidence. Gergen’s view is the problem with political punditry. Gergen looks at a percentage point and claims that because of the numbers we have to consider their views as valid. Taibbi responds by saying that “Fuck that”. We can acknowledge that these people exist with those views, but it also needs to be pointed out that they are wrong.

    This was the whole issue with CNN’s birther coverage. Just because a significant portion of people choose to ingore evidence and believe that the President is not a citizen do not mean that those incorrect and ignorant opinions need to be considered or given respect.

    That is essentially the point Taibbi is making. Acknowledge the existence of a group of people that are taking positions that are based on distorition and misrepresentation of facts, but don’t consider those positions and arguments to be informed or factual.

  49. 49
    MattR says:

    @Mark S.:

    Why are they even bothering to play there then?

    $$. That completes this episode of SATSQ.

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    While Gergen is exhorting us to spend “more time listening to each other,” Taibbi is the only one on that panel who actually has spent a lot of time listening to the Teabaggers, and he’s out ringing the alarm bells.

    David Rothkopf has a good post here on the Teabaggers. He locates the genesis (heh heh) of their methods in the creationist movement:

    The roots for the current movement could be found in the arguments of creationists against teaching the science of evolution in the schools. But today we have a new generation of fundamentalists … climate creationists, foreign policy creationists, deficit creationists … for whom arithmetic and history are simply the tools of the devil.

    My only complaint is his calling this “Snookiism.” Snooki my be obnoxious and dumb as a sack of hammers, but she doesn’t strike me as mean, unlike, say, Palin and her brood.

  51. 51
    B-town says:

    @burnspbesq:
    Dood if that is not the pot calling the kettle black then I don’t know what is.

  52. 52
    batgirl says:

    @Nick: Sorry, I disagree. In fact, I think this comment

    but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core.

    is a perfect distillation of what is wrong the MSM.

    The MSM thinks it is actually elitist to, you know, educate the public about what is really going on, i.e. actually present verifiable facts. Instead, it’s job is to validate the fee-fees of the know-nothings.

    This country has always had crazies and a fringe. What is different is that the media is actually taking them seriously.

    Hooray for Taibbi for calling them out.

  53. 53
    Alex S. says:

    I still like Gergen and think that he’s the most reasonable and honest “concerned centrist”. But maybe his political compass has been broken ever since the last attempts of bipartisanship failed when the republicans decided that triangulation was not good enough and impeachment was better. So basically, Gergen might have been watching the last 15 years through the wrong lens.

  54. 54
    geg6 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Gawd, you really are insufferable sometimes. You probably don’t like HST’s stuff either. Or Will Roger’s. Or Mark Twain’s.

  55. 55
    geg6 says:

    @Alex S.:

    I still like Gergen

    Boggles the mind. Truly boggles the mind.

  56. 56
    Brachiator says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I am still bothered by the fact that people who should know better talk about the Tea Party as though it was something other than a subset of the GOP.

    I don’t think the Tea Party is just a subset of the GOP, and one of the few good things about the Tea Party Ascendancy is that they are a threat to the GOP and so here may indirectly help the Democrats.

    For example: the money interest of the GOP, and some libertarians, have always been in favor of immigration reform, because cheap labor lowers wage costs for business. Out here in California, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were both hot for guest worker programs, which would insure that agribusiness could get a steady supply of cheap, easily controlled workers.

    The worst of the Tea Party is atavistically anti-Latino.

    The mainstream GOP foolishly believes that they can control the malignant populism at the heart of the Tea Party movement. They’re wrong.

    And keep in mind that the Tea Party People have targeted, with some success less crazy Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. And despite some of their defeats, the Tea Party people will keep pushing dangerously ignorant candidates like Christine O’Donnell.

    In some ways, it’s much like the continued success of Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars, but in the political arena. People who vote for her are demonstrating their love and support for Sarah Palin, in their eyes the Shadow President of the United States, a mean-spirited, ignorant quitter who strangely has turned her chief creator, John McCain into a complete non-entity as she becomes the American Idol of the conservative base.

    The Tea Party people and their most fervent supporters are not just “low information voters.” They firmly believe that talent and competence are irrelevant. They burn with resentment and a distorted sense of grievance, and instead are energized by the dangerous delusion that low-rent interpretation of American ideals can substitute for thinking, and that all you need to do is stand up to your supposed enemies, or beat them to a pulp, and all will be right with the world.

    The David Gergens of the political scene have no idea of the havoc that will result from continuing to indulge this crowd.

