Comments: Rahm Emanuel and Jonathan Weisman Team Up to Create Imaginary Version of Reality

True, Jon, Emanuel is a political hack, but that just means (in theory) that he's in touch with reality. None of this airy-fairy lefty fantasy about health care, bringing home the troops, free lollipops for everybody in Rahm's world! He knows that politics is a brutal, dirty business with no place in it for people who aren't ... what was the word? "reality-based." He knows that you can't always get what you need, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what the insurance and financial industries want. He's the one who keeps President Obama from making disastrous tactical mistakes out of his great idealism and compassion for common people, just as President Clinton's hard-nosed advisers did for him. It's a good thing President Obama has people like Emanuel around him, or who knows what he'd do? He might lose control of Congress out of sheer naive good-heartedness. And then we'd lose all hope.

Posted by Duncan at December 28, 2009 09:16 AM

It is possible that Emanuel is referring instead to polls of people who count, like the owners of manufacturing firms or insurance companies. Surely, as Bill Clinton's star rose in the eyes of manufacturing firms, will Obama's in the eyes of the insurance companies.

Posted by Erik at December 28, 2009 11:06 AM

This ain't Pakistan, don't expect the "professional" class to do shit, they live too well.

Posted by Solar Hero at December 28, 2009 12:14 PM

Duncan

You're funny. That was a pretty good riff on the insurance industry getting what it needs.


As for the rest, JS's keen eye has not failed him. That's a good post.

The 90s are hard to see in focus. It's too bad some sharp-eyed scholar out there hasn't taken a look at how the Perot movement strangely appeared in 92, how it morphed into the Gingrich movement in 94, and how both events gave Clinton the White House but more or less as a eunuch. (How ironic.)

And maybe someday somebody will take a close look at how Clinton remained unpopular until the OK City bombing, which was his turning point, not NAFTA. After the Murrah building blew up, Clinton finally became an enthusiastic backer of the CIA and intel. From then on his popularity picked up significantly, and coincidentally there also weren't any more serious calls to slash Langley down to size, or even abolish it, as Senator Moynihan had recommended in the early 90s and a chorus echoed after the Ames scandal in 94. (You can read all about it in the Washington Post from 91 to early 95, and you can even search by key words!).

I bet almost nobody even remembers now that people of gravitas used to think just 15 years ago that maybe we didn't need to let intelligence agencies and the military run everything. We're so far past that now that it isn't even part of history.

Posted by N E at December 28, 2009 12:52 PM

The graph strikes me as just so much statistical noise, much like the Clinton presidency.

Posted by bobbyp at December 28, 2009 08:13 PM

Fie. We are not villanous, just genetically bereft.

Posted by Jesus B Ochoa at December 29, 2009 09:30 AM

«The real villains are America's educated upper middle class. In theory doctors, scientists, lawyers, professors, etc. care about reality.»

NOT AT ALL! They only care about making money fast with asset price bubbles, and a wealthy, comfortable retirement based on a stream of tax free capital gains and low, low wages paid to their servants and suppliers.

This has been happening since 1994/1995, with the Gingrich revolution, as they decided that the brutes below them were subhuman parasites and vermins, and only the "best and brightest" like themselves were entitles to the fruits of progress and rising productivity, because they had read Ayn Rand and they realized that they were the productive, creative heroes of the free market, and destined to become millionaires thanks to vast increases in their real estate the stock marker investments/.

Posted by Blissex at December 29, 2009 06:34 PM

«The real villains are America's educated upper middle class. In theory doctors, scientists, lawyers, professors, etc. care about reality.»

NOT AT ALL! They only care about making money fast with asset price bubbles, and a wealthy, comfortable retirement based on a stream of tax free capital gains and low, low wages paid to their servants and suppliers.

This has been happening since 1994/1995, with the Gingrich revolution, as they decided that the brutes below them were subhuman parasites and vermins, and only the "best and brightest" like themselves were entitles to the fruits of progress and rising productivity, because they had read Ayn Rand and they realized that they were the productive, creative heroes of the free market, and destined to become millionaires thanks to vast increases in their real estate the stock marker investments/.

Posted by Blissex at December 29, 2009 06:58 PM

«The real villains are America's educated upper middle class. In theory doctors, scientists, lawyers, professors, etc. care about reality.»

NOT AT ALL! They only care about making money fast with asset price bubbles, and a wealthy, comfortable retirement based on a stream of tax free capital gains and low, low wages paid to their servants and suppliers.

This has been happening since 1994/1995, with the Gingrich revolution, as they decided that the brutes below them were subhuman parasites and vermins, and only the "best and brightest" like themselves were entitles to the fruits of progress and rising productivity, because they had read Ayn Rand and they realized that they were the productive, creative heroes of the free market, and destined to become millionaires thanks to vast increases in their real estate the stock marker investments/.

