Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Whom Would Atticus Finch Bitchslap

Whom Would Atticus Finch Bitchslap?
by Grand Moff Texan at
Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:56:22 PM PDT

Although I've characterized Daou's writings as pessimistic, he gets more basic facts correct than just about anyone else. Today he's written another one you should read,
and in case you won't I'll distill it here, because he's coming close to what I've been trying to do all by my obscure self for the last few years.

Grand Moff Texan's diary :: ::

THE TRIANGLE: Matthews, Moore, Murtha, and the Media: What's the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush's presidency? What's the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It's this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.

Well, that's a clumsy way to put it, but it's factually correct. Lemmee try the clumsy thing.

The elite who own the Republican party are a tiny minority. They have to create temporary demographic enlargements of themselves if they want to hold on to power they use to enrich themselves at everyone else's expense. Over time, they've become accustomed to simply using 'values' that they really don't give a shit about in order to fool the people they're ripping off into voting Republican ... again. Over time, the gulf between the phony 'values' hype and the reality of crass exploitation for empty status symbols has instilled in them a kind of smug nihilism, in the way that a rapist or murder finds their task easier after their first victim.

And since this tiny elite is also plugged into and is largely coextensive with corporate America, they already have access to the marketing people who make it possible to rip off people of faith and those concerned about jobs and national security. Whether it's politics or marketing, the trick is to get someone to buy something they don't need with money they don't have and to close the deal before they wise up. The people Republicans hire to rip people off for their votes spend the other 364 days a year ripping them off for their money.

The marketing itself consists of taking tired old stereotypes from American media and using them to beguile those stupid enough to confuse these myths with the real America. Imagine if 'Red Dawn' were an After-School Special. The more isolated people are, the more they get their sense of the world through their TV, and no one is more isolated than Red State America.

There! That was nice and ugly! Now, let's check those tired old stereotypes:

You've heard the narratives: Bush is likable, Bush is a regular guy, Bush is firm, Bush is a religious man, Bush relishes a fight, Democrats are muddled, Democrats have no message, national security is Bush's strength, terror attacks and terror threats help Bush (even though he presided over the worst attack ever on American soil), Democrats are weak on security, Democrats need to learn how to talk about values, Republicans favor a "strict interpretation" of the Constitution, and on and on.

Yeah, 'cause he's like that guy? In the movie? Yeah, that guy! And they're like those guys who weren't sure and wound up getting eaten by the big scary thing? Yeah, them. I mean, who's going to ask them for help? Man, they were stupid!

The GOP knows how to use stupid. Look at "Intelligent Design." They've harnessed the power of the urban legend. Remember the "Clinton body count list"?

And it doesn't just work on the Republicans' cattle, it works on the Democrats, too. MLK and Ghandi taught that you don't just have your second-class status thrust upon you, have to perform it. Democrats do. Once you stop bowing and scraping to ole Massah, he'll notice. That's how civil disobedience works. When you stop being a wishy-washy Democrat, Republicans get confused and wishy-washy Democrats get nervous.

So, what're you gonna do, slave? The country is in crisis and the people who do the actual working, fighting, and dying in this country are looking for a leader. You're getting beat by people who've told the nation repeatedly that you're what's wrong with America. What do you do? Call for a "more open, civil debate to attract more people to our side?"

That's what I call performing your servile status, slave. The GOP thanks you. OK, I lied. They're really just laughing at you.

What's so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines ... is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their muddled message, how to deal with Bush's strength on national security, how to talk about values.

That's how you perform your low status, slave. Meanwhile there are majorities going unrepresented 'cause the Democratic "leadership" is wondering how to reach out to marginal voters.


Strike a pose. I hear there's nothing to it.

What would Atticus Finch do? More important, how would Atticus Finch LOOK right before he delivered that speech?

It's simple: if your core values and beliefs and positions, no matter how reasonable, how mainstream, how correct, how ethical, are filtered to the public through the lens of a media that has inoculated the public against your message, and if the media is the public's primary source of information, then NOTHING you say is going to break through and change that dynamic. Which explains, in large measure, the Dems' sorry electoral failures.

There are a number of reasons why Democrats allow the media problem to fester. First, the "liberal" media mantra has been so pervasive that it is still accepted as fact by many beltway insiders.

Give me the coordinates of these "beltway insiders" and I'll feed them to fire control.

Republicans have mastered the art of institutional rage against the media, Democrats have not.

That's because Republicans are just jacking off the superstitions of the trailer park while the Democrats are still trying to find a way to say things they actually believe. It's easier if you believe nothing and would gladly throw your audience under a bus. I'm beginning to think that the Republican strategists are just playing a drinking game.

