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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rachel Maddow's Mind: An Exploration of the Logic of the Irrational and of the Necessary

Optimism is in the air and I don't want to dampen it, but I hope it doesn't turn to euphoria once Ron Paul wins the Iowa Caucuses. The spin is already on and you can find it on Fox and MSNBC. Look for these lines on January 4: "Iowa does not count." "Mitt Romney's close second place finish is the real story." "Ron Paul poured millions of dollars and hours into Iowa." "Ron Paul is to be praised but we know he cannot win the nomination." I'll be expecting royalties.

This is the story unless enough progressives show up to give Paul a double digit victory. Even then he must finish within 5 points of Romney in NH to continue the curiosity on cable. If, however, progressives and independents come out in numbers larger than his margin of victory, the story will change. Look for charges of fraud, cheating, infiltration, etc. Things can then get real nasty. No more trying to buttering him up with praise. He becomes the GOP persona non grata. Democrats may opportunistically feign praise of him under such duress, but behind stage, panic will be swelling. Ron Paul is bad news for both parties and their worse news possible should he declare a coalition strategy. 

Right now Iowa progressives have an opportunity to do something bigger than anyone has imagined. If they come out in huge numbers, they can give Ron Paul a huge victory, one which prompts many more progressives to jump ship. But they need more than a no name blogger like me to reassure them, it's a good thing to do.

In the last few days I have been asking myself, 'What's not to like about this scenario?" For hard core libertarian supporters of Ron Paul the answer is all too obvious. A progressive margin of victory for Paul means coalition, and coalition means something less than total victory on economic issues. They would of course want to interpret this blue shift as a come-to-faith moment. Progressives have seen the light and are no longer progressive. Or perhaps more subtly, progressives are giving us a chance to do it our way for 4 years and see what happens. Those two spins would be a mistake that I don't think that Ron Paul himself would make, even though his most ardent supporters understandably would. Should Paul give in to the lustful crowd, progressives would abandon him in the general election and Obama would win a landslide.

On the progressive side, it becomes increasingly more difficult to understand the logic of refusing to jump ship. Doing so in the primary causes no harm and has all sorts of benefits. Logic can occasionally serve stupidity so let's imagine ourselves in the mind of a Democratic operative, say, Rachel Maddow: 

Ron Paul's anti-war stances are appealing but deep down I know he's a homophobe, misogynist and racist. I cannot in good conscience support someone who harbors all these demons. Rachel is an intelligent and politically savvy progressive. She knows that Ron Paul will not return us to DADT and even if he gets a supreme appointment or two, they will be replacements who want to send abortion laws back to the states but wouldn't be able to.. Furthermore, she knows Paul is not going to waste his time trying to undo the Civil Rights Act.

Maybe the potential bigotry that lurks in Paul's soul is simply too much to handle. I can see that, but Rachel, being a victim of such bigotry herself, ought to know how ubiquitous it is in our culture. It's lurking beneath , above and within us all, liberals as much as conservatives. If we search for the pure in heart to lead us, we shall wait for the eschaton. 

Besides, bigots are often easily used for righteous causes. It's a major them in our paradoxical American politics. Who but LBJ could have pushed civil rights through congress? Who but Richard Nixon could have opened the gates to China? Who but Ronald Reagan could  have halted and and begun to reverse the nuclear arms race. This of courses not a matter of virtue on the part of these presidents. Rather, it is a matter of political necessity and American distrust of ideologues except when they are going against their own grain. 

There is of course a down side to this paradox. Who but Barack Obama can we trust to escalate wars with Arab states? Who else but the Community Organizer in Chief would we trust to bail out big banks? It is the president's perceived virtues that enables vice to continue in the White House. My gut tells me, neo-cons don't want any of the GOP candidates because they know that Barack Obama is better at getting done the job of empire building and maintenance.

I have another feeling that the learned and creative thinking Maddow has already ponder all of this. What she may not want to toy with is her job security. Witness her public silence over the firing of Keith Olbermann. I like Rachel Maddow and agree with her about 90% of the time, but her dismissal of Ron Paul and apparent inability or deliberate disregard for how progressives could radically change the shape of our political landscape by infiltrating the GOP is to my mind baffling. 

Perhaps it is, as I have said before, the only legitimate reason: if we get Paul nominated, he might beat Obama and usher in all his naive nightmares. Thankfully he gets neither nominated nor elected without a firm and clear promise of a coalition government.

Or it might be that she just does not want to give up on Barack Obama. I don't either but we are at the end of 3 years and we still have record military spending, constitutional rights still in trouble, wars more easily started,  and very little investment in a peaceful green economy. I would love to see an about face in Obama II but I am not counting on it, and without some real pressure on the debate stage next year, we are highly unlikely to get such a change. 

The only thing I understand is the very logical job security rationale. She would be dismissed in a big way should she take such a high risk on her corporate media platform. Perhaps she is right. If she can maintain her status, she can advocate more loudly for our progressive causes. There is no shame in such logic, but their is much to blush about when claiming anything more virtuous. 

Again, Rachel, I'm not talking here about voting for Paul next November. I'm only saying, you have the biggest platform of any progressive in the nation. Do you really want to pass up this opportunity to move the debate several clicks leftward? GE owned NBC is a giant within the military industrial catastrophe. They probably would fire you, but I am sure you have something under your pillow or in a credit union to tide you over. Come on... jump!

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Rachel ever read this? Now that it no longer matters, she might get a good laugh out of it if anyone knows how to contact her.