Monday, December 24, 2007

"Populism" is Back

I’ve written before about how the corporate media, with NPR in tow, denigrate whatever falls outside the bounds of acceptable, corporate-friendly politics by calling its proponents “populists,” in disregard of that term’s historical and philosophical meanings. This is a second-best strategy, pursued only when dissent cannot be ignored outright. In the current electoral cycle, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich seldom make it into the “populist” category because their campaigns are skimpy enough to be marginalized. But because his campaign is well financed, John Edwards cannot be so easily ignored – though the “journalists” at NPR do try their level best. However now that it has dawned on the guardians of conventional wisdom that Edwards just might pull off upsets in the Iowa caucuses and in the early primaries, the “populist” charge has flared up again -- this time, however, with a new twist.

The pundits were blindsided and embarrassed by Mike Huckabee’s rise from nowhere to the front ranks of GOP contenders. Being prideful and dull (think George Will), they either won’t admit or can’t grasp the fact that they were wrong in proclaiming, as they have countless times, that the GOP base has risen above the godliness that they used to tell us Karl Rove deftly exploited; that nowadays “security” matters more to “values voters” than gay marriage or abortion. So they can’t or won’t accept the obvious fact that it’s the stalwarts of Rove’s purportedly superannuated God Squad who are fueling the Huckabee campaign. In their minds, it has to be something else. Ever since Mitt Romney, running scared, started proclaiming that Huckabee is a closet Democrat, what that something else is became clear – it seems that Huckabee too is a populist. This “insight” came first to Walter Shapiro, writing in December 21. But then the Sunday morning talk shows were full of it, in all senses of that belabored expression. The Stephanopoulos crew got so into the idea that they even conjured up memories of George Wallace and, believe it or not, George McGovern. Why not! How convenient for Clintonite publicists (I mean “liberal” pundits) to lump the one “electable” candidate who isn’t entirely on the corporate globalization page together with an affable creationist preacher who only the most benighted God squadder could vote for. If they can make that nonsense stick, it might even help clear the bad consciences of self-declared “progressive” Clinton supporters, as their standard bearer struggles to become the empire’s next steward – or rather, as her defenders stress (when it suits their purpose), its first stewardess.

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