May 30, 2015

There he goes again. Good old David Brooks is passing MoDo's weed around this week and getting higher than a kite.

He must be, because he's actually excited about George Pataki's grand entrance into the 2016 Clown Limo.

Speaking of Rick Santorum's entrance, Brooks said, "But now, if you want a working-class Republican, you have got Scott Walker, you have got Marco Rubio. And so the bigger fish are filling that spot. And so that’s been the story with him. He was second in a really weak field. Now the field is a lot stronger, and even the people who were working for him in places like Iowa have drifted off to other people."

Not that I have any great love for Rick Santorum, but how on earth do Scott Walker and Marco Rubio make the A-List?

Brooks continued, "The other interesting case to me is Pataki. If ever there is a moderate Republican running, it would be nice to have a moderate Republican running, just to see what would happen."

In what world is any Republican a "moderate Republican?" And in what possible world does Pataki qualify?

Yes, yes. I know that if you Google "Pataki moderate" you'll get thousands of search results with outlets like -- well, almost all of them -- saying that Pataki is too moderate to make it in this 2016 field.

But that is because this 2016 is full of extremists. Pataki wasn't a moderate. It's just that he's not extreme TeaBircher material like the current crowd.

Which brings me to the excellent point raised by James Vega at the Democratic Strategist.

The problem with the mainstream D.C. press is not simply that they are obsessed with seeking scandals and "gotcha" moments. It is that for all practical purposes many have become salesmen for a clearly and unambiguously partisan anti-Democratic narrative. This fact has significant implications for Democratic political strategy.

This is not to say that the group of mainstream commentators in question says exactly the same thing as Fox News and the overtly pro-GOP press. Quite the contrary, the distinct role these commentators are playing in the American partisan ideological debate is leveraging their pretence of neutrality in order to minimize and conceal the massive extremist trend within the GOP. Their method is to continually insist upon a false equivalency between the two parties.

Right. Both sides do NOT do it. And that, as Vega notes, means Democrats and liberals have to adjust how they react to an anti-Democratic media. He wrote this in the context of Hillary Clinton, but it applies equally to Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and any other Democrat jumping in.

In the first place, it means that Hillary is entirely right in refusing to play by the traditional rules. The mainstream political press has itself rendered these rules obsolete by failing to report on the most important political story of recent years - the extremist conquest of the GOP. Reporters and commentators who refuse to report this reality as an objective fact about modern American politics cannot possibly also play the role of impartial arbitrators or objective journalists when covering a Democratic political candidate.

Second, Hillary's decision to act in accordance with this insight presents a profound challenge and threat to the GOP crypto-partisans among the press corps, one which will inevitably engender a deep and profound hostility and desire to cut her down to size.

That second point is today's reality.

There is an answer, however.

Democrats must be prepared to fight back. The necessary rebuttal must be to insist that - although the press may genuinely be in denial about their own motives - their failure to tell the truth about GOP extremism makes it impossible for honest Americans to treat them as objective or honest. The Democratic response must be the following:

Until you are willing to tell your readers the truth about GOP extremism, for all practical purposes you are promoting an ideologically partisan, pro-Republican point of view. As a result you cannot simultaneously claim to also be neutral or objective or that you are acting as the unbiased representatives of the public or as guardians of American democracy. Either tell your readers the truth about GOP extremism or accept the fact that honest Americans have the right to view you as partisan advocates for the GOP.

This is important because the Washington press has always been entirely untroubled by criticisms that they are sensationalistic, superficial or cynical. Part of their vanity, in fact, is based on their self-image as the grizzled veterans who have "seen it all." What does get under their skin, on the other hand, is the accusation that behind their protestations of independence they are basically carrying water for the GOP. It gets under their skin because, deep down, they know that it's true.

There is one exception to that last maxim. David Brooks is unruffled by his water-carrying. It's what he's paid to do.

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