Thursday, September 23, 2010

Soylent Green

In the science fiction work, Soylent Green, a dystopian future is graphically depicted; but that's nothing to the dystopian present highlighted by Mark Green-someone who famously has his finger on the public pulse. It seems that Green, much like WAPO's Eugene Robinson, believes that the Tea Party movement represents the gross stupidity of Republican primary voters: "While these Tea Party candidates basically ran and won as Howard Beale yelling "We're Mad as Hell," the Republican base has an even more telling slogan, "We're Stupid as Hell."

But if the polls are correct-and Democrats are headed to an historic defeat-than it is the entire electorate, and not just brain dead Republicans who are, in the words of Mel Brooks, "revolting." The Green rant is quite instructive, and underscores the same elite contempt for the masses that seems to animate the sinking president in his more candid moments.

Green, however, is always entertainingly demagogic, but his contemptuous broad brushing of millions of Americans reminds us just why, come so many Novembers, he was unceremoniously sent packing by the same folks he obviously holds little respect for. One amusing aspect of his geshrie did get us to thinking: "We've seen versions of such outbreaks before in our history - the Salem Witch Trials, the Know-Nothing Party, America-Firsters, and Birchers and McCarthyites in the '50s implying that Eisenhower was disloyal. More recently, GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964 famously declared,with Tea Party-like prescience, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" - and got creamed that November. Like locusts awakening after a half century slumber, they're back! Not as a laughable Bircher fringe talking about flouride in our water as a communist plot but radicals who appear to be taking over a major party."

This undoubtedly goes over well among that dwindling cohort of Times readers, but isn't his caricature of so many voters illuminating why Democrats might be in for such a big beating? Where is any recognition that the popular uprising is, at least in some significant ways, a rational reactions to the excesses of the same folks that Green feels are so intellectually superior-the Ivy League elitists like Larry Summer (and the president himself) who ignominiously departs at the end of the year with an economic record that is embarrassing.

Green's view, however, is pandemic among Democrats-and threatens to devolve into the kind of irrational intemperate outbursts like the one emitted by Ohio's Democratic Party chair. Frustrated by the same voter  irrational stupidity that so disturbs Green, Chris Redfern loses it, and drops a series of F-bombs that will only further compromise the already slim chances his party has in the upcoming election.

But there is one particular passage in the Green rant that stands out more than any other-and dramatizes the bias that will come back to bite the Greens of the world on the ass this November: "Journalist poohbahs like a Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times have to stop pretending that for every wacko on the Right there's one on the Left. Truth is not a mid-point between race-baiters and rationalists, between Fox and MSNBC, between Sharron Angle and Barney Frank. It's ok to objectively distinguish between the mainstream and the extreme."

The hubris here is breathtaking-even without mentioning that no one watches MSNBC, or that Keith Olberman can't be catalogued in a rational category that anyone should be comfortable with. And the comparison between Angle and Frank seals the deal for us. Angle has said some, well, interesting things; but arguably, Frank had his finger on the detonator for the subprime mortgage bomb that has sent the American economy reeling. In promoting all of that irresponsibility, Barney Frank has done great damage to this country-and any comparison to Sharon Angle is doing the woman an injustice.

But Mark lives in his own self righteous intellectual bubble-and we are here to warn him that the locusts are coming and his bubble will soon be burst. He would be better off treating the anger and outrage of the American people with a modicum of respect. His disparagement of those folks who have a right to be angry brings to mind the observation of Coach John Wooden-someone who understood the pitfalls of intellectual arrogance: "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."