I know these stories are old news, but I prefer to comment on news a bit after the sizzle has subsided–it keeps my entirely stupid statements contained somewhat. (That’s not to say I won’t make ’em, but I tend to be a hair more cautious when I’ve had a few days to think.)
Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in the 2000 primary season that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was opposing Bush?
Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in 2002 that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was supporting campaign finance reform?
Wasn’t the prevailing narrative in the last couple years that the TV cameras just loved John McCain because he was opposing torture?
And yet I actually believed (for a little while) the new prevailing narrative in late 2008 that all of a sudden the TV cameras had stopped loving John McCain.
Not so, according to Media Matters. In fact, they note a gross double-standard when it comes to the press’s treatment of the candidates’ shady acquaintances:
Now: G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy served four and a half years in prison for his role in the break-ins at the Watergate and at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychologist’s office. He has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in “if necessary.” He plotted to kill journalist Jack Anderson. He plotted with a “gangland figure” to murder Howard Hunt in order to thwart an investigation. He plotted to firebomb the Brookings Institution. He used Nazi terminology to outline a plan to kidnap “leftist guerillas” at the 1972 GOP convention. And Liddy’s bad acts were not confined to the early 1970s. In the 1990s, he instructed his radio audience on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents (“Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.” In case anyone missed the subtlety of his point, Liddy also insisted: “Kill the sons of bitches.”) During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Liddy boasted that he named his shooting targets after the Clintons.
What does Liddy have to do with the presidential election? As Media Matters has noted:
Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain’s campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy’s radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled, “John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07,” includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an “old friend.” During the segment, McCain praised Liddy’s “adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great,” said he was “proud” of Liddy, and said that “it’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program.”
Now I know that, unlike Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, who have only the truth and nothing but the truth in mind, Media Matters has a particular party’s welfare in mind when it notes the SCLM’s biases (please note tongue in cheek), so save the comment sniffing at Media Matters. Address the facts if you have something to address. At any rate, I think all involved can see that there are some shifts in the strike zone going on. And given that Ayers, with whom Obama has apparently been “palling around,” blew up a statue while Liddy was conspiring to murder a human being (I know which one of those seems more important to me), the SCLM’s usual bowing to the AM noise machine in this case (and subsequently falling under the predictable charge that they’re Obama’s cheerleaders) is even funnier than usual.
For should have noticed this part two, I turn to David Brooks, whose columns have irritated me for some time (I think even before his inane Red State/Blue State riff, but I don’t remember clearly) but whose worth James K.A. Smith has slowly warmed me up to. I’m not sure whether or not to say whether this NYT column is backtracking on his “Red State” worship, but it’s certainly a different take on things than was that piece. The opening sentences of a recent column set up the conservative movement as an intellectual tradition at its genesis (not unlike Fundamentalism):
Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals. Richard Weaver wrote a book called, “Ideas Have Consequences.” Russell Kirk placed Edmund Burke in an American context. William F. Buckley famously said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. But he didn’t believe those were the only two options. His entire life was a celebration of urbane values, sophistication and the rigorous and constant application of intellect.
Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.
Ronald Reagan was no intellectual, but he had an earnest faith in ideas and he spent decades working through them. He was rooted in the Midwest, but he also loved Hollywood. And for a time, it seemed the Republican Party would be a broad coalition — small-town values with coastal reach.
He finishes the piece by noting that, although Palin has personal appeal (please take that as innocent–I tried six different phrases, and none of them sounds good–I’m not trying to gender-bait here, and although I’m not as rabid a defender of women’s empowerment as the RNC becomes any time anyone does anything but lavish praise on Palin, I do try), she class-baits and press-baits like few major party candidates have dared to do. Brooks notes that the Republican party now receives far fewer donation dollars from educated professionals than it used to and notes that, among the grand ironies, the RNC in this election cycle has gotten less of a push from bankers than have DNC candidates. Bankers! Think on that, friends. Think on that.
Anyway, I do find conservatism interesting, as does Smith, and like Smith (though not as intelligently, I’m sure), I have been reading some Edmund Burke when I can concentrate on the bus ride home. There’s something compelling about Burke’s ability to do sober, Aristotelian philosophy in an age of sometimes-breathless Englightenment optimism. But Brooks is right that AM radio is no place for Edmund Burke.
I really should lay off the politico posts for a while. I suppose Boethius is coming around soon enough.