Friday, February 25, 2005

Bob Somerby evaluates master narratives at The Daily Howler

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's dealing with a number of issues today. (And please note, it appears we'll have a Saturday Howler tomorrow.) Here he's evaluating Rachel Maddow's appearence on MSNBC (Maddow is a co-host of Unfiltered -- yes, I'm a big fan of Unfiltered and of Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow):

Just yesterday, we mentioned the need for the liberal web to develop controlling Master Narratives for liberals. Why do Dems, libs and centrists need Master Narratives?
. . .
The stage was set for a Big Liberal Triumph. Amazingly, Scarborough had assembled a panel which featured two liberals and only one conservative. And how absurd was the conduct at issue? USA Next's attacks on the AARP had been so absurd that even Scarborough rolled his eyes at the pseudo-con group as he introduced the discussion. ("They went so far as to say AARP supports gay marriage and is anti-soldier.") Here was the perfect chance for liberal spokesmen to state the obvious: Conservatives keep making a joke of your discourse. These groups keep trying to treat us like fools. The controlling point for the liberals was obvious: There they go again, dear viewers! But liberals have failed, in the past many years, to establish any Master Narratives. So note what happened when Scarborough began by throwing to Air America's Rachel Maddow:

MADDOW (2/24/05): USA Next has said they want to spend $10 million against AARP. Now, they don't want to spend $10 million promoting the president's plan on Social Security. They literally want to spend $10 million tearing down AARP. I do think it’s kind of funny that they decided to do it by saying that AARP loves gay marriage -- that was a real surprise to me. I think that was an unusual choice. But you know, with $10 million, you can probably make anything stick. I just want to know who funds these guys.

At the very best, that gets a C-minus. Given the chance to state a Large Theme -- conservatives constantly peddle this nonsense -- Maddow fell back on a weak, tired line: I want to know where their money comes from. But readers, who gives a sh*t where their money comes from? Unless you explain what's wrong with what they're saying and doing, it just doesn't matter who gives them their money! But Maddow made little attempt to say what was wrong with what USA Next said. (Her talking-point seemed to be: "USA Next has $10 million." Why should a voter care?) This had been the Perfect Chance to say that they're trying to treat you like fools, just the way the always do -- but Maddow settled for a weak alternative.

Somerby goes on to offer a stronger possible response and to discuss Paul Krugman's column in this morning's New York Times. (Among other topics.)