2010-2019 in 20-20
December 28, 2019 12:53 PM   Subscribe

The New Republic is re-assessing The Decade From Hell, and its conclusions are not pretty. Events we thought were so cool are not so cool in hindsight.
The Daily Show’s Rally to Restore Sanity Predicted a Decade of Liberal Futility
A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure
The Collapse of Neoliberalism
The other aricles in the series
Jonathan Chait thinks that TNR’s authors downplay the scope of Obama's success
posted by growabrain (59 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am inclined to agree with this sort of thing but man is it disorienting that this is the New Republic now.
posted by atoxyl at 1:04 PM on December 28, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm really confused by "The Collapse of Neoliberalism": the author seems to jump from "Neoliberalism has been a disaster along practically every axis" to asserting that it's done and over with, which doesn't really seem true to me. There seems to be a conflation of the claim "this ideology has lost popular legitimacy" with "this ideology no longer informs decisions of the political class."

The RTRS/F was a sign to me that we were truly fucked.
posted by PMdixon at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Apparently this is to do with new ownership and much of the old guard resigning a few years ago. For some reason I thought they were just evolving in the wake of 2016 like everybody else.
posted by atoxyl at 1:06 PM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


man is it disorienting that this is the New Republic now.

Even The New Republic's liberal!
posted by PMdixon at 1:06 PM on December 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


I like Stewart but he always had a habit of giving the right way too much benefit of the doubt for acting in good faith.
posted by octothorpe at 1:07 PM on December 28, 2019 [28 favorites]


Yeah, uhh . . as ever, Chait can go take a leap. For those who don't remember: "Why Liberals Should Support a Trump Republican Nomination". one of his recent disgusting flip flopping hawk-shit reveals.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:15 PM on December 28, 2019 [32 favorites]


Chait is like an ideological Magic Eye poster for well educated, well meaning white people. You're looking at him and looking at him and suddenly the picture will come into focus and the picture is the utter moral bankruptcy of neoliberal imperialism.
posted by Reyturner at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2019 [37 favorites]


Lazy bothsidesism has infected goddamn everything. I've seen people commenting in Star Wars discussions telling "both sides" they're both stupid because something something.

I'm not sure how we get people back to thinking it's ok to THINK about things and to CARE.
posted by Fleebnork at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2019 [16 favorites]


Oh this is good:

Facing growing right-wing hostility, the best [Colbert and Stewart] could offer was patting the backs of 200,000 people who probably would have been better off knocking on doors.


Buried the lede right at the end.
posted by zardoz at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2019 [31 favorites]


I remember thinking the exact same thing at the time. After 2010, the Republicans launched a full scale offensive of union busting, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, particularly across the midwest. You can probably draw a direct line from those efforts to Clinton's loss in 2016.

I still remember one of the first "scandals" of the Obama administration being over Acorn, which the Obama administration predictably caved on if I remember correctly.

And that's before you get into the impact of the administration's housing policies post bailout on the ability and inclination of vast swaths of the Democratic coalition to vote. Economic dislocation makes it more difficult to participate in po!itics.

Then in 2016 it seemed like Democrats wanted to go to war with over half their base, particularly among young people.

It seems crazy now that Dem higher ups seemed to think they had a divine guarantee to hold the presidency regardless of what happened down ballot.

Hope the next decade is better.
posted by eagles123 at 3:11 PM on December 28, 2019 [15 favorites]


I don't know maybe I'm trapped in a bubble but I feel like the lazy both-sidesism that defined the first 15 years of this particular American century is starting to lose its place in the culture war very rapidly. No one I know personally reads assholes like Jonathan Chait or other absolute drivel spitting "liberal" op-ed writers, and my one coworker who says things like "I dunno, there are still good Republicans out there" gets shouted down by the rest of our department and it's very funny.

