Repeating themselves time and again throughout 2016 and now 2017, are news media pundits longing for the olden days of “bi-partisanship”. This is happening as we have a mentally disturbed, intellectually unfit President in charge of our nation and a Republican controlled Congress lusting over how high a tax break they can provide for the oligarchs who own them. These two 30 second MSNBC Promos illustrate this ache of longing by two of their premier commentators for a halcyon time when there were “rules” to guide our politics and the debate wasn’t so contentious.
Here are some posts I wrote about the lack of insight of both Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews and the entire Cable/Broadcast News media: The Fake News Stories About “Fake News” Stories. It seems that throughout our News Media, both on television and in print, there is a belief that it is the contention of ideologies, from the Left and the Right of the political spectrum, that has made politics so ugly. There is of course one exception to my critique of this bi-partisan pretension and that is FOX News. With their dishonest self-portrayal as a factual source of the Nation’s News, FOX News is merely a propaganda vehicle for an evil Right Wing Billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, who made his money by degrading the term journalism throughout the Western World.
Besides FOX News though, the Broadcast media prides itself on its’ balanced journalistic reportage and commentary. Their emphasis is upon airing both sides of any political issue without nuance, so that issues often are seen through the lens of False Equivalency. Thus in the issue of whether Evolution should be taught in public school science classes, we will see a debate between a Professor of Biology and a Fundamentalist Preacher. By giving the Preacher equal time with the scientist the impression is left that his/her opinion should be given equal weight.
Back in 2010, Frank Rich, OpEd Columnist for the New York Times wrote:
Frank Rich was criticizing the foundation of the No Labels political organization, which brought together “centrist” Republicans and Democrats to find bi-partisan solutions to the Nation’s biggest problems. About the puerile banality of the No Labels message Rich wrote:
“Although No Labels sounds like a progressive high school’s Model U.N., its heavy hitters are serious adults — or at least white male adults. Among the 16 billed speakers at last week’s official launch in New York, there were three women and no blacks, notwithstanding an excruciating No Labels “anthem” contributed by the Senegalese-American rapper Akon. (Do find on YouTube.) The marquee names on hand included Michael Bloomberg; Senate Democrats (Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the incoming Joe Manchin of West Virginia); moderate Republicans drummed out of office by the Tea Party (Charlie Crist, Mike Castle); and no fewer than four MSNBC talking heads…………………………..
“Morning Joe” plugged No Labels with an alacrity to match Fox News’s Tea Party boosterism (if not Fox’s decibel level). The No Labels slogan — “Not Left. Not Right. Forward” — even echoes MSNBC’s advertising tagline, “Lean Forward.” Presumably No Labels ditched “lean” because it’s too muscular a verb for a group whose stated goals include better schools, affordable health care and more jobs — as long as they can be achieved “in a fiscally prudent way.” To proselytize for such unimpeachable verities, no leaning is required — you can do it frozen in place, and just possibly in your sleep………………………
The notion that civility and nominal bipartisanship would accomplish any of the heavy lifting required to rebuild America is childish magical thinking, and, worse, a mindless distraction from the real work before the nation. Sure, it would be swell if rhetorical peace broke out in Washington — or on cable news networks — but given that American politics have been rancorous since Boston’s original Tea Party, wishing will not make it so. Bipartisanship is equally extinct……………………………..
Beltway conventional wisdom is equally responsible for another myth promoted by No Labels: that the Move On left and the Tea Party right are equal contributors to America’s “hyperpartisanship.” In the real world, no one could seriously believe that activists on the left have the sway over Democratic leaders, starting with President Obama, that the Tea Party has over the G.O.P. Nor, with all due respect to MSNBC, does the left have a media megaphone to match the Tea Party’s alliance with the Murdoch empire, as led by Fox News, and the megastars of talk radio………………………
Yet what’s most disturbing about No Labels is that its centrist, no doubt well-intentioned leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us……………………”
No Labels, funded by a shadowy group of wealthy oligarchs, is still in business today and still decrying the partisanship prevalent in Washington, D.C. Actually, all one really needs to know about the sentiments of No Labels, is that its’ Co-Chair is former Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate, Joe Lieberman.
