Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Both Sides Not

George Packer in The New Yorker:

Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

When it comes to stirring up Americans with passionate and violent rhetoric, the left fails miserably. Michael Moore makes movies that are laced with snark, irony and self-deprecating satire. The prime-time lineup on MSNBC of Ed Schulz, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow runs three hours, which is the same length as their morning show hosted by one Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman whose regular commentators include Pat Buchanan. They have Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); the liberals have Alan Grayson, who can’t even win re-election. It’s the Yankees versus the Palmetto Bay T-ball league.

That’s why the rhetoric won’t change. The right wing knows they have a winning formula: point fingers, blame the other side, raise money, and head to the next election.