People used to think it made them look smart and nuanced to have a "few favorite Republicans" as a show of respect and willingness to see the other side but post-Trump it seems like that's over now. You can read political posts right here on this site pre and post 2015 and start to see the rhetoric shift very sharply. I mean this is all purely anecdotal obviously but then I look at the democratic primary where even one sniff of acting like a republican in any regard gets a candidate a good slapping around for like a week. I theorize that both-sidesism is gasping it's last breaths in 2020. The only people who still have any respect for it are boomers and now even they've finally, unashamedly become a public mainstream joke.
posted by windbox at 4:10 PM on December 28, 2019 [12 favorites]


The only people who still have any respect for it are boomers

... and almost every person writing headlines and copy for the media.
posted by benzenedream at 4:16 PM on December 28, 2019 [20 favorites]


If you only read one of these articles, read A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:30 PM on December 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and carried a sign that said VOTE FOR SANITY NOV 2.

Definitely wished that they had done more to point out that both sides were not equally culpable. I felt like both Stewart and Colbert were much better about that on their shows than they were at the live event.
posted by snowmentality at 4:48 PM on December 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


then I look at the democratic primary where even one sniff of acting like a republican in any regard gets a candidate a good slapping around for like a week.

Joe Biden says hi.
posted by PMdixon at 4:54 PM on December 28, 2019 [12 favorites]


Came here for the Chait Hate and was not disappointed. That guy is one click away from becoming a Dinesh D'Souza figure for my conservative uncles to cite as "balanced" sourcing for their garbage opinions.
posted by witchen at 4:55 PM on December 28, 2019 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: just an exercise in shallow both-sidesism.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:18 PM on December 28, 2019


I was at the Rally to Restore Sanity. At the time I was thinking it was setting a bad precedent, because they might have had a chance to say something significant but it was just an exercise in shallow both-sidesism.

I was there too. At the time I thought both sides were *mostly* still acting in good faith. I was wrong.
posted by DigDoug at 5:40 PM on December 28, 2019 [7 favorites]


To be fair, Newt Fucking Gingrich was cutting ads in the 2007-2008 timeframe about climate change, and you could find random articles from Republicans talking about how expanding Medicare to everyone made sense.

After Katrina, the Iraq war, and the financial crisis, it seemed like it was obvious things needed to change, and it seemed somewhat plausible you could build a consensus to do so.

Twas not to be.

To me, the turning point seemed to come once the economic freefall stopped and it became clear the capital holders (including boomers and Xers with money tied up in pensions 401ks, and housing) would be saved.

Only the young, those without assets, and those with debts would suffer.

The experience of Japan after its real estate bubble seems instructive.
posted by eagles123 at 5:57 PM on December 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Joe Biden says hi.

Yeah. Also, Biden is on track to get like 80% of the Black vote in the primaries.

Discounting the more conservative Democratic Party voters is going to lead to many shocked and sad progressives once the primaries start happening.
posted by sideshow at 7:21 PM on December 28, 2019 [12 favorites]


It isn't wrong to want everyone to just get along

It is wrong to willfully deny that they aren't getting along, and it's pretty difficult to let yourself dwell in the desire without diving into the denial. As well, when it is a dominant ideological assertion that "everyone" will always and should always include a significant white supremacist faction, you have to do violence to either the concept of "everyone" or "just get along." Which is how we get to people upset about having their fun time wrecked by angry queers trying to talk about actual physical harm being done in the present as a calculated tool of power by one of two meaningful political parties. =/

I am becoming more convinced Biden wins the nom and loses the general but also I am trying to hold off on any more despairing while I'm at my bf's parents' place.
posted by PMdixon at 7:43 PM on December 28, 2019


[Hi haiku warrior, please check your memail.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:12 PM on December 28, 2019


Remembering the shit that happened in the last 10 years is fun but what I'm most looking forward to in the next decade is that we'll finally find out for certain whether climate change will lead to the eventual extinction of the human race over the next 100 years or no

Edge of my seat
posted by um at 8:22 PM on December 28, 2019 [9 favorites]


we'll finally find out for certain whether climate change will lead to the eventual extinction of the human race over the next 100 years or no

I'll take that bet, though I doubt anyone here will be around to collect. Humans will not go extinct in 100 years no matter what happens.
posted by JackFlash at 8:34 PM on December 28, 2019 [9 favorites]


