You’d think the editorial side at The New York Times might take time to read what its own reporters have to to say about what’s happening out in the country. But….
The latest contribution to their never ending narrative about how Democrats just can’t help themselves is this piece: ‘The G.O.P. Has Gone Even Farther to the Right Than I Expected’: Three Writers Talk About the Midterms
By Frank Bruni, Matthew Continetti and Lis Smith
Mr. Bruni is a contributing Opinion writer. Mr. Continetti (@continetti) is the author of “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism.” Ms. Smith was a senior adviser to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign and is the author of the forthcoming memoir “Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story.”
(The link should allow safe passage through The NY Times paywall.)
While they marvel at just how extreme Republicans are going, they have ‘helpful’ comments like these:
CONTINETTI: I’d say they are shaping up as one might expect. The president’s party rarely does well in midterms. The Biden Democrats appear to be no exception. What has surprised me is the depth of public disillusionment with President Biden, his party and the direction of the country. My guess is Democrats are surprised as well.
SMITH: We have seen common-sense Democrats like Shontel Brown in Ohio, Valerie Foushee in North Carolina and Morgan McGarvey in Kentucky win against far-left Democrats, and that’s a good thing for the party and our chances in November.
Nothing reassures Very Serious People like hearing that far-left Democrats are being beaten back. We never actually get to hear who these ‘far-left’ Democrats are, what they have to say, and how what they want to do is largely popular with the public — things like a living wage, making the rich and corporations pay their fair share, expanding healthcare for everyone, protecting women’s rights, keeping government out of the bedroom and so on.
Where are the Far Left think tanks supported by Far Left billionaires, where are the voices of the Far Left media empires — and why doesn’t The NY Times ever seek them out and let us hear from them?
But Republicans going far right? It’s just something that happens and the Times doesn’t understand why. They continually run focus groups in midwest diners to ask Real Americans what they are thinking and why they love Trump. They marvel at their grievances — and never challenge them on it. The Times can’t understand why the Right keeps heading into full Fascism (not that they would ever use the “F” word.)
And then there’s this:
BRUNI: Matt, I know you’re not here to help Democrats, but if you were advising them, what would you tell them to do to head off a possible or probable midterms drubbing?
CONTINETTI: If I were a Democratic consultant, the first thing I would tell my clients would be to take shelter from the storm. There is no escaping Biden’s unpopularity. The best hope for Democratic incumbents is to somehow denationalize their campaigns. Even that probably won’t be enough to escape the gravitational pull of Biden’s declining job approval.
Short version: run away from being Democrats and avoid any support for the President or his policies. Trash your own brand and apologize for it.
“If I were a Democratic consultant” is a rather disingenuous remark, given that it seems like that’s the reflex advice coming from the Democratic consulting class all too often. You’d think that it’s what is coming from someone on the Right as well might suggest something about how helpful that advice actually is.
Also, what’s the distance between a mainstream Democrat, a progressive Democrat and a Far Left Democrat? And how does that compare to the distance between a mainstream Republican and the extreme Right these days. Is there even daylight between the two?
Joe Biden won over Donald Trump with a sizable margin; Democrats held the House and managed to get the Senate back — but the narrative is that people didn’t vote for Biden, they voted against Trump. Never mind that two DINOs in the Senate derailed Biden’s agenda along with 100% GOP opposition; never mind that BBB is supported by a majority of Americans — once they are told what it will do instead of just how much the media complains it will cost.
Never mind that Biden got us out of Afghanistan under the deal Trump cut — “it was too messy”. Never mind that Biden has been doing an incredible job leading against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that our allies are dreading what happens if Republicans turn to power. And let’s not mention the difference between his leadership on Covid and the former guy.
While this is going on, mass shootings are happening thanks to the GOP embrace of guns everywhere all the time along with replacement theory. It fits right in there with other GOP phenomena:
- the war on teachers and public education
- the war on LGBTQ youth
- characterizing Democrats as pedophiles
- the permanent border crisis
- the radical GOP Supreme Court prepared to undo decades of legal precedent
- open plans to rig elections
- the Hitler-curious element of the GOP Base
- the GOP “Friends of Putin/Orban” authoritarian wing of the party
- Tax cuts for the rich and deregulation forever
What is their consensus about the prospect of Republican midterm gains?
BRUNI: Lastly, in one sentence without too many conjunctions and clauses, give me a reason not to feel too despondent-verging-on-hopeless about our political present and immediate future?
SMITH: We’ve gotten through worse.
CONTINETTI: When you study history, you are reminded that America has been through a lot like this before — and worse — and has not only endured but prospered. We’ll get through this moment. It will just take time.
Sorry, that’s three sentences — but important ones!
Hear that boys and girls? Don’t worry! America always has a happy ending because we have always had a happy ending!
Timothy D. Snyder in “The Road to Unfreedom” refers to this mindset as inevitability. We don’t have to do anything because things happen the way they will regardless — which leads to eternity.
The politics of inevitability is the idea that there are no ideas. Those in its thrall deny that ideas matter, proving only that they are in the grip of a powerful one. The cliché of the politics of inevitability is that “there are no alternatives.” To accept this is to deny individual responsibility for seeing history and making change. Life becomes a sleepwalk to a premarked grave in a prepurchased plot.
