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Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Politics of Resentment?

One of the main reasons that I feature dishonest and patently ridiculous commentary of pundits in the MSM is because I can't stand the fact that many of these folks make a comfortable living for writing mediocrity. I work in a business where mediocrity doesn't pay and that's because I work on commission. Yet, at places like the New York Times, mediocre columnists like Paul Krugman and Frank Rich continue on the payroll while circulation continues to plummet. Yet, upper management is totally oblivious to the fact that these two folks are part of the problem that causes the paper to dwindle into irrelevance. Krugman's latest column is yet another example of the problem.

What’s the source of all that anger?

Some of it, of course, is driven by cultural and religious conflict: fundamentalist Christians are sincerely dismayed by Roe v. Wade and evolution in the curriculum. What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.

Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.

What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you. Or to put it another way, the G.O.P. is still the party of Nixon.

It appears that Krugman suffers from selective memory. It appears that not only did Mr. Obama famously proclaim that people in small towns "cling to guns and religion", but here is how Bill Burton, Obama's top advisor, described the pick of Sarah Palin immediately after she was .
Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero
foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor
Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of
Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies - that's not the
change we need, it's just more of the same.

Furthermore, here is how Barack Obama compared his own experience to that of Palin.

Well, you know, my understanding is that, uh, Governor Palin’s town of Wasilly [sic] has, uh, 50 employees, uh, uh, we’ve got 2500, uh, in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. Uh, uh, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. Uh, so I think that, uh, our ability to manage large systems, uh, and to, uh, execute, uh, I think has been made clear over the last couple of years. Uh, and certainly, in terms of, uh, the legislation that I’ve passed just dealing with this issue post-Katrina, uh, of how we handle emergency management. The fact that, uh, many of my recommendations were adopted and are being put in place, uh, as we speak indicates to extent to which we can provide the kinds of support and good
service that the American people expect.

So, despite Krugman's selective memory, when Rudy Giuliani proclaims that "Obama doesn't think being mayor of a small town is flashy enough" he actually does have a frame of reference. This dishonesty and misleading commentary only begins with Krugman's selective memory here.

One of the key insights in “Nixonland,” the new book by the historian Rick Perlstein, is that Nixon’s political strategy throughout his career was inspired by his college experience, in which he got himself elected student body president by exploiting his classmates’ resentment against the Franklins, the school’s elite social club. There’s a direct line from that student election to Spiro Agnew’s attacks on the “nattering nabobs of negativism” as “an effete corps of impudent snobs,” and from there to the peculiar cult of personality that not long ago surrounded George W. Bush — a cult that celebrated his anti-intellectualism and made much of the supposed fact that the
“misunderestimated” C-average student had proved himself smarter than all the
fancy-pants experts.

And when Mr. Bush turned out not to be that smart after all, and his presidency crashed and burned, the angry right — the raging rajas of resentment? — became, if anything, even angrier. Humiliation will do that.

Can Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin really ride Nixonian resentment into an upset election victory in what should be an overwhelmingly Democratic year? The answer is a definite maybe.By selecting Barack Obama as their nominee, the Democrats may have given Republicans an opening: the very qualities that inspire many fervent Obama supporters — the candidate’s high-flown eloquence, his coolness factor — have also laid him open to a Nixonian backlash. Unlike many observers, I wasn’t surprised at the effectiveness of the McCain “celebrity” ad. It didn’t make much sense intellectually, but it skillfully exploited the resentment some voters feel toward Mr. Obama’s star quality.

Let's put to the side whether it is resentment or something else (like understanding that celebrity and the Presidency have nothing to do with each other) that concerns the average
American about Obama's celebrity. Krugman has a lot of chutzpah proclaiming that the Republicans practice the politics of resentment, as though resentment hasn't also been a part of the political process for Democrats for generations.

Look at Barack Obama's economic platform and it is nothing more than the politics of resentment. First, whenever Barack Obama talks about providing relief it is only relief to the middle class. In Barack Obama's world, if you are successful, you deserve nothing but economic contempt. His economic plan provides tax relief for the middle class while the top two tax brackets face increases. He wants to raise the capital gains tax because the perception is that only wealthy folks own stocks. The windfall profits tax is based entirely on the politics of envy. He demonizes the oil companies and then punishes them while at the same time giving a tax break only to the middle class. Let's remember that his windfall profits tax will be used only to provide tax cuts to the middle class. The wealthy won't get any part of his windfall profits tax. Why is Barack Obama planning to re institute the inheritence tax if not to punish the wealthy? How often do Democrats refer to the Bush tax cuts as for the rich only even though each and every tax bracket received a 3% rate rate reduction? If there is a party where the politics of resentment is alive and well it is the Democratic party. Yet, Krugman only notices it in the Republican party.

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