The Left is Not Amused

The Left is Not Amused


Jon Stewart is on top of his game this week, skewering media coverage of the Madison Madness, and offering some laugh-out-loud commentary:

For reasons that elude me, this bit was one step over the line for liberal blogger Digby at Hullabaloo who expends almost 800 words to explain why Jon Stewart is not funny and a traitor to the cause:

“I’m fairly sure that the only people who listen to Stewart are liberals who are getting the idea that it’s wrong to get in the streets or call out the other side in rough language. Conservatives just think he’s a useful idiot. I find this attitude very perplexing coming from a comedian, especially one who commonly does things which could be perceived as unfair, silly and undignified.

This is why Colbert’s satire is so much more effective and, frankly, much braver. His satire is firmly aimed at the right, so he cannot take both sides. That’s why it works — it takes a position. By contrast, I’m increasingly not finding Jon’s church-lady finger wagging all that funny, much less cool, and I fast forward though his opening segments more often than not.”

While Digby was not amused, I found her pompous church-lady finger wagging at “Jon’s church-lady finger wagging” to be vaguely bemusing in its own meta-bizzaro “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” kind of way.

From the peanut gallery, Shakesvile, Bob Cesca, and Matt Christie sniff their approval at Digby’s take-down.

James Joyner also took note of Digby’s displeasure:

“The reason I watch Stewart (and Stephen Colbert, who I’ll turn to shortly) and not more vitriolic liberal comics like Bill Maher is precisely because of his civility. While his bits are aimed at people who generally agree with him, he’s not insulting to those who don’t. He’s welcoming and engaging conversation, treating his audience like intelligent, decent people. We tend not to agree on the issues but he rightly calls out the BS on both sides. Given his political leanings, he naturally sees more of it on the Right than the Left. But he at least tries to be intellectually honest and consistent in his principles.”

I suppose I could take a cheap shot by noting the similarity of Digby’s screed to Mao’s dictum that “art must serve the interests of the workers, peasants and soldiers…” but I won’t go there. Let’s just say that if anyone ever needed an example of the stereotypical humorless liberal, I think we found Exhibit “A”.

The left-leaning side of the political spectrum may find this more amusing. A prank call to Scott Walker is confirmed. That cloud you see over Madison is Governor Walker’s presidential ambitions going up in smoke. H/T Gerry in comments.

X-posted fromDivided We Stand United We Fall

  • kranky kritter

    In terms of the content of John Stewart’s show, his priorities are pretty easy to understand, for a comedy show that’s explicitly about politics and news.

    He’s a comedian first. That means funny is funny, and so skewering comes on an equal opportunity basis when the opportunities are obvious.

    He’s an American second, like his audience, which may lean liberal, but which includes moderates and apolitical folks who may love their country but despise politics. If you’re a thinking person who loves his or her country, partisan politics appears farcical these days. A very large component of Stewart’s criticism stems from his frustration with the theatricality and pretense of modern politics. He doesn’t like that politics and entertainment have become so blurred. Much of his comedy stems from that.

    Third, he’s a liberal by temperament and by environment. So when he skews to one side on an issue, he usually skews liberal.

    But not liberal enough for humorless partisan liberal true believers. Who are zombies, really. Thankfully, if you are not a partisan zombie yourself, then reactions like Digby’s are quite amusing.

    I always enjoy it when an uber-partisan goes on high dudgeon. “How dare the rest of the world not see it just as I do? How dare my presumed allies acknowledge any truth to what the opposition has to say?” It’s moments like these when one can see that for partisans, loyalty is first and foremost. Not insight. Not problem-solving. Not reasonable compromise. But winning absolute victory for the world as they see it.

  • gerryf

    I thought it was pretty funny….John Oliver’s on the ground interviews the were even better…

  • Lit3Bolt

    What about mw’s dictum that “moderation” and “bipartisanship” must serve fiscally conservative interests, even when those interests are not truly fiscally conservative? What about mw supporting cause after cause on the Right but ignoring every social issue in this country? What about mw skewering digby and other lefty bloggers but always ignoring any over-the-top commentary on the Right?

