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Rummaging through the archives / Awards Sunday

Newspaper archive

I finally got around to reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s essay about the upcoming war against Iran. I had pretty much the same reaction many people who remember the run up the Iraq war had: “Oh no! One of those who helped pushed the Iraq war with bogus arguments is back with another war. Why should we listen to ANY of those who got it so wrong last time?”

I went beyond the Iraq war and started wondering how badly people have to be wrong about a major event or a major topic before we stop caring about any opinion they utter. Why do we stop taking someone who has produced a giant stinking pile of dung seriously?

The last major even we had in this country was the 2008 political season. I went through my archives and reviewed some stuff some bloggers and pundits have written. It was all so good I decided to award some prizes. See if you agree with me or if you some suggestions.

Best “why-would-anybody-still-care-about-anything-this-pundit-has-to-say-about-anything” column

Who can forget the hagiography written by Andrew Sullivan about how Obama and Obama alone, MUST be President NOW? It was probably THE momentous piece of dreck essay of the political season of 2008.

Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters

In politics, timing matters. And the most persuasive case for Obama has less to do with him than with the moment he is meeting. The moment has been a long time coming, and it is the result of a confluence of events, from one traumatizing war in Southeast Asia to another in the most fractious country in the Middle East. The legacy is a cultural climate that stultifies our politics and corrupts our discourse.

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Wow! Isn’t Andrew Sullivan a sage?

Most prescient post written in the election season of 2008

This column was written on 12/07/06. This blogger’s premonition was stunning. Is this really who we are?

The Serial Killing of Hillary Rodham Clinton: How and Why She Is Doomed in 2008

Hillary will go down in the primary cycle, at the hands of activist Democrats themselves, her people, her base. This the press will read as deep and thrilling Greek tragedy. (You can already see this in the breathless press accounts of the way in which Obama might steal Hillary’s African-American constituency out from under her.)

Do I believe this? Yes. Am I happy about it? No. Because the serial hunting of Hillary is an expression of the worst American impulses, our obsession with personalities and the childish cruelty built into our current journalistic institutions.


In short, if Hillary flies, we will torture her and pull off her wings. It’s who we still are.

Keep in mind this was written before either Hillary or Obama officially declared their intention to run for POTUS.

Most insightful post of the political season of 2008

On the eve of Ted Kennedy’s official endorsement of Barack Obama, faux-Conservative Jon Swift wrote a thought-provoking, very insightful and witty column about the real reason for the column. (On a sad note, Jon Swift aka Al Weisel passed on early this year, way too soon. May he RIP.)

Why the Kennedys Are Endorsing Obama

Like Kennedy, Obama is young, handsome and inspiring and he represents the passing of the torch to a new generation. But it is not just that Obama reminds them of Kennedy, it is also that the Clintons remind them of Lyndon Johnson. And if there is anything that the Kennedys don’t like, it’s a bunch of hillbillies in the White House, which is being kept in trust until a competent Kennedy can be groomed to take it back for its rightful owners. Until that time Obama will do.


No one loved the Kennedys and hated Johnson more than liberals and the liberal media and they feel the same way about the Clintons. “Is the right right on the Clintons?” liberal pundit Jonathan Chait asks in an article in the Los Angeles Times. For years conservatives have been saying that the Clintons give politics a bad name. We look back with nostalgia to a time when gentlemanly Democrats like Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey lost elections with grace and dignity. They didn’t go around smearing their opponents and cynically triangulating the way the Clintons do. Now many liberals and members of the liberal media are coming around to thinking we’ve been right all along.

Jon Swift´s sharp witticism will never be matched.

Best damned column of the political season of 2008

This most coveted prize goes to my peeps at BAR. This is one of my favorite columns of all time. You can pick any paragraph and highlight it, which makes it so hard to excerpt. It exposes so much delusion. Just go read it for yourself.

