Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tirade on blame

Buster Keaton in The Playhouse (1921), I think, via.
As far as recriminations go over what happened in November, I liked Thers's idea (welcome back to Cyberspace, Andrew!) a lot:
As to who on the Democratic side, or the Left, is to blame, I'm only going to say this once, and then we're going to just let it go.
It was your fault.
You fucker.
It was my fault.
Me fucker.
FUCK ME. This was our job, and whatever it is we tried to do, we fucked it up, even if most Americans broadly agree with us.
Nevertheless there's something about BooMan's non-apology FUCK ME that I can't let go of:
One thing I know I really didn’t do in this campaign was to defend Clinton. It was difficult for me to accept that she would be our party’s nominee, although I accepted it fully even though I didn’t vote for her. Spending my energy defending her was generally just too much for me, however. I thought she could pull off a victory because I gave the public too much credit for being able to see through Trump. Nonetheless, I saw the main threat as the possibility that they wouldn’t. Trump was getting a lot of press coverage, and I thought it was most important to counter the positive attributes and narratives he was receiving.
The last thing I felt like doing was writing about Benghazi or her email server or (especially) the Clinton Foundation. That appears to have been a mistake on my part. The real threat was that Clinton would be brought down to Trump’s level and seen as equally unacceptable.
Speaking as one who did try to make the positive case for Clinton, ad nauseam (52 posts from March through November under the label "Is Hillary Clinton the Worst Human Being in the Universe?" and I'm sure there were many more without the label), including on the damn emails and Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation (and its ruthlessly corrupt acceptance of money from Norway, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and, yes, Algeria and Saudi Arabia and some other excessively foreign countries), I'd take it back a step and argue that you didn't try to find out whether there was a possible defense of Clinton. You swallowed a bunch of idées reçues from the self-denominated left (including such notable social democrats as Glenn Greenwald and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin) and never asked yourself whether they were even true.

You never stopped to ask yourself whether Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton were even separate persons:
the biggest factor, I think, was that there just weren’t enough people (including me) who were willing to carry any water for the Clintons even when they deserved it.
You kept referring to her as "the Clintons", blaming her for his triangulations of 1996 and the impeachment scandal and maybe Sister Souljah as well (you never thought to ask of any black folk why they persisted in supporting her in spite of that, did you think it was because they were stupid?) and ignoring her Senate career of 2000-2008, which she did on her own as one of the most progressive members while he was busy getting rich.
They disrespected the left for political benefit for so long that it was asking a lot for the left to go to war for them. In my case, I pledged after the impeachment process was over that I would never again lift a finger for their political aspirations. Even what little I did during this campaign often felt like a betrayal of that pledge.
Bill Clinton ignored the left in 1996-98 because he had no choice. He had to keep the fucking government going, a real responsibility. That's not "political" reasons. When Barack Obama did the same thing for the past six years you rightly gave him your full support, even though you disagreed with him on some pretty major issues. Bill Clinton was impeached.
I’ve always known that the real battle was not over the Clintons or policy or ideology, but over preventing what we have now. What it all comes down to is that we needed to be united and present this election as beyond personality. It was about shared values and the assault on those values. We didn’t act like a team, so we lost.
That's a contradiction. What we have now is 100% personality, an Emperor who intends to rule us on the basis of how he feels. Your refusal to look for reasons for supporting Clinton was 100% personality too. She would have been a very good president, but she wasn't your preferred brand. (No offense, but your preferred brand, the Sanders brand, would have been a terrible president; a superb guy to focus a meeting of angry teenagers on the real issues, but a wooden-headed, self-satisfied island of belief who has seen no reason to change his mind, or even his one speech, about anything for the last 30 years. Clinton listens. She changes her mind because she respects what other people think.) You never allowed yourself to notice that she even exists other than as an appendage of Bill.

A couple of weeks before the election I spent an afternoon with a dear old friend I see once every five  or ten years—he was the lead vocalist in a (short-lived) band I used to play in, and he's a person of startlingly wide cultivation, including knowing an awful lot of theology, from his upbringing in a very severe Dutch Reform tradition, but not particularly aware of or interested in politics, like a lot of people, and in particular a lot of Americans, and as we talked over what's happened to whom from 30-odd years ago, and what our lives are like now, the subject of the election never even came up until very late. I realize now that he didn't want to talk about it; he's seen the blog, and knew where I stood, and was embarrassed, but this old hippie, this old worshiper of rhythm and blues, this White Working Class person with a graduate degree he's never used, was going to vote for Trump.

His reason was a kind of mirror image of Boo's reason for voting for Hillary—he doesn't respect or like Trump particularly, except in this Beavis-and-Butt-Head way of admiring his balls and his carelessness, the artistry of his composed cartoonishness, but he was very well informed on the subject of Hillary's corruption and murderous violence, the long history of crimes that have been attributed to her ever since the suicide of Vincent Foster, and he was literally afraid of what would happen if she became president. He saw her as Nero. I told him he was wrong but didn't try to argue, I just couldn't, we parted friends, but I was as shocked as if he'd told me the earth is hollow. But enough people saw Hillary Clinton this way created over the decades by rightwing conspirators from Regnery Publishing to WikiLeaks to lose the election, not just for her, but for the Senate as well (as I've been trying to explain for years now, it's the nonvoters who decide Republican victories, by deciding not to vote, and when they decided not to vote for Clinton they decided not to vote for Russ Feingold and many other fine Democratic candidates as well).
the biggest factor, I think, was that there just weren’t enough people (including me) who were willing to carry any water for the Clintons even when they deserved it.
You weren't even willing to find out when Hillary Clinton deserved it. You were as willing as any vaccine-fearing Stein voter to assume the worst, and to give permission to others to do the same, from your distinguished pulpit. And these beliefs, eagerly passed around by Russians and Greenwaldians and the so-called Green party and treated as "of the left" in spite of the remonstrances of everyone in the actual functioning left from trade unions through fighters for racial justice to Noam Chomsky.

So fuck me, no doubt, and fuck Thers, but fuck you too, after all, bigly. Apology not fully acceptable, you'll have to try again.

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