Democrats’ fecklessness, in other words, did not flourish in a partisan vacuum. It has been, at every juncture, inspired and influenced by the complete failure of the right to self-police. The American right, like the housing market and the banks and the hedge funds and the health insurers and providers, simply could not be induced to check its basest instincts

The situation cries out for justice, but justice is not karma, it requires power to do its work.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:59 PM on December 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


The American right, like the housing market and the banks and the hedge funds and the health insurers and providers, simply could not be induced to check its basest instincts

The American right is getting everything they've ever wanted and are in the process of making it nearly impossible for anyone to undo their work for generations. Characterizing this as their failure demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of politics and power.
posted by Reyturner at 10:10 PM on December 28, 2019 [42 favorites]


I don't know maybe I'm trapped in a bubble but I feel like the lazy both-sidesism that defined the first 15 years of this particular American century is starting to lose its place in the culture war very rapidly.

Both-sidism is alive and well on NPR and CNN.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:08 PM on December 28, 2019 [14 favorites]


Stewart's Daily Show and The Colbert Report weren't perfect, but they were hilarious and did a lot of excellent journalistic work in their time. I think the rally was this goof that got way out of control, they ended up with this huge platform at a moment when there wasn't so much for them to rage against and it left them kind of grasping for a topic. Obama wasn't an evil maniac, he was charming and competent to the point that satirists never did get a really good handle on the guy. The conservatives were being shitty, pushing for bad things while trying like hell to block anything good, but they hadn't yet revealed just how crazy and awful they could get. There was still some reason to hope that they'd have a come to Jesus moment (or a come away from Republican Jesus and back to Jesus-Jesus moment) and start working with the left for the good of the world. I was way over on the left, even then, but it didn't seem totally goofy for somebody to be pleading for co-operation, for both sides to work together so the country could actually function.

I remember reading something where Stewart said he really underestimated the level of batshit crazy the conservatives were hiding, and he seemed to regret the rally. And that makes sense, but I don't think the rally represents the left's low point at all. I think it was a moment when a lot of people hoped there was some kind of workable compromise out there and didn't imagine the Republicans were capable of the shit that's since become routine.

I used to get annoyed when Stewart would try to do the both sides thing, but his attacks on the left were generally quick, weak and perfunctory, he saved the real venom for the people who deserved it. There were years at a time when watching him tear W a new one every night felt like all we had, it was a vital pressure valve and a sanity saver. He was so much sharper and funnier than Trevor Noah (and most of the other late-night satirists working now, including the CBS version of Colbert) it's like they're not even doing the same job. On a really good night, once in a while, John Oliver and Seth Meyers spit fire like Stewart used to every night of the week. We need Stewart more than we ever did, but he came along too early and burned out just as Trump was getting going. I can't blame him for retiring to do charity work and be a goat farmer, not a bit...

But I can't help wishing he'd return to us, awakening in his country's hour of need to take up his sword against the fat orange dragon that ravages the land. Even if Stewart couldn't take that fucker down, you know he'd leave it with lots and lots of stinging, itchy little cuts.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:27 PM on December 28, 2019 [18 favorites]


[Stewart] saved the real venom for the people who deserved it

Maybe when behind the safety of a video clip. Whenever an arch-conservative guest came on, he went into near-full puff mode, which is why those arch-conservatives agreed to interviews in the first place, I imagine.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:43 PM on December 28, 2019 [14 favorites]


Obama swayed over us because he was so good, but few of us realized then how centrist and middle of the road he was.

Since the 2015 elevator ride though, I've said (here, too) that this is Germany of 1932 all over again, and that we should realize how much the rules have changed. I think that by now, the "Doomsday clock" has moved up to 1935...

Those who know history, can argue how much this analogy is inaccurate. But I really am afraid that we are facing a "total war" on "us" starting sometimes in the next 4 years.. I don't feel prophetic at all, and would love to join a conversation in the future with a mea culpa. But hell, I am so worried, that personally I just left the US after living there for 35 years.

I also kept repeating that, just because there wasn't another world war the last 80 years, doesn't mean that there will never be another.

