The chattering classes are lower-class than the masses.
We have seen this before. In 2002 and 2003, millions of ‘ordinary’ Americans figured something was wrong about wantonly invading Iraq. That perception was not shared, however, by established media authorities including George F. Will, Charles Krauthammer, the entire Republican noise machine, the three original major television networks and Fox, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the major cable outlets. The upshot was a bloody and unconstitutional invasion of a sovereign nation that basically amounted to the betrayal of the less educated by the (nominally) educated.
Now we are seeing it again. The newest representation is our more elevated media mouths’ reaction to Donald Trump.
Typically inadequate commentary about Trump’s rise or support can be found here and here, among many other places.
The ground rule of pundits like these: always blame the many rather than the few. So much for participatory democracy. So much for each-one-teach-one. For Democrats, so much for winning in November 2016.
In commentary pieces like these, however well-meant they may be, a good guideline is to look at what is missing. Thus, in these particular pieces linked and in many others, there is no account of the staggering dearth of valid information in what passes for ‘political reporting’ in our big media outlets. Nothing about the paucity of genuine information in our politics coverage. (Far too typical. Did we learn about segregation and desegregation from the big media outlets? — not until the latter was dramatized by protests that lighted racial justice up on the big board. More recently, did we hear about insurance companies’ stiffing their own customers? — not until John Grisham and Michael Moore and, on a lesser scale, I, voiced the issue. For that matter, when was the last time Wolf Blitzer used the word ‘redlining’?) Nothing about the infotainment dished out by what Chris Matthews actually called (with a straight face) “Washington insiders.” Nothing about the brutal assaults on public education that leave many students unknowing about checks and balances. Nothing about the internal corruption in the Democratic Party that shut out an excellent candidate, Vice President Joseph Biden, away from voters who would have liked more choices. The behind-the-scenes money-and-connections apparatus, you will recall, did its collective best to lock up the party nomination for the deeply flawed Clintons. One result was that 17(?) 27(?) 127(?) GOPers were salivating at the chance to run against Hillary Clinton. And one result of that was Donald Trump–the cue ball banging into the rack, with the arithmetic of the field always in his favor.
Some of these guys in media commentary have even found ways to be unfair to Donald Trump–not a feat any ordinary person could pull off. Trump has at moments engaged in more accurate political commentary than the analysts covering him–one example being when he called out Ted Cruz for megaphoning that Ben Carson was liable to drop out of the race, just before the Iowa caucuses. The result was that Cruz came out on top in Iowa, beating Trump by a few points, with Carson well down toward the bottom. (Incidentally, the loss may have helped Trump in the long run. If he had ‘won’ Iowa and gone on to win the next couple of races, the rest of the field and the party establishment would have homed in on him that much sooner.)
More importantly–to do Donald Trump justice, it is Trump who has repeatedly criticized George W. Bush’s wanton and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq. Only Trump has had the temerity to point out that for George W. Bush to take credit for our ‘safety’ when 9/11 occurred on his watch is a dubious claim. (Imagine what would have happened to the principal of Columbine High School, had he gone around boasting, à la Bush/Pataki/Giuliani, about his actions in the immediate wake of the tragic events there). One predictable outcome is that all the Project for a New American Century
(PNAC) signatories are now up in arms against Trump. PNAC was co-founded by Dick Cheney and Jeb Bush, and all the apologists for the Iraq War, all the movers and shakers who think the problem is that we just didn’t spill enough blood, are now joined with the remains of the GOP establishment to take an imaginary moral high ground against Trump.
WOULD THAT HILLARY CLINTON AND THE SO-CALLED MAINSTREAM DEMOCRATS HAD MADE THE SAME CLEAR STATEMENTS, in recent years. Hillary Clinton never does, for obvious reasons; she voted for the Bush war. But too many Dems who see themselves as either connected or cerebral have spent the last seven years on the sidelines. Worse yet, too many of them dug in with passive-aggressive tactics against President Obama– undoubtedly partly out of the pettiest and most parochial envy/jealousy/competitiveness, partly out of spite because they underestimated him, and partly out of residual bigotry that afflicts some leftish writers as well as some rightwingers. So you have GOPers blaming President Obama, rather than GWBush, for every disaster in the Middle East. And the Blue Dog ‘centrist’ types and the sideline sitters seldom or never step up to the plate to defend one of the best presidents we have had. (Hillary Clinton now claims to be his defender, having adopted the line from people with my view that Obama should get more credit. Meanwhile, her emails show her as SecState chiefly intent on gauging Obama’s and Biden’s popularity. Read some of them.)
I might add that the same left-ish media sources are not exactly eager to pay their own writers and lower-level staff; look at Arianna Huffington, Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for examples. Too many producers take advantage of the passion of populist writers by paying, if at all, on the Walmart model–calling them Kossacks, or bloggers, etc., rather than employees, even contract employees. The treatment of PT/contingent workers has affected our republic of letters. This again is something you do not hear discussed by Hillary Clinton-type candidates–not for decades. Not until her people pick it up via social media from someone like me, or until some event makes it safe and popular.
The Democrats underestimate Trump at their peril in 2016. And downplaying Trump’s supporters as dumb will not help. Quite the contrary.
If some of the guys/gentlemen who have profited most from their media positions could be a little more concerned about fellow human beings and a little less concerned about vague notions of status, they might pull off some actual analysis once in a while. In the meantime, their accuracy will inevitably be hobbled by their vulgarity. It is quintessentially vulgar to proceed on an assumption that some individuals are worth more than others, purely on the basis of position or status or anything else extraneous to merit. The assumption also leads to a very simple but very obtuse logical slide–the view that if So-and-so is not important, then misrepresenting him is also not important.