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Hullabaloo


Saturday, November 27, 2010

 
Waiting For Prince Plutocrat

by digby

Oh dear, here comes another attempt at a Mushy Middle Party for people who only exist in the imaginations of extremely wealthy celebrities and political pundits. They're calling it "No Labels" which I assumed at first was some sort of slumming trend for Fashionsitas. But no -- it's a bunch of people who just want everyone to be "sensible" (ensure that wealthy people are taken care of) without all the muss and fuss of dealing with the hoi polloi who actually give a damn about anything.

The most recent rumbling started a while back with noted bucket of lukewarm water Matt Miller, who I caught wistfully dreaming of a Billionaire Prince to come and save us from all this unpleasantness:

Here's noted "centrist" Matt Miller:

MILLER: I would go for Mike Bloomberg and a billionaire to be named later because I think we need a kind of third force in this country. And I think once we get past November, the polarization and the sense of finger pointing and unproductiveness and sort of partisan pickiness is going to --

(CROSSTALK) SPITZER: But the notion that the plutocrats have not been represented -- the threshold in that 100 million is clearly the billion dollar threshold.

MILLER: It would be nice if that wasn't the case but in the system we have today, because of the lock the two parties have on ballot access and being able to actually get traction in the system, it would take somebody with a lot of money to try and get --

(CROSSTALK)

SAM SEDER, COMEDIAN: But what is a theory that somehow a third party president is going to be able to do more than any other president? I mean, what makes you think that the right is going to accept Bloomberg any more than they would accept Barack Obama?

MILLER: And I don't know if they're going to accept them yet. But right now, there's such a vacuum in the debate because I think most of the country is not in the sort of 20 percent on each sides that both parties are locked into. And there's such a wide open terrain for somebody who's a common sense person who's going to synthesize the best of liberal and conservative ideas. That finds no expression in public --

SPITZER: I think that's the point as a matter of political analysis is right. There is a desperate need for somebody in the middle who can disregard either fringe that traditional politics would suggest. Sometimes --

SEDER: That's not Barack Obama?

SPITZER: Look, I think that's the debate. I think many of us think Barack Obama was trying to do that. But why would a third party candidate be able to get anything through Congress at all? That's the real question.

MILLER: I think the first question is what would the campaign and the debate sound like? Because I think that would change the country. Perot in '92 fundamentally changed the direction of the country because he showed there was a 20 percent constituency. And Bloomberg, look, I'm not counting for Bloomberg, but the idea of a candidate like that --

SPITZER: And Bloomberg who is a very popular mayor here in New York City, I think the problem he has is on many of the issues he is to much of the country way left, and frankly, to much of the country his views about Wall Street are far right. So I'm not sure if he actually brings that constituency the way you're articulating it.
Now Miller's little fantasy has become a "movement" among the chattering classes. Of course, it's mostly conservative elites who are very uncomfortable with the prospect of Sarah and Todd Clampett coming to town and trashing the place. (And those tea people are just a touch crude, if you know what I mean.)But there are the inevitable third-party moneybags opportunists sniffing around, wondering if maybe this time they can buy themselves the White House.

Here's Kathleen Parker, the Goldilocks of Georgetown, mooning over the possibilities:

When the porridge is either too hot or too cold, the moment for something in between is ripe. More Americans now self-identify as independent rather than Republican or Democrat, even though they may be forced by a lack of alternatives to vote in traditional ways.

But what if there were an alternative? There's little appealing about either party dominated by a base that bears little resemblance to who we are as a nation or the way most of us live our lives. [Don't you love it when wealthy TV celebrities speak for the average American?]

Yet moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans alike have been banished. Purged, really. Some of them have landed in the No Labels camp.

Jun Choi, a Democratic former mayor of Edison, N.J., told the Wall Street Journal he lost because he wasn't extreme enough. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire state senator, thinks she lost for being too moderate.


Right. The Tea Party successfully challenged numerous US Senators and dozens of House Members and a couple of low level unknown Democrats blame the hippies for their defeats. Therefore the two parties are equally nuts. This is Village thinking at its finest. The right wing has gone batshit insane, around the bend, fallen off a cliff -- but the Democrats must be equally crazy or their world will be too topsy turvy to understand. How can it be possible that the right wingers are the radicals?

But this is where this silliness takes an ominous turn. She describes Congressman Bob Inglis' forced departure at the hands of lunatic wingnuts and then holds up Lisa Murkowski's successful challenge to Joe Miller as a potential answer to the problem:

She kept her seat by promoting ideas and solutions and by rebuking partisanship.

Alaskans are by nature independent and reliably rogue, as the nation has witnessed. Thus it may be too convenient to draw conclusions about a broader movement, but centrism has a place at the table by virtue of the sheer numbers of middle Americans, the depth of their disgust and the magnitude of our problems.


Ok, first of all, Murkowski rebuked "partisanship" for about a month because she needed Democratic votes to win. But she is a conservative to the core. So is Inglis (who had a 93.4 rating with the American Conservative Union.) They were both exceedingly loyal partisans, voting with the Party on all major initiatives, who were challenged by people who ran as outsiders with a whole different idea about what being "partisan" should mean. There's a reason why the Tea Party gave itself its own name.

Unfortunately, instead of waking up the cognoscenti to the radical nature of the far right, these events have led them to take the easy way out and simply declare that hardcore conservatives are actually "centrists" now, further marginalizing liberalism. As you can see by that interview with Matt Miller, nobody except a hippie like Sam Sedar ever characterizes someone like Barack Obama as a centrist -- even though that's exactly what he is. The push is always, always to the right whenever anyone starts bellyaching about partisanship.

Bob Inglis may be a decent person compared to the right wing kooks of the Tea party, but he is as ideologically right wing as they come, despite what Parker says. (The fact that she uses his belief that climate change is real as a sign of his "centrism" should tell you everything you need to know about how far the goal posts have shifted.) Ideology in the political establishment is only relevant to the extent that it properly represents elite interests. (That can be from either Party, of course, although since the Democrats stand accused of electing a secret Muslim Socialist president, I'm guessing they are no longer considered reliable.)

What these people really seem to care about is temperament and style --- an ability to fit in smoothly with the ruling class, to make it seem effortless, to make the rubes feel comfortable and make them feel good about being elites.(They really are the ones they've been waiting for.) They want someone who isn't overly passionate, who doesn't raise his voice, who takes care of business and move on to the next problem without a lot of political drama. What they want is a white version of Barack Obama and since, like Nixon going to China, only a conservative Republican can be that without provoking a backlash from conservative Republicans, a conservative Republican is what he must be.

Unfortunately, we live in a democracy and the rubes of all political stripes are up in arms. They want somebody whose going to fight for them. I don't know who that's going to be in 2012, but I'd be shocked if some plutocrat with a load of bull about "what works" catches fire any time soon. Nobody believes these people know "what works" anymore except a bunch of deluded Antoinettes babbling about centrism. They've never been more out of touch.



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