    I know what cause you support, it just ain’t moderation. You, by your track record, skew heavily to the Right, because liberals are simply icky and must be made fun of, while even grosser examples of partisanship on the Right go unnoticed or even approvingly linked to. Joe Gandleman I can accept as a true moderate. Hell, John Stewart is more moderate than you. Even Andrew Sullivan is more moderate than you. Just admit it mw. We know what makes you happy. And that’s slashing revenues and eviscerating spending, and zero regulation and no-bid contracts for corporations. Because let’s face it, public school teachers are greedy and the math demands sacrifices from everyone…except for that special top few percent.

    But hey, I’m wrong because I’m obviously partisan. Being moderate absolves you of having to defend your principles, or positions, or arguments, because if anyone argues against you (especially on the Left ew!!) they’re an icky partisan. And partisanship is a mortal sin, while moderation and bipartisanship are unassailable virtues. So let’s ignore those silly lefty protesters! They marched against the Iraq War and stuff, why couldn’t they simply be civil? But those Tea Partiers and town hall meetings, that’s democracy in action. Obama better watch out.

  • mw

    “What about mw’s dictum that “moderation” and “bipartisanship” must serve fiscally conservative interests…”– lit

    Where to start? You’ve kind of got it inside out and backwards. First – I don’t consider myself a moderate, and I am indifferent to “bipartisanship” except to note that, in general, federally enacted bipartisan legislation generally seems to be less bad than legislation passed on a partisan basis. But not always. I’ll also note that most bipartisan legislation has bipartisan opposition, so “bipartisanship” is not very discriminating as an end unto itself. I consider it purely in the context of a means to an end – to whit:

    I am a fiscal conservative, social liberal, and civil libertarian. My views are actually at the more extreme end of each of those axes. I am an advocate for divided government at the federal level because in my 35+ years of voting experience, I find I get more of what I support (or less of what I oppose) when one party does not hold all the keys. As an accidental artifact of divided government, we get more bipartisanship – because there is no other choice under divided government. If we get fiscal restraint, social tolerance, and civil liberties on a partisan vote, I’m good with that. It sure didn’t happen for the last two years on the fiscal front.

    I write about what interests me most and where I see the greater threat depending on who is in power. For the the last 2+ year the Democrats either had all the power or were on the verge of taking it. They demonstrated again that they are unable to manage any kind of spending discipline or restraint. As fiscally bad as the Republicans were when they had all the power, the Democrats have proven to be far far worse on that single dimension. As a consequence, we are on a hell bound train screaming at high speed to fiscal insolvency and that is what I perceive to be the greatest threat facing this country now. The only way to get from the state of One Party Democratic Rule to divided government is to elect Republicans. So I became a Republican and mostly supported Republicans over that time. Which – in truth – has been most of the time that I have been posting on Donk.

    Looking forward from here, it appears to me that we are going to make some small but real progress toward fixing our fiscal problems over the next year. At which point, the greater threat will be to our civil liberties and corporate statism from One Party Republican Rule in 2013. Before then I expect to register Democrat again, and support the reelection of Barack Obama. It took me about a year to make the switch after the Dems divided the government in 2006. Probably be similar this time. Then I expect I will still be getting incoherent partisan rants like yours directed at my posts, they’ll just be coming from the right.

    Net net. I don’t stand in the middle. I change teams. It works for me. Your mileage may vary.

  • kranky kritter

    You, by your track record, skew heavily to the Right, because liberals are simply icky and must be made fun of, while even grosser examples of partisanship on the Right go unnoticed or even approvingly linked to.

    I’ve been here as long as mw. This description is grossly inaccurate.

    Further, mw has been extremely up front about where he stands. So everyone who is familiar with his views takes them in that context.

    If you think he’s a rightwing toady, you’re a nitwit. Plain and simple.

  • MByrnes

    I’ve been following this site for quite a while, admitttedly sometimes much more than others. I find Lit3Bolt’s critique of mw to be way off-base. Though I am certainly not in concurrence with all mw has put out there over the years, I have found his entries to be incredibly thoughtful and articulate, and above all, they seem to be rooted in a foundation of reasonableness. Ironic though it may seem, I find approaches to political discourse such as mw espouses to be quite liberal. Not “liberal” in the manner that the term has unfortunately been twisted to mean (that is, knee-jerk reactionism that is lock-step with leftist ideology), but rather in the pure sense of the word – which is to be open-minded — to allow one’s personal notions of good policy (and subsequently, one’s voting decisions) to be flexible to the absorbtioin of new ideas, and allow such ideas to inform one’s stance on a particular issue.

