Ezra Klein had a great piece yesterday about where we’re at politically: a Democratic president who is governing like a moderate Republican but is treated like a soshulist, a Democratic party that moves to the right to pick up voters while the Republican party moves right to oppose whatever Republicans are doing. Joe Klein rightly adds that the Republican base has moved so far to the right that it scares potential Republican candidates from running. He also rightly blames Fox News, but then segues into this idiocy:
There is also the accumulating decades of educational incompetence, since–let’s face it–a whole lot of smart female teachers were liberated to pursue their dreams and we were left, as Albert Shanker used to say, with the bottom 20% of college graduates to preside in our classrooms. And another thing: Perhaps this is just rear-view, rose-colored glasses, but after Bill Clinton took his lumps in 1994, he learned how to out-argue and out-think the extremists. His message was complicated, but his persona was clear–he was the McDonald’s-eating, lounge-singer-screwing, good ol’ boy with the 800 SATs, who really did understand how Americans (especially blue-collar American males) think, and really cared about their welfare. It was just flat embedded in his DNA after a childhood of having the cool athlete guys laugh at his sax-playing obese butt.
First off, the group that watches Fox and supports Republicans most is people over 65, who went to high-school fifty years ago, long before teh feminism and teh teachers’ unions ruined everything. People under 30 don’t watch Fox and are shaping up to the be the most Democratic generation since the Great Depression.
Then there’s this — Bill Clinton identifies with the poor not because he was poor but because the jocks picked on him? Didn’t Joe know any kids who were poor when he was in high-school? Does he really not know that when you don’t have indoor plumbing, cool athlete mockery is the least of your worries?
I think elite journalists have set up this fantasy morality play where their own high-school selves — geeky and unpopular but smart and hard-working — represent everything that is good while their insufficiently adoring teachers and cool athlete classmates represent everything that is evil. Of course, good triumphed, Joe Klein is a millionaire now, while the cool athletes (now adults) can’t earn a living wage and the teachers are being stripped of their collective bargaining rights.
The real story of how American politics got so screwed up is of course very simple. One party went all in on quick fix Machiavellianism, not just race-baiting but “Babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood” and support for voodoo economics from conservative intellectuals. A corporate media that saw its interest as aligned with conservatism was only too happy to look the other way when it wasn’t actively pimping the craziness itself. And ambitious young careerist sociopaths like Klein realized that if they attacked Noam Chomsky, teachers’ unions, and imaginary left-wing radical groups twice for every time they criticized Republicans, they could have comfortable lives as millionaire pundits.
Now those same, no longer young, careerist sociopaths think they can seem courageous by screaming about how nuts things have gotten, pretending they had nothing to do with it, and blaming it all on the fat cat teachers and strapping young bucks who tormented them during high-school.