  57. 57
    freelancer says:

    I was done with Gergen’s framing long before the election.

    It’s not about polling, it’s about truth. Taibbi knows this, but he’s butting up against Galtian Superhero Manifest Reality group think. It’s surely maddening.

  58. 58
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @MaximusNYC:

    Gergen is, naturally, appalled by this, because in his world, “vox populi, vox dei”. And he—like so many other Beltway types (including plenty of Dems!)—has been conned into thinking that angry white conservatives = “the people”.

    Gergen uses a major fallacy to his advantage in this discussion:

    Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

    Note how he is by implication equating voters in the midterm election with the population as a whole, and of course who could possibly believe that 40 percent of the population as a whole are crazy? But voters are not a random sample of the general population. In a country where less than half of the population are registered to vote at any given point in time and where election day turnout averages less than 50 percent of registered voters (and less than that in a midterm election), this so-called 40 percent represents at best maybe ten percent of the general population – and a very strongly self-selected ten percent at that.

    Mid-term voters do not equal “the people”, and their opinions have limited value in telling us what the other 90 percent are thinking. Frankly, I don’t think anybody, even with the best of intentions, has a very good idea what the American people as a whole think about our politics right now – and it appears that most of them have given up on democracy as a system for registering their needs, desires and opinions regarding how we should be governed. We have become a Republic of Fatalism, and most people belong to the party of Meh.

  59. 59
    Surly Duff says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Add re Taibbi: his heart is clearly in the right place, but he needs to learn two things: (1) invective is no substitute for evidence, and (2) profanity is a poor substitute for analysis.

    Maybe, but sometimes the most effective way to counter bullshit is to simply say, “bullshit!” Especially when speaking with someone like Gergen who ignores evidence and analysis for common thought among the pundit class. I would venture to guess that Gergen said the same mealy-mouthed bullshit in 2006 when the Dems took control of Congress.

    Add: When I say, “I would venture to guess”, I mean I absolutely know he is spouting the same crap. The main point of every Gergen discussion is that everything would be great if government and Congress would just be more bipartisan or more reaching across the aisle or more reacharounds or something.

  60. 60
    kay says:

    @Brachiator:

    The David Gergens of the political scene have no idea of the havoc that will result from continuing to indulge this crowd.

    They don’t think havoc will result because they don’t have any respect for them. It reminds me of Bill Kristol completely and utterly misreading middle class women by thinking Palin could replace Clinton. It wasn’t a populist move. It revealed his contempt.
    He’s throwing them a rhetorical bone, and that’s easy. He’s confident they won’t have any actual effect on the agenda.
    It’s a pat on the head.

  61. 61
    Bob L says:

    I think whats going on it quite simple: Gergen is there to do the media’s job – reinforce the pre-existing views of the audience and Taibbi just committed the mortal sin of calling that audience a bunch of idiots for wanting to be intellectually pandered to.

  62. 62
    vanya says:

    Now I know what it must have been like in Weimar Germany. People like Gergen were running around saying “I disagree with the National Socialist Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the German electorate.” Of course, what Gergen assumes, but doesn’t dare say out loud, is that his rich friends and neighbors who fund the Tea Party movement will coopt and leash it as soon as it starts getting truly threatening to the status quo. Knowing this he naturally thinks Taibbi is overreacting. Which is probably true. Still, part of me wishes the sincere Tea Party believers actually would take control just so the Gergens, the Kochs, the Murdochs, the Health Care CEOs and assorted hedge fund managers of the world would get a taste of what Real Murkins truly believe.

  63. 63
    PeakVT says:

    it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core.

    It’s a fact that they are uneducated know-nothings. That’s what Taibbi is trying to tell you. Idiot.

    I think Gergen actually believes in the “wisdom of the American people” which even a cursory reading of American history, not to mention the history of other countries, is a foolish position to take. It makes for good copy, though.

  64. 64
    kth says:

    A point perhaps even Gergen can get: too much attention to the fee-fees of business and industry is precisely how we got to the brink of a Second Great Depression, and the chief reason the current economic picture is so bleak.

    (added) The civility concern-trolling is somewhat apt; if you phrase your objection without swear words, the likes of Gergen can’t simply peremptorily ignore it.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    @geg6:

    “Gawd, you really are insufferable sometimes.”

    Mission accomplished. Afflicting the closed-minded is what Tiggers do best.

  66. 66
    El Cid says:

    HA HA HA HA HA

    Joe Scarborough, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” was briefly suspended Friday after Politico uncovered donations he had made to political candidates.
    __
    Mr. Scarborough’s donations to friends and family members totaled $2,000. His suspension will keep him off “Morning Joe” for two days.

