Comments: Massive Cover-Up By Rick Perlstein

It introduced important innovations to American politics, such as nominating conventions and the adoption of party platforms.

And yet, as we're being herded into our protest pens at the DNC or RNC, do we ever pause to give thanks to the Anti-Masonic Party? We do not.

Posted by SteveB at August 15, 2009 01:40 PM

We do not.

No, you do not -- because the truth has been kept from you by RICK PE(A)RLSTEIN!!!!

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at August 15, 2009 02:02 PM

By the way, that link back to "believe the right lies" leads to this gem of a comment from "harold"

Congratulations guys -

McCain is winning.

Of course the unspeakable morons who directly support him are to blame, but let's look at the logic displayed by some "progressives".

How much did the "left"'s logic of attacking Obama for being imperfect, rather than working steadily to defeat the far greater threat, contribute? Who knows? It was one straw on the camel's back, that's all we know.

You tell 'em, harold. Now that we're suffering through month #7 of the awful McCain/Palin administration, all I can say is that I hope you lefty Obama-bashers are satisfied with yourselves.

Posted by SteveB at August 15, 2009 02:31 PM

I wonder if anyone else in this high-fallutin' little blog neighborhood knows that a small part of the reason that one John Edgar Hoover hated Harry Truman is that he believed old Give 'Em Hell Harry was blackballing him from becoming a thirty-third degree Mason. (It really is true that Edgar believed that, and maybe Harry was really doing it, because he hated Edgar.) Or that the practice of "blackballing" is literally what Masons (among others) do! Go ahead, look up 'blackballing' on Wikipedia.

PeArlsstein's books on Goldwater and Nixonland are good--he can write. But he really doesn't understand the country as well as he thinks. For example, he wrote this last year:

"[I]f Barack Obama is elected president with a significant popular mandate, a number of Democrats riding his coattails to the House, and enough senators to scuttle the filibuster of his legislative agenda -- all of which seem entirely possible -- he will inherit a historical opportunity to civilize the United States in ways not seen in a generation."

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=a_liberal_shock_doctrine

Seriously, what was he thinking? That was written by somebody who has spent too much time thinking about the past and not enough thinking about the present.

But enough of that. What's that business at the end of Pearlstein's Post article about us not having such cowardly leaders by today's standards back in 1964. He seems to be angling to sell books instead of trying out some of that courage he was touting. The civil rights bill wasn't the child of heroism. LBJ lived in FEAR that the powerful Eastern liberals who supported JFK would reject him and throw their weight behind RFK, whom LBJ hated and who he knew full well would eventually seek the Presidency. The best way to head off RFK was to push through JFK's domestic agenda, especially civil rights. And so LBJ became much more than he ever would have been, not because he or others were brave, but because he was self-interested and opportunistic and FRIGHTENED of RFK. That historical oddity finally ended the Democratic Party's seemingly endless refusal to do anything to antagonize the Southern racists. On the other hand, a Republican like Earl Warren had no vested interest in our apartheid system, which kept the South solidly Democrat and so hurt the GOP. (Warren was plenty cowardly and unethical at other times, such as when Upton Sinclaire ran for Governor of California in 1934). The GOP wanted nothing more than to split the Democratic party down the middle and set the liberals and blue dogs at each other's throats. So for once right after JFK's death the circumstances were right for something good to happen. So it goes with history. Every so often a bit of justice, or at least decency, emerges from the mud.

As for PeArlstein's view of our courageous leaders of days gone by, the discourse on the public airways is grotesque now, but perhaps the good old days weren't really so swell in some ways. Would your average person rather be forced to listen to Michael Savage or roasted alive over a bonfire and tortured to death (without a trial) because a mob decided he was either guilty of a crime or didn't especially care. Hmm, I know you have to think, but I'm betting you'll still decide you can listen to Savage, for a little while anyway. Of course, the victims of all those lynchings were nearly all African-American, so not everybody had to get all excited about that, and most of our courageous leaders of the past didn't say a word about it. Then again, PeArlstein should remember that there was that one Jewish victim, Leo Frank, who was with great public attention lynched in Atlanta back in 1915, back when our leaders were especially courageous, so PeArlstein should maybe give that a little thought before he proclaims that the past possesses more bravery than the present.

