Happy post-Equinox, everybody. I couldn’t even see the full Harvest Moon last night — too overcast. It’s been a discouraging week, hopefully the capper to a discouraging summer rather than the opener to another season of slow-leak enervation. Digby’s post on “The Method To Their [GOP] Madness” has been getting some circulation, but I think it deserves more:
… Those of you who went through the 90s will recognize this phenomenon. It’s when the right’s ferocious attacks are so vicious and relentless that they eventually wear down average, common sense people with normal lives to lead — and even scare them a little.
In Clinton’s case it was defending him from the non-stop personal attacks that was so wearying. It took a brave soul with a taste for political combat to keep fighting in the face of that onslaught. It was called Clinton Fatigue, the sense that even people who were sympathetic to the president’s political plight and understood that his enemies were rabid and insane, just wanted it to end… It was the prospect of four or eight more years of wingnuts shrieking and howling that made at least few people say “whatever… give it to them … anything to shut them up.”
In Obama’s case it’s this moribund economy vs the outsized expectations that form the substance of the Democratic base’s complaint. And there’s good reason for people to be disappointed and worried. But the exhaustion at defending him, at least some of it, comes from the same place as that Clinton Fatigue. The right’s non-stop attacks eventually just wear people down, sap them of their enthusiasm, make them question their own judgment, especially in the face of a negative and less than hopeful future. You have to be pretty committed to want to wallow in this toxic mud every day and most people have better things to do with their time…
[Democratic legislators] seem to be paralyzed in the face of this psychotic right wing onslaught. They have a huge majority and the White House and they are left holding kabuki votes like today’s DADT show and tell and rather than making the Republicans look like big meanies, they end up making it appear that the crazies have the upper hand again. And when that happens a lot of Dems just tune out, avert their eyes, preferring to look to more personal concerns and withdraw into their own projects and pursuits…
So there is a method to this madness. It’s the same method that all bullies use. And it’s very effective.
Seconding Digby’s sense, Charles P. Pierce, in Esquire, asks “When Did They Build a Time Machine in Washington?”
… It’s time to give the 1990s a rest, I think. It was not a good time for our politics. Bill Clinton drove people utterly insane, and they acted on that insanity, vigorously and in full public view. The Republican party gave itself wholeheartedly to freaks and Arkansas con-men, and produced a generation of politicians who would believe anything because they could talk themselves into anything, and who were urged on to further flights of fancy by the rise of crazoid designer media. They not only detached themselves from the reality of governing. They detached themselves from the reality of what they themselves were doing…
The line from then until now is clear and bright, and it belies all the nonsense about how Tea Party politics is sui generis for the age of Obama. It also belies the lunatic notion that our “divisive” politics are a result of pressure from both extremes against the middle. Only the Republicans empowered their extremes… For all the exotic fauna now traipsing around the conservative landscape, the 1990s were the pre-Cambrian explosion.
On the other side, it was the Clinton years that produced a Democratic party content with half-measures and wishful thinking, attaching itself to trade policies that substituted the messianic buzzwords of globalism for, you know, actual jobs, abolishing the Glass-Steagall Act to great acclaim and even greater financial fraud, and generally refashioning itself as a home for people who really, really Liked Ike… This was fine when the economy was humming along, and we were not bogged down in two wars, and the financial system hadn’t nearly dissolved into a puddle. Now, it’s been so long since the Democratic party ran on a genuinely progressive platform that the president and his people can’t seem to put together a coherent campaign based on what they relentlessly assure us has been the most triumphant progressive presidency since LBJ. They don’t know how to run like that anymore, especially not the retreads from the Class of ’92.
Earlier today, commentor Kryptik called for a “Green Balloon Juice Friday“, a day where we’d talk about anything and everything except politics. I can’t go that far — no telling what will surface on BadNewz DumpDay — but I do plan to try a sort of extended Weekender Linkdump by scheduling a bunch of non-political posts on stuff I’ve got tabbed. Feel free to email me (addy near the top of the right-hand column) with your suggestions, or to tell me how much my lack of commitment sukks! ! !…
Spot on stuff.
Please do something as close as possible to Green Balloon Juice Friday… it’s all so depressing right now.
Though I know I will be a minority in saying enough with the pet rescue threads. Text, please, no pics or videos.
I think what drove Republicans crazy about Clinton, and what drives them crazy about Obama is that many of them think they are entitled to the presidency. Sure, the Democrats can control the Congress, but since 1968, the GOP has dominated presidential elections. ’68, ’72, ’80, ’84, ’88 were all blow outs. And many of them figured that ’76 was a fluke as a result of Watergate. Clinton changed that, and Obama has confirmed it.
Combine that with the role reversal of the ’90s, when the GOP took control of the Congress after 50 years, and they didn’t know what to do.
