A Small Masterpiece of Spin and Revisionist History

If you have a detached appreciation for the dark propagandistic arts of spin and revisionist history, then sit down, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or if later in the day, perhaps something stronger), and read this post from WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin, who manages to write a couple of real howlers in every sentence. Aside from the absurd concern-trollery of the entire piece–why does Jennifer Rubin care if Barack Obama is “killing the Democratic Party” anyway?–which is a sure sign of insecurity, you’ve got the ridiculous idea that independents and Democrats are fleeing from Obama in hordes because he’s not for the XL pipeline and the Bowles Commission report (most Democrats think Obama’s too friendly to both), the stubbornly stupid idea that Bill Clinton secretly agrees with Republicans more than with Obama, and the palpably false idea that conservatives revolted against George W. Bush’s leadership for even a moment before his promotion of their own favorite policies and attitudes (especially his prosecution of a war and occupation in Iraq that made Rubin’s neocon friends describe him as a world-historical hero, a swaggering Texas colossus standing tall astride a grateful, freedom-loving planet) sent his approval ratings right into the toilet.

Even if you credit the endlessly repeated, self-serving Republican axiom that the man long-time “centrists” like me consider maybe a bit too “centrist” has in fact “jerk[ed] his party to the left,” there’s this little matter of his high popularity among self-described “moderate Democrats” (he has an 81% job approval rating among them at present according to Gallup), and the additional fact that most of the intra-party grumbling about Obama always has been and continues to be from the Left. These are well-known facts that I cannot imagine Rubin does not understand. Yet we have this amazing conclusion:

[L]iberal elites might want to reconsider tying themselves too tightly to Obama’s mast. They have already become quite whiny and sacrificed a good deal of intellectual rigor in trying to defend every misstep as brilliant and every loss as a win.

They should take a page from the conservative playbook from the second Bush term. Then, conservatives stuck by their principles, criticized him where appropriate and maintained their integrity.

So convoluted is Rubin’s writing that I’m not sure whether she’s saying “liberals” should criticize the leftist president from the left and “kill” the Democratic Party even faster, or stick to “their principles” by following Clinton’s non-existent or secret lead and demanding that Obama okay a total commitment to fossil fuel dependence world without end and get crazy excited about “entitlement reform.” Maybe she’s just saying Democrats should emulate the gutless opportunism exhibited by some conservatives towards Bush when he became persona non grata with non-conservatives after 2005, and pretend we never liked Obama to begin with. In any event, Ms. Rubin, Democrats can do without your advice.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.