Joe Lieberman, whose wife is long time Insurance Industry lobbyist, left the Senate in 2010 when he realized how unpopular he was in his home State, Connecticut. “Following his retirement from the Senate, Lieberman became senior counsel of the white collar criminal defense and investigations practice at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, a law firm in New York City. In March 2013, it was announced that Lieberman would be joining the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank as co-chairman of their American Internationalism Project.”
No Labels and other “non-partisan” organizations of its’ ilk are really fronts for the American Corporate Oligarchy, pretending they promote the “public interest”. Granting their leaders may actually believe that the “public interest” is best fostered by “bi-partisanship”, their vision is grossly distorted. What distorts the “non-partisan” vision of people like Lieberman, is that they are dependent upon and believe in the corporate oligarchy that wields great power in this nation. Their supposedly “non-partisan” Centrism, conflates the interests of the Nation’s business leaders, with the interests of the public. Their “non-partisan” pretensions are revealed in their belief that “balancing the budget” is the most important goal. The idea of a “balanced budget” is the constant chimeric excuse of Corporatism to deny spending on social service programs. The tip-off is that a “balanced budget Hawk”, Lieberman for instance, is always willing to support military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy disguised as middle-class relief.
“Ben Adler, writing in the American Prospect in 2011, referred to No Labels as a “supposedly nonpartisan group that seems to exist to promote Alan Simpson‘s austerity agenda,” and criticized the group as “ideologues masquerading as nonpartisan truth tellers” for pushing cuts to Social Security. Katrina vanden Heuvel, writing in the Washington Post in 2012, wrote that No Labels and similar groups are borne of a “misbegotten elite consensus” and disregards “the simple reality that the Republican Party has been captured by an extreme-right wrecking crew, who have not the slightest interest in compromise.” A Boston Globe profile in 2013 stated: “No Labels has been unable to advance, in any meaningful way, a single item from its relatively modest list of goals. Critics dismiss it as window dressing, with some congressional staffers comparing it to a high school civics project and going as far as drafting memos to their bosses urging them not to join.”
Perhaps I am so distrustful of “bi-partisanship” and groups like No Labels, because being 72, I lived through the era of Cold War and Anti-communist “bi-partisanship”. What the term means to me is that there was unfettered support for a foreign policy that prized anti-communism above human rights. Under that “bi-partisan” rubric America was allowed to support “anti-Communists” despots brutal dictatorships in nations all over this world. Because of “bi-partisanship” our leaders and legislators were unable to advance causes of justice in the media and in Congress for fear of their being labelled “pink”.
- Because of “bi-partisanship” a demagogic Senator like Joe McCarthy was able to pursue a Witch-hunt and blacklist on those he deemd un-American.
- Because of “bi-partisanship” America became embroiled in the Vietnam War costing the lives of 50,000 of our military, with hundreds of thousands maimed and psychologically injured.
- Because of “bi-partisanship” hundreds of thousands of SouthEast Asian lives were lost or disrupted in our “bi-partisan” battles with Communism.
- Because of “bi-partisanship”, Richard Nixon was able to promote an insane and racist War On Drugs that worked to destroy both the the Civil Rights and Anti-War Movements.
- Because of “bi-partisanship”, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were able to push through a Social Security reform that was actually an immense increase in the taxing of the American Middle Class, while protecting the wealthy.
- Because of “bi-partisanship” Bill Clinton was able to work with Newt Gingrich to push through draconian “Welfare and Criminal Justice Reforms”
- Because of “bi-partisanship”, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were able to turn the 9/11 Tragedy into an excuse to invade a country not involved in the bombing on behest of oil companies, killing thousands of our troops and murdering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
I could go on and on citing instances where the pernicious call for “bi-partisanship” has actually always been a cover for indefensible action in favor of a reprehensible few.