  67. 67
    samson says:

    Without the foundation of an electorate possessed of a good education, a press with integrity, a respect for science, and basic philosophical reasoning skills, we’re pretty much traveling in a death spiral as a country and civilization. Death by overdose on ignorant, bigoted, greedy, and short sighted decisions is guaranteed.

  68. 68
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Nick:

    That’s the part that bothers me. I don’t think Gergen is saying “bow down to the tea party, they’re awesome” I think where he’s going is “Yes, Matt, ok, but now you need to deal with the fact that they’re a political force”

    Taibbi wasn’t in any way discounting that the tea party is a political force. But what our moran pundit class won’t acknowledge is that it’s a political force that not only isn’t swayed by fact or logic, it’s a political force made up primarily of people who go out of their way to avoid fact and logic, and when confronted by it simply, as Cole says, deny reality and substitute their own. They do this so easily and so obtusely that there is literally no way that I can think of to have a dialogue with them in a political system where a lack of dialogue can bring the entire house of cards down. They are willful know-nothings and they are now running the country. Taibbi gets that; Gergen is programmed either not to get it or at least not to talk about it.

  69. 69
    Bullsmith says:

    So instead educating Tea Partiers that “gov’t out of medicare” and “balance the budget through tax cuts” are not ideas that relate to reality, America needs to accept those ideas are a legitimate political opinion held by many, if not most, “real” Americans.

    However, to be clear, the proposition that everyone’s ideas deserve respect does not include the ideas of Europeans, DFHs or elected Democrats. There is a line.

    I used to have a soft spot for Gergen. Then I realized I was sitting in pee.

  70. 70
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Something like 45% of Oregonians in our Congressional District voted for Art Robinson rather than Peter DeFazio. Anyone who would vote for a guy who wants to solve the problem of nuclear waste by spraying it all over the earth and its oceans (and thinks it’s good for you!) is the definition of crazy.

    Taibbi is right, the teabaggers are fucking crazy.

  71. 71
    Paul in KY says:

    @Brachiator: No ‘teaparty’ candidate ran as a Democrat. All of them ran as Republicans. Doesn’t that settle it?

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    @kay:
    RE: The David Gergens of the political scene have no idea of the havoc that will result from continuing to indulge this crowd.

    They don’t think havoc will result because they don’t have any respect for them.

    Very true. But is it because they think that they can control the Tea Party people, or because they think that even if the Tea Party People gain power, they will somehow be unaffected or still in control?

    It reminds me of Bill Kristol completely and utterly misreading middle class women by thinking Palin could replace Clinton. It wasn’t a populist move. It revealed his contempt.

    There is a lot here to chew on. I think that Kristol, along with Ross Douthat and others, are Palin’s puppet masters. And in using her, they are not just trying to fool middle class women, but the entire American electorate.

    On the other hand, while I recognize Bill Clinton’s populist appeal, Hillary Clinton has never been a convincing populist. Also, even though the majority of women voters clearly rejected Palin, she clearly appeals to some women, but in a different way than does Hillary Clinton.

    But I think you nail it when you note that a great deal of Kristol’s machinations is founded in a fundamental contempt for the American people.

    He’s throwing them a rhetorical bone, and that’s easy. He’s confident they won’t have any actual effect on the agenda. It’s a pat on the head.

    Kristol, like Gergen and others, may be outsmarting themselves. Kristol and Douthat are elitists who not so secretly attempt to groom ignorant anti-elitists like Palin, O’Donnell, etc. And yet, they believe that Palin would not turn on him if she actually got back into the political arena and won? She left a trail of vindictive political payback as mayor and governor. And Palin obviously has turned on McCain in many ways. She would turn on Kristol at the first opportunity. And there wouldn’t be a thing that he could do about it.

  73. 73
    Aet says:

    “They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts.”

    They’re not crazy, the pathology at work is so much more interesting. They’re actively _hostile_ towards facts. Facts challenge their opinions. And their opinions are true.

    And Taibbi should swear more. The people who don’t understand what has happened in this country have provably demonstrated their blindness, and the only way to get their attention is to make sure they aren’t deaf.

  74. 74
    parsimon says:

    @kay:

    He’s confident they won’t have any actual effect on the agenda.

    Agreed. It’s unclear whether that’s in fact true.

