Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘pundits

Manichaeism in America

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What Carville’s confused, contradictory screed highlights is the difficulty of trying to understand American political conflicts through an exclusively partisan prism of Democrats v. Republicans.  Some issues are properly assessed via that dichotomy, but many — a growing number — are not.  Nonetheless, confining oneself to Democrat v. Republican bickering is the admission price to establishment media access — that is the only prism they understand or permit — and most pundits thus happily cling to it; indeed, partisan pundits take the lead role in enforcing this orthodoxy and trying to marginalize anyone who deviates from it or resides outside of it.  Political issues insusceptible to this two-team mindset are deemed fringe and rendered invisible.  The result (by design) of this narrow, stultifying framework is that many — perhaps most — of the most consequential political developments are ignored.

Monday Night Links

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* My prediction from several days ago is already! coming! true!: support for both the Senate bill and President Obama are rising as passage grows closer, particularly among Democrats.

* The bad ’00s: 58% of the country thinks the Bush years were either “awful” or “not so good”; only 12% say “good” or “great.”

* Mainstream pundits are finally talking about how the terrible the filibuster has become. Where have you folks been?

* Ezra Klein rebuts Jane Hamsher’s 10 Reasons to Kill the Bill.

* An analyst in a New York City crime lab faked results for nearly fifteen years—but remarkably not a single case was compromised.

* 9 MLA interviews. Via #mla09. Related, from ProfHacker: How to ‘hack’ a conference.

* Avatar politics roundup. My take, if you missed it, below.

* And two from Eric Barker: Science proves pretty waitresses get bigger tips and having children makes you more like your parents.

‘Responsibilities of a Pundit’

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American Stranger has a good post up about the responsibilities and privileges of pundits with regard to other people’s political struggles, motivated in part by some conversations he and I have had recently about events like the Iranian election protests.

But the point is there’s a relationship between wanting freedom for others and claiming freedom for oneself. Especially for anyone who considers themself a radical egalitarian, in this world siding with a national party should always be the option of last resort. I see no reason to voluntarily submit to the stupidity of bad against worse in another country when most of us are already pressured to do so in our own. It’s not ’strategic’ for an actor in the spectacle (a blogger, say) to compromise his or her political or moral views to vicariously ‘participate’ in other peoples’ struggles. Defending Hamas or Hezbollah’s resistance (an extreme example) to Israeli aggression makes the defender neither a subject nor an official ally. On the contrary, protest is necessary when your country is vicariously participating in other peoples’ struggles. Solidarity is with people. Not their twitter profiles and not their states. I find it a pretty warped idea of politics that refusal to make a show of submission to someone else’s authority, especially when there are no material consequences for oneself either way, should be looked on as weakness, incoherence, dilettantism, or ‘bourgeois’ vanity. The opposite is closer to the truth — it is after all the MSM’s favorite propaganda tool to associate its critics with imaginary cabals, while affirming the ‘true desire for freedom and democracy’ of ‘the people.’ It’s the mark of the uninformed pundit to think of everyone else as the conscious or unconscious minion of a higher power, and of himself as a ghost.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm

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