I’ve put myself on sabbatical this week – I think. It’s hard to tell from time to time if you’re so drained that nothing of interest will excite you enough to not only write about but do a great job writing about it. Who knows though. The muses strike when they will and we are then inclined to put pen to paper; an expression by the way that no longer is part of the writer’s lexicon.
Thus I have decided to fill space for now by reblogging a piece from someone whose writing always gets my attention, Charles P Pierce with Esquire Magazine. He cuts through the BS and lays out an issue as unapologetically as the crusty old Bartholomew Quint would gut a shark. In this piece Pierce expresses a shared contempt for the neo-liberal elements among us that have just as likely done as much damage to the American middle-class as any Goldwater-conservative could have done.
A Bad Week For The American Center
By Charles P. Pierce on February 13, 2014
It has not been a good couple of days for corporate-backed kabuki centrism in our politics. First, there is the sad story of The Can Kicks Back, aka Pete Peterson Youth, which was supposed to focus the attention of young people on how their pockets were being picked by greedy oldsters, and how they could take that FICA money that was coming out their paychecks and invest them in Shitbag Mortgages, LLC, where there (sic) money would be managed by Peterson’s pals until they stole most of it and lost the rest. But, I’m paraphrasing. Anyway, The Can Kicks Back is, well, broke.
The group left a history of documents, including financial statements and internal deliberations over policy decisions, online in a Google Group that was open to public view but was recently closed. Those documents provide a peek into the day-to-day planning and operation of a modern public affairs campaign, one that publicly presented itself as driven by grass-roots energy but largely relied on big donors and wealthy Wall Street types for funding.
As soon as I’m done laughing at the glorious irony of it, I’ll get around to laughing at the fact that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson — figures of fun for anyone with a brain — also went down with this scheme. But the grandaddy of all progressive “centrists” is Al From, the founder of the Democratic Leadership Conference, who now has written a book about how he saved the Democratic party — nay, saved the nation — from obsolescence, a manufacturing base, and Jesse Jackson. But, again, I’m paraphrasing, But Rick Perlstein isn’t. One of the worst political events I ever attended was the 1982 Democratic “midterm convention” in Philadelphia, at which the party elders were still cowering from the beating they’d taken in 1980, and you could see it all coming, the rise of the corporate Democrats — the chairman was a banker pal of Jimmy Carter’s named Charles Manatt, who went on to mastermind the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale — and the neocon Democrats, and the National Security Democrats and, basically, the Democrats who were white and well-off.
This was the seedbed for Al From and, yes, for Bill Clinton, and for the welfare reform and NAFTA and the complicity in the economic policies that eventually wrecked the economy in 2008. Now, though, there is a serious strain of economic populism pushing back against the legacy of Charlie Manatt and Al From that is being led by Jesse Jackson. If it weren’t for the rockfight that’s erupted within the Republican party, and if it weren’t for the unfathomable fascination on the part of the courtier press with Hillary Clinton’s every thought, you’d be hearing more and more about it. But the pure hilarity of it all is that what economic populism within the Democratic party is aiming at is giving us a center that is actually in the center. Before the Republicans guzzled the supply-side Flavor-Aid, and the Democrats cozied up to the people who also financed the Republicans, the center meant good jobs and good wages and an economic system that didn’t smack of a carnival midway.
This is why Senator Professor Warren sounds as appealing as she does. She is the first person to set up shop in the new center.
Charles P. Pierce
has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America
. He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.