/gloom & doom, sorry
posted by growabrain at 12:48 AM on December 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


It became pretty obvious that conservatives were not acting in good faith 20+ years ago when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:57 AM on December 29, 2019 [19 favorites]


Politicians without scruples acting for short term political gain is nothing new, the surprise was that ~30% of Americans wanted a white supremacist dictator so bad they were willing to bite on any candidate who delivered the goods on racism and immigrant hate. This article has some interesting ideas about why Pat Buchanan's xenophobia never took off but Donald Trump's did 25 years later.
posted by benzenedream at 1:42 AM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


Whenever an arch-conservative guest came on, he went into near-full puff mode

Your memories of the show are very different from mine. Yes, he was a little too friendly with some politicians like John McCain, but there were many, many times when he interviewed conservative politicians and pundits and it got really heated. (Eventually he even had a falling-out with McCain, which seemed to genuinely pain him. No matter how much he liked McCain personally, he could only put up with so much crap.) I'd say that Stewart was willing to be a lot more rude about people when they weren't sitting right there, but when they were right there he wasn't going to let them say bullshit without challenging it. He didn't attack them the way a Fox host would attack a liberal guest... but he also didn't shy away from asking tough, uncomfortable questions.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:56 AM on December 29, 2019 [8 favorites]


[Stewart] saved the real venom for the people who deserved it

That wasn't the case in the timeline I'm from. His interview with Henry Kissinger is horrifying and shameful.
posted by Ouverture at 2:44 AM on December 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


the surprise was that ~30% of Americans wanted a white supremacist dictator so bad they were willing to bite on any candidate who delivered the goods on racism and immigrant hate.
About 19.4% actually, with Russian help and the electoral college advantage.
posted by Harry Caul at 2:56 AM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of MSNBC.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on Obama's drone strikes or his concentration camps on the southern border? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they’re super-depressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished.

Over the last eight years you people were so good — over occupy wall street, the healthcare crisis, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.
posted by Julianna Mckannis at 3:53 AM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


the surprise was that ~30% of Americans wanted a white supremacist dictator so bad they were willing to bite on any candidate who delivered the goods on racism and immigrant hate.

Strom Thurmond says hi.

The conservatives were being shitty, pushing for bad things while trying like hell to block anything good, but they hadn't yet revealed just how crazy and awful they could get.

They were out of power but even so, they were announcing their intention to do everything they have since, and birtherism was in full swing. It was not like the full on debt ceiling brinksmanship that came after was unadvertised - rather it was the position of the media to take Republicans "seriously but not literally" going back decades before Trump. I just don't know what more evidence you wanted.
posted by PMdixon at 5:02 AM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


the rally was this goof that got way out of control, they ended up with this huge platform at a moment when there wasn't so much for them to rage against and it left them kind of grasping for a topic.
I think you’re right that it started as a lark but there was plenty for them to rage against: justice for the war crimes which had recently been committed, pursuing the bankers who were cruising away from any real chance of accountability, the successful AstroTurf campaign stirring up the Tea Party to oppose healthcare reform, the increasingly racist claims being made by mainstream Republicans explaining why they had to oppose everything Obama did, etc.

The problem was that they chickened out and didn’t engage with any of that. It’s not reasonable to hold a bunch of comedians to a higher standard than the Democratic Party leadership but there is a direct line between not taking any of those problems seriously and our current plight. If they had been willing to drop the silly both-sides stance and actually rally people into the next election, things would be very different now.
posted by adamsc at 5:39 AM on December 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


... and I say out of power but even by 2010 McConnell had successfully caused the media to start writing that it took 60 votes to pass a bill through the Senate.
posted by PMdixon at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


I like Stewart but he always had a habit of giving the right way too much benefit of the doubt for acting in good faith.

This has been an enormous failing of the left for almost literally ages. They value and believe in the rules and assume everyone else does too. This is why the Dems in Congress keep getting hoodwinked by the Republicans over and over again. They just can't bring themselves to accept that the right doesn't operate by any other rule than self-interest and greed.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on December 29, 2019 [8 favorites]


The conservatives were being shitty, pushing for bad things while trying like hell to block anything good, but they hadn't yet revealed just how crazy and awful they could get. There was still some reason to hope that they'd have a come to Jesus moment (or a come away from Republican Jesus and back to Jesus-Jesus moment) and start working with the left for the good of the world.

