Friday, April 01, 2005

Err America

I'm still trying to figure this one out. Let's see -- I'm liberal (socially, anyway), and I enjoy documentaries a lot more than most people. And I was looking forward to Left Of The Dial, HBO's doc on the Air America network, the crunchy left's putative answer to Rush and Sean and the rest of the Horst Wessel gang.

So why was I alternating between fidget and doze within the first thirty minutes? Good question, and part of it lies in the DNA of this very blog. One over-arching message that I want to permeate each and every post in here is the theme of what I refer to as "muscular liberalism". As Left points out several times, the majority of Americans, when polled with specific policy questions, generally skew center-left, or socially liberal/fiscally conservative. Of course there are wild cards played as wedge issues -- abortion, gay rights, capital punishment, etc.

But Left forgets some very important things which are conspicuous by their very absence. One is that when you make a "warts-and-all" type of documentary, it is helpful to show at least as much "all" as "warts". This movie is a piss-poor attempt to show any sort of cohesive message, aside from the obvious "Bush sucks".

Which leads to the other monumental problem. Republicans have maintained political dominance in this polled minority of theirs with leverage. In classic Archimedean fashion, they have chosen their fulcrum quite well, and used it to full advantage. They have leveraged from more overtly American ideals of masculinity and self-reliance, even in the face of evidence to the contrary on their own (ahem) back porch. And Democrats have been all too eager to play into this meme of bloodless, amoral, effete inefficiency -- sometimes in the mistaken spirit of compromise, sometimes in actual practice of those sordid accusations.

Last year's campaign held a prime example. Only the Republicans would have been so brazen to not only put up two draft dodgers against a multiply-awarded combat veteran, but then to attack and impugn the record of said veteran. Only the Republicans would be so cynical as to cut veterans' benefits in the middle of a war, all the while rallying around the flag.

And only the Democrats would be so craven and gutless as to actually let them get away with it. Every opportunity they are given to push back and hammer home their message, they quietly curtsy and initiate compromise.

This is the problem that Left Of The Dial inadvertently illuminates so well. The good stuff is provided by Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, who are indeed passionate, articulate, and committed to the battle at hand. Like any good warriors, they ask no quarter, nor do they give any. They intrinsically understand the very nature of the propaganda machine they are up against, and the dynamic is humanized with a brief segment with Garofalo's father, Carmine, a very nice Republican who seems happy with his chosen path away from empirical reality.

But then we are confronted with the repeated hissy fits of Marc Maron, who can be scathing when he's on his game, but here just confirms every nasty assumption Republicans ever had about self-absorbed urban douchebag Democrats. Injudicious editing scarcely allows Maron the opportunity to acquit himself, and thus leaves the viewer with the impression that he's just a prima donna.

Ditto Randi Rhodes, a braying, honking mess of a woman who apparently paid $17,000 to look like Barbra Streisand's uglier sister. Dear, for that kind of money, you could have had a cruise to the Bahamas, five years' membership at a state-of-the-art gym, and a few hundred cases of Ring Dings. You would have gotten the same effect either way, but my way would have been more fun.

Regardless, Rhodes is the lefties' answer to Michael Savage (a question scarcely worth asking), providing that cathartic primal scream without all the icky thinking and factual analysis. Again, a conservative watching this would just have all his suspicions affirmed in a nasal Bronx accent. Certainly the "fight fire with fire" approach is acknowledged and appreciated, but the key to elevating above mere head-butting is to provide at least some light to accompany all that heat. Any would be an advantage, and Rhodes seems incapable of even providing that much. Instead, it's merely the realm of radio high-colonic eternally squatted by Rush and his hetero life-mate Hannity-Boy.

The overview of the atrocious business planning of the venture, and the chicanery of chief investor Evan Cohen, is the backbone of this thing, and it's a scary sight. It's a bien pensant clusterfuck of an operation, with Cohen -- who seems like he'd be bankrolling porn movies out the back of a pet store in Reseda if this radio thing fell through -- killing the organization in its very infancy by bouncing checks in the major markets of LA and Chicago.

Long story a little bit longer, new investors have apparently injected new life into the project, which is an admirable effort to be sure. Conservative talk radio has been a pernicious influence in the "heartland", flying below the radar of the technophiles, yet serving as the aural bread and butter for a lot of working people, even in supposedly granola-crunchy California. So Air America can and should evolve into a much-needed balancing propaganda entity, but they need to get the $5.00 individual listeners to kick in and stick with them, just as much as they need the millionaire speculators.

And they need to remember, they need to tattoo it on their foreheads perhaps, that this is a war, that their opponents are serious, and committed, and completely without scruple, and that the left does themselves no small disservice when they just flail and whine. They need to dig through Ken Mehlman's garbage and send flyers to everyone on the gay-bashing evangelicals' mailing list. They need to mobilize their own faithful with every hortatory shock-story emanating out of the stultified cultural sphincter of Bobo's World.

They need to quit fucking around, and Left Of The Dial shows too much unfocused, poorly-planned, pissy-attitude fucking around. Call me when you're ready, guys. I will come in and take you to school on muscular liberalism. I will show you how to reach the people you think are out of reach. I will teach you how to kick ass, take names, and never look back. I will demonstrate that the politics of personal destruction is wrong only when used on human beings, and thus is okay to use on Tom DeLay.

I'll work (relatively) cheap, and I'll work damned hard. Let me know when you're ready to start winning again. This is no April Fool's joke; I'm dead serious. The day Democrats quit letting sanctimonious pussies like Joementum Lieberman lead them into Joeblivion with their "compromise with the Visigoths" bullshit, is when the sun will once again come out for them.


konopelli/WGG said...

Somehow the Democrats, as well as a substantial portion of the rest of the Left has forgotten the Neville Chamberlain Rule: You cannot negotiate with fascists. Not only will they never be satisfied until you are destroyed, they cannot be trusted...

ww ii proved one thing abundantly: the only good fascist is a dead fascist...

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Heywood J. said...

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