I don’t think either side has quite come to grips with the fact that the status quo is no longer true. Control of the executive and legislature can go either way in any election now. I think this is a good thing, if both sides are committed to actually governing. It almost feels like the Democrats have forgotten how to be a legislative majority and the Republican party hasn’t figured out how to run the government through the legislature rather than the executive.
Funny, I find myself studying blogs / news when I have to go to family / friends. The onslaught is relentless. Trying to debunk all the horseshit eventually makes me look crazy.
Why, oh why, didn’t I take the blue pill?
Digby is one hundred percent right. Many people see the wingnuts so hot and bothered and think there must be some rational basis for it somewhere. Plus, the economy sucks so everyone is antsy. It is not a good combination for Democrats. If Republicans do take the House at least they will get some blame for the economy.
Still, it seems for all the hate spewed at Clinton he won in the end. Hopefully, Obama will do the same. He has already passed a much more lasting and ambitious agenda than Clinton so he is off to a good start.
Mike in NC
That’s always worked out so well in the past. So go ahead and redecorate the master bedroom while the GOP plans to ship your job to India.
Given that I haven’t been able to read or click thru to any links on political posts today for the reasons that Digby and Charlie Pierce write about, I would welcome a politics-free weekend. What happened in DC this week is just too sad.
I only came back here tonight to find that Oh OK post with the pups from a few days ago, and I’d already been thinking that this whole weekend should be computer-free.
This weekend should be interesting watching the Minnesota River flood as it passes thru the Twin Cities after 7-10 inches of rain across all of southern MN today.
A good chunk of the Clinton fatigue came about because the “liberals” in the media either ignored the bizarre attacks or actually joined in. Those of us outside the beltway can try debunking some of it, a few people at a time, but the corporate media keep doing their job at the Mighty Wurlitzer, and the country as a whole gets shafted.
It seems like way too many of us still buy the “liberal media” meme, even if it’s not actually true. (See Times, New York)
Great post as always Anne Laurie. And I love your pet rescue threads. Hope we won’t go to no-politics weekends. I have a lot less time to read and comment during the week, and I like politics.
That being said, things are pretty depressing still. For the first time in my life, I’m pretty sure I won’t end my days in the good ol’ US of A. Thinkin’ I might move to one of them Europeeen sohulist countries ‘fore I die.
I must be odd, because it’s just the opposite for me.
When I see the Koch bros and Rove running two ads against CO Senator Bennet during every commercial break, I think to myself, now why would they spend so much money unless all these rich jerks who screwed everything up for everyone else expect to get even richer by doing so?
And it makes me so furious, I do things like answer all the questions of every phone poll in a way that I hope messes up the metrics for the GOP pollsters, and spend at least six hours a day doing news searches for my friends at a political blog.
Well, actually, Obama is fun and fairly easy to defend from the right wingers. He has his personal shit together much more than Clinton, and I personally like the dude, which Clinton could be a shifty fucker on issues and other stuff.
Defending Obama against the left critique is what wears me out and largely soured on politics. The internet has it’s yin and yang, and I could do with less of the yang.
From the leftist website Balloon Juice:
Democrats are now clamping down on political conversation!
What are they trying to hide?
I’ve got to say that today’s news on the tax bill just put me right over the edge. The weather was gorgeous, the moon gibbous, and when I finally made it out of the house to drive my kid to her rehearsal I decided to really work on my walking meditation skills and just try to be-here-now. Digby’s post really nails it. I’m just exhausted by the torrent of permanent bad news. Its not that we aren’t “getting” something, some good things, from the Obama administration. We are. But its just the eternal cupidity, stupidity and spinelesssness of the Democrats that gets me down. And then I go outside and take a deep breath and really think, a la Buddhist, “this minute is the minute that I’m having. This minute is the only minute that I’m having. Who knows whether I’ll be here five minutes from now. I’d better enjoy this to the hilt. To the absolute hilt.” This helps me stop obsessing about how he Dems are fucking up. Perhaps I won’t even be here when the election bell sounds up yonder. But I’ll have managed to have some damned good minutes before then.
My mantra lately has been ‘I am walking on Grand Avenue’ (if a mantra can be in 9/8 waltz time). This mantra accompanies my footsteps as I walk on Grand Avenue.
A bunch of politics-free posts would be greatly appreciated. The week’s news was so bad and I have income problems to cope with. A focus on other things might help me survive.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Friday off from news? Friday news dumps anyone? Sure, what a great time to ignore politics!
Make it a weekend day since it’s usually fairly dead here then. Weekdays are for politics and unfortunately that is the way it is.
If you go down to the Thursday Night Menu post, there are cute kitten pictures to cheer you up.
@gbear: Had to Google Minnesota River, it sounded so familiar. Rediscovered that I grew up on the Minnesota River, k-12, near Fort Ridgely a long, long time ago. Lots of history on that river and many monuments to the Sioux uprising.
I’m down with the Green Balloon Juice Friday.
