Friday, September 17, 2010

Glenn Greenwald has a point.

Here's five words we never thought we would use together in a TX4P blog post: Glenn Greenwald has a point. Yes, we know his political rudder is locked so far to the left that his ship of statism can only go around in circles. But even broken chronographs of the nautical variety are accurate twice a day, for the duration of about a second each time. We disagree with most of Greenwald's rants in the very article from which we have taken the following excerpts, but like we said, the man has a point:
There are some reactions to the Tea Party movement coming from many different directions -- illustrated by the patronizing mockery of Christine O'Donnell -- which I find quite misguided, revealingly condescending, and somewhat obnoxious. In two separate appearances -- one on Hannity and the other on some daytime Fox show -- Karl Rove, that Paragon of Honor, insisted that she lacks the "character and rectitude" to be in the Senate, and raised these points in support of his accusation:
"One thing that Christine O'Donnell is going to have answer is her own checkered background . . . . These serious questions: how does she make her living? Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college tuition? How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known conservative think tank? . . . . questions about why she had a problem for five years paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed and put up for a sheriff's sale, why it took 16 years for her to settle her college debt and get her diploma after she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate. . . . when it turns out she just got her degree because she had unpaid college bills that they had to sue her over."
Most people are not like Rove's political patron, George W. Bush, who was born into extreme family wealth. O'Donnell's financial difficulties, which Rove is describing, and implicitly condemning, are far from unusual for ordinary Americans. In 2009 alone, there were 2.8 million home foreclosures. Contrary to what Rove is trying to imply, an inability to pay one's college tuition bills or a struggle with taxes are neither rare nor signs of moral turpitude. Those are common problems for a country whose middle class is eroding as the rich-poor gap rapidly widens. If the kinds of financial struggles O'Donnell has experienced are disqualifying from high political office, then we will simply have an even more intensified version of the oligarchy which our political system has become.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion, at least for me, that, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, much of the discomfort and disgust triggered by these Tea Party candidates has little to do with their ideology.


To members of the establishment and the ruling class (like Rove), these are the kinds of people -- who struggle with tuition bills and have their homes foreclosed -- who belong in Walmarts, community colleges, low-paying jobs, and voting booths on command, not in the august United States Senate.


Bill Clinton's arrival in Washington caused similar tongue-clucking reactions because, notwithstanding his Yale and Oxford pedigree, he was from a lower-middle-class background, raised by a single working mother, vested with a Southern drawl, and exuding all sorts of cultural signifiers perceived as uncouth. Much of the contempt originally provoked by Sarah Palin was driven by many of the same cultural biases. As I wrote at the time, the one (and only) attribute of Palin which I found appealing, even admirable, when she first arrived on the national scene was that she came from such a modest background and was entirely self-made (Obama's lack of family connections and self-made ascension was also, in my view, one of the very few meaningful differences between him and Hillary Clinton). So much of the derision over Palin had nothing to do with her views or even alleged lack of intelligence -- George Bush, to use just one example, was every bit as radical and probably not as smart -- but it was because she hadn't been groomed to speak and act as a member in good standing of the elite class.
So if even a radical left winger like Glenn Greenwald can acknowledge the obvious elitism at play here, why can't alleged conservatives such as Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer see it? The answer is that elitism subscribes to no particular political philosophy. "Country Club Republicans" are still very much alive and kicking nearly a half century after they were so thoroughly bloodied by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. They simply licked their wounds and reappeared calling themselves "conservatives," but they are alien to nearly everything that Reagan was and stood for.

Like Reagan and Goldwater before them, Sarah Palin and her grizzly bears are forced to wage political warfare on two fronts. It is not only the stubborn leftism now ingrained in a Democratic Party which refuses to learn the lessons of history they must defeat. They must also overcome an elitism which is equally entrenched in their own GOP as it is in the party which has a stubborn and braying ass as its mascot.

- JP

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