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.