Getting Back on Track
Published on: October 18, 2013
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  • wigwag

    Professor Mead, your blog is great and many of your essays are thought provoking, but in this case, with all due respect, you’re full of it.

    Your suggestion that the recent imbroglio over the Government shut down and the threat of default was little more than a political version of the O.J. Simpson trial is nonsense.

    When you suggest that the rest of the media obsesses about trivialities while Via Meadia focuses like a laser beam on things that really matter, do you have any idea how sanctimonious you sound?

    Via Meadia is just as inclined to obsess over political gun fights as the rest of the media is. You damn the coverage of the mainstream media with faint praise when you say,

    “I’m not trying to argue that nothing happened in the budget fight or that all the effort that went into covering it was wasted. We learned something about the divisions in the Republican Party and gained further insight into the difficulties it must overcome to mount an effective challenge in 2016.”

    Perhaps you don’t remember your own post from March 16, 2013 entitled the “Blue Civil War.” The first sentence from that post said,

    “Via Meadia readers know that the most important political battle in America today isn’t the much-ballyhooed battle for the soul of the GOP. It is the blue civil war, pitting key elements of the Democratic coalition against one another…”

    On April 15, 2013 you penned a post entitled, “Blue Civil War: Knives Drawn in Education Fight.” In that post you repeated your thesis that the civil war in the Democratic Party is very big news. Specifically you said,

    “it’s safe to say that that the political coalition that once held the Democratic Party together is cracking. The Democratic Party is splintering between the providers of public services on one side and the consumers of those services on the other. In many ways, California is the biggest battlefield in this civil war.”

    These are but two examples, I could cite many more.

    Your thesis, that the civil war in the Democratic Party is far bigger than the civil war in the Republican Party has been proven wrong by the recent GOP intra-party hate fest.
    But the bigger question is why you think that the main stream media is presenting pabulum to its readers when it obsesses about the Republican Civil War and the recent stinging defeat that the GOP suffered while you think Via Meadia is providing thoughtful commentary when it writes post after post about the “blue civil war” and disharmony amongst Democrats.
    It seems to me that your commentary on all of this has been exposed as both wrong and hypocritical.

    • Marty Keller

      Wigwag, Wigwag, your hyperpartisan vendetta against the Professor is not only one long, boring and never-changing note, but fails by the very standards that you charge WRM with violating. You are certainly welcome to state and restate your myopic views regarding the fundamental dynamics of world politics, but you’ve got to do better than asserting your opinions (e.g., “GOP intra-party hate fest”) as facts. Otherwise you’re just spitting into the wind.

    • USNK2

      Thank you wigwag, for noting ViaMeadia’s recent and relentless coverage of the fracturing of the Democratic Party, i.e, ‘blue civil war’.
      The sad irony is that VM has not yet delved into the blue civil war now happening in his front yard: the NYC Mayoralty, Public Advocate, City Comptroller, and City Council contests.
      Both Clintons, Gov. Cuomo, and Sen Schumer are caught in the cross-hairs, as is all the local media.
      yet, no one dares to *yet) connect the dots in the local media, which includes the national NYT and WSJ and all networks because of the polling for mayor.
      Besides Fred Siegel at the Manhattan Institute, who will ask why the possibly likely election of an unabashed tax-and-spend ‘progressive’, de Blasio, destroys the Clinton brand of fiscal conservatism which only Cuomo is almost single-handedly trying to preserve.
      (yes, I never thought I would be praising Andrew Cuomo, but my sole beef with him was the no-primary-ever-against-Andrew ‘Rose Garden’ strategy)
      If VM is reading this, only eighteen days for the biggest proxy referendum on what NYC voters think of the nominally named Democratic and Republican Parties.
      As a footnote, one under-reported story was that the unabashed TEA Party pro-life candidate for New Jersey Senate, Lonegan, closed his gap and finished respectably only 10 points away from Cory Booker.
      The story? Lonegan had zero support from the RNC, no tv money, no endorsement from Gov. Christie, a Wednesday Special Election, but Lonegan DID have Gov. Rick Perry and fmr Gov. Sarah Palin come to NEW JERSEY to campaign side-by-side with Lonegan.
      Mead Manor must surely have some sense that the Working Families Party has taken over the NYC Democratic Party.
      The Clintons have no choice but to submit. The Dem neighborhood club machine? not yet.

  • Boritz

    Helping readers separate the wheat from the chaff is one of the core goals of Via Meadia and The American Interest. -VM
    There is no more worthy goal of journalism than this. The problem is that this indespensible function is now a botique specialization. If VM and AI want to perform this function that is great, but they are no different than Irrigation Age or Sew Beautiful, a highly specialized and focused feature catering to a narrow interest. This is a far cry from the original concept of all of journalism serving this function which is what is needed to sustain a successful democracy.

