Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Be Specific, Sir, If You Please...?

I'm not going to go into today's attempted coup in Washington (but it wasn't only there) because events have been succeeding each other too rapidly and I prefer to wait until things are sorted out.  It may be worth noticing, however, that at least one Democratic Congressman is ready to forgive and forget and move on:

I just asked Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) about this:

“The idea of taking the time to try to impeach him, the idea of trying to expel members of the House of Senate for their efforts to protect the President and continue this fiction ... I just think we need to turn the page."
So, it emerges, is Nancy Pelosi; the list is bound to grow longer.  But for now, I'm going to finish the post I began this morning.  It was already fairly certain by then that Raphael Warnock had won the Georgia senatorial runoff against Kelly Loeffler, though the race between Jon Ossoff and David Perdue was still too close to call.  So NPR's Noel King got Warnock on the line and asked him some typical NPR questions, trying to get him to confess that he is a member of the Communist International and wants to nationalize white women.

KING: President Trump asked Georgia's secretary of state to change the results of the presidential election. Many Republicans, including your opponent, didn't criticize him for doing that. Do you think that part of the Republican Party has abandoned democracy?

WARNOCK: Listen. The four most powerful words in a democracy are the people have spoken. The people of Georgia spoke very clearly on November 3 when they elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, gave them our 16 electoral votes. We counted those votes three times. It is clear when you look at the swing states all across our country, Joe Biden is president-elect. And unfortunately, there are enablers of this nonsense in the United States Senate. And it's why the people who I'm running into all across Georgia are frustrated with politics. And quite frankly, it's why I got in - because we can't outsource our democracy to politicians. The people have to rise up, reclaim their own voice in their own democracy. And that's what happened last night right here in the state of Georgia.

I've never heard Warnock speaking before, and I recommend listening to the clip.  This interview was early in the morning after Election Night, and I imagine he was worn out from the intense campaign, which I hope explains his dull delivery and robotic soundbyte content.  (Since I wrote this I've seen a clip of Warnock delivering a sermon full of fire and prophetic fury, so I was probably right about his condition while talking to King.)  But maybe I expected too much after all the kvelling I saw about his Black Church eloquence.  King was obnoxious as she usually is with any interviewee who is or might be left of center: 

KING: What do you think Congress needs to do now to help Americans through the coronavirus pandemic and specific, sir, if you could, please?

WARNOCK: We ought to pass the $2,000 stimulus.


WARNOCK: I mean, folks waited for months without getting any relief at all. And when we saw relief in the spring, too often, it centered large corporate businesses while small businesses were at the back of the line. It left workers out. And so people need immediate relief. And we've got to get this virus under control. We've got to get the vaccine safely and efficiently distributed so that we can safely reopen our economy, get our businesses roaring again, get our children back into school, but in a way that's safe and sustainable. These are big issues.

Warnock's responses weren't bad, exactly; again, I think he was exhausted.  What he said here, except for coming down firmly for a $2K stimulus payment, sounds like centrist boilerplate to me.

KING: Let me ask you lastly about the work. Where do you stand on the progressive or moderate scale? Let me put a direct question to you. Do you think the Senate should push for progressive climate legislation like the Green New Deal?

WARNOCK: I think that we need common-sense reform on a whole range of issues. There's no question that climate change is real. There's work we need to do on that front. And I'll be focused on getting that work done. I think too often, even in the places where there is agreement, at least among ordinary people, that we need movement, we get no movement. And that's quite frankly because someone other than the people own our democracy. And so one of the things that I'll be very focused on is the outsized influence of well-connected corporate interests in our politics. I think if the people can get their democracy back, we can get the reform that we need around issues of environmental justice, around health care and the whole range of concerns.

The "progressive or moderate scale" is hooey, of course - the question, as King phrased it, makes little sense.  In a way, Warnock tried to reframe it, but invoking "common-sense reform" isn't a good way to put it.  I'd have taken the stance that the Green New Deal, or government-run healthcare (which Warnock, like Ossoff, opposes), or a higher minimum wage, or higher taxes on the rich, let alone more and bigger stimulus payments, are favored by a solid majority of Americans.  That makes them moderate by definition, I would say, and I believe Warnock meant that by "common-sense."  Any politician (or radio personality) who opposes them is a marginal right-wing extremist -- definitely not a centrist.

NPR's anchors are almost always uncomfortable with, even hostile to, anyone outside that extreme-right Beltway consensus.  If you listen to the audio you can hear King trying to keep Warnock at a safe distance.  I know I'm not the only person who gets impatient with their clumsy questions, typical of the Washington press corps.  Maybe they're too busy, and don't have time to inform themselves properly?  I don't believe so, but even if that's the case, they need to demand more time, asserting the need to maintain professional standards.  The real trouble is that they see themselves as gatekeepers, the responsible objective moderates between the extremes of left and right. They aren't -- as I said, they're really far right -- but even if they were, fetishizing the middle is a guarantee of getting things wrong.

And Warnock?  I'll wait and see, but I'm not happy with having another religious nut in national office.  Remember how Barack Obama's deeply-held religious beliefs made him oppose same-sex marriage - though not letting torturers and war criminals escape legal penalties, or murdering teenagers with drones?  Even if Warnock turns out to agree with me on many or most issues, I don't care what he thinks his god wants, and it's irrelevant to the job he now has to do.  The best I can say is that a successful minister also has to be something of a politician, balancing different interests in his or her congregation.  I saw a lot of giggly excitement from liberals and leftists about how Warnock is a real Christian who follows Christ's teaching.  Nobody follows Christ's teaching, and Christ's teaching is not the law of this land.  Funny how liberals flipflop on whether America is a Christian nation as the winds change.