Thursday, December 30, 2010

Catch of the Day

Jonathan Chait just completely destroys Jennifer Rubin's claim that, as he puts it, Palin-mania is a liberal plot. Great fun for your holiday reading.  The clincher, very well chosen, is the banner for CPAC 2009, complete with the Sage of Wasilla herself. 

Nice catch!

Just a quick housekeeping note...for anyone who missed it, the reason that there's light posting here this week is that I'm over at Greg Sargent's Plum Line.  I'll be back, regular schedule, on the weekend, but I will continue to toss the occasional post up here, if I can get to it.  In particular, I owe a response to a fascinating critique of your Plain Blogger from Andrew Sprung, which for now I'll just encourage everyone, or at least regular readers, to check out.  I also hear that Matt Bai has written something today...


  1. Just catching up on your Plum Line posts, I saw that you linked to my son Jack's "2001: A Christmas Odyssey" picture. Thanks! He'll be thrilled!

  2. Andrew Sprung's critique was interesting, and I agree that the focus on process from this blog can be a bit bracing at times. However, assuming I understand correctly, I am not sure I agree with the view that machination from political actors is separable from the essence of what makes representative democracy successful.

    As an illustration, here's an interesting, lengthy opinion piece at HuffPo about the history of elderly poverty, and the devastating implications for the aged of eliminating Social Security, which Glenn Beck - and thus every Republican? - apparently favors.

    Unfortunately, the precedent of elderly suffering prior to Social Security has a devastating effect on the linked piece; the reader immediately recognizes the conclusions as flawed, since old folks vote en masse, and thus no party platform that involves impoverishing 80% of a key constituency will ever see the light of day.

    It could be, as the writers suggest, that Republicans would prefer to torch Social Security, which Glenn Beck apparently recommended. It could even be that such Republicans are right by some metric. But the conclusion is laughable precisely due to the Machiavellian sense of political self-preservation that Bernstein explores (and apparently makes Sprung uncomfortable).

    In other words, while Tea-Party-esque threats to programs like Social Security are good for copy and fear mongering, its the kind of 'sausage making' (discussed on this blog), that assures one that such extreme actions would never occur.

    In conclusion, I agree with the sentiment that such machination is distasteful, and I wish that the political class were not so calculating. Of course, a non-calculating political class could also arbitrarily really screw stuff up, so I suppose one should be careful what they wish for.

  3. (Having written the above, it occurs to me that the elderly are an elegant example here because they are such an intimidatingly large voting bloc.

    In my ideal, America is a nation that vigorously protects the interests and rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority. The American political machine, as discussed on this blog, seems fundamentally at odds with my ideal. Which is a concern).

  4. I don't remember who said this, but someone commenting on the progress of black voter registration in the South observed that as registration increased, white politicians went from saying 'n!gger' to 'nigra' to 'colored' to 'How pleased I am to see so many brothers and sisters out here with us this fine morning.'

    Once a despised/ignored minority becomes a voting bloc, there will be someone for whom those percentage points are, bluntly, worth pandering to, and that is how progress seems to get made.

    And that is also why Plain Blog has become my favorite political cuppa java.

    Admitting that one of the few times I sympathized with W was in the 2000 debate when he was asked what political philosopher influenced him most. If I were running for office and was asked that question, the truthful answer - Nick Machiavelli - would instantly send my approval rating into negative numbers.


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