If you’re a member of the American International Socialist Organization (ISO)–and why wouldn’t you be?–you may have experienced an amusing bit of cognitive dissonance on the morning of July 22. On the one hand you would have received the latest ISO Notes from the national center promoting the 50th Anniversary March on Washington as the crucial next step in the anti-racist struggle following the vile acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer. The August 24 march will be, per the Notes, a chance to initiate a national outcry against racial profiling, police misconduct, unemployment, and a number of other aspects of systemic racism.
On the other hand, if you listened to Democracy Now! that same morning, you heard this from Cornel West:
Brother Martin would not be invited to the very march in his name, because he would talk about drones. He’d talk about Wall Street criminality. He would talk about working class being pushed to the margins as profits went up for corporate executives in their compensation. He would talk about the legacies of white supremacy. Do you think anybody at that march will talk about drones and the drone president? Will you think anybody at that march will talk about the connection to Wall Street? They are all on the plantation.
Earlier in the same interview, he was even more slashing:
We’ve got a black leadership that is deferential to Obama, that is subservient to Obama, and that’s what niggerizing is. You keep folks so scared. You keep folks so intimidated. You can give them money, access, but they’re still scared. And as long as you’re scared, you’re on the plantation.
Frank Bruni is quickly becoming my favorite NYT columnist. He’s perfect for this blog’s brand of meta-commentary: not a complete idiot like Friedman, nor a really intelligent person like Krugman, with just enough insight to begin a correct argument, but never enough to see it through. A real triumph of the Middle Way!
In fact it’s proper that we begin by comparing intellects, since Bruni’s latest piece is about why we shouldn’t bother, at least in the realm of politics. Bruni argues that it’s not awfully proper to bash Rick Perry for his weak academic performance (although he helps himself to a couple jabs) because, after all, Obama did great at school, and still totally sucks at being president. Fair enough, although Bruni makes rather a big deal of the commonplace insight that being good at school is not the same as being good at anything else, which is obvious to any…schoolchild.
It’s not an endorsement; I think the guy is a gold-plated asshole. It’s a prediction! Think about it:
- An incumbent Democrat who’s almost comically weak, resented most sourly by the people expected to do the donkey-work to reelect him;
- A Republican field dominated by nutters or people pretending to be nutters;
- Record levels of disapproval of both political parties in the broad public; and
- A growing elite consensus that the American two-party political system is dysfunctional (eg, the S&P downgrade, which was entirely political in its real content).
On top of all that, Bloomberg has been quietly, but very effectively, building a political infrastructure that could be activated for 2012. His mayoral scandals–such as buying the third term, CityTime, and the fiasco over Cathie Black–never penetrated too far outside New York City and are sure to be politely forgotten by our “watchdog” press. And he’s got more money than God, which means he’s instantly competitive and doesn’t have to announce his candidacy 18 months in advance (which most people find irritating anyway).
If a totally undisciplined kook like Perot could be a major player in 1992, I see no reason why Bloomberg couldn’t win it in 2012. It would really be interesting….
The New York Times today published two pieces in its Sunday Review, each of which directly contradicted the other foundationally and prescriptively. The first piece is by Prof. Drew Westen and asks “What Happened to Obama?” (but don’t decide it’s frightfully boring just yet). The second piece is by one of the NYT’s newbie columnists, Frank Bruni: “True Believers, All of Us.”
The Westen is definitely part of that raft of liberal whining that breaks out whenever Obama does something particularly depraved, that the White House seems to have more and more trouble stifling, though there’s no reason to think that they won’t eventually. Admittedly one feels slightly, darkly sympathetic to Obama Mission Control, which can’t be held entirely responsible for the gullibility of America’s liberals. It’s like a person who buys a car from a well-known notorious crook, and then gets furious angry when it turns out to be a lemon. Well, what did he expect?