But I get PeArlstein's point, and I think PeArlstein is OK and can write, though Chazelle correctly took him to task some time ago for wanting to give that Iraqi shoe thrower a life sentence or some such thing. That was a home run by Chazelle. That guy had a right to throw both shoes and more.

Finally, the Michael Savage mentioned by PeArlstein used to be Michael Weiner and something of a specialist in herbs, possibly of the 1960s variety. You can look him up on Wikipedia too if you want a good recipe for bullshit soup as it's now served in many of our finer broadcasting establishments. The Savage/Weiner bio is a hoot. He has a PhD from Berkeley in "nutritional ethnomedicine" and used to hang around, and swim naked, with Beat poets! Then he heard Rush and got a chance to do that crazy wingnut schtick and realized where the MONEY is!

And that, after all, is what 'Merica is all about!

Posted by N E at August 15, 2009 03:16 PM

Steve B: McCain or Obama the PROBLEMS FACING US are exactly the same and I contend that McCain would CONTINUE BUSH policies just like Obama. The ONLY DIFFERENCE is being a Woman had a REALLY good shot at the glass ceiling, 'cause Johnny was lookin' rough. FACE FACTS, U&I failed to impeach, failed to find a new way. WE marched lockstep behind Kissinger. There'll BE a high price to pay, and WE'VE ONLY just begun.
EVERYBODY KNOWS sombody's lying, but NOBODY knows who's telling the TRUTH. Harold just believed McCain was telling the TRUTH that he would FOLLOW BUSH's basic policies and I believed McCain as well. I felt Obama would lie to U&I and Harold didn't.

Posted by Mike Meyer at August 15, 2009 06:15 PM

you mean we're NOT suffering through the 7th month of the McCain administration?

Posted by Carl at August 15, 2009 06:38 PM

You mean it's supposed to be Perlstain?

Posted by John Caruso at August 15, 2009 11:24 PM

Jonathon Shwarz is a New World Order shill!

He's trying to blame the destruction of America on the Free Masons so he can cover up the real culprits!

He perfectly knows that Jesuit Colleges are secret airbases for Jewish flying saucers and that their universities helped the Nazis develop lightspeed technology during World War Two!

Where did the gay people come from than Jewish doctors abducting innocent children in UFOs and turning them into flaming homosexuals!

Expose The Lies!

http://www.crackpotconspiracy.org

Posted by Nikolay Levin at August 16, 2009 12:10 AM

I can almost see the fnords!

Posted by Stupidbaby at August 16, 2009 01:00 AM

Perlstein once again (as with the Muntazer al-Zaida quote:—God save us from anarcho-fascism!) displays the standard liberal leader-worship.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at August 16, 2009 01:29 AM

*al-Zaidi

Amazing I found something to screw up in a comment that short.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at August 16, 2009 01:32 AM

StO, what liberal leader-worship do you see in the article?

Maybe you're adopting NE's misreading that the civil rights bill was passed due to the "heroism" or "bravery" of our great leaders, when it seems pretty obvious to me that Perlstain's point was to disparage today's politicians, not lionize yesterday's—the point being that politicians (and the media, which gets much more attention in the article) have become more willing to kowtow to asinine right-wing howling. Which is debatable, of course, but doesn't strike me as unreasonable.

Posted by John Caruso at August 16, 2009 03:51 AM

" Now that we're suffering through month #7 of the awful McCain/Palin administration"

on a weekday, uh . . . what adminstration is this?

Posted by Fledermaus at August 16, 2009 08:19 AM

Rereading, it does seem more a condemnation of the "cowardice" of current "leaders" and media than an exaltation of Cronkite, Adlai Stevenson, JFK, and the "more confident media."

But I don't think what modern politicians and media suffer from is a crippling lack of confidence. Rather I think they see the numbers in catering to right-wing extremists and sensationalistic coverage of bullshit. They don't feel besieged. I have trouble picturing our corporate overlords fretting and saying, "Well, we must present a detailed debunking of this false claim, and then hopefully we'll never hear about it again. But it takes so much time away from our detailed reporting of our incursions in Pakistan and health care reform... damn these crazies!"

I guess I take issue with his contention (if I'm not reading too much into it again) that what matters is how much our media and our "leaders" take our crazies into account. In Perlstein's view, we just need better gatekeepers and shepherds. It all reeks of the "great man" school of history and our dependence on higher beings for our welfare. Which is why anyone who throws a shoe at such a being should be imprisoned for a very long time.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at August 16, 2009 04:30 PM

I don't long for the days when three networks decided what views were sane enough to merit consideration. For better or for worse (and mostly for better) we live in a more democratic media environment today, and the right wing is just better at exploiting the openings that provides. Of course, the corporate media is also much more amenable to right-wing craziness.

