s skippy the bush kangaroo: still angry after all these years

skippy the bush kangaroo

Sunday, February 11, 2007

still angry after all these years

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joe klein is beginning to consider why bloggers are angry. he's still afraid of blogger anger, but his reaction has gone beyond "ew." but his tepid contemplation has let me to wonder, "why is everyone so afraid of anger"? here's the answer i left in the swampland. anger, like courage, is the child of hope. do we fear the anger of the bloggers because, if, married with courage, it augers change? and the change it promises threatens the status quo?

it's easy to attribute joe's fear of anger to fear that he'll lose his place in any change to the status quo. but i think the anger he recoils at in the blogs is slightly more complicated than he allows.

first, blogging anger is more partisan than ideological - look at the range of democrats supported by dkos denizens. much of the anger in the "lefty" blogs is directed at the democratic party in d.c., for failing to effectively counter the republican ascendency. the country was divided 50/50 in 2000 and republicans have ruled liked they had an 80/20 mandate.

blogging anger is also directed to institutions like the media whose cocktail weenie fed complacency is no small part of the ability of the republicans to rule rather than govern. the d.c./ny media stars, like joe, rolled over when they should have been the voice of skepticism about very spurious claims made by the republicans relating to iraq, health care, the economy, education.

such skepticism would have denied them "access" and the media stars for reasons that have never been clear to me have come to believe that their currency is access. au contraire, the currency of the best journalists has been their skepticism (cf. i.f. stone). what is more, the fact that the very folks who traded their skepticism for a mess of access on iraq, and whom events have proven diastrously wrong, are still on my tv every sunday a.m., while critics of the war from a range of ideological perspectives are still banished to the discursive wilderness of blogtopia, (y!sctp!) suggests that the corporate media has learned nothing from its disastrous failure on iraq - and so bloggers are still angry.

but, blogging anger is also born of an anger bloggers rarely name. some of their anger is properly directed selfward. why did we outsource our duties as citizens to the corporate media? why did we assume that joe and his ilk would do their jobs, and as a consequence, that we could afford not to read so much, send so many letters and emails, make so many phone calls, go to so many meetings? it takes a lot of work and time to do the job that decent citizenship requires and we wanted to spend that time on our families and our jobs - and given the nature of the economy for those who work for a living, it was mostly jobs and not enough family.

in fairness, before the blogs we didn't have a tool that would let us direct our anger towards positive change. did joe read the letters to the editor about his columns? could those letters force timely correction of mistaken assertion in those columns? did we bother to write the letters, since we knew it wouldn't make much difference anyway? if we marched in millions against the war, joe and his ilk scarcely covered it, and if they did, they dismissed the millions as dirty f'ing hippies, and thereby gave cover to the cowardly d.c. democrats who would not be heartened and refused to be emboldened to challenge the conventional wisdom about the looming disaster.

i don't mind the bloggers' anger. i simply pray that i have the energy it demands. i would rather be a citizen than a subject. i would rather joe and his friends be journalists than courtiers. i would rather our politicians be leaders than rulers. it will take much energy and courage, fed by much anger, to achieve such goals.

[ed. note: to be fair to joe, if we have to, he is starting to offer a few begrudging mia cuplas in his post:

it's obvious that the current level of vitriol on the left is a reaction to nearly twenty years of sewage emanating from rush et al. it's also a product of the times: there's a whole generation of people who believe that serious political discourse consists of pat buchanan and eleanor clift screaming at each other. the intemperance on the left has three other sources (1) justifiable fury over the bush adminstration (2) justifiable fury over the way the media treated clinton and, to a certain extent, bush and (3) ideologues of any sort tend to be obnoxious.
[nice start, joe, but we'd add (4) wambly bloviating pundits who triangulate whichever way the wind blows before making a commitment are always obnoxious.]
posted by Pudentilla at 6:00 AM |


If you were not angry you were not paying attention.

A large part of the continuing anger may be a little selfish, nobody likes somebody saying "I told you so!". Particularly when he did in fact told you so. If the mass of the Democratic Party had just admitted they got rolled and moved on I think a lot of people that didn't get rolled would move on.