    We don’t have an inside line into the strategic thinking of a Jim DeMint or, for the freshman class, a Marco Rubio, but the mass of Tea Party citizens represent, simply, votes. I would guess that elected Republicans who do lip service to Tea Party ideas are playing a very close game, serving up as much deficit-reduction and anti-soshulist rhetoric as they feel is necessary to retain those votes, while expecting to have to do very little in the way of implementing these things.

    That’s why the earmark moratorium resolution was a mild surprise; DeMint et al. have, apparently, more power than establishment Republicans, in that case Mitch McConnell, might have thought. The seeming ditching of ratification of the START treaty is another surprise.

    I expect that, yes, establishment Repubs have a bit more of a monster on their hands than they expected. I honestly expect to see an internal battle within their party over whether to shut down the government. Dick Armey and Karl Rove, and Grover Norquist, will be subjected to serious talks.

    As for Bill Kristol, he can go fuck a goat or whatever, and keep that smarmy look on his face the entire while. Absolutely cannot stand the guy.

  75. 75
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Brachiator:

    Kristol and Douthat are elitists who not so secretly attempt to groom ignorant anti-elitists like Palin, O’Donnell, etc.

    Well fortunately this is a strategy has that been tried many times in the past and has never, ever backfired badly on the people who tried it (as well as on everybody else unfortunate enough to be in the neighborhood). Especially not during a major economic depression.

    I can sleep better at night now.
    Thanks.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @Brachiator:

    I agree with everything you wrote except this:

    Hillary Clinton has never been a convincing populist.

    I think she became one. Not to get too silly and pundit-y, but she “found her voice” and she came off as authentic during the Ohio-PA phase of the primary. I didn’t support her, but she was a threat when she did that switcheroo. I could almost feel it here in Ohio. It changed, because she changed.

    It’s why she should be pissed at those moronic beltway cronies she hired to run her campaign. They did her wrong. Just let her run, for God’s sake. She was much better “playing” herself.

  77. 77
    Cris says:

    I don’t really see anything disturbing about that Pew poll. As Pew’s headline says: “Public Knows Basic Facts about Politics, Economics, But Struggles with Specifics.” Well, that seems just fine. Sometimes, I think “basic facts” are more valuable than specific details. (For instance, you should know Lincoln was president in the Civil War, but I don’t care if you know he was the 16th President.)

    We’re wonky here; anybody reading and commenting on political blogs is. We think these details are common knowledge. But does it really matter whether an ordinary US citizen can name the House Majority Speaker, much less the British Prime Minister?

    @geg6: who’s HST?

  78. 78
    Sister Machine Gun of Quite Harmony says:

    I don’t think that the failure of the media is just a matter of laziness. I think that Gergan’s attitude is rooted in post-modernism. I think it derives from the view that each culture has its own truth, and that one culture doesn’t get to impose its views on others. Everything is relative, so the cranky, old, Jesus freaks who faithfully parrot everything they hear on Fox news are entitled to their own truth. This is the opposite of the enlightenment, where truth was what had the most objective evidence to support it. We aren’t just battling a bunch of meh pundits and angry white people. We have to fight a philosophy that is eating away the foundations of our society, from the scientific method to our evidence based system of justice.

  79. 79
    geg6 says:

    @Cris:

    The late, great, and very much lamented Hunter S. Thompson. He went when he wanted to, but damn, if we couldn’t use him right about now.

  80. 80
    parsimon says:

    @Brachiator:

    Brachiator speaks well. I’m slightly abashed that I carried on in gloom and doom prognosticating, increasingly sneering, fashion, when Brachiator’s approach is so much more sensible.

  81. 81
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @kay:

    I think she became one.

    Meh, she just looked like a populist because she was fighting for her political life and saw an opportunity with the nativist vote.

    Similarly, however, she would have fought for her political survival as President which would come in handy now. Instead we hired a teacher for an executive position.

  82. 82
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    It is elitist to its core.

    Here’s what I don’t understand about this; everybody thinks that his/her viewpoint is the correct one. Everybody. And everybody is allowed to express these viewpoints forcefully and disparage the viewpoints of others. Yet only under certain circumstances is this behavior “elitist”. I’m sure if you asked Gergen what these criteria are he’d come up with some complete horseshit rationalization, but I’d really like him to answer the following; why is Matt Taibbi under some kind of obligation to understand where Tea Partiers are coming from, whereas the demographic represented by Limbaugh/Beck/Palin can shit all over the left for decade after decade, questioning their intellects and morality in the most effusive terms, and when they do this it is still the obligation of Matt Taibbi to try to understand why they are doing it?