So Long Suckers

The Obama campaign slogan ought to be “Never give a sucker an even break.” It isn’t clear which sight is more painful to watch, the progressives who fell for the hype and are now heart broken or the cynics who knew the game all along and now applaud the campaign’s increasingly rightward shift.


The endless claims of change were phony and almost everyone knew it. It was never a matter of sounding the alarm to unsuspecting Obamaites, it was a matter of exposing political hucksters who found a new source of unsuspecting marks.

If there were any true political organizing in American politics, the Obama sham would be seen for what it is. Instead corrupt Democratic leaders sell snake oil, and the rank and file go along in confusion or succumb to paralysis out of fear of electing John McCain. Because progressives never fought the good fight amongst themselves, they still don’t know what their agenda ought to be, or worse yet, they don’t even know they should have one. Falling for high flown rhetoric became a substitute for hard headed political decision making.

Damn this column is good. It was written on 07/01/08, right after Obama secured the nomination and it gets better each time I read it.

Best column to keep just for the sake of making fun of its author

This one was probably my easiest pick: The famous “Out with party silos, in with squishy goo-goos” column from Chris Bower about how Obama was remaking the Democratic Party. All of TC front-pagers and regular commenter know this column. I challenge anyone out there to come up with something this guffaw inducing.

Changing Of the Guard

Cultural Shift: Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types. Obama has all the markers of a creative class background, from his community organizing, to his Unitarianism, to being an academic, to living in Hyde Park to shopping at Whole Foods and drinking PBR. These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now, and it will be a big cultural shift from the white working class focus of earlier decades. Given the demographics of the blogosphere, in all likelihood, this is a socioeconomic and cultural demographic into which you fit. Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.


Vilest op-ed of the political season of 2008

Originally, I designated this op-ed as “assholish”, but then I thought I was taking it too lightly. The column was just vile. A random comment displayed on the side box gives you an idea:

“Last week Hillary Clinton was a monster. Now she’s the Ku Klux Klan? … This is the real fear mongering.”Julia Stewart, St. Louis, MO

The Red Phone in Black and White

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

How can anyone of Orlando Patterson’s students take him seriously after that?

As a bonus, I’m getting out of the political season of 2008 to hand another prize: I don’t know if this should some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best “Why-isn’t-the-author-of-this-insanity-in-an-insane-asylum” column

It was clear to me something written by Peggy Noonan would be a strong contender in such category. In fact I think Peggy has often proven that she’s certifiably insane, yet people still take her seriously. The column she wrote after the FBI removed Elian Gonzalez from him Miami relatives and hand him to his biological father is hard to beat in it’s level of craziness. In it, she actually believed the story about dolphins forming an army and going to war against white sharks and delivering young Elian to fishermen. Or something like that.

Why Did They Do It?

From the beginning it was a story marked by the miraculous. It was a miracle a six-year-old boy survived the storm at sea and floated safely in an inner tube for two days and nights toward shore; a miracle that when he tired and began to slip, the dolphins who surrounded him like a contingent of angels pushed him upward; a miracle that a fisherman saw him bobbing in the shark-infested waters and scooped him aboard on the morning of Nov. 25, 1999, the day celebrated in America,the country his mother died bringing him to, as Thanksgiving.

Here’s Ms Noonan in the same column speculating why Clinton had the gall the let the feds act:

Was Mr. Clinton being blackmailed? The Starr report tells us of what the president said to Monica Lewinsky about their telephone sex: that there was reason to believe that they were monitored by a foreign intelligence service. Naturally the service would have taped the calls, to use in the blackmail of the president. Maybe it was Mr. Castro’s intelligence service,or that of a Castro friend.

This is not really surprising from the woman who thought James Caviezel was actually Jesus and who ran around during the political season of 2008 accusing Hillary Clinton of being the owner of Hillary is 44.

What is in your archive? Who is your award recipient? Feel free to come up with your own prize. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the 2008 election cycle or even politics.