So I’m about halfway done with reading Matt Bai’s The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. It’s actually quite good and insightful; for a sympathetic portrayal, it’s pretty ruthless. It shreds Democratic incompetence, points out how self-absorbed rich Democratic donors are and makes netroots bloggers look shortsighted and intellectually incurious. (It’s also a great companion to Byron’s The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats’ Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power, which if you’re interested in the topic you should probably read first.)
Regardless, I fail to grasp why it is so hard for people on the Left and their media enablers to understand the institutions of the Right and the basic post-Goldwater agenda — it’s been out in the open for decades. Here Bai describes the goals of the Conservative movement after Goldwater’s ignominious defeat:
Disciples of the conservative icon Barry Goldwater, systematically financed a concerted movement to change virtually every aspect of American life. Their investments yielded an agenda for economic, social and geopolitical change — lower taxes, deregulation, welfare reform, school vouchers, preemptive military action…
Huh?! Wait, last I checked, preemptive military action is still an incredibly divisive issue even on the Right. It was NEVER a core Goldwater/Reaganite tenet and has never been persuasively argued beyond the current situation in Iraq. (Unless you consider Vietnam and Korea “preemptive” in which case it’s Democrats that have some ‘splainin to do.) I’m sure somebody will send me an email with a few minor cherrypicked examples attempting to prove this thesis, but COME ON. The implication that encouraging preemptive military action was on the Right’s agenda starting decades ago is just ludicrous.
Also, here’s how Bai — a New York Times political reporter mind you — describes the 2004 Presidential Debates:
They had rejoiced when Kerry stomped Bush in three of the most watched and lopsided debates since the advent of television.
I mean Bush is no brilliant debater, but would you like some fries with that delusion, Mr. Bai?