FDL Book Salon: Whistling Past Dixie

074329015101_aa180_sclzzzzzzz_v59065607_.jpg (Today we'll be discussing "Whistling Past Dixie" by Tom Schaller, who will be joining us in the comments– JH)

It seems as if I've been thinking about southern politics all of my life. The truth is that since the founding, everyone who has ever been involved in American politics has thought about it their whole lives. The struggle over politics and culture and regional pride in the south is America's story — it is us and we are it, no matter where we live.

The day after the 2004 election we all looked at the electoral map and knew that we were now dealing with a rock solid Republican south. The realignment that had been in the works since the 1960's was complete. (In fact it was almost exactly the same electoral map of 1860, with the parties reversed.) The south has pretty much voted as a bloc from the very beginning. And it is also a fact that the south is the most conservative region in the country, always has been. (Even FDR had to agree to keep civil rights off the menu — and once the crisis of the depression passed, the Dixiecrats immediately got restless. That coalition forged in the depression was always on a collision course with itself.)

In his book "Whistling Past Dixie" Tom Schaller gathers all the data to prove what those maps imply — the south is conservative in ways that the Democrats cannot crack without offending its other constituents or losing its progressive identity, which is exactly what's been happening since 1992 when Clinton made a last charge through Dixie and barely managed to get 43% of the national popular vote. In this article by Schaller in The Democratic Strategist, you can see that the statistics tell the story. By all measures of gender,age, religion, family/marital status, occupation and socioeconomic status, the demographics strongly favor conservative Republicanism in the south for the foreseeable future.

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Privacy For The Common Good

Kos wrote an interesting post yesterday that deserves some further discussion. He offered his thoughts on Hillary Clinton (which were right on the money in my opinion) and in the midst of it mentions something that Hillary did last week that has not gotten nearly enough attention. (I would suggest that it would have gotten a lot of blogospheric attention if she wanted to use this medium to promote her ideas. This speaks to us directly.)

Last week Hillary introduced what I think should be a primary plank of the the Democratic Party:A Privacy Bill Of Rights. Indeed, I think this is the most fertile territory out there to gain some disaffected Republican voters and put some of the mountain west in our electoral quiver. It’s smart politics.

I happen to be a believer in the Democratic strategy that includes pulling on the civil libertarian threads in our coalition to weave a bigger tent. I’m personally horrified by the excesses of this administration and terribly worried that the huge bureaucratic domestic surveillance apparatus they are building is going to be impossible to control. I hear tales from all over the country of wads of DHS pork going to local and state police departments to use to spy on their own citizens and we know that at the national level they’ve pretty much discarded the fourth amendment and have enabled both the foreign and military spy agencies to work within our borders. There’s a lot of money and power involved, it’s secret and it’s fundamentally anti-democratic. We are building a police state and I firmly believe that, politics aside, if you build it they will use it.

That all this has been done by the alleged libertarian small government Republicans is no surprise to me. They have always been about big bucks and authoritarianism over all else. But it seems to me that it may come as a surprise to people with a certain "don’t tread on me" kind of ethos, particularly in the west which has a long tradition of such sentiment. If these tribal divides about which I often write exist, then there is a big one here. And if politics need to play to the gut as much as the head and the heart, this issue is powerful. Democrats have an opportunity to craft a real message of American independence if they choose to take it — and it might just be the way to beat back the fear factor a little bit, which I think people are getting tired of.

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The Good Husbands

Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report has an interesting piece in the latest issue of The Washington Monthly, noting that three of the top potential Republican candidates are admitted adulterers.