Pasty white sociopath #1: "OK, now if Skeeter goes for the whole 'Democrats are just gonna spend other people's money,' line again, you have to take a shot."

Pasty white sociopath #2: "Yeah, but when they buy the whole 'Democrats are gonna take your bibles away' thingy you have to finish the WHOLE DRINK!"

Tutti pasty white sociopaths: "YEAH!" [unselfconsciously ironic high-fiving all round]

Second, Democratic strategists haven't learned how to distinguish between stories and storylines. (The insidious effect of infectious narratives, the power of inoculation techniques, the concept of memetics and the role of the Internet, are alien to the Democratic establishment. And I say that having been in the belly of that establishment during the 2004 election).

Or, you could just say "show them, don't tell them." Like this: Take the people who're never going to vote for you anyway, and who are the least like your base, and use them as a boogeyman that scares your base into the polling booth.

Third, "blame the media" feels like a cop-out.

But this isn't about "blaming the media" or excusing other strategic mistakes on the part of Democrats, it's about understanding what happens when skillfully-crafted pro-GOP storylines ...

Actually, I like to just call it "advertising." That's all it is.

... are injected into the American bloodstream by the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Paula Zahn, Dana Milbank, Kyra Phillips, Cokie Roberts, Tom Brokaw, Jim VandeHei, Bob Schieffer, Bill Schneider, Tim Russert, Howard Fineman, Norah O'Donnell, Elizabeth Bumiller, Adam Nagourney, Bob Woodward, and their ilk, not to mention rabid partisans like Limbaugh, Coulter, and Hannity.

Yes, but quite a few of the above people are also wealthy enough to be able to benefit from GOP policies. The GOP is about exploitation. That's what they're paid to do. Anyone who thinks they're supporting the GOP for the sake of an ideology is simply one of the ones being exploited. That's how it works.

To understand the methodology of the story-telling media ...

... take a damned film or marketing class at your local community college, yes.

Chris Matthews' equating of bin Laden and Michael Moore and Tim Russert's racially-tinged, guilt-by-association line of questioning in a recent interview with Barack Obama. In each instance, the meta-theme is that Democrats are terrorist-lite traitors, and the subtext is that Bush and Republicans are the true patriots. But while the netroots is blasting away at Matthews and Russert, the Democratic establishment is petrified at the thought of offending the Gang of 500. So far, only John Kerry and Louise Slaughter have weighed in on either scandal.

That's funny, the right doesn't have any problem blasting away at the media elite. In fact, even members of the media elite blast away at the media elite. When you belive in nothing you can say anything.

When a Democratic politician or party representative talks to a "journalist" who has shown him/herself to be compromised, everything RIGHT DOWN TO THEIR BODY LANGUAGE should show that this is a confrontation and you've come to set them straight. Question their motives, their integrity, and their intelligence. Even someone who doesn't understand English should know EXACTLY what's being said ...

... and who is in the right.

To illustrate the power of the media to shape public opinion, simply imagine what would happen if the cable nets and the print media and the elite punditocracy treated the warrantless spying scandal with the same round-the-clock intensity as the Swift-boating of Kerry or the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Suppose Lewinsky-style headlines blared about impeachment and presidential law-breaking. Suppose the question of the day on every cable net was, "Should Bush be impeached for violating the Constitution?" The media can create a crisis -- and can squelch one.

Yes, but the Republican-owned media doesn't do that to Republicans.

The GOP has chosen certain images. Fine, then they're stuck with them. Well, what happens when we turn that particular card from the major arcana upside down? "Steadfast in Iraq"? How about clueless while people die. They have no plan, they're just trying to run out the clock until they can blame it on the Democrats. "People of faith"? You couldn't tell it by the way they live. How about dead-end Darwin deniers that no one will hire, ripped off by millionaire con-artists with bad hair. Real Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths (and many others besides) preach social justice, which means you can't be a Republican and still be a person of faith. "Strong on national security"? Try 'bin Laden's bitches' on 9/11 who decided to launder your tax dollars to their sugar daddies under the pretext of protecting the harbors and ports of Nebraska.

If you can't turn their archetype into a tar-baby, you're no good as a media consultant or as a leader. Get out of the way and wait for instructions.

The situation is this:
Returning veterans are running for office. Fifty-three to one they're running as Democrats. Police support the Democrats' positions on gun control. Republicans side with the criminals. Democrats want to punish the people who exploit illegal aliens. Republicans protect those who exploit them or who just plain ship your jobs overseas. Majorities want national healthcare and want to roll back the tax cuts for the rich. The GOP has paid the media to pretend otherwise. Democrats represent people who work for a living. Republicans think work is for suckers.

I'm sorry, but the GOP has offered you such a big target that if you can't hit it you need to be taken out and shot yourself.