Archive for January 2008

Sometimes – history needs a push

January 29, 2008

I’ve come to the conclusion that at least until the primary season is over, I might as well abandon any pretense that this blog will deal with issues other than politics.

There are, of course, myriad academic library topics that I could be addressing; but for the time being, I plan to leave my professional observations and discussions at the workplace.

So much has changed since the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. Hillary’s stumble in Iowa was reversed, and once again the neoliberal DLC juggernaut was back on track.

On the GOP side, the contenders were essentially winnowed down to McCain and Romney – with Huckabee and Giuliani remaining in the race to sop up the extreme Jesusland and Gwotnik fringes of the Republicans’ toxic coalition.

Among the most interesting developments of the past few weeks, however, was the MSM’s brief spell of faux schadenfreude over Hillary’s setback in Iowa. Given the way that they had previously all but anointed her as the nominee throughout 2007, it seemed a minor correction – a flexible tack towards a more critical / skeptical tone – most likely with an eye on the media market value of a bit of political kerfuffle.

Hillary’s ‘Oprah moment’ in New Hampshire was clearly the climax of this manufactured psychodrama. So, Hillary is lobbed a softball queue by what must surely have been a campaign plant, and presto! – the DLC’s Iron Lady melted our hearts by revealing her inner Gena Davis.

That this would play well in the Disneyesque bubble of televisionland is not surprising. What was a bit unsettling, though, was that some otherwise sensible left-liberals bought into this schtick. A typical example was Katha Pollitt, writing in her blog at The Nation.

The conceit seems to be that since Chris Matthews is a thoughtless misogynist, then all liberal or leftist men who criticize Hillary in terms that could be construed as gendered are similarly mired in sexism.

The silliness of this argument should be self-evident, and therefore will not detain us here. Those who are still interested can see the offending remarks here:

Interestingly, though, Hillary’s fortunes have begun to look more dubious in the wake of Obama’s landslide in South Carolina. Taken together with Bill’s nasty attacks on Obama (which apparently triggered the Kennedys’ spectacular tilt towards Obama) these events have actually injected some real excitement into what is typically the quadrennial yawn-fest of Democratic Party politics.

Stay tuned for the results of the non-primary in Florida.

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The Dialectic of the Heartland, or “What hath Iowa wrought?”

January 4, 2008

One of the most interesting things about the result of the Iowa caucuses has been the way that result has been played in the MSM. This offering in the NYT is typical of the coverage. Clearly, Hillary was the favourite of the corporate / political classes and she received a stunning defeat, especially considering the amount of money her organisation has spent, and the big media endorsement she received.

Hillary has always been the candidate of the neoliberal establishment – she’s corporate friendly, has been a reliable soft-core supporter of Bush’s imperial war, and a staunch, uncritical supporter of Israel.

What I found interesting in the immediate aftermath of the caucuses, was both the way that Hillary’s defeat was being treated as essentially not really a defeat, and the way Edwards’ second place showing was either dismissed or downplayed. Indeed, early on Friday morning, the AP was running two contradictory wire reports – one claiming second place for Clinton, and another giving the correct result.

In any case, when it comes to Edwards, it seems that even salutary criticism of corporate greed from the perspective of enlightened self-interest cannot be tolerated. Yet, Edwards is clearly the best choice for Democratic liberals and progressives. He is the only candidate that is seriously addressing the issues of corporate power and the gap between haves and have-nots in the US. Moreover, he has actually admitted his mistake in voting for the Iraq war, and – as Norman Soloman writes – is the most “improved” Democratic candidate.

The biggest shocker for me, though, was hearing on Wednesday that Kucinich had instructed his people to throw their support to Obama as their second choice. “And not Edwards?” I asked incredulously, as my brother read this off of the CNN news ticker. Kucinich, it would seem, is not the progressive many thought he was. By contrast, Ralph Nader, to his credit, is supporting Edwards.

Clearly, though, Obama is not all sweetness and light – the anti-Hillary, as it were. Yet, even the usually sensible Philip Weiss is now climbing aboard the Obama bandwagon. I’m not going to go into an analysis of Obama’s candidacy here, but I would point readers to two recent analyses:

The Nation’s Bob Moser had a good piece on Obama last week, looking at issues of electability and the abivalence about him among black voters. See Inside the Black Primary. Also, an excellent summary of Obama’s shortcomings has been compiled by Spinwatch researcher and University of Strathclyde lecturer Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, on his blog The Fanonite. Check it out.