But Marshall Whittman and Peter Beinart, among others, decided to declare war, instead of forthrightly admitting that they screwed up they determined to insist that all the Digby style DFHs (Dirty Fucking Hippies) just happened to get it right for all the wrong reasons. The Left Warmongers were right to be wrong before being right, the Progressive opponents were wrong to be right before being proved right all along. Because God forbid you give the DFH's any credit for analysis of the evidence. After all if we were "experts" we would have Ken Pollack's book deal.

My sense is that the more analytical side of the blogtopia (yep props to the skipster) is not waiting for the Beinarts of this world to self-abase themselves and worship at the alters of Hullabaloo and Roo. But Christ almighty just acknowledge that some angry people were angry for a reason. We didn't like being lied to in ways that were clearly going to get thousands of people killed.

Now peopel want to slow walk this back to "Who knew?" Well skippy may not be able to find a shift key, but he knew. And Jo Fish. And Digby. And Gilliard. And Billmon.
Anybody but me heard of some dudes known as Markos and Duncan?

Markos is getting some respect now because his business model is working, otherwise he would still be mired in "screw'em-gate". Most of the rest are still out on the rhetorical margins. You could ask Amanda and Shake's Sis. How dare they be angry? Just because it is a fucking outrage, does that mean you need to use the word "fuck"? Well sometimes. Because America at 80% Bush approval wasn't listening to quiet dissent.

I don't expect to ever get a political job. Because I suspect that a little Google on "Bruce Webb Buck Fush" would generate a few too many results for me to be hired as a policy analyst. But I certainly don't regret a word of it.
commented by Blogger Bruce Webb, 8:29 AM PST  
"the d.c./ny media stars, like joe, rolled over when they should have been the voice of skepticism about very spurious claims made by the republicans relating to iraq, health care, the economy, education. "

Except, of course, Jon Stewart. He was skeptical when everyone else was drinking Kool-aid.
commented by Blogger Iron Curtain, 9:46 AM PST  
Great post!

I think the establishment, political and media, use the anger card, more than anything else, as a weapon. Thus, passion=anger, speaking truth to power=anger, standing up for the little guy=anger, holding a candidate or a d.c. pundit accountable for prior words or deeds=anger. Anything that threatens the status quo to which you refer equals anger. It is obviously a longtime tactic of the Republican Party that the national media outlets, as they grew more conservative and dependent on flash over substance, have widely embraced as well.

But that "anger" is a code word for "crazy" is the key to its great rhetorical success. It's why the conservative/Orwellian extremist strategist who first thought to use the anger card was so brilliant, if evil.

I don't think measured anger scares average Americans (I'd argue anger/rebelliousness is a cherished national trait), but craziness, someone who might appear to think differently, who might want to effect change but is portrayed as not holding shared values ("values" of course being another triumph of conservative rhetorical appropriation), that does scare many Americans. But only because of their receptiveness to received notions to which they've been so insidiously conditioned. And also because, as you eloquently stated, all too often our leaders, whether in D.C. politics or media, are more rulers than leaders.

As long as anger or passion remains code for crazy or unhinged, then this tool will continue to work for them.

Meanwhile, a leader who calmly, if often petulantly and nearly incoherently, speaks of his illegal activities - from invading a sovereign nation for non-existent WMD to torture to illegal wiretapping to fueling the next arms race to ignoring dire environmental warnings to keeping pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the table - he, for the better part of his presidency, is portrayed as a strong leader. And not what he is...a cruel, sadistic man who has no regard for human life, domestic or international law, and even his own children's future.
commented by Blogger MediaBloodhound, 12:52 PM PST  
One of my fave quotes from jazz legend Archie Shepp (from the liner notes to Live in San Francisco):

"Love is fundamental to art. I can't go to work with hate in my heart. I go to work with love in my heart. But love can express itself in bitterness and rage. That's only an aspect of love."

As one of the so-called "angry left", those are words I live by. Peace.
commented by Blogger James, 5:12 PM PST  

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