Do folks not remember the Tea Party? Birthers, memes of Obama with a bone through his nose, death panels, congressmen burned in effigy? The right was racist and dishonest and cruel then too, and we shouldn’t forget it.
posted by naoko at 7:32 AM on December 29, 2019 [18 favorites]


Dean Baquet was on MTP this morning, consistently defending the need to 'understand the Trump voter', and decrying anyone who dismisses them.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:49 AM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really don't comprehend this magical thinking that "understand[ing]" is going to accomplish jack shit. It's like some true name bullshit.
posted by PMdixon at 7:53 AM on December 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


And why not. People in general were just desperate to feel a commonality and community with the nation as a whole, something like the popular idea of the country as it was right after 9/11. (There was no true solidarity except among the white financially-comfortable heterosexual population after 9/11, yet we still talk about it like a golden age.)

for what it's worth (I'm Canadian, so outside looking in) -- I can't say I remember this "golden age". I suppose that maybe everyday strangers were nicer, more open with each other (assuming they didn't profile ethnically as TERRORIST) in the wake of of 9/11, but what I remember most was a nation with particularly useless leadership making a pile of dumb/evil decisions that were all combining toward launching an unwinnable war against the wrong enemy. And it started immediately, mere hours after the attacks, the propaganda machine starting to roll, the first right wing Republican voices identifying Iraq and Saddam Hussein as somehow behind it all, so F*** Yeah, Team America, World Police!!! Let's Go Kill Somebody in the name of something or other!

And the thing is, there just wasn't a grasp (even from many more liberal types) of "why they hated us so much" -- no sense of the history of imperial manipulation and exploitation that fed the rage of the Al Qaeda crowd (virtually no grasp at all of the degree to which the previous Iraq war of 1991 had been first and foremost a crime, that America needed a war, any war, and soon, its military-industrial heart having been more or less moribund since the disaster of Vietnam, so if something didn't happen soon the nation would need to fundamentally re-imagine itself as something other than a international military-industrial empire ... and so a war was manufactured. All good business).

And all of this was possible because there was a vast chunk of the American populace that just didn't have any clue at all of The World. They'd never been out of the country (except maybe to Canada or Mexico for a couple of weeks once), they'd never seen a sub-titled movie, they'd never actually had a discussion with anyone who wasn't Born In The USA. And neither had anyone they knew, so this ignorance was deep, dense, impenetrable.

Anyway, I'm ranting. I'd sum it all up except I'm pretty sure that one of the rules of ranting is that you don't have to sum up. All just part of the noise.
posted by philip-random at 8:36 AM on December 29, 2019 [10 favorites]


PMdixon: "I really don't comprehend this magical thinking that "understand[ing]" is going to accomplish jack shit. It's like some true name bullshit."

I'm pretty sure that we understand them just fine already.
posted by octothorpe at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


And it started immediately, mere hours after the attacks, the propaganda machine starting to roll, the first right wing Republican voices identifying Iraq and Saddam Hussein as somehow behind it all, so F*** Yeah, Team America, World Police!!! Let's Go Kill Somebody in the name of something or other!

One of my oddest and most distinct memories of that day was being on Discworld MUD maybe an hour or two after the second tower fell (I was 15 and homeschooled by a man who was not capable of kindness, I needed comforting normalcy) and being screamed at in all caps because I dared say that it actually wasn't clear yet whether or not Al Qaeda had done it. The rage had already been programmed in long before.
posted by PMdixon at 8:43 AM on December 29, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that we understand them just fine already.

Yeah that too, though I'm not sure how much of my understanding is specifically due to growing up in an ex mining town that only had jobs as prison guards to reward a high school diploma with - it's not fair to expect others to have as deep an understanding as I do of something they didn't spend 18 years with a front row seat to.
posted by PMdixon at 8:46 AM on December 29, 2019


Both-sidism is alive and well on NPR and CNN.