    Unfortunately, such a pure liberal approach as I note above is poisonous for politicians to adopt, lest they be branded with the dreaded “flip-flopper” moniker. However, on a site such as this, one can exemplify the maturation of rational thought by shifting one’s stance in response to the absorbtion of new ideas and information. That is very good thing, and certainly not something that anyone should be taken to task for, but rather to be congratulated for — it’s the essence of independent thought.

  • gerryf

    So, anyway, back to Wisconsin.

    More goodies from Governor Walker’s “budget” bill–because this is really about fixing a financial crisis, right MW?

    In addition to asking for the removal of a union’s collective right to bargain, even though they have already agreed to extreme wage and benefit cuts–‘cuz, just the right to collective bargaining costs…

    There is language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process. Yeah, I guess that would save money, wouldn’t it?

    And there’s the stuff about how the state can sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids or approval or certification of the public service commission.

    Yeah, that will save money because privatization always saves money (this is one of my favorite right wing myths which we’ve argued before–truth is, it sometimes saves money and sometimes does not). But wait a minute, heating, cooling and power plants….hmmm, who is in that business? Hmmm. think, think, think…OHMYGOSH! Why the Koch brothers are in this industry and the Koch brothers….what did they do….hmmm, hmmm, it will come to me….didn’t they give a whole lot of money directly to Walker’s campaign….and didn’t they run a whole bunch of smear adds against his opponent? Why yes they did.

    olly gee, you’re right MW, elections do have consequences. Especially when a wealthy class of people cons the electorate with a candidate who doesn’t clearly state his intentions. Yeah, “fiscal house in order” means kill the unions, punish the poor and give more cool stuff to rich people.

    Sorry, I’m just being paranoid.

    Face it, Walker is a sleazebag hiding in the back pocket of the rich. The people of Wisconsin were bamboozled and the whole “elections have consequences” argument is more rightwing nonsense hiding behind the Democratic process.

    Voters routinely vote against their own best interests and for those of the megawealthy, global corporations, and the politicians who do their bidding. How? The right has mastered the subtle and largely subconscious aspects of political communication (read lying) and most of the public is not paying enough attention to see it until it’s too late.

  • kranky kritter

    Gerry, your attack here on mw loses me. You’re implying that mw has been a vociferous and unconditional defender of Gov Walker.

    I haven’t seen that. Please explain.

  • gerryf

    Thank you for allowing me to clarify.

    Other than responding to the “elections have consquences” nonsense that must be on some GOP talking point memo as a way of supporting clearly unpopular actions by elected officials clearly overstepping their mandates, the post was more a continuation of what’s wrong with Wisonsin than a deliberate attack on MW.

    You’re right, though. I can see how it can appear that way given the way this thread has gone.

    It would have been more appropriate in the other thread, rather than here.

    My apologies

  • Anna

    Funny, mw wants divided government at the Federal level but has no issue with single party control at the State level. If he did, he’d also be decrying what’s going on in WI since the state government is under Republican control. As gerry listed so well in his comment, the Walker budget is not about sound fiscal policy so much as punishing those who did not support him and cronyism for those who did. Anyone with half a brain should see the corruption in this.

  • kranky kritter

    the Walker budget is not about sound fiscal policy so much as punishing those who did not support him and cronyism for those who did. Anyone with half a brain should see the corruption in this.

    Meh. It would not have any legs if it wasn’t about both. Walker is surely using the need for half a loaf as a pretense to mandate taking a whole loaf, that much is clear.

    What’s just as clear is that the reform effort against the high cost of gov’t worker bennies was undertaken in response to a clear and demonstrable need. And as we all know, the offer by unions to make changes did not come until after the gauntlet was tossed down. A sudden change of heart (or strategy?) by the unions does not in my mind make them pure victims.

    Sooner or later, one way or the other, states are going to need to find ways to a place where worker benefit costs are in line with the state’s ability to pay them, as well as in line with what the rest of us expect. Until very recent times, the public union stance has been to refuse to budge.

    I’ve got a lot of sympathy for workers who eschewed social security in favor of a pension plan that sounded a lot better. On that issue, states surely need to protect older workers and not be too punitive towards the rest. That MUST happen. Just as surely, state workers need to move to a place where their job still gives them decent pay like they are getting now, but with health and retirement bennies more in line with everyone else, along with a removable of unreasonable job protections.

    I expect collective bargaining rights to endure, but I expect their scope to be constrained in a way that most folks don’t find that objectionable.