  83. 83
    aimai says:

    @Cris:

    Yes, it matters because if the public doesn’t know or care who controls, say, the House or the Senate then they can’t begin to grasp what is happening politically. Yet the entire premise of representative democracy is that the voters and their reps propose to do some stuff, try to do some stuff, do some stuff, or fail to do some stuff after which the voters vote again. If the voters don’t understand the process and who is in charge at any given time then they can’t supervise their reps and they can neither punish nor reward them properly. This is exactly what we are seeing right now: the voters punished Bush and his party in 2008 and then in 2010 a different set of voters, under the impression that the party that was technically in power was actually in power (which, given the filibuster, was false) punished the party in power by taking the House away and giving it back to Bush’s party.

    aimai

  84. 84
    geg6 says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.):

    An extremely good point. Alas, the Villagers would tell you it’s because Limbaugh/Beck/Palin are very serious people. And Matt Taibbi is NOT. And he says fuck a lot. Also. Too.

  85. 85
    mbss says:

    @Cris:

    the problem is that when only 14% of the population know that we are facing deflation as a serious possibility, and the inflation rate is at 1%, then you have terra ignoramus, which is fertile ground for the glenn becks of the world to push their gold coins filled with chocolate as a legitimate safe ground to guard against weimar republic II hyperinflation.

  86. 86
    samson says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): Great point. When have we ever heard the Gergen’s and fellow Villager’s scolding someone onthe Right for disparaging/ignoring/refusing to accord as fit for “serious converstation” the points of the Left??

  87. 87
    rickstersherpa says:

    “When one with honeyed words but evil mind
    Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” Euripides

    As Bob Somerby points out in the Daily Howler, we have been dumbing down for years. time to star researching emigration to New Zealand.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    @kay:
    RE: Hillary Clinton has never been a convincing populist.

    I think she became one. Not to get too silly and pundit-y, but she “found her voice” and she came off as authentic during the Ohio-PA phase of the primary. I didn’t support her, but she was a threat when she did that switcheroo. I could almost feel it here in Ohio. It changed, because she changed.

    I didn’t see this as much more as Clinton indulging in some political theater to curry votes: “Vote for me because I’m white, and drink whiskey and like to shoot guns.”

    I didn’t see much here that demonstrated that she was connecting with people on any but the most superficial level.

    It’s why she should be pissed at those moronic beltway cronies she hired to run her campaign. They did her wrong. Just let her run, for God’s sake. She was much better “playing” herself.

    Hillary Clinton is part of the Beltway. Before Obama came along, everyone assumed that the nomination was hers, and much of the Democratic establishment was looking forward to coming back to the Beltway.

    And she hired the cronies and listened to them. Her fault, and no one else’s.

    It’s odd. Palin is absolutely insignificant compared to Hillary Clinton (so I’m not just bashing Hillary here). Palin whined about being “controlled” by her handlers and some want to offer this as an excuse for Clinton’s failure. But a candidate who lets staff or handlers totally stage manage him or her is, by definition, not worthy of being elected to high political office.

  89. 89
    HyperIon says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    I’m confused about what you’re trying to get at with the Pew poll.

    Me, too,
    But that happens a lot these days.

  90. 90
    HyperIon says:

    @SlyFox wrote:

    The next question to Gergen should have been…”

    IMO “David, how many TPers have YOU interviewed?”

  91. 91
    Chris says:

    40% of the people agree on something, therefore they must be right? Is there anything to this argument other than “all the cool kids are doing it”? History is riddled with instances of people, often in large majorities, believing things that were proved to be complete lunacy.

    As for the people saying “look, these people suck but they’re a large part of the population and we have to deal with them;” fine. Tell us how! I mean that. Okay, fine, let’s admit it’s elitist to point out that 40% of the people have gone buggo; whether or not that’s true, we’re not going to win any votes by saying it anyway.

    So then, where do we go from here? Being nice to them and listening politely to their point of view isn’t going to change their attitudes, and good luck trying to actually show them they’re wrong. What, then, do the Gergens of the world suggest we do? Inquiring minds want to know.

  92. 92
    HyperIon says:

    @we can be heroes wrote:

    … courtier …

    This is the term Chris Hedges uses to describe the “bad guys”.
    And not just the media bad guys.
    I call ’em “Sucks ups”.

  93. 93
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @aimai:

    This is exactly what we are seeing right now: the voters punished Bush and his party in 2008 and then in 2010 a different set of voters, under the impression that the party that was technically in power was actually in power (which, given the filibuster, was false) punished the party in power by taking the House away and giving it back to Bush’s party.

