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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 26, 2006

 
Gentleman's Agreement

by digby

Maureen Dowd is the Queen Bee of the Kewl Kidz. And she is one of those most responsible for the media's current narrative of American Politics: Republicans are jocks, Democrats are nerds.

Here's Dowd's nasty and dangerous little sideswipe today:

"As the White House drives its truckload of lies around the country, it becomes ever clearer that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore are just not the right people to respond to the administration's national security scare-a-thon."


And whoever does end up speaking for the Democrats will also fall short. In Maureen's world, a Democrat is an object of derision, always. She may put down the Republicans, but she always reinforces the accepted narrative: Republican strong/Democrat weak. She has reduced the whole world into her stifled little junior high dating drama, and her influence is immense. She represents one of the most serious problems Democrats have.

Reed Hundt takes Maureen on today in a scathing post over at TPM. But here's the nut:

In its way, this sorry tale resembles that of many other erstwhile liberals in the mainstream media who, when invited to the never-ending Washington cocktail party, have chosen to smile obligingly at the contemptible remarks made about progressives rather than to express repugnance for the viciousness. Ms Dowd is famously shy in person, they say, but in writing she's laughing it up at the bar with the rest of the crowd. The original movie version was Gentlemen's Agreement, starring Gregory Peck.


For those of you who aren't familiar with that movie, here's the pertinent passage from the NY Times review:

This film stars Gregory Peck as recently widowed journalist Phil Green. With a growing son (Dean Stockwell) to support, Green is receptive to the invitation of magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker) to write a series of hard-hitting articles on the scourge of anti-Semitism. In order to glean his information first hand, Green decides to pose as a Jew. As the weeks go by, Green experiences all manner of prejudice, the most insidious being the subtle, "gentleman's agreement" form of bigotry wherein anti-Jewish sentiments are merely taken for granted. Green's pose takes a toll on his budding romance with Minify's niece Kathy (Dorothy McGuire), who comes to realize by her own example that even those who insist that they harbor no anti-Semitic feelings are also capable of prejudic


This is why we out in the hinterland are alarmed by people like Deborah Howell and Chris Matthews. These are people who are not open partisans. Yet by "gentlemean's agreement" they take for granted certain negative assumptions about Democrats and pump them out into the body politic. It has been so internalized that they seem to not even know they are doing it. In a world where toxic liberal-eliminationist rhetoric is openly celebrated as "mainstream" and where liberals are commonly derided as cowardly and denounced as treasonous, this is very disturbing indeed.

I'm sure that most of Washington laughed uproariously when Grover Norquist made this crude characterization of Democrats as animals last January:


Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.


And I'm sure that the same people whose sides were splitting over that hilarious bon mot were nodding their heads in agreement when Lindsay Graham admonished the Democrats to behave with decorum toward Samuel Alito and then fell over with the vapors when readers of the Washington Post rebelled against an ombudsman who refused to acknowledge a biased assumption. Not only are we democrats cowardly and tresonaous, we have no sense of humor, either. That's the curency of the nation's capital.

Many of us out here in the country are seeing a capital that operates in dozens of ways on a Gentleman's Agreement that Democrats are bad. Our values are wrong, our leaders are dishonest, our philosophy is weak, our policies are ridiculous and our beliefs are immoral. The conventional wisdom is crystalizing into prejudice.

Here's Howard Kurtz talking about Rush Limbaugh (via the Daily Howler):

KURTZ: Has Tom Daschle lost a couple of screws?

Did the normally mild-mannered senator accuse Rush Limbaugh of inciting violence?

He came pretty darn close. There were cameras there. You can watch the replay.

We can understand that Daschle is down, just having lost his majority leader’s job and absorbed plenty of blame for this month’s Democratic debacle.

What we can’t understand is how the South Dakotan can suggest that a mainstream conservative with a huge radio following is somehow whipping up wackos to threaten Daschle and his family.

Has the senator listened to Rush lately? Sure, he aggressively pokes fun at Democrats and lionizes Republicans, but mainly about policy. He’s so mainstream that those right-wingers Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert had him on their Election Night coverage.


Here is the commentary Daschle was referring to:

Limbaugh: You seek political advantage with the nation at war. There is no greater testament to the depths to which the Democratic Party and liberalism have fallen. You now position yourself, Senator Daschle, to exploit future terrorist attacks for political gain. You are worse, sir, than the ambulance-chasing tort lawyers that make up your chief contributors. You, sir, are a disgrace. You are a disgrace to patriotism, you are a disgrace to this country, you are a disgrace to the Senate, and you ought to be a disgrace to the Democratic Party but sadly you’re probably a hero among some of them today...

Way to demoralize the troops, Senator! What more do you want to do to destroy this country than what you’ve already tried? [pounding table] It is unconscionable what this man has done! This stuff gets broadcast around the world, Senator. What do you want your nickname to be? Hanoi Tom? Tokyo Tom? You name it, you can have it apparently. You sit there and pontificate on the fact that we’re not winning the war on terrorism when you and your party have done nothing but try to sabotage it, which you are continuing to do. This little speech of yours yesterday, and this appearance of yours on television last night, let’s call it what it is. It’s nothing more than an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism for your own personal and your party’s political gain. This is cheap. And it’s beneath even you. And that’s pretty low.


In case anyone failed to notice, Daschle lost his next election. And nobody connected the dots, least of all Howard Kurtz or Maureen Dowd, who bask in the glow of establishment approbation for mainstreaming the idea that Democrats are crazy, ineffectual and treasonous.



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