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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Terry Michael

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Terry Michael





Last Build Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 08:30:51 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007
 



John Edwards: Trial Lawyer to the Underclass

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 08:30:51 -0600

Apparently, a low budget satirical tabloid knows a political huckster when it sees one, while a couple of mainstream media sources are seduced by blond ambition.

"He strides into an Iowa primary school where more than a hundred people have skipped their lunch to hear him," The Economist begins its Edwards swoon in its July 19 edition, predicting that "the Democrats' presidential platform will be shaped by Mr. Edwards's plans."

That wisdom was followed the next day by Dionne's tribute: "John Edwards may be running third...but he has already changed the national conversation on a crucial issue." Observing that in 2007 "the poor are less politically invisible," Dionne concludes that the Edwards agenda "gives a new war on poverty at least a fighting chance. Edwards deserves some credit for that."

The uber-ambitious Edwards may deserve some credit, but it's for his chutzpah in positioning himself as trial lawyer to the underclass -- the seedy second act of his 2004 incarnation as attorney for the victims of middle class angst.

If you need convincing about his political conversion to anti-poverty warrior, recall what The New York Times reported June 22, when they revealed, from tax filings, that Edwards established "a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty." But his Center for Promise and Opportunity raised $1.3 million in 2005 and "the main beneficiary...was Mr. Edwards himself," to fund early campaign travel.

If the political journalism respect being shown to this latter-day P.T. Barnum weren't so laughable, it would be serious.

If Democrats are loony enough to buy the reactionary left-liberal, complete-the-New-Deal, wealth re-distributionist economics that Edwards is hustling, we (I'm a libertarian Democrat) risk blowing a nearly sure thing in 2008.

The middle class in this country is not falling behind. It is suffering from the psychological turmoil of "The Age of Abundance," as Brink Lindsey describes it so well in his recent book. America's working class is working.

And the impoverishment of our underclass is not the result of a failure of federal government largesse. Nor is it the legacy of rampant white racism. It's what the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was so maligned for writing truthfully in the late '60s: a break-down of the family and the loss of nurturing values inherent in having two married parents. Or, to update Moynihan, two gay parents, or one loving single parent, skillfully caring for the children he, she and/or they produced or adopted.

The only serious Democratic candidate who seems to get this is Barack Obama. Instead of pandering to those Democrats whose minds were left somewhere in the Age of Aquarius, the Illinois senator, as Dionne wisely noted in the piece I faulted above, "stresses personal and parental responsibility."

If we Democrats are serious about ending the government dependent underclass poverty we helped create with our misguided War on Poverty forty years ago, let's hope what Obama stresses gets stressed in our 2008 platform.

If, however, we get sidetracked by the feel-good populism Edwards is peddling, we not only risk losing an election. We'll once again fail those children trapped in underclass hell.




Six Degrees of Liberal Racism

Sun, 04 Mar 2007 00:01:34 -0600

Two words explain why the media find this nonsense so fascinating: liberal racism. Read Jim Sleeper's excellent 1997 book with that name, subtitled: "How fixating on race subverts the American dream."

"Racialism" is a softer descriptive version of the race consciousness demanded by the MainStream Media, and by the folks who mis-educate our children at major universities--the two institutions where you will most often encounter the unholy trinity of Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Affirmative Action.

You can also witness this religious belief system on the not-so-mainstream media, Monday through Thursday nights, on Comedy Central. I have to confess to being addicted to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but I want to gag when John Stewart and Stephen Colbert show how enlightened they are on the subject of race.

In a fawning interview with Sharpton, neither funny nor intelligent, Stewart did his bit for spreading the received wisdom of leftie racialism by letting an outrageous demagogue have his fix of TV-time crack.

And almost every night, Colbert lets us know with smug ironic "humor" that he doesn't "see race."

It's sad, because both of these guys are smart. Unfortunately, their intellects are informed by liberal attitudes appropriate to the 1950's, before America enjoyed a seismic shift away from actual racism.

But if you listen to the trainers, minority contractors and civil rights "leaders" representing the Diversity Industrial Complex, who make their livings by perpetuating a myth that we're all a bunch of bigots, you would have to conclude America hasn't moved past the era of Theodore Bilbo and the White Citizens Council.