    Great comment as usual. I have a minor quibble: the 2010 voters didn’t give the House back to Bush’s party. It isn’t Bush’s party any more. It is a party which gives every indication of being less mature, less responsible, and less tethered to reality than Bush’s party. And that should terrify everyone.

  94. 94
    HyperIon says:

    @Brachiator wrote:

    Ross Douthat and others are Palin’s puppet masters

    Ross Douthat?
    WTF?
    He’s just another clueless pundit.
    I seriously doubt Douthat can pull any strings.
    Only NYT readers even know who he is and they pretty much hate him.

  95. 95
    jonas says:

    As Jon Stewart would say, “David Gergen, meet me at camera 3”.

    Listen carefully. Saying that facts and the truth matter in political discourse IS NOT ELITIST.

    Gergen isn’t even listening to what Matt is saying. Taibbi spent the entire campaign season out on the road with these wackjobs interviewing them about their opinions. What he found was terrifying. They are completely detached from reality (inflation is out of control, global warming is a hoax, Obama is Kenyan, taxes are higher than ever, death panels, etc., etc.). It is not elitist to say that these ideas are hogwash, that the people who hold said ideas are WRONG and that the media should call them out on their bullshit because IT’S THE TRUTH.

    Gergen’s position is like saying we have to take some dude’s paranoid antisemitism seriously because it’s a passionately-held belief, rather than slam it to the ground because, dammit, there’s no basis in truth whatsoever to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  96. 96
    Chris says:

    Gergen’s position is like saying we have to take some dude’s paranoid antisemitism seriously because it’s a passionately-held belief, rather than slam it to the ground because, dammit, there’s no basis in truth whatsoever to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    You know, it’s that, much more than their prejudices, that reminds me vaguely of the Nazis when I look at today’s teabaggers.

    Any moron could hate Jews. But it took a completely different class of raving loon to actually believe they controlled society.

  97. 97
    catclub says:

    @PeakVT:
    “I think Gergen actually believes in the “wisdom of the American people” which even a cursory reading of American history, not to mention the history of other countries, is a foolish position to take. It makes for good copy, though.”

    I disagree, I think that electing Obama rather than McCain was an expression of wisdom. The American people are often slow, but to decide they are all fools (i.e. not as smart as I am),
    is a losing approach.

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:

    @HyperIon:
    RE: Ross Douthat and others are Palin’s puppet masters

    Ross Douthat? WTF? He’s just another clueless pundit.

    I will bet good money that someone assigned Douthat the task of writing crap to make Palin look good, and he willingly accepted the challenge. I like this bit from a past gawker post that lambasted a Douthat piece written around the time that Palin resigned the governorship:

    But then we get into the bit about how we coastal liberal elites don’t get that Palin’s appeal is that she represents, once again, the Nixonian silent majority. Her populism is more real and important and honorable than Obama’s because he went to Harvard and she didn’t. That is, in Douthat’s formulation, “the democratic ideal” rather than “the meritocratic ideal,” which really just goes to show that you can’t win with Conservatives, even when you do pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make a name for yourself without handouts, or whatever the fuck they claim they want the nation’s massive underclass to do. Nice job achieving all that fancy-pants shit, Obama, but your story would be so much more inspiring and democratic if you’d stumbled through getting a communications degree.

    So, we get crap from Douthat about how Palin is some kind of populist ideal. And what is Douthat’s background?

    Let’s go to the Wiki! “Douthat was born in San Francisco, California, but grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Hamden Hall, a private high school in Hamden, Connecticut. Douthat graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2002, where he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. While there he contributed to The Harvard Crimson and edited the Harvard Salient.”

    And so, we have Douthat and Kristol (another Harvard grad) pushing hard the Big Lie that Palin, and presumably the people who love her, are all salt of the earth types. Douthat may not be the puppet master, but he is clearly one of the puppet master’s strings.

  99. 99
    catclub says:

    @Chris:
    “Any moron could hate Jews. But it took a completely different class of raving loon to actually believe they controlled society.”

    This.
    Just replace Jews with ACORN and it gets scary.

  100. 100
    Binzinerator says:

    @georgia pig:

    What even Taibbi misses is that the Gergens are also fundamentally crazy. Anyone having an institutional stake in this motherfucker of a country should be scared shitless that it’s starting to look like a banana republic or a corrupt Russian oligarchy.

    The Gergens believe in a winner-take-all society where they will somehow all be among the very few winners.

    And yes that’s fundamentally crazy.