Can't speak for NPR but I've been subject to a lot of CNN over the past few years as I'm living with someone who pretty much has it on all the time. There are many things to hate about the "service" they offer and how (cynically, I think) they choose not to go after Trump etc (Republicans in general) with the incision that they deserve, and yes, some of this does manifest as both-sidism. But it's simply wrong to imply that they scorn both sides equally. They don't. The right, Trump and beyond, get way more venom than the left from CNN. By orders of magnitude.
posted by philip-random at 8:50 AM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think what bothers me most about CNN is stuff like bringing in people like Kellyanne Conway, who talk over hosts and other guests to spew Republican talking points. Any pushback from the network would be nice, but what is worse is that snakes like her are brought back time and time again. It's all about money and connections, and CNN is a near-equal partner in that poisonous relationship.

I was doing errands yesterday and NPR was playing on the radio. There was an interview with a pair of evangelical pastor crooks who were rationalizing Trump's immorality, whilst still legislating Bill Clinton's impeachment twenty years ago. The host didn't cutoff the derail and barely dared to question Trump's behavior. She seemed outright apologetic to her guests for even broaching the subject of the sitting president breaking laws and violating moral norms. They used coded language to invoke the culture war they and their fellow Christian extremists are waging on the American public, and why cozying up to an outright tyrant is therefore the good and proper course of action, and she couldn't even bother to call out the doublespeak. It was disgusting. NPR is disgusting.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:26 AM on December 29, 2019 [11 favorites]


I don't know how well "we" understand "them" (drumpf voters) if "we" postulate "them" as a monolithic whole. The rich white executive who votes for drumpf does so for different reasons than the debt-burdened white unemployed factory worker; the (relatively small group of) people of color who vote for drumpf do so for different reasons than the gun-hoarding immigrant hater. One important strategy is to figure out what each group sees in drumpf and, hopefully, insert a wedge that will allow some of them to see the reality of his derangement, greed, and corruption.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:45 AM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


. One important strategy is to figure out what each group sees in drumpf and, hopefully, insert a wedge that will allow some of them to see the reality of his derangement, greed, and corruption.

to use a military analogy, when it was finally time to extricate Hitler and his Nazis from most of Europe, the allies didn't just invade at one point and hope for the best. They came from the south via Sicily and then Italy, the east via Russia, then through Poland, the northwest via Normandy and on through France, Belgium, the Netherlands. Not to mention, all kinds of intelligence strategies had already been deployed from within the various conquered nations.

tldr: you want to bring down a monstrous enemy, consider every conceivable angle ... and a few that aren't immediately conceivable.
posted by philip-random at 12:01 PM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


To me, the Stewart/Colbert rally highlights how tough it is for centrist liberals to make a moral condemnation. When you've staked your flag on "Both sides are equally bad, they're just too loud and angry about it," it's hard when one of those sides actually is that bad. Like when your moral core is "compromise and agreement and Adult Discussions" it's really hard when it comes down to core things like "Should we put people from a different race in cages?" Thus the success of the "Hire more female prison guards!" joke.

I really do feel like The West Wing brain-poisoned a generation of liberals into thinking all you really needed was a great speech and maybe a le epic bacon own and then the other side would be destroyed and would work with you. Like all the "DRUMPF" jokes would be followed up with "Heh heh, we got him this time" energy, and then it turned out that calling the guy a funny name or making fun of his fake tan didn't derail him at all.

Likewise, the reason the media never could parody Obama is it would have to come from the left rather than the center. The love of being "above it all" rather than fighting for anything, the love of technocratic "nudges," the fetishization of COMPROMISE and GRAND BARGAINS even when McConnell was telling him to eat shit, the po-faced flabbergastedness that people that spent years calling him a shithead wouldn't just come around and work out a SENSIBLE ADULT COMPROMISE.

An easy skit: Obama takes the Republican leadership to dinner and they go nuts on apps and desserts and booze. Obama comes home and Michelle questions the six figure dinner bill. He chuckles smugly and informs her that it's okay, he got Mitch McConell to let him order dessert.

