Monday, January 30, 2006

Melancholy Monday: Stand Up and Be Counted

Tomorrow we find out if Alito is confirmed to the Supreme Court and replaces Justice O'Connor. In the meantime, the MSM is fortelling the futility of Sen. Kerry's attempt to filibuster. This is enough to make any feminista pretty melancholy.

David Kirkpatrick's piece in the NYTimes today doesn't exactly cheer me up.

Judge Alito's confirmation is also the culmination of a disciplined campaign begun by the Reagan administration to seed the lower federal judiciary with like-minded jurists who could reorient the federal courts toward a view of the Constitution much closer to its 18th-century authors' intent, including a much less expansive view of its application to individual rights and federal power. It was a philosophy promulgated by Edwin Meese III, attorney general in the Reagan administration, that became the gospel of the Federalist Society and the nascent conservative legal movement.

What this should read is a "less expansive view of its application to individual rights and a more expansive view of executive power." The Dems who do not join Kerry in the filibuster have just enabled the complete takeover of the government by this conservative movement.

There is no time to be nice now. Most Dems have failed to stand up to principle and tried to look conciliatory and reasonable to get elected. A lot my conservative/Republican friends tell me that it is "smart" for Dems (like Casey Jr. here) to champion some conservative principles to get elected these days. Nonsense.

The flawed presumption here is that the mainstream leans more right than left. What is really true is that the mainstream is too crunched for time to explore how effectively the conservatives have manipulated and used the MSM to continually frame issues and beat up on liberals. I share the sentiment of my fellow progressive bloggers who expose that the media does not have a liberal bias, it is objectively pro-GOP.

Consider Peter Daou's analysis of how the MSM manipulates the center:

A single storyline is more effective than a thousand stories. And a single storyline delivered by a “neutral” reporter is a hundred times more dangerous than a storyline delivered by an avowed partisan. Rightwingers can attack the media for criticizing Bush, can slam the New York Times for being liberal, but when the Times and the Post and CNN and MSNBC echo the ‘Bush stands firm’ mantra, it adds one more brick to a powerful pro-Bush edifice.

These narratives are woven so deeply into the fabric of news coverage that they have become second nature and have permeated the public psyche and are regurgitated in polls. (The polls are then used to strengthen the narratives.) They are delivered as affirmative statements, interrogatives, hypotheticals; they are discussed as fact and accepted as conventional wisdom; they are twisted, turned, shaped, reshaped, and fed to the American public in millions of little soundbites, captions, articles, editorials, news stories, and opinion pieces. They are inserted into the national dialogue as contagious memes that imprint the idea of Bush=strong/Dems=weak. And they are false.

What’s so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines - and are taking concrete action (here, here, and here) to remedy the problem - is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their "muddled" message, how to deal with Bush’s "strength" on national security, how to talk about "values." It’s become a self-fulfilling cycle, with Democrats reinforcing anti-Dem myths because they can’t imagine any other explanation for the apparent lack of resonance of their message. Out of desperation, they resort to hackneyed, focus-grouped slogans in a vain attempt to break through the filter.

It’s simple: if your core values and beliefs and positions, no matter how reasonable, how mainstream, how correct, how ethical, are filtered to the public through the lens of a media that has inoculated the public against your message, and if the media is the public’s primary source of information, then NOTHING you say is going to break through and change that dynamic. Which explains, in large measure, the Dems’ sorry electoral failures.

So, this is a melancholic plea to all Democratic, Moderate or Liberal Senators out there: Filibuster. Stop worrying about how this will make you look later. Start doing something NOW to halt this insanity. ACT. Stop looking at polls. Stop considering how this will affect your seat. At some point we need to stop doing damage control and actually stand up for what we believe in.