Journalism

Bruce Bartlett and the faux-serious political person kabuki boogaloo

Bartlett, long a fluffer for those who helped make America suck again, has now rebranded himself as a principled serious person who can be counted on to criticize both sides. You know, seriously. All he’s doing, though, is proving that us non-serious wackadoodles are right. Dear Bruce: please do fuck off.

Bob Burnett has posted a crisp analysis of what’s gone wrong with the two parties, and he focuses mainly on the Democrats’ struggle to deal with our little oligarchy problem. The thrust of his argument is that the Dems have lost their soul. Well, yes. And I do know a thing or two about that.

A little fluffy, maybe, but most of what he says is on the money. He concludes thusly:

At the moment, the most popular US politician is Bernie Sanders who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. He’s a Socialist who runs as an Independent.

A quick digression: this part is silliness. Bernie isn’t remotely Socialist. He’s your basic pre-Watergate Democrat. By today’s Dem standards I know he looks like a crazed Marx acolyte, but that tells you little about him and a lot about America’s devolution over the past couple of generations.

Now the money shot:

But it’s not his Party affiliation that generates Bernie support, it’s his authenticity. Bernie has gained respect by telling it like it is. He recognizes the system is broken and the oligarchs are winning. He’s willing to stand up and tell the unvarnished truth. Bernie has soul.

Not so long ago, Democrats distinguished themselves as “the Party with a soul.” That’s what they need to do now. Democrats need to follow Bernie Sanders.

Enter Bruce Bartlett. If you don’t know Bartlett, Wikipedia summarizes him like so:

Bruce Reeves Bartlett (born October 11, 1951) is an American historian whose area of expertise is supply-side economics. He served as a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H. W. Bush.

Bartlett has written several books and magazine articles critical of the administration of George W. Bush, whose economic policies he believes significantly departed from traditional conservative principles.

He’s been making a lot of hay lately by positioning himself as a rational, principled insider who has serious issues with the direction of the GOP (we’ve mentioned him before here at S&R). And there’s no doubt he occasionally has something insightful to offer. But the operative word here is “occasionally.” Sometimes he’s just another David Brooks-style wanker who’s figured out how to make concern trolling seem respectable.

Anyway, he shared the Burnett post on Facebook, leading with this shot:

I think it is ridiculously simplistic to say that Democrats just need to follow Bernie and everything will be okay.

To which I couldn’t help replying:

Nobody thinks that. What we think is that Bernie would be a huge upgrade over the current crop of faux-Dems. IE, he’d be a step in the right direction. But it’s not about Bernie. It’s about policies and values aimed at improving the lot of a vast majority of Americans. We all KNOW this. That you think we don’t suggests that you’re as out of touch as the rest of the political establishment.

In truth, Bartlett’s patronizing little Facebook moment is reflective of what so many of us have been putting up with for a while now. And it illustrates a profound fact about the problem the country faces. Donald Trump is a seeping canker sore on the dick of democracy, but he’s a symptom, not the disease. The real enemy is the established order of things. You know, all the “serious” folks, Repubs and Dems alike, whom you can’t tell apart without a program. The DNC and the RNC have differences, but not as many as “journalism” agencies like CNN, the NY Times, WaPo and the rest would have you believe. At the core both sides are deeply committed to the preservation of the status quo (as are CNN, the NY Times, WaPo and the rest), which has been very, very good to all parties concerned.

This is the dynamic that gave us Trump, because the unresponsiveness of the establishment, which is supposed to be looking out for the people of the US, fostered the resentment upon which he fed. Trump doesn’t happen in a nation where the government is doing its job.

On the other side of the aisle? Well, I think the consensus S&R opinion has been pretty clear.

So no, we (if I might speak for dozens of millions of people) don’t think Bernie is the messiah. We don’t think he has a magic wand. We don’t think electing him solves all our problems. We don’t think that about Elizabeth Warren, either.

What we do think is significant change is needed and that our nation’s policies must be better aligned toward the commonweal, that they need to serve the 99% rather than kow-towing to the sociopathic greed of billionaires for whom the words “enough” and “we” don’t exist.

As I say, we think Bernie is a step in the right direction. But we know that he’s a part of the movement, not the embodiment of the movement. We think following him would be a massive improvement over following GOP-lite fake progressives like the Clintons, like Obama, like Chuck Schumer, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, Michael Bennet and the gods know how many more. These people, and the rest of the the Democratic establishment, have as their mission to roadblock necessary reforms and to kneecap those who dare to speak for the people instead of the money.

And every time some out-of-touch, bought-up-and-sold-out toady like Bartlett pats us on the head, it just proves our point.

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