Joan Robinson was a famous Keynesian economist and also a not so famous Maoist. Nonetheless she had one shrewd observation about politics. People, she said, can no more see their own ideology than they can smell their own breath. The Internet magazine Salon, a large leftwing website for which I was a much unloved columnist fifteen years ago, provides an interesting case in point.
Joan Walsh was my editor at Salon, and soon became its editor-in-chief. Now she is described as “Editor-at-Large” but is more like its Matriarch-in-Residence. A recent election piece she wrote is titled, “America’s Nightmare Political Reality: Two Electorates Separate and Unequal.” In this, as in other similar articles, she displays the tawdry reality of her magazine’s current journalism. A teaser for the article explains the title: “Why conservatives prefer propaganda to reality.”
According to Walsh, Republicans have run their mid-term election campaigns against President Obama not because his feckless national security policies have left a power vacuum that terrorists have filled, not because his anti-military mania has helped to create 18 million refugees in the Middle East, not because he has run up a debt greater than that of all previous presidents combined, not because he has proudly violated the Constitution stripping congress of its authority and power, not because he has inflicted economic suffering on America’s minorities and poor, not because he has unleashed efforts by his administration to use the taxing power of government to crush his political opposition. Oh no. The Republican campaigns against Obama’s destructive agendas and incompetent performances are driven by hate, and racial hate at that.
According to Walsh, “The Republican Party is relying on Obama-hate to turn out its 96-percent-white, middle-class-to-wealthy base, while the Democrats, still trying to be a multi-racial party in a multi-racial country, are trying to court voters of every race and class.” Walsh is amazed at the extent to which the mainstream media clings to a reality that refutes this self-serving false narrative, which ignores how Democrat policies have hurt all economic classes but the wealthy, and in which the Republican Party is not 96 percent white and has a large working class and significant minority base. Here are Walsh’s own words: “It’s amazing the extent to which the mainstream media accepts that the GOP’s personalized, deeply disparaging campaign against Obama is just politics as usual.”
Because, according to Walsh, Democrats and the media never treated George Bush this way. “While it’s true that dissatisfaction with President Bush helped Democrats ride back to controlling Congress in 2006, I’m hard-pressed to remember examples of Democrats campaigning against Bush so personally and gleefully.” Say what?!!! Has Walsh forgotten how Ted Kennedy described Bush’s invasion of Iraq – which was supported by the Democratic majority in the Senate before Democrats turned their backs on the war they had supported three months into the fighting – as a “fraud” concocted in Texas to serve Bush’s oil buddies. Has she forgotten how the Democratic National Committee launched a national television campaign to accuse Bush of lying to get authorization for the war, which became a vicious slogan “Bush lied, people died”? This was matched by another slogan based on the canard spread by Kennedy and Democratic leaders that it was all about Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton: “No blood for oil.” Actually America got no oil, but Bush got no apologies for these and other monstrous Democratic lies.
But how do Walsh and her crew observe her strictures about civility and honesty? Here are some headlines from her non-hatemongering magazine: “Iowa’s Tea Party disaster: Joni Ernst’s shocking ideas about the welfare state. How the wingnut potentially on the verge of joining the Senate uses shoddy history to justify her radical beliefs.” (Her shocking idea: “We have fostered…a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything.”)
And this: “The Republican Party’s electoral philosophy: Cheating wins”
And this: “Yeah, the GOP is evil and will win — but the midterms are meaningless”
In 2001, I conducted a one-man campaign against reparations for slavery, proposed 137 years after the fact to be paid by people who were never slave owners to people who were never slaves. My efforts created a firestorm, and my editor Joan Walsh defended me against loony leftists who could not handle the truth in an article titled, “Who’s Afraid of David Horowitz?” But that was then. Now she and the staff of Salon have joined them.
David Horowitz is the author of the recently published, Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan For Defeating the Left (Regnery, 2014)