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Great follow-up from Avedon on Melissa Harris-Perry's smear in TNR

Read it all (and see here). Here is what I think are the key grafs:

She goes on with a list of Clinton's sins in a similar manner without reference to the facts of the times, which include the paucity of information sources and forums in which any of those crimes could be discussed, especially once it became clear that there was a full-scale attack on Clinton in progress that was based not on these really quite awful policies, but on his having done things like appoint a perfectly sane woman who said perfectly sane things about sex education. Or on things that were really the doing of his predecessor (I'm always amazed at how Clinton was responsible for Ruby Ridge even though it happened during the GHWB administration), or were planned or implemented under the Reagan or Bush-the-first administrations. Or on his having done something that most of his predecessors in the office are known to have done - i.e., get a little on the side. (Note: it used to be that it was okay to commit adultery on the side as long as you never got divorced. Apparently, it's now okay - at least, if you're a Republican - to play around all you want to and get a divorce, but any Democrat who has an affair is pretty much in the Worse Than Hitler category.) Or things that were the sheer fantasies of backwoods segregationists in Arkansas.

Face it, there was no air in the room for attacking Clinton from the left while most liberals were still reeling in shock at discovering just how right-wing the "liberal" media had become. When The New Republic is promoting (to respectful appreciation from the rest of the media) a re-packaging of long-debunked racists myths in the form of The Bell Curve while the rest of us are being called "fascist" for suggesting that we'd rather not hear our neighbors referred to as "niggers", where, exactly, was this criticism of Clinton supposed to take place?

Nevertheless, plenty of us were furious at Clinton, and we said so on the rare occasion that we found a place to do it. Trouble is, most spaces for public debate were dominated more by partisanship than by appreciation of just how damaging some of his policies were, and too many people were feeling helpless in the face of that sudden ugly exposure of the now manifest right-wing nature of the media. With right-wing Democrats suddenly in charge of the party, it had become impossible even to mention single-payer, let alone decry policies that were more directly an attack on the poor and minorities. Universal government-funded healthcare was something that had wide mainstream support and yet it couldn't be talked about?

And, in an atmosphere where genuine liberal concerns could not be talked about, it left us all atomized, feeling alone, like our concerns were not shared by the many, but only by a handful of our friends. You can't get a movement going when you feel like you're the only one who sees what's going on.

At the risk of re-introducing the Clinton permathread, I'd add my own personal history to what Avedon wrote:

The first post-Iran Contra narrative I ever followed in detail was the Clinton impeachment saga. (Indeed, I had been out of the country for some time, and was listening to NPR, unpacking in my new apartment, when Bob Livingston resigned ("You can resign your post"). And I bought all the books: Blood Sport, and so forth. So what Avedon says jibes with my own experience: The entire discourse was completely contaminated with partisanship, and if you looked at the class and cultural markers, the Rs really did look more evil. (The impeachment saga was also very subtly destructive because what the Rs did to Clinton really was unjust, and one thing liberals should be about is defending against injustice. Injustice is never abstract; it's always happens to actual persons. Persons who one then becomes personally invested in defending, and really, rightly so, because otherwise we'd just be users. But then when the policies start depending on the persons....) And it takes a long time to deprogram and decontaminate one's self. (For example, I read The New Yorker for my whole life, back to when my mother would frame the covers for art on the walls. Up until 2008, that is.)

Fast forward through the Bush administration to another permathread, the 2008 D primaries. Using Brad DeLong's classic "Class of" formulation, I'm from "The class of 2008" on the Ds (and, indeed, electoral politics). (The subtle destruction in 2008 is that what Obama did to Hillary Clinton really was unjust, and one thing liberals should be about is defending against injustice. And so the same dynamic of the impeachment saga applies again.)*

Anyhow, there are others, I am sure, who got schooled earlier; "the class of 1994" on NAFTA, for example. Or "the class of 1993" on DADT. What would be nice is if we could all see ourselves as graduates of the same school. Perhaps the dynamics of the schooling work against that, however. Gawd knows I like to be correct first (and in fact, when the official discourse is completely corrupt, it's important to give praise for being right first).

NOTE * To repeat: The marginal differences between Clinton and Obama were not insignificant. Whether any administration would have been able to, or even interested in, moderating the Depression we now know ourselves to be in is not knowable; however, regardless of counterfactual histories, I don't see any faction in Versailles, including the Clinton faction in exile, that can or will moderate it now. If Warren joins Schneiderman in calling for prosecutions, perhaps. Parties have been known to regenerate themselves. But as things stand now, no.

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and it confirms my view that he has no intention of winning 2012, but merely wants to assign blame for his loss on racists white liberals and to reinforce the view that Hillary would not have been any better.

The biggest difference between the two is of course that Clinton gave us 5% unemployment. Whatever you think of Obama's assault on civil liberties or war mongering, the fact is that if we had 5% unemployment he would be cruising to an easy reelection.

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

Upon seeing the name of the author, I quickly dismissed it as rubbish.

Instead, I skipped to the comments section, and most of the commenters seem to be treating it as the tripe that it is.

She is becoming the left's McMegan.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Subject: Why white liberals are (really) ditching Obama - David Sirota

Sirota shilling for Obama EARLY in the 2008 primary process:
Mar 2008:
Since at least the South Carolina primary, the Clinton campaign’s message has been stripped of its poll-tested nuance and become a rather crass drumbeat aimed at reminding voters that Obama is black. Whether it is former President Clinton likening Obama’s campaign to Jesse Jackson’s; Clinton aides telling the Associated Press that Obama is “the black candidate,” or Geraldine Ferraro tapping into anti-affirmative action anger by claiming Obama’s success is a product of his skin color, barely a week goes by without a white Clinton surrogate injecting race into the nominating contest.

That is one of the twin pillars of the Clinton firewall—a well-honed strategy aimed at maximizing “the Race Chasm.” The Race Chasm may sound like a conventional discussion of the black-white divide, but it is one of the least-discussed geographic, demographic and political dynamics driving the contest between Clinton and Obama. 

New shorter Sirota: Hillary ran a racist campaign
But Obama REALLY sucks (but in a different way)
Sirota today:
As I noted earlier, there's lots of racism in America, and yes, some of it has come from self-described liberals (see, as just two representative examples, Geraldine Ferraro's hideous commentsabout Obama

Cleaver's picture
Submitted by Cleaver on

She comes to a fairly accurate conclusion. It's just that she gets there from a faulty predicate.

Her mistake is to confuse white progressives with white fauxgressives. In 2008, white fauxgressives voted on racialist grounds, and in 2012 they will withhold their portion of the racialist vote because Obama -- who just had to be "progressive" because he was black (remember the one about how he was the son of a single mother on food stamps?) -- is in fact to the right of Richard Nixon. But of course this was obvious to actual progressives in 2008 and earlier.

Must suck to be MHP when Geraldine Ferraro turns out to be right. (As a friend of mine says with respect to restaurateurs, "Live by Yelp, die by Yelp . . . ")