Posted by SteveB at August 17, 2009 10:40 AM

SteveB, I'd agree with you in the abstract, but I'm afraid that there is a significant fly in the ointment. The vast majority of citizens have neither the time nor, let's be honest, the interest to winnow through and weigh a plethora of viewpoints. God knows I don't, and I suspect you don't either. Ever REALLY investigated the Birthers' claims? I haven't. Donald Johnson feels that way about JFK and 9/11; I strongly disagree with him on the former, and slightly disagree with him on the latter, but I totally understand the need to allocate one's time. I'd argue most people do what they did in 1965 or 1935: either ignore it all and concentrate on their quotidian reality, or glean what they can in the time they've got, fit it into a pre-existing worldview and discard the rest.

Fact is, most people are much less aggressive in the face of information than we are here, and whether that's how they ARE, or how they've been educated to be, is another question. A more democratic media environment is a wonderful idea, especially for those of us who love digging through information to construct complex visions of reality. But a wider spectrum of viewpoints and outlets has not resulted in a wiser, or even harder to manipulate populace. In fact, the very age of media fragmentation--say, Carter to now--has resulted in national paralysis in the face of genuine threats (like Peak Oil), national distraction by bogus threats (endless), increasingly vicious partisan stalemate, and the same old Coke/Pepsi choices. It's been progress for news junkies but loss of ground for everybody else. I will leave the why to others.

Do I think that the old days were better? Probably not. But I do think the current situation puts much, much more onus on the individual viewer, and that's only good if viewers are provided with the education to make informed judgments, and the time necessary to use it. In our current world, this proliferation may actually play into the hands of the powerful; remember the end of Three Days of the Condor, when Robert Redford's big threat is going to The New York Times? What would he say now? "Fuck you, man! I'm going to Gawker!"

Just food for thought.

Posted by Mike of Angle at August 17, 2009 03:03 PM

Dan Brown has a new book out and the fact that that fact was not mentioned, until now, and even now only in the most skeletal fashion, by me, anywhere previously in this thread, unless I missed it and I don't think I did, is patently clear evidence for what is obviously the underlying - and more real by virtue of being underlying, because things that are underneath other things are more real the more they can't be seen because of being under those other less real things which can be seen - existing state of things here. Here meaning not here in this thread but here, where we are. Patently clear and obvious.

Posted by roy belmont at August 17, 2009 06:44 PM

In this thread, I had been specifically hiding that information. Damn.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at August 17, 2009 07:41 PM

Well, one of the things I found puzzling in the Perlstein performance was the curtain thrown over the so-called liberal media's crazy over Clinton and blowjobs and how that rubbed off onto Al Gore and not even having Lieberman ungraciously agree to be his veep candidate got him any slack. I mean, wouldn't Rick say an 8-year Democratic presidential term was a time of liberal ascendancy? But it was the Villagers who took umbrage at the invasion of the poor white trash and they didn't mind using the rightwing shit to help them in their efforts to let Clinton feel their contempt.

Which is another thing that Perlstein seems to be unaware of in his own piece. He says that odd thing about how conservatives have been uncanny at getting the media to worry that perhaps they're too cosmopolitan (!) blah blah blah, but he obviously doesn't worry too much about the likes of the working stiff or the poor.

And yes, there's enough ignorance about health care reform to go around and it isn't all located in the crazies or the rightwingers. The press could and should have been writing about the real dilemmas people like Miller actually face when they're under 65, disabled, and out of work, for starters. Myself, I don't feel like sneering at such people or dismissing them as hopelessly ignorant and crazy and oh well, that's just what happens whenever there's a liberal ascendancy.

Posted by Aunt Deb at August 17, 2009 08:18 PM

Bob Somerby agrees with Aunt Deb.

link

Posted by Donald Johnson at August 17, 2009 11:53 PM

Another thing PeArlstein didn't mention is The Paranoid Style in American Politics", an essay by the American historian Richard J. Hofstadter, first published in Harper's magazine in November 1964 (there's a Wikipedia article about it.)

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at August 21, 2009 07:54 PM