The Right Coast

March 01, 2005
 
Poor Prospect
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Here is Michael Tomasky in The American Prospect, the leading liberal monthly, of which Tomasky is Executive Editor:
Well, it was delightful to read last week that President Bush believes in a free press and vital opposition.

In Russia.

Here in the United States, the story is different. His administration turns three willing journalists into paid propagandists. At the same time, it turns a propagandist into a journalist by giving him access to the White House’s daily press briefings.

We’re just a month into George W. Bush’s second term, and already it’s becoming pretty clear what this country will look like four years from now if the Democrats don’t fight.

[We face] a larger project of the Leninist right of remaking society to conform top to bottom with the goals and priorities of the right-wing state.

Too many elected Democrats still don’t understand what’s happening in this country. They want to seem “reasonable,” and they think they can work out compromises with these people.

If these Democrats “compromise” on Social Security, they need to face consequences. I’d like to think Howard Dean, more impressive than I’d expected so far in his first two weeks as party chairman, is having one of his people secretly looking into whether primaries against Democratic senators in 2006 -- in states like, oh, let’s say Connecticut, to pick one out of the air -- are a live option if those senators compromise on Social Security.

This is a moment of truth for Democrats. The Social Security fight is symbolic of a larger struggle in which the ascendant right is trying to remake the nation in its own image. The nation, despite giving Bush 51 percent of its vote, is admirably resistant to this push in many ways. The Democrats had better represent this resistance.
These are excerpts. Read the whole thing for an even fuller flavour. The American Prospect was founded by Robert Reich and Robert Kuttner as an "authoritative" liberal journal, and it is generally respected as such. It is not supposed to be interchangeable with MoveOn.org or the DemocraticUnderground. But these are not happy warriors. The tone of Tomasky's piece is strikingly bitter, with more than a touch of what Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style". Was the political tone much angrier than this in the Southern press and among Southern pamphleteers in the run-up to the Civil War? I don't think this sort of thing is a good sign; and Tomasky is scarcely unique, or even unusual, nowadays among liberals and Democrats.