I’m doing a lot of audio programming work, which is going well, and finishing up a book, which is going slowly.
And getting around to dinner terribly late, so it will be either very late dinner or throwing up my hands and not eating O_O
It’s not just the constant attacks on policy, it’s the crazy nature of the attacks. If someone wanted to argue that the Swiss health care system is better than the UK’s NHS or whatever, then great. Instead, they go off on how the US has the best health care system in the world (crazy talk) and that Obama wants to have government control medicare to put the death panels in place (batshit crazy talk).
I like arguing, but not with people who are basically just smearing their own feces on the wall. I think a lot of the problem is due to the ‘shape of the Earth, opinions differ’ media. I don’t know how someone like Krugman manages to keep on trucking when a pathetic moron like McMegan is given equal billing to him.
calling all toasters
Clinton was, as we all know, continually a popular President. “Clinton fatigue” was a bunch of bullshit dreamed up by Cokie Roberts & Co. to push the Big Dog out the door. It didn’t actually exist outside of the salons of the swamp. It didn’t wear the base down, because we knew that he was on our side and able to stick up for himself. Previously, the typical Dem wimp (Kerry, Dukakis) would stick up for us, but not for himself. The current yutz in the White House has the same problem… and I’m not so sure he’ll stick up for us any more, either.
As usual, aimai nails it for me:
@aimai: its just the eternal cupidity, stupidity and spinelesssness of the Democrats that gets me down.
The howling wingnut mob wouldn’t get me down, if only the people who supposedly represent us would turn, stand, and fight, instead of being perpetually caught in indecision between the alternatives of running away or curling up in fetal position.
The Clinton years aren’t all that long ago. I think people are aware that they’ve seen this game before. But they still need someone or something to vote FOR.
As I said eight years ago, under my original nom de Web, you can’t beat something with nothing.
Clinton Fatique Redux, Really? I’ve come to believe that leftwing bloggers do more harm than good.
An interesting side note to “Clinton fatigue” is the GOP’s tilt to the right, after every loss.
Ford’s loss in 1976 begot Reagan. Bush, Sr.’s loss to Clinton in 1992 begot Gingrich & Co., which begot Bush, Jr. Bush, Jr.’s failure led to the current state of things.
I for one would love to just quit and let GOP do what it wants. They’re nuts and America deserves what it gets, since people keep voting for these ass-clowns. Let the people drown in their own stupidity.
@calling all toasters: Clinton was, as we all know, continually a popular President.
Clinton couldn’t get 50% of the vote when running for re-election against the moribund Bob Dole and a past-his-freshness-date Ross Perot.
Bill Clinton was in charge of the almost total collapse of the Democrat Party during his administration, a collapse he directly contributed to through his politics of triangulation. Clinton was also the leading force in making corporate ass-kissing nearly as prevalent among Democrats as among Republicans. I won’t get into the whole list of other things, noting only that he signed off on both “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and The Defense of Marriage Act.
But he got blown by an intern, so none of that matters.
Charles Pierce pretty well nails it. Bob Somerby has also been stressing this them in the Daily Howler for sometime, that what has happened since January 2009 is basically a repeat, almost all the same tropes and metaphors, that happened to Clinton in 1993-94.
Of course Liberal laziness and snobbery (we are so right and good, and the mass of people (particularly middle class and working whites) are to dull and probably racist to understand) has left the playing field to the Conservatives. Liberals did go slightly nutty from 1968-72 (Vietnam had that affect on people) and with the help of those nuts and 1968 and 1972 Democratic conventions, Liberal meant “acid, amnesty (military draft law – not immigration), and abortion” by 1976 and Democrats started running from the word (Mo Udall, a great western Liberal, ran for President saying he was a “progressive.”) We have been on defensive ever since and not willing to go out and persuade folks who work for a living, don’t pay much attention, and yes, have a fair amount of the standard load of human resentments and tribalism that one has to work hard to overcome.)
it’s like arguing with crazy nuts about anything. i gave up dealing with the truthers a while back, and i’m very close when it comes to climate change. as much as there’s a part of me that really wants to get people to understand basic science and logic, you have to eventually realize that some people are beyond understanding those things and there’s no point in trying anymore.
crazy will always have more endurance than sane because sane has shit to do in the real world.
i’ve said it before, conservatives don’t treat governance by the opposite party with the basic respect that a democracy demands, like liberals do. they think of Democratic governance in the same manner as a military occupation. they think and act as if BHO is illegally occupying the white house in no different a manner than if he and his army of liberals marched in to washington and took over in a bloodless coup. they will always think and act that way whenever the dems have the WH, forever.
i got to go to the zoo with my toddler today and showed her the baby babboons. i strongly resisted making any political jokes that wouldn’t have understood anyways.
it was beautiful out and a wonderful walk with a friend with a baby the same age. it was like an ‘om’ moment, if fleeting.