VIEWED AS FUNDAMENTALLY SYMPATHETIC! A profile describes how a major pol is viewed inside suffering Haiti: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2010
On this special day: For many years, this has been our favorite statement by Dr. King, the moral giant of the past century:
The King Center sells postcards making these claims. Were looking at the cards we bought when we went there, in the late 1980s.
Ezra does it again: On the front page of todays New York Times, Michael Cooper profiles a Massachusetts voter who will be voting for Scott Brown tomorrow. Who will win the Bay State senate seat? We dont know, but in our view, liberals and progressives should be pondering the outlook of voters like this one:
For ourselves, wed vote for Coakley, with no particular thrill up the leg. But Grenham will be voting for Brown. Why have Grenhams political impulses changed? How does she understand current politics? In our view, liberals and progressives should try to find out. Often, though, in the past year, leading liberals on the TV machine thingy have aimed mindless dick jokes at people like Grenhamor at others with whom she might be inclined to identify. This is a good way to get bad election results, as we may learn tomorrow. (Or not.)
How does Grenham understand our politics? We dont know, but Cooper speaks to a few other voters who will be voting for Brown. Just a guess: We dont think theyd be impressed by Ezra Kleins piece in Sundays Washington Post, if they understood its content.
Kleins piece appeared on the front page of the Posts Business section. Once again, Klein took an astonishing, who-gives-a- flying-fig stance toward our level of health care spending. (For our review of Kleins earlier take, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/15/10. Scroll to the end.)
It's time for some real talk on health-care reform, Klein said, starting out. Before long, that real talk was looking like this:
Klein goes on, but that basic statement is simply astounding. Unless youre one of the financial elites who gain from that level of spending.
Is that level of spending a problem? Is there a problem with the fact that we spent $2.3 trillion in 2008? Judged by the norms of the developed world, more than half that spending would seem unnecessary. Indeed:
Last August, CNN (briefly) reported a Price Waterhouse study which found that wasteful spending in the health system has been calculated at up to $1.2 trillion of the $2.2 trillion spent in the United States, more than half of all health spending. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/19/09.)
Last October, Keith Olbermann (briefly) reported a new study by Thomson-Reuters. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/30/09.) The U.S. health care system wastes at least $505 billion, perhaps $850 billion every year, Olbermann said, slightly understating the level of horror described in the study. The vice president of health care analysis for [Thomson Reuters] saying, quote, Thats one-third of the nations health care bill.
Is it a problem if were wasting from one-third to more than one-half of every health care dollar? The Washington Posts fiery new liberal keeps saying it isnt. (Last week, he weirdly said, We can afford $2.3 trillion.) Just a guess: If Grenham understood the facts of the case, her malfunctioning limbic brain would produce a sounder reaction.
Weve laughed at people like Grenham this year. As a matter of basic politics, its almost always foolish to laugh at voters. (For fifty years, the other side has mocked selected elites.) But on the merits of this case, should we perhaps look closer to home when searching for founts of amusement?
Regarded as fundamentally sympathetic [permalink]: Philip Rucker wrote a fascinating piece in Saturdays Washington Post. Appearing in the papers much-maligned Style section, the piece concerned Bill Clintons decades-long connection to suffering Haiti.
Readers may recall a stray fact. Long ago, in 2004, we authored a claim about Clintons newly-released autobiography/memoir, My Life. For our money, the most interesting, most instructive part of that book was a short section which began with Clintons first visit to Haiti. The trip occurred in 1975, before Clinton had been elected to political office. In My Life, the trip anchors a later, four-page rumination on religious practices which, we suggested at the time, helps explain why Clinton was able to reach the White House. (Clinton himself says something similar in that four-page section.)
At a time when the liberal/progressive agenda is getting battered around once again, we thought it might be worth recalling the younger Clintons first trip to that suffering land. How might progressives start to build a stronger, winning politics? We think Clintons extended account of his first trip to Haiti might provide some clues.
Well likely discuss this topic all week, considering some of the ways progressives and liberals may perhaps undermine their own political success. But for today, lets simply consider another part of Ruckers profile. In this passage, Rucker describes a more recent trip by Clinton to Haiti.
For the record, Farmer was the focus of Tracy Kidders 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. For the Wikipedia entry on Farmer, just click here.
In Ruckers profile, Farmer makes an interesting statement. According to Farmer, Haitians regard Bill Clinton as someone who's fundamentally sympathetic to the Haitians, someone who has argued they have a right to dignity and respect. In politics, its very important to be regarded that way. In American politics, its important to be regarded that way by the votersif you want your policies, your viewpoints and outlooks to end up winning the day.
According to Farmer, Clinton is regarded as someone who's fundamentally sympathetic to the Haitians. In this country, liberals and progressives are often viewed quite differently within many voting blocs. Sometimes, it almost seems that liberals and progressives work to be seen as fundamentally un-sympathetic to the voters who largely decide where our nation will head. Tomorrow, well look at a recent New York Times column in which, we would argue, a liberal pundit worked overtime to tilt perceptions that way. (Click here.)
For fifty years, the pattern has tended to hold. When liberal and progressive movements appear, some liberals tend to mock or insult the wider public, creating patterns in which progressives are viewed as fundamentally un-sympathetic. By the end of the week, well return to the part of Clintons book which began with his first visit to Haiti. We recommended it in 2004 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/18/04). Wed recommend it more strongly today.