  • Anthony

    WRM, the media (MSM & Alternative) help to propagate the dominant myths and images or as your essay implies create the firestorm to manufacture importance. In some sense, both select a large proportion of the information and misinformation used to define sociopolitical reality (how we view issues and events as well as what we define as issues or events). Yes, Mark Liebovich’s book certainly gives additional perspective to Washington governance charade.

    The American two-party system, with its impresarios (statesmen), stunt artist (legislators), and hoopla (invented crises) has become (as P.T. Barnum would say) the greatest show on earth – a veritable inclusive circus running over Congressional session after session, entertaining a diffused public.

    Many probably welcome your/Via Meadia return to Big Five explication but the aims of both political parties, declared and achieved, are to maintain existing politico-economic system (and cash in when and where it and members can) and same relative distribution of resources. This continues while the common citizen chases ideological pursuits (left and right) despite the ongoing shortchanging. So, yes WRM most definitely separate the wheat from the chaff and double down on what really matters…

  • Andrew Allison

    VM is correct that all the sound and fury over the budget was nothing but political theater. The probability that a deal would not be reached was negligible, and even if it hadn’t, there was no possibility of the US defaulting on its debt. All the actors on stage know perfectly well that the result would be catastrophic.
    The most damning indictment of the MSM is it’s uncritical parroting of the Administration’s ridiculous claims that a debt default could occur and conflation of debt obligations and so-called “mandated” expenditures under the default rubric. Simply put, a default occurs if the receiver of goods or services under a contract violates its terms. When the provider does so, the recipient has no recourse. By way of illustration, when you get a notice from a, e.g., credit card company changing the terms of your agreement, you have a the choice of accepting the terms or closing the account.

  • qet

    How forcible are right words, but what doth your argument reprove? Wow. A rare, and refreshing, bit of cynicism from Via Meadia; a welcome change from its usual unremitting optimism. Put me down for one of the naifs who thought he saw real danger lurking in the wings of the recent political theater. Sometimes the players in such a drama, intending only to amuse and entertain an American populace whose ennui will one day prove fatal to the Republic, unleash forces that escape their stage management and precipitate real consequences. Perhaps Via Media would acknowledge the possibility that the recent partisan struttings and frettings resembled nothing so much as fissures above an active volcano; little gas emissions from surface vents whose significance lay in their augury of the catastrophic eruption building beneath the visible surface. And while the intentions of the dramatis personae of pols and journos may simply have been to burnish their brands for the sake of cashing in (or out), those elements of the citizenry who were foolish enough to suspend their disbelief during the performance have hardened their hearts against one another, which will most certainly affect the trajectories of Via Meadia’s Big Five, especially the coherence crisis–the notion that we conduct our civic and political lives according to an actively shared set of fundamental principles. Nope, the recent to-do demonstrates that we are moving–accelerating–farther apart from each other on that matter.

    Edit: the first sentence is supposed to be italicized but I can’t figure out how to do that in these comments.

    • Clayton Holbrook

      Just google HTML coding for things italics…

  • lukelea

    Is there an optimistic voice in the land today?

    • Anthony

      Yes, Luke many (you are one); they just don’t rate the “attention” of the negative/pessimistic.

  • Pete

    Sure, the liberal MSM focused on the political theater of the recent government shutdown & debt ceiling limit, but there was nary a word mentioned about the huge debt the dysfunctional U.S. government carries and what it means.

    And that debt grows and grows l— just like a cancer.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/18/us-debt-jumps-400-billion-tops-17-trillion-first-t/

  • jeburke

    The obvious fact that the major media are obsessed with fluff and behave as a herd does not exclude the possibility that they are biased and quite deliberately so.

  • Anthony

    WRM, permit me an additional thought (certainly obvious generalization but germane to essay’s subject matter): in most cases, the public (Dem/Rep) elects flexible men who are prepared to betray it at the first sign of personal profit/benefit and media (MSM/Alternative) has become adjunct (but such may be consequence of both callus public and divided citizenry – where many are mutually and irrationally antagonistic on grounds irrelevant to country’s welfare). Our various ethnic, religious, gender, regional, class, cultural, nationalistic, etc. differences becloud the relevance of our personal and mutual welfare Nationally. And thereby allow ideologues to bemuse and confuse…

  • wigwag

    Professor Mead thinks that the mainstream media focuses on trivialities because of its coverage of the dispute between different Republican Party factions during the recent imbroglio over the Government shutdown and debt limit crisis.