Posted by Blissex at December 29, 2009 07:36 PM

Alas, Blissex, elites felt justified in all their worst views long before 94/95. They were just as obnoxious in the 60s when they hated JFK. They were obnoxious when Ayn Rand was writing in the 50s. They were obnoxious when they hated FDR in the 30s. On and on back and back into time. I got of chuckle reading in Perry Anderson that Roman elites were full of shit in much the same way. (I hope that summary of elite opinion across the ages wasn't too dry and technical.)

What has changed is elite control of politics and society, which began well before 94 but encountered resistance and really didn't begin its period of consolidation until around that time, with the help of some MICFiC activities that I alluded to in my comment above. Ironically, the USSR dissolved right about the same time as organized labor in the US. Since 1990, almost no one of consequence in national politics speaks with any consistency for working people, let alone the poor. That's quite a national sin, and it has permitted our rulers greater freedom of action than they had in the past. They have abused that freedom of action, of course, because that is their nature and their ideology. They conceal it, but at bottom they are nihilists.

How did we come to permit such a schande? The big change is that elite control of politics has really improved enormously since The Liberty League made fools of themselves futilely opposing the New Deal, and even since the GOP opposed JFK with Nixon and then Goldwater on the heels of the Cold War. (The Cold War by itself wasn't enough to really screw everyone, though it did give elites and their corporate masters the tools to get there eventually.)

As some ATR readers know, my opinion is that politics and society in the US greatly accelerated the ugly process of change for the worse toward our present dismal state of affairs on one noteworthy date of elite counterreaction: November 22, 1963. Explaining that is beyond even my Tolstoy length paragraphs here, but the road to hell was paved by our creation of sources of power that proved themselves on that date to be beyond the reach of all democratic politics. The ultimate result has been increasingly passive public acceptance of an elite agenda that is shoved down our throats. The whole process is a demonstration of mistah charley's MICFiC in action, premised on the fine work of experts in mass communications, psychology, law, government, medicine and all the rest of academia. Ergo JS's post is on the money.

For lovers of history and believers in the past (without which belief in the future strikes me as empty), an excellent beginning to understanding the significance of that dreadful day on which the road to hell grewer shorter can be found in Lisa Pease's fine article over at Consortium News, addressing my favorite book, which she wishes Obama would read. (Me too.) I agree with her that everyone should read the book, such is our apparently shared old-fashioned faith in the harmony of critical reasoning and passion, a faith now obviously as absurd as anything Kierkegaard ever wrote about.

Still, if you're still reading, you're up to the challenge, and you have the opportunity to join that small group of people who for now observe our society with alien eyes, because as Mark Twain long ago wrote in explaining the loss of innocence, once you have taken a steamboat up the Mississippi and learned all its perils and deceptions, you can never look at the great river the same way again.

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2009/121409a.html

Posted by N E at December 29, 2009 09:07 PM

«The ultimate result has been increasingly passive public acceptance of an elite agenda that is shoved down our throats.»

I think that many middle class, fully vested, asset owners (70% of voters) have enthusiastically adopted the elite agenda of redistributing income from earned wages to capital gains, and at the same time reduce wages.

The educated upper middle class is not the elite, but the leading part of that 70% of voters that want to be rentier landlords and investors like their betters in the elite.

So I think that "showed down our throats" is very misleading -- the elite agenda is very popular among the politically active middle class, who hate the idea of being exploited by the welfare queens and the strapping young bucks, and love the idea of making money fast without effort with capital gains.

«fine work of experts in mass communications, psychology, law, government, medicine and all the rest of academia.»

Sure the reactionary elites have been very skilled at getting excellent propaganda consultants, but the vested middle classes adhesion to their agenda is not just falling for skilful advocacy, never mind "passive public acceptance", but determined greed and meanness that are fully part of USA "dixie" culture, which seems now dominant over the "yankee" one.

BTW apologies for the repeated posting above, just net transmission troubles.

Posted by Blissex at December 30, 2009 05:01 AM

«http://www.consortiumnews.com/2009/121409a.html»

Interesting, and I'l' give the book a read, but even the review suffers from the usual propaganda framing:

«during the Cuban Missile Crisis»

That was the "Turkish Missile Crisis" as it started when the USA put first strike "decapitation" short flight-time nuclear missiles in Turkey, and the start of the deployment of the same in Cuba (which they did very reluctantly and slowly) was just a way for the USSR to restore strategic parity. This is moderately well known in Europe (and in Russia of course).

Posted by Blissex at December 30, 2009 05:19 AM

N E, read "Three's a Crowd" by the politica scientists Stone and Rapaport--it answers your question about the relationship of Perot to Gingrich to Clinton.

