I Wonít Pay Fifty Bucks and I Wonít Shut Up
Crushed at work and a whipped dog under a Niagara deluge of felonies and outrages living under Schwarzenegger and Bush, I had let the remarkably stupid decision by the New York Times to charge $50 for their editorial page (annually!) slide, a semi-pathetic state of frazzled corporate consciousness blearily indifferent to yet another shameful episode of US journalismís embarrassing intellect flatulently inflicted upon the world.
Then the inimitable Kevin Drum (no liberal will ever duplicate his jarring ability to jam a fencepost up his butt) hopped to it yet again yesterday, saying the journalism corps is hurting and we need to leave them alone so the notoriously indifferent American electorate doesnít perceive Democrats as just another squalling brat in our appalling politics. Utterly on cue outraged posts from Mr. Davis and Mr. Gilliard rebutted, which always happens when Kevin fucks up. The rebuttalís were properly caustic and this little dance is as stale as a Paula Abdul video, too bad, this is so not over.
Mr. Drumís web of cluelessness is held together by strands of strong truth: to those who look upon Democrats and Republicans with real indifference they really donít seem that different. Partisan democrats reading these pixels know the reality is vastly different, but they rarely acknowledge how disconnected the Democratic leadership has become from its base and its legacy.
The Sellout, make no mistake, is still a vivid reality extremely fresh in the American political reality. It was only 165 days ago that the Democratic candidate for President lost, his vote for the Iraq war a howling betrayal he rightly got mocked as a flip-flopper for. Only 40 days ago 31 House Democrats voted for the bankruptcy bill. For the Democratís natural constituency base there is no health care, no day care, no rising wages, no right to organize, grossly under-funded public education, horrifyingly regressive taxation and theft of social security savings, yet somehow Democrats never make these facts salient realities on the American political agenda.
In power nowhere and properly sneered at for being such gutless wimps for betraying the base, Democrats, were they healthy normal souls, would retreat for a period of total reflection mode, a regrettable state most of us have had to endure. Unplug the machines, march solemnly up the mountain, moodily meditate for days on the reality of self and the world to bravely go forth a re-charged entity equipped for future success. Decisions on future behavior often resolve around a central choice: does one attempt to alter the reality of life to enhance future success (criticize the press) or does one focus on changing inwardly, so that the reaction to reality leads to better results?
Itís possible to do both, of course, but weíre talking about Democrats here, so weíll begin with comprehensible singular approaches to make sure they can follow along. The enforced simplicity for complete dullards is totally necessary, because if in fact Democrats ever did go up to the mountain after Kerry lost it sure as hell isnít apparent. Theyíre in the precisely same maddening spot they were in 2002: inwardly unable to change on a disastrous path of appeasement and totally Kevin-Drum-clueless to tactically surviving in a hostile political environment.
The best place to start for Democrats is inwardly grow and changeótruly embrace populism in plain class terms, no more or less, and vociferously defend the environment and civil rights. That is so far from the reality of what is perceived of Democrats today sometimes I wonder if Iíll ever live to see it.
Democrats also need to abandon this absurd reticence of not tactically engaging in a dirty, hostile, unseemly political environment. Machiavelli would have nothing but the ultimate contempt for these clownsósurvival doesnít mean one has to mimic Roveís tactics, only that they be only handled skillfully, screw the long hand-washing thatís necessary afterwards. How is it possible that Kerry was a decorated war veteran yet lost to an awol reservist in wartime? Good Lord.
The press is part of the hostile political reality Democrats must accept. Mr. Drumís answer is that the base and bloggers should kiss their ass and not rebut a howlingly outrageous reality where Judith Miller is not fired, it's all weíve got. This stupid advice might be acceptable if Mr. Drum fleshed out the thinking with a firm admonition to inwardly change and become Democrats again, but itís never there and all one gets is this ridiculous prescription for more losing. As Mr. Davis and Mr.Gilliard so correctly explained, taking knife blows but not fighting back is a sure way to get killed. The current corpse of Democratic power in this country is a vividly painful testament to that profoundly naÔve way of thinking.
The current US journalism structure is likely to be junked and an unknown alternative will take its place. Corporate journalism is beyond redemption and the country will likely fail if an alternative isnít found. Failure seems certain at this point, if only for the faintest rays of hope seeping out of http.
It is a very big deal, yes, and thatís why the $50 subscription is so painfulóit represents the slow death of US journalism and denies us 2 precious voices in Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert. Iíll never, ever pay that $50 and itís likely I wonít be able to read them consistently again.
ĎTwas a time, not so long ago, really, when I wrote regularly to journalists. Sure as the sun rose two or three days later Iíd often seem my diction and ideas in their published work. It was subtle and never remotely close to plagiarism, just little winks of consciousness in the diction from thinking well done. I will never be sure if this was some ego-besotted delusion, but after donning the strongest honesty glasses I can muster on the memories Iím pretty sure Krugman and Herbert have read my petty attempts at writing and had it influence their work in small ways, or just made them feel better, or amused them.
It was a tiny thing to them in rich busy lives, yes, but to this wandering confused citizen those small gifts are still shining memories of glory in my small life, always will be. I could be a real thinking citizen, write moderately well, and great writers and thinkers in my society would read it and like it. It was such a thrilling Democratic experience my soul still soars with the memory of it.
Thank you, Mr. Krugman and Mr. Herbert, for being such fine eloquent voices defending the most cherished principles of my Democratic party. Iíll never forget and Iíll be eternally grateful. I will miss you both very much.