Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Unbiased View Lies Somewhere in Between

Or, The Return of the True Pure Centrist.

Last summer there was an interesting exchange at the Sideshow between Avedon and one of her regular liberal commenters. I threw in my two-cents worth, and wrote about it here. As so often, I was prophetic:
The voters' dilemma is that neither party is sympathetic to the concerns of the mass of Americans, so there's nothing to do but vote out incumbents. But that will hurt the party in power (currently the Democrats) more than the opposition party. President Obama owes his office and the Democratic majority in Congress to just that anti-incumbent sentiment; it gave him time to make the voters pro-Obama, but he's preferred to worry more about the good feeling of his corporate donors, which sooner or later will hurt him at the polls. When that happens, the True Pure Centrists, true believers all, will blame it not on Obama's failures but on the wickedness of the True Pure Left.
Today the True Pure Centrist, as I'll call him, struck again. Avedon wrote about an exchange she had with a Complete Stranger of the Republican Persuasion, who somewhat to her surprise
agrees with all this crazy left-wing stuff I'm saying. He just has the names wrong. He thinks it was Goldman Sachs Obama didn't save (oh, yes he did!), he thinks McCain and Obama are "moderates", he thinks the kinds of policies he wants are more likely to come about from Republicans, but he still agrees with my crazy left-wing analysis of the policies. I think you'll find there are a lot of Republicans like that.

And you can understand why they have their doubts about their own party right now.

(Which brings something else to mind: the Democrats, understandably if not completely honestly, are stressing what a threat the Republicans are to America. But the Tea Party Extended Tantrum isn't just directed at the Democrats, it's targeting the Republican establishment too, much to the latter's horror. They thought they could use the Tea Party for their own fell purposes, but egad! they find they've created a Finster. *)

In comments, the True Pure Centrist contributed his centrist wisdom. (No permalink; the comment was posted at 4:01:48).
The right-wingers think that the poor are children who have to be lovingly forced to grow up by, for example, denying them life-saving medical care, while the lefties think that the heroic proletariat should live in luxury whether they are willing to work or not. But they all agree on two things: (a) that all Americans should get medical care and (b) that they aren't really willing to pay for their vision of the just society.
Avedon responded beautifully, asking which "lefties" the TPC had in mind.
But I don't know these lefties who "think that the heroic proletariat should live in luxury whether they are willing to work or not." I just don't want them sleeping on grates, starving to death, or dying for lack of decent medical care, and I want them to be able to send their kids to decent schools. Who are you talking about?
You see, in order to walk the Middle Way (full of yellow stripes and dead armadillos) you have to (or get to) make up extremes, the more fanciful the better, and sit yourself down between them. Voila -- Instant Centrism!

Avedon continued:
I'm not clear on your point (b) - do you mean your family all agree that Americans aren't willing to pay for universal healthcare? That's not actually what surveys say. It's not that long ago (despite all the propaganda), that a majority of Americans were telling pollsters that they were willing to pay more in taxes to have a system like the NHS. Do you mean to say that your entire family is this misinformed?
I'd noticed this centrist meme before myself, during the climactic struggle over Obama's health-insurance bill: that the US doesn't have a decent health-care system is
not even the fault of the mass of Americans, despite Christopher Hitchens (via), who "sometimes think Americans want to live dangerously. They think this wouldn’t be America if you had health coverage." Some of Roy Edroso's liberal commenters agree with Hitchens, bashing Joe Sixpack for opposing health care reform even though it is well established that most Americans favor a government-run health insurance plan, if not a government-run health care system.
So there you have it: the latest Obama / Democratic talking point: it's not Obama's fault, or the fault of the Washington establishment or the corporate media, it's the fault of the "lefties" with their fantasies of "the heroic proletariat." Also in comments I suggested that the TPC hadn't meant that most Americans aren't willing to pay for a decent health-care system -- it's the Teabaggers and perhaps some True Pure Centrists who want social programs for them (but not for thee) and they don't want to pay for them. Why shouldn't the Teabaggers confuse themselves with the majority of Americans, when both the corporate media and the political center share that confusion? To our political classes, it's comforting to believe that most Americans are just a bunch of idiots who wouldn't accept decent health-care if it was offered to them; so the True Pure Centrists, especially Obama, who decided that there was no need to offer it anyway.

(Okay, the picture at the top is a dead possum, not a dead armadillo, but it was all I could find, and it conveys the idea. Here in Indiana we don't have armadillos anyway, but we do have plenty of possums, and liberals standing boldly in the middle of the road.)

* I thought "created a Finster" came from an old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, but apparently it came from Dudley Do-Right. Snidely Whiplash as a mad scientist exults "Eureka! I've created a Finster!" His assistant corrects him: "'Monster.'" "His name is Finster," Whiplash replies.