    It’s even crazier they think life in those kinds of unstable and uncertain societies would be a good thing, even for the Haves. Bloodshed, secret police, purges, revolutions, coups — these people are fucking delusional ignorant fools to think that’s gonna be their ticket to their place in the sun.

  101. 101
    Cris says:

    @aimai: Yes, it matters because if the public doesn’t know or care who controls, say, the House or the Senate then they can’t begin to grasp what is happening politically.

    I guess my point is, the public appears to know that the Republicans were the beneficiaries of the 2010 midterm; a smaller portion knows the Republicans took the House (though some of them think they also took the Senate). So if they know the GOP is taking over the House, I’m not really bothered that only 38% know the identity of the incoming Speaker.

    To your point, it is more bothersome that people don’t understand just how differently the House and Senate operate, and now the fact that they are under the control of different parties. We talked about this a lot during the HCR process: since people don’t seem to know about the Senate’s cloture rules or about reconciliation, they simply see failed results and don’t understand how to direct blame.

  102. 102
    walyon says:

    It’s not “the truth” to say that all Tea Party people are “crazy”. Saying so is really bad politics as well. If progressives want to win, they need to explain to these people why they are misinformed in a way they can understand. They need to speak to them with empathy as well. To do so will take years and years as the Tea Party people are misinformed by a messaging apparatus that was created decades ago by very rich and powerful (and smart) players.

    But a good start to fight this messaging war would be for progressives to stop calling Tea Party people “crazy”, “stupid”, “racists”. And to not even think of them that way. They are just people just like us .. not very well informed … just like us, as that Pew survey shows.

  103. 103
    Chris says:

    Things Gergen said:

    “I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate.”

    Well, David, when you can fucking well explain how we’re supposed to “get government out of my Medicaid,” then you can defend them against the charge they’re willfully ignorant of basic facts about the world today. Until then, fuck the fucking fuck off. Or, just come out and say, “And I, for one, welcome our nonsensical, simple-minded overlords!”

    One concession I will grant, though I doubt Gergen had it in mind (especially because his mind seems to have one track: “Kiss GOP ass. Kiss GOP ass.”): The Tea Party hasn’t seized power; the super-rich – especially after Citizens United have seized power. Or, rather, increased the amount of power they possessed.

    “[To dismiss them that way] is elitist to its core.”

    No, to accept their ideas as legitimate despite all evidence to the contrary is elitist. See, Taibbi has actually fucking talked to teabaggers. Gergen just knows what the Kochs and Dick Armey tell him about their astroturf assholes: “They’re real ‘mericans. You better respect that.”

    “We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.”

    The Tea Party is fueled by deliberate lies, propaganda, and resistance to any kind of interest in effective, fair, democratic government. They have been listened to plenty; in case you don’t know, there are ritual debunkings every time some teabagger dumbass opens his mouth on TV. And given the media’s taste for hyping colorful stuff without regard for what it does to the public debate (“Next on The Situation Room: Would Obama Have Let Hitler Have Alaska? We ask Sarah Palin for her thoughts!”), much less logic or relevance, it’s pretty fucking obvious that the teabaggers need to be publicly derided and rejected as fools.

    On a related note: Taibbi could stop saying “fuck” and he’d still not get on TV the way Gergen does; you have to be a special kind of only-in-DC professional ignoramus to be allowed onto the shows Gergen gets onto. It’s not about what you know; it’s partially about who you know; and it’s all about what you can be expected to resist knowing with every fiber of your being.

  104. 104
    Chris says:

    First, a disclaimer; I’m the guy who posted comments 91 and 96, but 103 was not me. Wish it had been, cause I agree with all the sentiments therein.

    Second, just for fun; what exactly are the teabaggers furious about? Let’s run through the checklist;

    Is it his birth certificate? Because it was produced and certified. And all they could do was splutter about conspiracies and how there must be another.

    Is it the death panels? They don’t exist. I don’t think we need to waste time on that one.

    Is it the high taxes? Because taxes went down all around the board since Obama’s election – they were the biggest part of the stimulus – and Obama, whatever his shortcomings, has fought like hell to preseve the middle class part of the Bush tax cuts.

    Is it the welfare state? Well, half of the protests came from people who’re on Medicare or about to be and were warning the government not to touch Medicare, so that’s kind of hard to take seriously.

    Is it that they’re afraid UHC would cost more, remove their choice of doctors, and make the country poor? Because nearly every other industrialized democracy in the world has UHC; they’re still the richest countries in the world, their health care actually costs less and choice of doctors in many cases is actually better than here.

