Conservative desperation to revive the IRS "scandal," which basically imploded in their laps weeks ago, continues apace. Steve Benen reports today that the latest is a scoop by the Daily Caller about a White House meeting with IRS chief counsel William Wilkins in 2012. The fact that this was trumpeted in the Caller is pretty much all you need to know about this supposedly nefarious meeting,Which is absolutely true; indeed, two or three years ago, one could say the same about virtually any story that originated in the GOP-aligned press.
What's fascinating is that it's changing. Or at least, there are now decent-size islands of reality within the mainstream conservative press. National Review has really stepped up its game, with Robert Costa leading a decent-sized group of people doing real reporting. There are also I think a somewhat larger number of reality-based columnists who are willing to take shots at conservative nonsense while staying firmly within the conservative mainstream. See, for example, columns on the futility of shutting down the government over ACA by Ramesh Ponnuru and Byron York (over at the Washington Examiner, which also runs Philip Klein's informed health care discussions). Not that there's anything wrong with exiles such as David Frum -- everyone should obviously wind up whether they feel comfortable -- but if the GOP is to get itself out from the damage that a closed information feedback loop can cause, they need people within that loop to do something about it.
The question, to me, is what comes next. Will both this relatively new reality-based conservative media coexist peacefully with Rush and Fox and the rest of the nonsense? Will war break out? Who would win?
At any rate, it all seems to me like a pretty significant development.
Possible, I suppose. Put me down as interested but skeptical. I've been writing for years that the closed loop would kill the GOP, that it is technologically fueled, and that there is literally nothing that anyone can do to stop it.ReplyDelete
Now you're telling me I might be wrong?
He didn't say that these little peeps of reason will stop the closed loop. He just noted the presence of little peeps of reason.Delete
Maybe they will help to bring down the fever. Certainly discipline is cracking. It is hard to say.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd thought the Daily Caller was initially created with the goal of being a place for Serious Reporting (tm) from the Conservative perspective. At least, that's what I remember from Bill Scher/Matt Lewis diavlogs I used to follow.ReplyDelete
That's what they said, yes. Didn't turn out that way.Delete
Funny you mention National Review. I rarely read it (or any conservative media -- Memeorandum headlines are enough), but just the other day I read a NRO article that was as radical and nutty as anything on RedState or the many others. So if there are reality-based writers with NRO, they're still competing with the lunatics on staff.ReplyDelete
I don't know York's stuff as well, but I'm not sure Ponnuru is a good example of a new development since he's been a non-firebreathing squish for a long time, hasn't he? And on the other hand, I just read his linked article, which includes this:ReplyDelete
Republicans are right that Obamacare is a very bad law. They urgently need a strategy for scrapping it -- and any workable strategy has to include a conservative alternative, something few Republicans have shown much interest in proposing.
This isn't a criticism of the right's fantasies so much as their flip side, a kind of co-fantasy coordinate with theirs. The article's headine, "Drop the disastrous plan to defund Obamacare," is misleading: as we see, Ponnuru has no trouble at all with that plan in substance. He accepts its fantasy premises, i.e. "that Obamacare is a very bad law" (has he ever explained why?) and that there's some "conservative alternative" that the House GOP and its allies might be able to formulate and embrace if they would just get going on it. But we've been over this a gazillion times: Obamacare WAS the conservative alternative, and the GOP can't and won't carry out the "replace" part of "repeal and replace" because it's not interested in the policy question (affordable health care) at all, it's just expressing cultural rage and panic. Ponnuru writes as if the only "disaster" in this position is that it's tactically somewhat short-sighted.
Of course, if he went further -- if he suggested that the GOP doesn't just "urgently need a strategy" (as if the underlying goal was, in itself, perfectly sensible) but in fact is already pursuing a strategy, just one that happens to be based on zero understanding of the policy or the problems it's designed to solve -- well, then he'd be David Frum: on an island of reality, to be sure, but cut off and in exile from the right-wing mainland. To avoid that, Ponnuru instead continues and enables the fantasy. I'm having trouble seeing how any of this ultimately corrects for lazy mendacity or epistemic closure.
Eh. Yes, ACA was based on things that Republicans supposedly like, but look: everyone is entitled to support or oppose what they like. Hypocrisy isn't denying reality.Delete
He has explained why he dislikes ACA, and IIRC he's one of those with the goofy anti-insurance plan -- that health care insurance is just a bad idea in most cases, and people should have catastrophic and not much more. I think that's goofy at best, but that's not the same as leaving reality.
