Monday, January 29, 2007


Comity, Comity, Uber Alles

David Broder is shocked, shocked, that a senator would give a speech during a hearing. Joe Klein comes to his defense, praising Broder's common-man character. It's the Komity Korps in full effect.

Civility is good, and all, but it's not the only virtue under the sun. "Civility" has become a code word for "the determined, and by definition unprincipled, obsequeousness to whatever line the two parties are peddling."

Klein seems to have some resentment towards the blogosphere. A big part of the reason that the blogosphere has greatly different views on civility, I think, is that younger bloggers remember no GOP but the GOP of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Mitch McConnell, Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, et al.

I don't doubt that, say, Everett Dirksen was a lovely man with whom Democrats justifiably loved to compromise. But that's NOT WHAT WE'RE FACING TODAY.

Today's GOP that gives a fond hearing to radical and unpopular ideas-- replacing Social Security, engaging in a democracy jihad, eliminating environmental laws, banning all abortions, ignoring the Eighth and Fourth Amendments, accusing those who express doubt about the efficacy of our foreign policy as "emboldening the enemy," etc.

Their message machine was until recently led by Frank Luntz, a man who literally tried to REDEFINE "ORWELLIAN" AS A POSITIVE ATTRIBUTE. I mean, life just keeps on imitating satire with these guys.

The Democrats are a much, much less radical, more moderate party. This is not an eternal principle; it's just how things happen to be right now.

So we're faced with a radical right wing party and a centrist party. In that context, people like David Broder who preach comity, comity uber alles are MISSING THE POINT.

By treating Frank Luntz and Peter Beinart as the two opposite poles of Respectable Opinion, people like Klein and Broder are (1) way outside the mainstream of what most Americans think and (2) enabling the consistently wrong, counterproductive, and amoral views of the Bill Kristols of the world.

Broder is twisted. He shrieks that Clinton didn't ask Petraeus a single question and then contradicts himself in his own column.

Clinton asked Petraeus one of the most important questions. True, it was not a probative question but a request. Clinton wanted Petraeus' assurance that the troops would have everything (equipment, etc) they need to keep them as safe as possible.

What a grandstanding bitch. I mean Broder, not Clinton.
Thanks for dropping by, rueful. You're right, of course, that Sen. Clinton's remarks were entirely on point and sensible.

Broder is a dangerous human being.

He adheres to an impossibly opaque, erratic standard of ethics. It involves a mystical belief in what he would call "comity" or "bipartisanship." Pleasant words, of course, but they are rooted in a certain time and place, and depend for their utility on the parties' adherence to certain standards of decency and honesty.

I don't doubt that the Clintons said and did some stuff in the early 1990s that materially contributed to a worse tone in DC.

But the fact is that since 1994, the Democrats have been run by people like Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, while the GOP has been run by Grover "bipartisanship is date rape" Norquist, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, Jack Abramoff, Bush-Cheney-Rove, et al.

"Bipartisanship" is a pleasant word, but if one party is totally off its moorings, has totally abandoned policymaking for the permanent campaign, then it does no good.

You can argue that Pres. Clinton was running a permanent campaign, but if so, it was about "triangulation"-- tacking between the two parties.
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