Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

To My Fellow Democrats

It's been a strange week in political cloud-cuckoo land, and I was waiting for a lot of the dust to settle before commenting on things. (I was also waiting until I'd caught up on blog reading again, which for whatever reason didn't happen until this afternoon.) Of course, the week's two big stories involve New York politicians, and I'll get to that in my upcoming blogaround, but I need to rant first.

Sayeth Turkana at Left Coaster, "I've begun to call it the Great Convergence: the formerly 'reality-based community,' both in form and content, adopting every characteristic of the corporate media." I think it's been coming for awhile, starting with the obsessive need of many of the bigger blogs to Make Money Blogging, to Storm the Gates and become Legitimate Media and sell out as much as possible in the process because that's what real media does, it's beholden to advertisers and to the very mindset that encourages and perpetuates commercialism and uses sensationalism as its bread and butter to achieve viewers (eyeballs). And time and again, this kowtowing to capitalism is damaging to the journalistic ethos of getting information to the public as completely as possible, critiquing everyone in power with equal scrutiny, not palling around with or worshipping the people you're supposed to be covering.

I have spoken before, and will again, about my disappointment with Keith Olbermann's changed on-air behavior during this Silly Season. And I've talked about how difficult and discouraging it is to get through political blogs sometimes because of their echo-chamber nature, where it seems like bloggers are playing one-up games to see who can achieve the most hits by essentially spouting the same exact opinions than the last person only more outrageously. It disappoints me because part of me thinks "these are my online friends, and they're acting no differently than the highly-paid cable people who do the same thing for their ad-driven ratings. I don't watch them, why should I read this?"

Turkana observes, complete with links to substantiate his paragraph, "Have people associated with the Clinton campaign made racist remarks? Yes. Have people at the top of the Obama campaign? Yes. Does Clinton get called out for everything said by everyone even loosely associated with her campaign? Of course. Does Obama get called out for anything said by anyone even at the top of his campaign? No." Elsewhere, he reiterates that "Once again, I have no problem with honest criticism of a flawed candidate. I do have a problem with the rampant dishonesty that has come to typify the criticism of Hillary Clinton by certain prominent supposedly-liberal bloggers."

I'm the same way. I once thought the world of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I even had a picture of her and Carole Moseley Braun on my cubicle at work. That was like 15 years ago. I no longer think she's as liberal as she used to seem, but I still think she'd make an okay president, certainly a better one than Bush or McCain. I also think Barack Obama would make an okay president, certainly a better one than Bush or McCain. To me, Clinton and Obama are about coin-toss equal on most issues, as well as in their general centrist ideology. None of the actual left-leaning candidates broke through the mainstream right-leaning media's usual ignore-and-marginalize tactics; the last liberal standing was Edwards, whose campaign I would have enthusiastically supported. So I'm resigned from the get-go that neither of these historic candidates is interested in enacting anything nearing a progressive agenda, and at this point it's a matter of who's going to be better at cleaning up Bush's messes. In that regard, I truly believe that either Clinton or Obama would do. I happened to give my primary vote to the candidate whom I consider more eloquent (Obama), because essentially I'm a writer and that's how I roll.

So it's frustrating, disheartening, enough to make me want to hurl large heavy objects at my computer, to see fellow liberal bloggers out and out attacking each other over this particular duo. I'm glad y'all are passionate, but crikey, dial it down a peg! How much do you really think your enthusiasm will be rewarded with actual programs and legislation that reflect your beliefs? If you think the payback will be anything more than superficial, you're kidding yourselves.

Granted, Clinton has said some stupid things, but not as stupid as lots of pundits twist them to be. I bet Obama has said stupid things as well and the Clinton Derangement Syndrome-soaked press (both old and new media) has chosen not to notice and report them. Turkana again, this time about Clinton's remarks about experience vis a vis McCain versus Obama: "This is campaign season, and the candidates are hitting each other hard - both candidates are hitting each other hard - but that should not be misconstrued or misinterpreted."

But darn if some people aren't going so far out of their way to gleefully misinterpret everything said by Clinton or her high-profile supporters that they've completely lost sight of both candidates repeatedly intoning until they're blue around the gills that the Democratic Party is determined to be ultimately unified around one candidate, that they're willing to support each other and consider each other as VP, that they admire the heck out of each other... and open your eyes, people, they're just not that different. They're rich, establishment, centrist politicians who (let's all say it together) have more in common with each other than they ever will with us. So just, just STOP IT, okay? Let's see how many of you can be grown-ups and support the Democratic candidate of your choice without putting down the Democratic candidate of someone else's choice. Sometimes y'all remind me of the type of comic book fanboy who can't praise one artist without knocking another.

More to come in my blogaround. Just needed to get that out of the way first.