"I'm fascinated by the outpouring of moderates' conversion narratives, from balanced and temperate to, um, shrill.I'm sure that will generate an interesting comment thread.
[snipping her quotes from josh, kevin and ezra]
I've got some mixed feelings about the pattern. A big part of me wants to ask, "what took you so long?" But, acknowledging the same sense of urgency as these gentleman, mostly I say, "welcome."
Then there's a part of me that thinks of Gore and Kerry. Josh dates the "the founding political bad act" to Bush v. Gore, while I think many of us in the already-shrill category would date it earlier--at least to Clinton's impeachment, but probably earlier (raising again the question of "what took you so long?"). Anyway, I think both Gore and Kerry went through a similar conversation process as Josh, Ezra, and Kevin through the process of losing. That is, both--like Ezra--thought the best of their opponents, until it was too late. Somehow, none of the beltway types seem to see us losing in Congress day after day, due to the same tactics the Republicans use to beat us in elections. Is it going to take all of them losing to GOP hysteria in a Presidential election before they, too, make the conversion to shrill?
Then finally, taking Kevin's call for more attention to the shrillification of the moderates, I think we'd be better to study a dual movement. That is, there's the shrillification of the moderates. And then there's the engagement of people like me who had previously been too turned off by the commodification of politics (on both sides of the aisle); what Brent Wilkes teaches us to call transactional lobbying. The same sense of urgency that got Josh and Ezra and Kevin to shrillify brought a lot of people who had had been disengaged into the party. It's not so much that angry bloggers took over the party. It's that a bunch of us are meeting in a new kind of middle, bred from a sense of urgency.
The problem is, and has always been, we have failed to communicate that sense of urgency. Many of us were trying, well before Bush v. Gore. Many of us have been pointing out that one's predictions were more accurate if you expect the worst from the Republicans. Yet I don't know that anyone has succeeded in converting someone easily, without that whole process. Because our urgency is dismissed as shrillness (and even was by some who have now themselves become shrill), it is too easy to ignore the sense of patriotic urgency you see in many places, now, even from moderate Republicans.
For me - I wasn't really interested in politics - so I didn't really get it till really late. I'm 35 years old - and not american - so i wasn't even aware of the Gingrich Contract For America. And I didn't ever understand Iran-Contra - I was hardly even aware of it. I was glued to a tv in san francisco watching the Lewinsky/impeachment thing in horror - but mostly as a sideshow. Then I was living in London and wasn't taking much notice of American politics - but I had to come to Australia for a funeral for a couple of weeks at the end of 2000 - and I saw a very scary documentary about Osama at the same time that Katherine Harris was making a name for herself - and I figured that if Osama was smart, he should attack America then - when the country basically didnt have a president. It still didn't occur to me that there was anything particularly nefarious going on. And then came 911 of course, and I still didn't get it.
But at some point over the next year, watching the run-up to the Iraq war, I realized that something was SERIOUSLY amiss. And I've been obsessed, and scared, ever since (or as EW describes it "the engagement of people like me.")
I can't remember exactly when, but I think it was way back in 2003 when I first noted, shrillly, that a military revolt may be our only chance. Literally tanks-at-the-whitehouse stuff. I still think that might be the case. I honestly don't believe that the occupiers in the WH can afford to get kicked outta power. Impeachment is the least of their worries if the Dems win a House or two in November. And as EW suggests, those of us who have been the most shrill have long been ahead of the curve.
I didn't blame Gore, mostly because I didn't understand - I'm not sure whether I blame him now or not. I do blame Kerry. That was simply appalling.
But as EW and Larisa and others have long argued, we got here today because these people werent buried as a result of Iran-Contra. If we ever get out of this fix, we really really really need to make sure this shit never happens again.
all of which brings me back to Don's question the other day about how Iran Contra fits in with the stuff that's going on today - emptywheel dropped by and offered this answer/explanation:
I've been saying for a while that we need to get out of the habit of referring to Republican scandals as discrete affairs. Since the 1970s at least, there has been a concerted effort to adopt an authoritarian, one-party system leading either intentionally or by logic to a neofeudalist system.interesting, and insightful, as always.
That said, I think there are three strands that help us see how Iran-Contra connects to the current expression of the Neocon effort. First, this is about the illegal financing of an unoffical foreign policy. There are sveral ways they're doing it this time around: burying the funding in black ops budgets than outsourcing to loyal Republicans (CIFA), using Abramoff- and Wilkes-like schemes to fundraise, laundering money through affiliate groups like the INC or MEK, or using the proceeds of illicit goods (drugs). The point is to get huge amounts of readily available cash to implement your own foreign policies.
Second, is the establishment of some proto-fascist allies around the globe, to establish a network of power. They're actually moving backwards right now, since they've lost Berlusconi and Aznar. But I think the point is to extend the power of this network across the globe.
And third is the use of the same people and the same methods (Ghorbanifar) as they did the last time. This puzzles me. Why use Ghorbainfar again unless you were satisfied with what he did for you last time? I think it comes from the sense that Iran necessarily plays in a geostrategic sense, and a longing to return to the days of the Shah (that is, where they could combine number two with the geostrategic imperative).
What's different from Iran-Contra (but is more a yoking of the lessons from Iran-Contra and those of Watergate) is that Cheney's basically taking over the Federal government like a cancer. It's like he's trying to change government into an authoritarian one at precisely the moment his foreign policy exploits succeeds, so he can give his "conquest" legitimacy after the fact. Or maybe that's not right--maybe he's just working the covert and legitimate means at the same time.
Why use Ghorba? I have no idea. By all accounts that I'm familiar with, he really only re-appeared again in those Paris/Rome meetings - and then all of a sudden Darth Cheney is using Ghorba to spy of Khalilzad. Perhaps we need a better sense of what Ghorba was doing through the nineties to understand the bigger picture. I suspect that there is a lot more continuity than we currently understand.
Re Cheney's cancer, that's one of the key indicators that there's something rotten in denmark. I don't think for a minute that they really believe in the unitary executive - they only believe in their unitary executive. Any rational observer recognizes that there's a good chance that the repugs could be out of power for a long time - yet Addington and Cheney continue to redraw the power map - giving the 'president' more and more power. That scares the heck out of me - because it suggests that they don't plan on being anything other than president for a long time.
As emptywheel notes, the difference between now-and-then is that Iran-Contra didn't really have a domestic component. Perhaps we need to understand which is the horse and which is the cart. Which is the primary motive/goal?:
a) the geostrategic imperativeor perhaps they are necessarily all part of the whole...
b) an axis of fascists
c) domestic authoritarianism
regardless, i'm still scared.