Why do the Breitbarters have so much influence?
The Breitbart cult is a paper tiger, yet it terrifies everyone in Washington. The latest instance involves Politico reporter Joe Williams
, who made an innocuous statement about Mitt Romney during an interview on MSNBC. The Breitbarters treated this remark as this week's Worst Thing Ever, raising such a stink that Williams finally saw fit to tender his resignation.
Little Green Footballs
(of all places) offers a very good overview of this incident. Here are the exact words Williams uttered:
Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in some town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that. But when he comes on “Fox & Friends,” they are like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company, so it really is a very stark contrast, I think, and a problem that he has not been able to solve to date, and he’s going to have to network harder if he’s going to try to compete.
That statement is about as controversial as saying that water is wet, yet the resultant display of astroturfed pseudo-rage forced Williams to resign.
It gets worse:
As we noted at the time, the Breitbart operative who authored the hit piece on Williams, John Nolte, is himself a raving lunatic who often calls for his political enemies to be “murdered.” For example:
Teachers who take kids to protests without parents’ permission should be murdered.
— John Nolte(@NolteNC) November 5, 2011
I am royally sick of living in a political culture where people like Williams must think twice and thrice before allowing a single syllable to exit their lips while jackass Breitbarters get to rampage and howl like Forbidden Planet
's Monster From the Id. The double standard could not be more obvious. Infuriatingly, conservatives are so thoroughly enmeshed in their delusions of persecution that they cannot bring themselves to admit that this double standard exists.
Want a laugh?
The Romney campaign says that Drudge and Breitbart are the leading representatives of the "center right" media. Center...?
Nolte's successful crusade against Williams evinced this response from a Romney spokesperson:
“The governor will no longer allow the mainstream media to dictate the terms of this debate. This is just the beginning... We are witnessing the rise of the center right media.”
In other words, Romney is allying himself with propagandists who call for the murder of people they don't like. Eliminationist rabble-rousers are the new "centrists."
Speaking of "the center":
Paul Krugman recently wrote a very good piece on what he calls the "centrist dodge."
By now, the centrist dodge ought to be familiar. A Very Serious, chin-stroking pundit argues that what we really need is a political leader willing to concede that while the economy needs short-run stimulus, we also need to address long-term deficits, and that addressing those long-term deficits will require both spending cuts and revenue increases. And then the pundit asserts that both parties are to blame for the absence of such leaders. What he absolutely won’t do is endanger his centrist credentials by admitting that the position he’s just outlined is exactly, exactly, the position of Barack Obama.
Krugman is wrong in one respect: He uses the present tense to refer to past events. Obama championed a short-run stimulus years ago
. He hasn't talked about that tactic in recent times -- and I doubt that he ever will go that route again, even if he wins re-election.
Personally, I don't feel comfortable calling Obama a centrist. By any reasonable historical standards, he is locatable somewhere on the right, though not on the extreme
right. Look at the evidence: Gitmo, Afghanistan, the drones, the refusal to prosecute Wall Street criminals, the tax cuts, the free trade deals, shrinking government...
Yet the political 50 yard line has shifted so drastically in recent decades that many consider Obama a socialist
(!!), while the Romney campaign classifies the caterwauling of the Breitbarters as centrism