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October 08, 2009

Scarborough Schools Max Blumenthal on Extremism

Worth watching.

There are two cool things here:

1. Scarborough's tone is pitch perfect. I get a little annoyed when conservatives are too often in outrage mode, particularly when it involves personal slights to leaders. The reason I'm annoyed is that it's counterproductive. Independents don't want to see fights about personalities and who said what about whom; they want to see parties concerned primarily with making good policy.

The he-said-this-but-you-said-that stuff fires up partisans, but I am absolutely convinced it turns off moderates. Hell, I'm a a partisan and most of the time it turns me off. Anyone dabbling in this sort of thing publicly should take a page from Scarborough here and make sure that the dispute is cast in terms of policy. You can still talk about the dispute, and still say Democrats did it first and all that. But it has to be tied relentlessly to policy and ideas and moving America forward. A lot of times conservatives forget to do that and focus only on the he-said-a-dirty-word crap which makes us look juvenile and only concerned about regaining power, for the sake of power, and playground style namecalling.

It's about emphasis, not about forbidding the topic completely. Democrats will not shut the hell up about about rightwingish efforts to delegitimize President Prissypants. The "You did it too" defense is the right defense, and does have to be noted, just to dismiss this particular nit-- but only when hooked up to policy considerations.

Keep coming back to the why Obama is being opposed. Simple assertions that we have the right to behave like the left did aren't particularly helpful. That's true -- we sure do have that right -- but not all rights need to be exercised. So when we do exercise our right of full-on no-compromise opposition, we always have to be careful of explaining why we're doing it.

And it helps to adopt Scarborough's world-weary, "this is becoming a cartoon" boredom with the entire topic. He's the grown-up, Blumenthal is the mewling infant. Through tone he establishes that he's the adult who cares about policy and Blumenthal is the man-child who just wants to fling poo.

2. The other cool thing is that this is, as far as I know, the first time CGI has been used to wholly create the illusion of a leftist political commentator. Look at how the computer-generated homonculous "Max Blumenthal" very nearly has a lifelike look to him, almost deceiving you at times that he's a genuine human being, rather than a nightmarish creature dreamed up by ILM.

Impressive. "Max Blumenthal" keeps repeating the same menu of stock bile and hissing, but actor Andy Serkis invests him with something approaching genuine human pathos. All those hours in a blue suit studded with a hundred ping-pong balls really paid off. We slam Hollywood a lot, but we need to give them credit for their technical wizardry and creativity -- you can almost believe that a shriveled gog-eyed runtish monster like "Max Blumenthal" really exists in the four corners of the living world.


"I have a new book out!... Wait, let me try that
without so much spittle."

Oh: Let me add that as far as Point One goes, I chiefly mean leaders and prominent spokesmen. I'm not really talking about bloggers and I'm certainly not talking about commenters -- we're partisans here and we're trying to fire each other up.

I'm talking about people in positions of genuine influence. Anytime a major conservative spokesman or spokeswoman gets caught only dealing in the "he said a dirty word" crap, that's not just a lost opportunity to talk policy and program, that's a net negative where a bunch of people just tossed up their hands and said, "Oh these guys aren't serious either; all they want to do is complain about what the Democrats said."

Oh, Part II: At CPAC a couple of years ago, Max Blumenthal was going around asking conservatives why they hadn't signed up for the Iraq War.

Fair point, but I always wanted (and lobbied for) someone to stick a camera in his face and ask why he hadn't signed up for the war he supposedly supported, Afghanistan.

Well, Barack Obama is now president, and, while he's dodging the question of full counterinsurgency like he campaigned on, he has not formally withdrawn his oft-repeated assertion that Afghanistan is a "war of necessity" and must be won.

So, my question for Blumenthal is the same as my question for Glenn Greenwald -- did you find it difficult writing your book in Kabul, in between your covert operations against the Taliban?

I hope they get some good screenwriters to come up with a plausible answer to this question. Something that sounds like what "Max Blumenthal" would say.


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posted by Ace at 01:41 PM

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