Errrrr .... I have to say I don't understand what you are getting at, JB. Are you saying conscious hypocrisy is not the same as consciously telling lies, which is denying reality? Sorry, that does not hold so much as a teaspoon of water. Or are you saying that Ponnurru himself is not a hypocrite, because he never claimed to back ACA? I will go with that. Or are you saying Ponnurru is a hypocrite, as the ACA is at root a GOP pla, but he is not a conscious hypocrite because he has managed to convince himself otherwise? Or are you saying that hypocrisy is so much a part of politics that we cannot even talk about the GOP's stance on ACA in light of their own proclaimed principles? That does not hold so much as a teaspoon of water, either, and directly undercuts many of your own criticisms of the GOP.Delete
Also, JB, I am not sure that everyone would agree with you on the "entitled to oppose" part. That is true in a purely legal and formal sense, of course. But I don't think many Democrats do think that the GOP is entitled to oppose the ACA in an intellectual or moral sense, it being a GOP plan and all. A lot has been written about the rage on the GOP side, but relatively little about the rage and bafflement among Democrats who simply cannot fathom what the GOP finds so objectionable in their own ideas, and who were honestly outraged and offended when the GOP did not support the ACA in 2009.Delete
Now, the GOP will point to DOMA and DADA as mirror issues, maybe rightly. I am not making an argument so much as an observation. I will add that the GOP obduracy also hurt the ACA among many on the left, who have a tendency to say, unfairly, that if nothing was going to get votes from the GOP Obama should have tried a lt harder to get the left something it could whole-heartedly support. Just another wrinkle in the complex tapestry of opinion around he ACA.
Jeff, I think that there are two ways of looking at this. The concept that providing the country with (close to) universal health insurance will destroy everything we love is basically silly. I agree that Ponnuru is not correcting this essential lie. However, demanding that the Administration stop implementing Obamacare, or the Republican will destroy the economy, is both a really bad idea and a tactical, political disaster. Ponnuru is doing a pretty good job of pointing out the latter.ReplyDelete
Once people can sign up for health insurance, things will get really dicey for Republicans. You'll be able to go into CVS or Walgreens, and they might have a kiosk showing you how to sign up for insurance (with signs saying things like, "Only $99/month with your tax rebate!" Churches might start signing their members up. The conservative talk machine will go on about how expensive it is, but that'll be it.
And then what will Republicans do? Pass more anti-abortion laws? That's where Ponnuru is standing.
Yes, Anon, I get that he's taking a mildly contrarian position within a certain very narrow frame of reference. I guess I'm wondering how useful that is if the entire frame is still fully enclosed inside the right-wing bubble. I don't know, maybe it is -- I don't mean to be dogmatic about this, I actually am wondering.Delete
I think it's like gay marriage. Suddenly, they've lost the game. One year, they're riding high, whipping anti-homosexual bias into a frothy ride back to the white house. Eight years later, a third of the country lives in states that recognize gay marriage, and they have federal rights as well... Where did all that power go? Weren't they right? Wasn't god on their side?Delete
Obamacare will be similar. I think that Jonathan is right that something is happening, someone is try to explain to them that they can't just blow up the whole system. They've lost. There won't be any backlash either.
Eventually the ascendent coalition will just put them to bed.
Yeah, let's hope! :-)Delete
It's fascinating watching the Left as it whines about media bias.ReplyDelete
You won't see this sort of obliviousness acted out very often, out in the wild.
Except that "media bias" is not the issue here at all, Mr. Troll.Delete
Au contraire, troll (you can always identify you trolls, when you call others troll), the discussion is all about media bias.Delete
And in particular, it's about biased lefties complaining about others' bias.
As I say, this is simply fascinating to observe.
It's fascinating seeing the same commenter who wrote that Obama has "about zero chance at reelection" (hiding behind the name Anonymous as usual, despite the unmistakable similarities in vocabulary and content in every post) returning without showing any signs of modesty or rethinking after having made such a colossal blunder.Delete
Reality-based climatologist Michael Mann just passed his first hurdle in his defamation suit against NR and CEI, a motion-to-dismiss/anti-SLAPP motion. If the suit is ultimately successful in a year or three (including appeals) then it might either force some reality on conservative media or be a tool the reality-inclined might use in their favor.ReplyDelete
And while my knowledge is spotty, I'd label Byron York as one of the earliest precursors of the trend Jonathan describes, as York switched from standard opinionated wingnut to conservative journalist several years ago.