Eternity arises from inevitability like a ghost from a corpse. The capitalist version of the politics of inevitability, the market as a substitute for policy, generates economic inequality that undermines belief in progress. As social mobility halts, inevitability gives way to eternity, and democracy gives way to oligarchy. An oligarch spinning a tale of an innocent past, perhaps with the help of fascist ideas, offers fake protection to people with real pain. Faith that technology serves freedom opens the way to his spectacle. As distraction replaces concentration, the future dissolves in the frustrations of the present, and eternity becomes daily life. The oligarch crosses into real politics from a world of fiction, and governs by invoking myth and manufacturing crisis. In the 2010s, one such person, Vladimir Putin, escorted another, Donald Trump, from fiction to power.
The New York Times has internalized Republican talking points so deeply, they don’t even seem to be aware of the cognitive dissonance. Thomas Friedman provided a classic example recently: My Lunch With President Biden
Friedman offers this praise of the ‘unpopular’ President Joe Biden:
…What I felt afterward was this: For all you knuckleheads on Fox who say that Biden can’t put two sentences together, here’s a news flash: He just put NATO together, Europe together and the whole Western alliance together — stretching from Canada up to Finland and all the way to Japan — to help Ukraine protect its fledgling democracy from Vladimir Putin’s fascist assault.
In doing so, he has enabled Ukraine to inflict significant losses on Russia’s invading army, thanks to a rapid deployment of U.S. and NATO trainers and massive transfers of precision weapons. And not a single American soldier was lost.
It has been the best performance of alliance management and consolidation since another president whom I covered and admired — who also was said to be incapable of putting two sentences together: George H.W. Bush. Bush helped manage the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, without firing a shot or the loss of a single American life.
He wasn’t doing too bad until that last sentence, and then goes into reflex both-sideism. He follows up by noting where the GOP is going:
We are staring into that abyss right now. Because it is one thing to elect Donald Trump and pro-Trump candidates who want to restrict immigration, ban abortions, slash corporate taxes, pump more oil, curb sex education in schools and liberate citizens from mask mandates in a pandemic. Those are policies where there can be legitimate disagreement, which is the stuff of politics.
Actually no. There is nothing legitimate behind why Republicans are pursuing those goals, because they don’t believe in any of that other than that it gets them votes and makes their backers richer. None of it actually solves any of the problems facing America. But this much he gets:
But the recent primaries and the investigations around the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol are revealing a movement by Trump and his supporters that is not propelled by any coherent set of policies, but rather by a gigantic lie — that Biden did not freely and fairly win a majority of Electoral College votes and therefore is an illegitimate president.
Thus, their top priority is installing candidates whose primary allegiance is to Trump and his Big Lie — not to the Constitution. And they are more than hinting that in any close election in 2024 — or even ones that aren’t so close — they would be willing to depart from established constitutional rules and norms and award that election to Trump or other Republican candidates who didn’t actually garner the most votes. They are not whispering this platform. They are running for office on it.
In short, we are seeing a national movement that is telling us publicly and loudly: WE WILL GO THERE.
And that terrifies me because: I HAVE BEEN THERE.
Going back to Snyder, rejecting both inevitability and eternity requires people to make decisions with good information, not comfortable myths and lies — then act to realize them. Problems neither solve themselves nor need they simply be accepted as inescapable.
Republicans don’t solve problems — they exploit them for political gain while making them worse. (Arm teachers! Build a wall! Ban books! More Guns! Ban Abortion! More tax cuts!)
Friedman seems to think all Democrats need to do is give up ‘far left’ ideas that actually address real problems with real solutions and instead try to win over 10% of Republicans with… something? Racism light? Asking LGBTQ people to spend at least a little time in the closet? Stop saying mean things about Republicans? Ignore Donald Trump and stick to kitchen table issues? Stop trying to use government to help people and just put more trust in market forces? Stop complaining about needing to fix infrastructure or deal with climate?
Biden is not blameless in this dilemma, nor is the Democratic Party — particularly its far-left wing. Under pressure to revive the economy, and facing big-ticket demands from the far left, Biden pursued expansive spending for too long. House Democrats also sullied one of Biden’s most important bipartisan achievements — a giant infrastructure bill — by making it hostage to other excessive spending demands. The far left also saddled Biden and every Democratic candidate with radical notions like “defund the police” — an insane mantra that would have most harmed the Black and Hispanic base of the Democratic Party had it been implemented.
To defeat Trumpism we need only, say, 10 percent of Republicans to abandon their party and join with a center-left Biden, which is what he was elected to be and still is at heart. But we may not be able to get even 1 percent of Republicans to shift if far-left Democrats are seen as defining the party’s future.
And that is why I left my lunch with the president with a full stomach but a heavy heart.
Notice the implicit assumptions. Nothing can be done about the Republican Party, despite that it is an existential threat. There is no leadership to appeal to. There is no way to change what the party stands for. The Republican Party is a force of nature; nothing can be done about the way it is or where it is headed.
It’s all on the Democrats, but…
When you get right down to it, The New York Times appears to believe that all of our problems come down to one thing: it’s all the fault of the Far Left. Damn those hippies!
So… what do we do about this real anti-liberal bias in the ‘liberal’ media? How do we deal with it when Democrats like Lis Smith reinforce GOP talking points? What do we do about inevitability and eternity?
Poll95 votes Show Results
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How optimistic are you about Democratic chances in the midterms?Meh.3%3 votesNot very.20 votesFingers crossed.14 votesDepends on events between then and now.22 votesHoping for the best.9%9 votesHoping for the best, preparing for the worst.13 votesBusting my butt to get Democrats elected.11 votesSee my comment.3%3 votes
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