Re: The Influence of the Netroots

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I’m gonna beat our commenters to the punch on this one: That Brooks column got Glenn Greenwald’s underpants in a particularly high and mighty twist.*

Of course, Brooks’ entire column is factually false. That’s why he does not cite any polling data, because it shows the exact opposite of everything he says. Most Americans want and have long wanted compelled withdrawal from Iraq. Overwhelming majorities oppose military action against Iran and favor negotiations. As indicated, large and increasing numbers believe that we are far too militarized and are excessively interfering around the world, including in the prized Middle East. And the defining views of the Radical Heartland-hating bloggers are, in virtually every case, shared by most Americans.

He’s perfectly right to call Brooks on all of this, and it’s true that the Beltway’s reality distortion field often causes pundits to think the bell curve of American voters’ opinion automatically trends to “moderate.” But I part company with him in his thesis that such laziness is an active a passive** conspiracy to keep the Democrats down under control:

And even when the American citizenry rebels against this bipartisan consensus — as it plainly has done with regard to Iraq specifically and generally concerning our imperial behavior in the world — the Beltway class, led by the likes of David Brooks, will simply take to lying, falsely claiming that “most Americans,” the good pure Heartland, really do agree with them and that Democrats therefore must continue to embrace these shared Beltway pieties if they have any hope of winning. And because David Brooks and David Broder and the like rule the Beltway opinion-making world, Democrats listen and follow.

If only because the Democrats are very much NOT taking Brooks’ and Broder’s advice (see Glenn’s own update, wherein Hillary declares she will spend “not one more dime” on the war), but also because so much of the bad punditry (is that redundant?) in Washington stems from sluggishness, not spite. That most Americans are against the war, that candidates are able to forward more complicated positions on things like the war on terror — and have them accepted, that people aren’t automatically terrified of “HillaryCare”: accepting these facts would require rethinking the very powerful — and comforting — narratives that shape coverage. Put another way: Pundits hate change, not Democrats.

*(I kid, I kid, I kid because I love.)

** UPDATE: Hey, turn the volume, down, p_luk! But you have a point: I was lazy/hasty myself in characterizing Glenn’s description of Beltway centrism as an “active conspiracy,” and I didn’t mean to put a tinfoil at upon his adorable pointy head. And, upon re-reading, whatever conspiracy/system is at work here, it’s not about keeping Democrats “down” so much as, well, I think “in line” is a better description, but Glenn also seems to indicate that Dems’ adherence to orthodoxy will also cause them to lose politically. But maybe The Pundits don’t actually want that. Anyway, perhaps I was reading more into the piece than he meant, perhaps I was allowing my obsession with the netroots’ Unified Theory of Cocktail Parties to influence my interpretation of statements like this [I believe he is sarcastically taking on the voice of the Beltway Pundit in the first graf]:

Thus, this is what we hear: The Democratic controlled Congress has reached new depths of unpopularity, but what they are doing is politically smart. Most Americans really want us to stay in Iraq. Bloggers are espousing views that most Americans hate. Views held by most Americans are the province of the “radical angry Left.” Democrats can only win elections by supporting the popular President’s policies, avoiding any real differences, and scorning their own base. The only hope Democrats have is to adhere to prevailing Beltway orthodoxy.

That is the only real point of what David Brooks and most of his pundit comrades say and do over and over and over.

But that sounds like he thinks we’re doing it on purpose to me.