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February 04, 2012

Politico: Enough of the "Indignation Industry"

I wish they were serious about this. I'd sure like an end to the left's incessant "He said a dirty word" childish tattletaling and, even worse, the silly crap we on the right respond with in kind, to make the point.

I get the reason to make the point, to notify the left of what the same rules feel like when used as a weapon against them. But despite that defensible point, I feel silly about doing it. It doesn't feel like us. It feels like them. It feels like imbeciles who shriek at the sight of a mouse.

Jonathan Martin of Politico recently referred to the "cracker counties" of Florida (those bordering Georgia and Alabama), and the right has taken him to task for his very own Macacca Moment.

After he complained how silly that all was, now a fellow writer at Politico writes about how silly the game is, generally.

I agree. But let's remember that going forward, huh? Let's not just realize it's silly when applied against a co-worker, eh?

Yes, he's talking about Romney's gaffe. But I think he's really thinking about Martin's.

Now that Romney has done his part in the ritual by admitting he said a dumb thing, it might be time for everyone else to make a similar admission: The whole uproar was a dumb thing.

It was a vivid example of the indignation industry that drives the modern political-media culture and makes it more shallow and phony. Virtually everyone who is around politics — as candidate, operative or journalist — is familiar with the taking-umbrage business, as both participant and victim.

On both left and right, the cycle of huffing and puffing over the outrage du jour is now so ingrained in daily life that, like a smoker who lights up without even thinking about it, most people no longer pause to notice that nothing about it is on the level.


Schnur predicted this week’s Romney episode will pass soon enough — but that more such episodes are coming.

“The primary value of this type of controversy is to rile up the party base,” he said. “In a general election campaign in which neither nominee is going to be able to motivate his party’s loyalists to any great degree, you’re going to see more and more of these manufactured controversies designed to rev up the true believers.”

A little insight into Romney, here. You probably all know this, but his dad was considered the front-runner for the 1968 Republican nomination (and would have been a favorite to win the presidency) until he was asked to explain why he had initially supported the Vietnam War, but now was rethinking that. He said that he had been "brainwashed" by generals when given a tour of the country in 1965.

Not literally, of course. But that one remark entirely derailed his candidacy.

I think Romney's dad explains a lot about him. It explains why he's determined to be President despite apparently not having much political talent or any noticeable interest in ideological imperatives like freedom. This is personal; this is winning one for dad.

And I think the "brainwashing" comment might explain why he's so relentlessly programmed. He has his own version of Vietnam Syndrome, learning the lessons of the last campaign a little too well.

Yes, one word can derail a campaign. But a lack of any genuine words -- with focus-group pablum offered at every turn -- can also derail one.

Back to Politico's point: It's a great point. I'm glad someone in the liberal media made it.

And I expect they'll drop what they know about the essential falseness and triviality of the Indignation Industry the next time the Democratic Party and Obama for America needs them to.

Overstated: Adjoran says that my claim that Romney was "cruising, easily" to the nomination was wrong. I've changed it. He says:

I was there, Fauntleroy. He imploded long before a single delegate had been selected. And while he would have been a contender, Nixon had spent three years quietly traveling the country raising money for Republican candidates for Congress, Mayor, and state legislature, and for state and local parties, charging no fee for coming. He was earning a lot of chits the hard way, and probably would have been the favorite over Romney, who lacked the national base. And most in the GOP (and the country) in those days wanted more forceful prosecution of the war, not second-guessing.

And Romney was out before it was ever clear that LBJ was so vulnerable, before McCarthy even entered the race.

I changed it to "considered the front-runner." As for the bit about it not being clear that LBJ was vulnerable -- fine, but that would have emerged no matter who the Republican candidate was. Whether or not people understood, in late 67, that LBJ would become so unpopular he would vow to not seek nor accept the Democratic nomination by 1968, that still would have happened.

Assuming (which I do) that events on the Democratic side would have unfolded in much the same way, whether Romney or Nixon was the candidate, then any acceptable Republican candidate would have won. And George Romney seemed, prior to the brainwashing comment, to be pretty acceptable.

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posted by Ace at 03:41 PM

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