    Here is a short list of some of the titles of his recent posts:

    “New Front in the Blue Civil War: Silicon Valley” (September 24, 2013)

    “Blue Civil War Goes National” (April 21, 2013)

    “The Blue Civil War: The Battle for California (March 6, 2013)

    “The Grey Lady Confirms Blue Civil War” (January 28, 2013)

    “Rhode Island’s Blue Civil War” (December 5, 2012)

    Apparently Professor Mead thinks disputes between Republican Party factions are inconsequential, even if they result in hundreds of thousands of workers not being able to report to their federal jobs while at the same time he thinks every dispute amongst Democrats, regardless of how trivial, is a cause for perseveration.

    Is it the mainstream media that is guilty of exaggeration or is it him?

    • J3G

      I think you misunderstand the author’s use of “blue” as to refer only to the ‘D’s. US policy today is ALL blue. The ‘R’s are just a lighter shade. His focus on ‘D’ strongholds in conflict (CA, NYT, unions, etc.) are because those things are interesting. R vs. D is rarely interesting because its so damn predictable. Which I think was the basic point of this article

      • wigwag

        Actually, Professor Mead regularly conflates “blue” as a designation for Democrats with “blue” as a designation for the economic and social system that began to flourish after the New Deal. It’s a serious flaw in his nomenclature.

        More to your point, Professor Mead has often commented on the serious disagreement amongst Democrats and the constituency groups that support Democrats while averting his eyes from the even more vitiolic disputes among Republicans.

        The recent disagreements between mainstream business oriented Republicans and there neoconservative allies on one side and Tea Party Republucans on the other offer ample evidence that Mead got it all wrong.

        Being wrong is no crime but Mead’s offence is worse than that. At the same time that he belittles the mainstream media for obsessing about the civil war amongst Republicans, he never misses a chance to remind his loyal readers about the issues that cause rifts in the Democratic Party.

        What do you suppose that exposes the good Professor as?

  • Clayton Holbrook

    It’s kind of ironic that the media is now reporting that the media failed to pay enough attention to the more substantive poor Obamacare roll-out than the gov’t “shutdown”.

  • wigwag

    More on the civil war in the Republican Party.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/us/fiscal-crisis-sounds-the-charge-in-gops-civil-war.html?hp

    At the national level at least, the GOP is in tatters and roiled by internal conflict. Professor Mead is naive if he thinks that the disagreements between Democrats and the constituency groups that support them are even remotely as consequential as the grand feud afflicting Republicans. Between the business oriented Republicans and their neoconservative allies on one side and the Tea Party shnooks on the other, we’re talking the Hatfields versus the McCoys.

    How does this impact the Democrats (other than inspiring to laugh uncontrollably)? Unfortunately it gives them license to follow their worst instincts and move further to the left. After all, with the GOP distracted and the Republican brand reviled, national Democrats have nothing to fear from Republicans. They can march to the left and still look far more sane to American voters than their Republican opponents. The GOP’s chances of occupying the Oval Office next time around were already small; they are in the process of evaporating completely.

    If Professor Mead was sagacious, he would be blogging about the real irony in all of this; the Tea Party, by destroying the GOP is enabling Democrats to move American politics more to the left than they ever could if left to their own devices.

  • Kavanna

    What happened with the shutdown and budget fight was important, but not for itself. It did tell us something important about the depth of opposition to Obamacare. It told us, once again, of the emptiness of Barak Obama, who once again floated above the whole fracass as if he weren’t President — and thus told us who’s really in charge (Harry Reid).

    (Obama-as-Figurehead is relentlessly covered up by the Washington press, as they keep referring to “Obama this” and “Obama that,” making it sound as if he’s actively involved — which he isn’t.)

    The developing Blue civil war is real, but only at the state and local level, and only in certain states. It will probably have an outsized impact in 2014 and 2016 that will surprise some (like the nitwits in the media). It definitely is making many in heavily blue states very nervous, because it will probably bring a complete end to the Democrats’ “Clintonian” era of budget restraint — right when these states and localities are threatened with bankruptcy. But at least it will be more honest: the local and state politicians already represent the unions to the voters, not vice versa. Why stop pretending otherwise?

    Unfortunately, the generational politics of entitlement — Boomers greedily stealing from their kids, the kids living in heavily-indebted la-la land vainly imagining they’ll be saved by The One — the depth of denial and fantasy in the American body politic — have reached such a fever pitch, that national bankruptcy is increasingly the probable outcome.

    The damage to the trustworthiness of US federal credit (whose bonds are the world’s foundational financial asset) is real — it was smaller but also real in 2011. What’s going to happen when the dollar isn’t so automatically the world’s reserve currency? It probably saves the US federal government alone a couple hundred billion in interest costs.

    Governmental bankruptcies are usually followed by revolutions. Readers, your guess is then as good as mine.

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