Left liberal hallucinations about rampant racism are fed not just by indoctrination of the young on college campuses but by almost daily news "reporting" that demands we see everything from individual medical conditions to public school test scores and access to the internet through the prism of race and ethnicity. All of these disparities can be traced to economic and educational achievement differences among individuals, arbitrarily grouped into demographic cohorts by those who demand we imagine racism as a master narrative explanation.

Media and academic insistence on tribal identity consciousness begets foolish public policy initiatives, like the Virginia legislature's recent "apology" for the Commonwealth's history of slavery. Weren't the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 rather more substantive apologies?

The cup may be half full in the fight against liberal racism. Many of us who were sold on identity politics in our youth have been de-programmed with intelligent work by courageous black writers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, who have braved Amish-style shunning to tell the truth about race.

As I often challenge my political journalism students, if you want to end race consciousness in America, stop enforcing race consciousness!




Dog Ate Gov. Vilsack's Homework

Sat, 24 Feb 2007 00:34:08 -0600

Vilsack's "I'm outa' here" was immediately followed by the requisite nonsense "reporting" on the terrible burden of raising money in presidential politics, and the collapse of public financing. Without a pause, the public radio reporter breathlessly delivered up a quote from Fred Wertheimer about the corrupting influence of evil campaign cash.

Listen up, those of you who report, write, broadcast, cable-babble and blog politics for a living or avocation: Money follows message in politics! Not the other way around.

It boggles my mind that those in the First Amendment business will let themselves be used by the Washington ethics industry to further an assault on free, and sometimes expensive, political speech.

How convenient the self-styled Public Interest Groups make it for candidates without an appealing message or a pleasing personality to excuse their failure to connect with voters in the free market of ideas and first impressions.

Patriotism is often the last refuge of scoundrels. And "I can't compete with opponents who prostitute themselves to the money changers" seems to be the first excuse of presidential non-contenders who fooled themselves into believing they were Leader of the Free World material.

Just ask Hillary "No-Last-Name" Clinton if money can buy you love, or whether loving sleep-overs at David Geffen's can buy his money.

Maybe if you're rich and running for office in some little state with a sleepy press corps you can bankroll your way into the governor's mansion or the United States Senate. But when you're playing on the stage of presidential politics you have to have something to say that people want to hear.

You are deluding yourself if you insist that dollars are the most important asset, or even of secondary importance, for making a race for The White House.

Just ask President John Connolly, or President Phil Gramm, or President Ross Perot. Or try to convince yourself that Barack Obama is only viable because Hollywood zillionaires have turned on Bill and Hill.




Identity Politics as Therapy

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 07:43:56 -0600

Dean has apparently dissed some members of our gay faculty senate with his reorganization of the DNC’s political outreach operation, to focus less on identity groups and more on actual individual voters and state political party organizations.

I know a little about such efforts, because I was press secretary at the DNC in the mid-1980s when we did something similar.

Without going into the minutia, here’s what happened 20 years ago. Then-Chair Paul Kirk re-tooled the committee’s political operation following a disastrous presidential loss in 1984, when Republicans successfully caricatured Democrats as a whole less than the sum of our parts.

Kirk decided to "de-institutionalize" (trust me, you don’t want to be bored by the details) the black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific, feminist, gay and several other identity group caucuses that had been formed inside the roughly 450-member national committee. He took away some trivial perks they were receiving at the twice-yearly committee meetings, to send a symbolic message.

While respecting the contributions of its organized interests, he decided the institutional party would re-focus its political efforts to re-connect with the broad center of the electorate.

The moderate middle in American politics, he contended, was coming to the conclusion that Democrats were more interested in a short list of favored tribes than the broad mass of individual voters who traditionally had been attracted to the party around an array of economic and foreign policy concerns, as well as civil rights, that encompassed all Americans, white and black, gay and straight, male and female.

Those in the party enthralled with identity politics reacted with the vengeance of aggrieved faculty senators, and chose to see an intelligent broad-based outreach as an insult to the party’s Washington-based minority advocates.

Political parties need to stand for big, important principles. They also need to win elections, by addressing voters about concerns that unite us, rather than those that split us apart, specific to our narrower, though certainly legitimate, tribal identities.

With a foolish focus on internal party affairs, left-libs in LGBT (gag me with a verbal spoon) politics seem to prize feeling good about how many staff members they get at the DNC more than winning elections that decide who gets to name Supreme Court justices and wage disastrous elective wars.

I suggest they get out of politics, and find a therapist.