You'd be critiquing all of technocratic liberalism and a media built on technocratic liberalism isn't that self aware (see that article on Chuck Todd where he exudes befuddlement that Ted Cruz would lie to him, like "I can't believe someone would do that! Just come on my show and tell me lies!).

But again, you can't stake out a moral stand when your entire morality is based around compromising and just "getting things done" and assuming both sides are equally bad.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:45 PM on December 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


I don't know how well "we" understand "them" (drumpf voters) if "we" postulate "them" as a monolithic whole.

Well, regardless of their differences they all voted for someone who was manifestly unsuitable. He shouldn't have even been the nominee. As Seth Meyers summed up just before the election:
“[It’s] a problem for a lot of Americans. They just don’t love the two choices. I mean, do you pick someone who’s under federal investigation for using a private email server, or do you pick someone who called Mexicans rapists, claimed the president was born in Kenya, proposed banning an entire religion from entering the US, mocked a disabled reporter, said John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, attacked the parents of a fallen soldier, bragged about committing sexual assault, was accused by 12 women of committing sexual assault, said some of those women weren’t attractive enough for him to sexually assault, said more countries should get nukes, said he would force the military to commit war crimes, said a judge was biased because his parents were Mexicans, said women should be punished for having abortions, incited violence at his rallies, called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, called for his opponent to be jailed, declared bankruptcy six times, bragged about not paying income taxes, stiffed his contractors and employees, lost a billion dollars in one year, scammed customers at his fake university, bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself with money from his fake foundation, has a trial for fraud coming up in November, insulted an opponent’s looks, insulted an opponent’s wife’s looks, and bragged about grabbing women by the pussy. How do you choose?”
posted by kirkaracha at 2:36 PM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


the problem with the Seth Meyers joke is that it dismisses the fact that the American right fundamentally mistrusts "the lame stream media" so anything they say Trump did won't be compelling and has been bombarded with Clinton conspiracy theories from the sources they do trust for decades so, to them, she isn't just "under investigation for emails" she's a literal lizard person baby eater.
posted by Reyturner at 2:46 PM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think there’s also a big structural issue here even within the strictly political space, because you have to compromise to produce a sellable package, but you also have to sell it. So you wind up talking about your compromise as though it’s your ideal, and of course there’s no principle animating your compromise, so claiming one is really transparently hollow and pathetic.

At least, that seems to be the Democratic approach. The Republican approach seems to be to dig in and refuse to compromise, at the cost of never producing viable legislation in the first place.

I guess the media does play a role here, by being unable to follow anything but narratives that are too fundamentally stupid to represent actual solutions.
posted by bjrubble at 3:22 PM on December 29, 2019


Hmm, I don't see this being mentioned in the article or here, but I think a decade ago there was still the belief that the other side would simply be waited out due to demographics and the inevitability of progress (whether slow or fast).

For me, that's one big difference from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2019 and explains a bit why some people were willing to compromise.
posted by FJT at 3:34 PM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that we understand them just fine already.

Dunno about that, given all the "But how can they vote against their own interests?" posts I've seen over the last few years. Even here.

As far as things are going, Metafilter at least has evolved to the "We must never allow Republicans to hold power again" stance. Even this place though really hasn't processed exactly what that will entail.

Then again, in 1990 Yugoslavia appeared stable as well.
posted by happyroach at 3:41 PM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have many discussions with my cousin. Both of us lived in the US for many decades, and both of us left. Neither one became a US citizen, but we were much engaged with liberal politics and views.

Every time I express bewilderment / outrage/ anger / frustration at the political developments, he says: “You don’t understand. Americans are so stupid, that they want what is coming to them.”

It’s hard to hear. It’s hard to accept, especially at a place like metafilter, where most everybody is not stupid, doesn’t want it and doesn’t deserve it.

But what other explanation can do here be?
posted by growabrain at 11:56 AM on December 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


Not everyone, but about 40 percent are consistently either sufficiently racist or greedy that they'll burn everything down rather than see people they don't like get anything. Which is why I am so grim about the future. Maybe Trump gets defeated next year, but it won't change those people, and with the structure of our elections those people are enough to block any substantial progress.
posted by tavella at 12:10 PM on December 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


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