    Is it because Obama’s a left wing extremist? Hoo boy, where to start… he has Mitt Romney’s health care plan, Ronald Reagan’s antiterrorism plan, and supposedly Bush’s immigration plan – but I’m still waiting to see him offer amnesty the way Shrub did. His taxes are lower than Eisenhower’s by about 50%. His health care plan was more conservative than Nixon’s, which included a public option. And Reagan talked to our nation’s enemies more than Obama ever has.

    By any twentieth-century standards, the man’s a raging right winger.

    So. I don’t know how many people exactly believe in this crap… but it’s hard not to conclude that they’re full of crap. Their beliefs are founded on BS, they’re chasing red herrings and throwing spears at shadows. Now, what are we supposed to do about it? That I don’t know, and I’m all ears about it. But I don’t see how indulging them is going to be any more productive than what Taibbi’s doing.

  105. 105

    We talk a lot about this at our podcast this week (professionalleft.blogspot.com), particularly the absurdity of Gergen calling Taibbi “elitist.”

    I wish Gergen would sit down to dinner with five teabaggers and listen to them shout Beck absurdities. He wouldn’t make it through the first cocktail.

  106. 106

    I don’t agree that Taibbi “looks around him and reacts to evidence and data.” He asserted that the Obama economics team consists of financiers whose main aim is to protect the industry which made them rich.

    That claim was false. “Thanks but no thanks to the bridge to nowhere” false. Felix Salmon, a Taibbi defender, said that his writings are not to be taken literally. This is not a defense of someone who “reacts to evidence and data.”

    Taibbi is right about many things. Tea Partiers aren’t reality based. I’m sure he agrees that 2+2 = 4 and that the Earth isn’t flat. But he does not base his statements about “evidence and data” on evidence and data.

    I’m glad he says fuck and I share his anger. But facts are facts and the words “data” and “Taibbi” don’t belong in the same sentence.

  107. 107
    Diane says:

    Gergen answer makes sense.
    Why would he admit that these crazy tea partiers, who pretty much belong to the republican party, are crazy?
    He would be admitting his party is nuts?
    They have to be worried.
    They have no control over these people and their agenda is fluid and loose, what happens if it becomes full of white supremacists and crazy religious leaders? Then what will they do?
    Taibbi is right. I know some of these people. If they thought the world was flat, you could never ever talk them out of it.
    Think about their belief that the earth is 6,000 years old.
    I know it is religious, but the proof is undeniable except to those who WILL NOT change!!!

  108. 108
    ian says:

    Of course we’re screwed. David Gergen refers to the great unwashed and Matt Taibbi doesn’t call him out on it. Gives us a good idea what the punditocracy really thinks about the people.

  109. 109
    Tim says:

    @Robert Waldmann,

    Well, if old Felix Salmon says Taibbi can’t be taken literally, well then, that settles it, I guess. Felix is of course the final authority and right in all his judgments.

    And Robert Waldmann says that the claim that Obama financial advisors protect their industry is false. So, I guess, it must be false because Waldmann doesn’t even present any evidence because Waldmann = TRUTH.

    Now if only I could get a book for Salmon Says and Waldmann Says, I would know all and have the TRUTH (with absolutely no supporting evidence).

  110. 110
    CF Oxtrot says:

    I love the perspective offered in this main entry. It’s like a bad cliche: Evil Rethuglican, Noble Donkey — Permutation No. 3,416,702.

    Taibbi is a grandstander, not some noble scribe. Gergen is a tool of empire too, just more overtly imperial than Taibbi. And the Tea Party isn’t the problem, eh?

    The problem is corporate control, fascism, and constantly increasing totalitarian outlooks in the various branches of federal, state and local governments across the USA.

    And right now, the leading corporate sycophants are the Donkeys, you foolish partisan eedjits. So go ahead, whack that Tea Party pin~ata, because it’s a whole lot easier on your conscience than facing up to your partisanship’s destructive ends.

  111. 111
    Asshole says:

    @steviez314:

    Really? I didn’t realize every single resident of Delaware voted.

    The percentages only involve the ones who actually voted. What’s the percentage of Delawareans that voted?

  112. 112

    […] Taibbi recently hosted a post-midterm discussion with David Gergen and Gary Hart, and it led to an exchange I’ve been meaning to mention. Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that […]

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  1. […] Taibbi recently hosted a post-midterm discussion with David Gergen and Gary Hart, and it led to an exchange I’ve been meaning to mention. Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that […]

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