Posted by Rick Perlstein at December 30, 2009 12:54 PM

blissex

I don't think you can blame someone in the US for referring to "the Cuban missile crisis". That's what everyone calls that crisis in the US, so you can't really avoid it without leading with a qualification. The provocation you refer to, putting our missiles in Turkey, was hardly the only provocation by us from the start of the cold war onward. Sometime read Caroline Eisenberg's Drawing the Line for the beginning of that story as to Europe, or Bruce Cumings history of the Korean War as to East Asia. (Since great modern history books are on my mind.)

As of the early 1960s, the USSR never had strategic parity to restore. MAYBE they had it in some respects a decade later (I'm really not sure off the top of my head), but I doubt it.

P. P.S, Sorry to call it 'the cold war'! :)

Posted by N E at December 30, 2009 10:59 PM

Thanks Rick for the reference to Three's a Crowd. I can't say that I have studied that book, but a few years ago I read large chunks of it. I recall it as being good, though I think my opinions go beyond what Stone and Rappaport argue. I believe it's very striking how Perot was treated by the media in contrast to less favored candidates like Ron Paul or Kucinich or Nader. The Reagan Revolution gutted large parts of the country, and after 12 years of that there was inevitably going to be a backlash. The question was what was the backlash going to be against? Banks, huge greedy corporations (like media giants), a bloated military and incompetent intel agencies, and the GOP? Or big government, an immoral and corrupt Congress, and the servile and phony Democrats who sell their vote to whoever is paying best?

Perot got a big sloppy kiss from the media when he started running, and I think it really shaped the direction of the campaign.

Posted by N E at December 30, 2009 11:22 PM

"I think that many middle class, fully vested, asset owners (70% of voters) have enthusiastically adopted the elite agenda."

--uh oh, we're headed for semantics, or philosophy generally. Can people "enthusiastically adopt" something that is simultaneously "shoved down their throats"?
Hmmm. I think they can.

Have you ever wondered if hookers can like sex? And if they do, is prostitution still exploitive? These sorts of questions hurt my head, but I don't mention them just for the hell of it. I never got very interested in "false consciousness," but some thorny problems arise when you give people the freedom to choose what they want to be and they then proceed to vote for Hitler or suck someone off for enough money to buy drugs or propose having separate airlines for Muslims because they are finally angry enough about everything to think that sounds good.

Obviously, as sentient beings we homo sapiens sapiens fall far short of our potential. But as things now stand we get lots of help. Advertising works. PR works. People can be conned, played, fooled, deceived, led astray, hoodwinked, you name it. This is AT LEAST AS TRUE of the rich as of others. So sure people adopt the elite agenda, and sure it's fun for those who have some luck or particular skill, but that's a small minority of people, and even many of them don't necessarily feel like they are reaching their potential, because they know that isn't just a tan or a good time.

With my characteristic brevity, I'm saying people are not the problem. Don't give up on home sapies sapiens across the board just because of its poor track record. I've been reading a book called 1491 about some of the Indian cultures before Colombus, and there are some reasons to believe that human nature has more potential than we realize.

Posted by N E at December 30, 2009 11:51 PM

But if the democrats lose a lot of seats in November it will be interpreted by the corporate mediabots as proof that the phoney-baloney healthcare reform legislation was a big liberal boondoggle. And if they don't it will be spun as proof that the phoney-baloney healthcare reform legislation was successfully repackaged as being far more fiscally sound than it was in its original form.

Or to put it another way, when the democrats stumble, the people on the teevee will say it's because they're too liberal, and when they are successful(i.e., successful in the polls and elections) it will be because they successfully persuaded voters into believing they're not so wacky and liberal after all. So they can't win for losing, or they can't lose for winning-- I forget which.

These seem to me like hermetic scripts, already written and essentially impervious to adjustments due to unforseen events, like story-boards for the play's action.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at January 3, 2010 01:50 AM

"These seem to me like hermetic scripts, already written and essentially impervious to adjustments due to unforseen events, like story-boards for the play's action."

--I think that's accurate. I sometimes get discouraged about this play, because the MICFiC (copyright mistah charley ph.d.)works so damn well. For me, there was some appeal to Naomi Klein's thesis in The Shock Doctrine that all disasters are exploited by elites to make everything worse, but lately I've been drawing some hope from Rebecca Solnit's remarkable book A Paradise Built in Hell. I may write Solnit a "thank you" note for that book, because hope needs all the sustenance it can get, and she has been feeding it while I have been wasting time brooding.

The systems of control that seem to keep us running on a wheel like hamsters while the world goes steadily to hell to are are not infallible. They have evolved over time, until at present they operate all too well, but that has been true of other systems of control across the ages, and this too will pass. Solnit's gift to her readers is renewed hope, and not the phony type sold to the desperate and feeble-minded. She makes a very compelling argument that we have more human potential than we have come to believe, and that disasters don't destroy us. I only wish that we could come together without them.

Posted by N E at January 3, 2010 11:10 AM