Hey folks, sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I've been busy writing over at AlterNet about some libertarians' fascination with escaping society by uploading their brains into robot bodies and then blasting into space. Please consider giving it a read if you will because I think you'll find it amusing.
Anyway, on to today's business at hand. Charles Krauthammer last week posted a gloating column explaining to liberals why we're about to get our asses kicked this November. Instead of going for the obvious, correct reasons -- i.e., that Democrats have somehow forgotten that voters get upset when there's 9.5% unemployment and when 25% of all mortgages are underwater -- Chuckles pulls out the old Liberal Elitism chestnut:
Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities -- often lopsided majorities -- oppose President Obama's social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.
What's a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument. The most venerable of these trumps is, of course, the race card.
The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.
I will say that I think it's both foolish and wrong to ascribe racism as the driving force behind the Tea Party. While there are certainly racist elements within the movement, I think a similar movement would have arose if Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or really any Democrat were president right now. Hell, even a President Joe Lieberman would probably drive Glenn Beck to hysterical rants about impending socialist tyranny. Remember, folks, the right behaved much the same way during Bill Clinton's tenure and Clinton was a white Southerner with a blue-collar background.
But while I do think there's certainly something to the charge that liberals can be elitist -- for instance, dismissing the Tea Party as nothing more than racist rednecks -- I think it pales in comparison to conservative elitism, especially the kind displayed by Charles Krauthammer. Want an example? Let's turn back the clock to the financial crisis in the fall of 2008 and see how Krauthammer felt about the angry mob that was calling for the heads of Wall Street executives who had wrecked the economy:
Congress has every duty to be careful with taxpayers' money and to suggest improvements in the administration plan. But part of Congress' reaction has nothing to do with improving the proposal and everything to do with assuaging the rage of constituents -- even if it jeopardizes the package's chances of success, either by weakening it or by larding it up with useless complicating provisions designed solely to give the appearance of sticking it to the rich.
Window dressing such as capping pay packages, which the Bush administration has already caved in to. I've got nothing against withholding golden parachutes from failed executives. But artificially capping the pay of people brought in to lead these wobbly companies back to health is a fine way to tell talented executives to look elsewhere for a job. In the demagogic parlance of this election year, it is a prescription for outsourcing our best financial minds to London and Dubai.
Ah, now this is elitism in its purest form -- Krauthammer is defending the elites who wrecked our economy because they're the only ones who are smart enough to save us! In fact, if we get too upset at the geniuses who destroyed the world, they might even get upset and take their Randian super powers to another country! Eek, not that!
The mob is agitated, but hardly blameless. While the punch bowl -- Alan Greenspan's extremely low post-9/11 interest rates -- was being held out, few complained about cheap loans and doubling home values. Now all of the sudden everything is the fault of Wall Street malfeasance.
That's right, America -- you're squarely to blame for having your pension implode because it was invested in synthetic CDOs!
Were there some predatory lenders? Of course. But only a fool or a demagogue -- i.e., a presidential candidate -- would suggest that this is a major part of the problem.
Actually, Chuckles it was in fact a major part of the problem. Lenders had precisely no incentive to enforce lending standards because they knew they could take their crappy loans and sell them immediately to Wall Street banks who would slice them up, divide them into tranches and then stuff them all into one gigantic toxic security. I know it's more fun to blame people who foolishly tried to buy houses, but the reality is that the Masters of the Universe are the ones who failed us.
So this, then, is Charles Krauthammer, champion of The People. He loves the populist mob when they're going after illegal immigrants, but not when they're going after Wall Street tycoons. In other words, he thinks populism is a-OK as long as it doesn't target people who actually have power.