Friday, October 01, 2010

Quotable, Chris Matthews: 57 to 77 Percent of Americans Are Far Left

Heard on Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "How do you keep people on the FAR LEFT, people who like the PUBLIC OPTION and that sort of thing, on the team?"
Wow. In this Washington Post/ABC News poll, 57 percent of Americans favored the Public Option (10/20/09) while another poll had 77 percent of Americans favoring a Public Option. Mr. Matthews, as one of the deans of the Idiot Punditocracy, actively campaigned against the Public Option because he bought into the inside-the-beltway "narrative" (a term the navel-gazing IP likes to use when explaining to the rest of us peons why "governance" trumps campaign "overpromising") because they belong to the elite corporate media that has defined for the rest of us the boundaries of what is possible in our politics.

I hate to sound like a teabagger here, but one governing aspect of political populism, after all, is delivering to the people what the people want. Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell, I think because of their experience in government, like to lecture us on politics as the "art of the possible" and defining governance as doing unpopular things that include telling people what they do not want to hear because those on the inside know best and have the expertise to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, when this elitist worldview fails, when government and media are so insular and self-sustaining that they reinforce the inside narrative, bad things, very very bad things, happen. Like Vietnam and Iraq, and yes, the "process" nightmare passage of a flawed healthcare bill, because President Obama was too timid to expend political capital, that now threatens to undo whatever's left of his progressive agenda.

Sure, there's a so-called "enthusiasm gap" but that is a complete misreading of the turnout question, which in the end, will determine whether winners and losers have a (D) or an (R) next to their names. The so-called "professional Left" will get out there and vote. No one I know plans to stay home and sulk. (Yes, I know, my rad friends hardly constitute a scientific poll of progressives' enthusiasm.)  But progressives understand the challenge; and the danger. So when the Chuck Todds of this world base their electoral "wave" assumptions (don't hyperventilate Chuck, it's not gonna happen) that Democrats are not enthused it doesn't follow they will not show up at the polls.

The base, if you will, is disappointed with the President and pissed at Harry Reid — not Nancy Pelosi. So when a pollster asks us these silly questions re: levels of satisfaction compared to the teabagger lunatic fringe (about 20 percent of the electorate), what do you think the answer will be? If so, what makes the Idiot Punditocracy think — i.e., hope against hope a la Norah O'Donnell who let the cat out of the bag when she said “I would be fascinated to see a Senate with Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Joe Miller ... ”— the base will sit home and not vote? This is not an ordinary election and ordinary polling assumptions do not hold.

So thank you, Chris, for making our point better than we could, and reversing yourself in the process. That is, the notion this is a conservative country and we ignore it at our peril, is nonsense. It is based on pseudo history and myths perpetuated by rarefied centers of power, including the corporate media, to keep us from stepping outside the reservation, the ghetto the ruling elites have set up for us with sophistic arguments that this nation wasn't born of radical, secular revolution and nourished by progressive values throughout our history. I was astonished to read Jonathan Alter's declaration in his book The Promise that the Public Option was a nonstarter even though it had "polled well." They would have us believe this is all we can get. Hello? Does anyone detect cognitive dissonance here from a fine journalist-historian?

The Public Option is a perfect example of the Idiot Punditocracy and the power elites foisting an irrational "narrative" on progressives who have dared to not only think, but step outside the box reserved for us, not at all like good little soldiers. And they don't like it.

Note to Rachel: We can't get mad at Chris, because he's an authentic performance artist.

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