Until relatively recently, a self-confessed adulterer had never sought the presidency. Certainly, other candidates have been dogged by sex scandals. In the 1828 presidential election, John Quincy Adams questioned whether Andrew Jackson’s wife was legitimately divorced from her first husband before she married Old Hickory. Grover Cleveland, who was single, fathered a child out of wedlock, a fact that sparked national headlines during the 1884 election (though he managed to win anyway). There have been presidential candidates who had affairs that the press decided not to write about, like Wendell Wilkie, FDR, and John F. Kennedy. And there have been candidates whose infidelities have been uncovered during the course of a campaign: Gary Hart’s indiscretions ultimately derailed his 1988 bid, and in 1992, during the course of his campaign, Bill Clinton was forced to make the euphemistic admission that he "caused pain" in his marriage.

But it wasn’t until 2000 that McCain, possibly emboldened by Clinton’s survival of his scandals, became the first confessed adulterer to have the nerve to run. Now, just a few years after infidelity was considered a dealbreaker for a presidential candidate, the party that presents itself as the arbiter of virtue may field an unprecedented two-timing trifecta. McCain was still married and living with his wife in 1979 while, according to The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich." McCain divorced his wife, who had raised their three children while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, then launched his political career with his new wife’s family money. In 2000, McCain managed to deflect media questioning about his first marriage with a deft admission of responsibility for its failure.

It’s possible that the age of the offense and McCain’s charmed relationship with the press will pull him through again, but Giuliani and Gingrich may face a more difficult challenge. Both conducted well-documented affairs in the last decade–while still in public office. Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani marched with his then-mistress, Judith Nathan, in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, an acknowledgement of infidelity so audacious that Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer compared it with "groping in the window at Macy’s." In the acrid divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused Giuliani of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director.

But the most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair’s Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, ‘I never slept with her.’" Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton

 Benen wonders, in light of the recent page one above the fold NT Times’ dishy speculation about the Clintons’ sex lives, whether the press will follow up when the Republican primaries begin in earnest. I frankly doubt it. The CW seems to be that Clinton rules only apply to Democrats. Republicans are allowed to hypocrites because, well… just because. But there is one little fly in the ointment for the GOP, whether Modo and Lil’ Russ apply certain standards to their moral behavior or not: (more…)

Frothy Junior

 

Yee Haw! The Codpiece is back with a vengeance! And guess who can’t keep his grubby little hands away from it. You guessed it: Joe Klein.

Via  John Amato:

"I was up there in the cockpit of that airplane coming into Baghdad," the President told the press corps assembled on the White House lawn after his dash into and out of the war zone last week. "It was an unbelievable, unbelievable feeling." In fact, George W. Bush’s body language—let’s call it the full jaunty—was reminiscent of his last, infamous cockpit trip, onto the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in May 2003 to announce the "end" of major combat operations in Iraq, beneath a mission accomplished sign. His public language is more cautious than it used to be, but he seemed downright frothy in a private session with the congressional leadership after his press conference.

He called the new Iraqi Defense Minister an "interesting cat" and Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the deceased al-Qaeda leader, "a dangerous dude." Bush had reason, finally, to strut. The al-Zarqawi raid had netted valuable intelligence data that were enabling U.S. and Iraqi forces to roll up al-Qaeda cells—the best haul since the capture of Saddam Hussein, which made it possible for U.S. forces to disable much of the dictator’s inner circle in early 2004. What’s more, the first elected Iraqi government was finally fully in place. Back home, Karl Rove was officially unindicted in the CIA leak case, and the Democrats were busy being Democrats-divided, defensive and confused about the war, with Bush’s favorite punching bag, Senator John Kerry, leading the charge..

That’s right. Bush is stuck in the mid-30’s, his brain narrowly escaped indictment and he had to mount the most top secret trip since Kissinger went to China (someone left the cakewalk in the rain) yet Klein is drooling and panting over the president’s pants again, getting all hot and bothered when the frat-boy in chief calls the Iraq defense Minister an "interesting cat" and al-Zarqawi a "dangerous dude." Why it’s almost as if Joe got invited to a kegger with the BMOC’s and got to hang with them and "rap" all night about "chicks" (or "dangerous dudes", whatever.)

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Take A Bow

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Since I’m filling in this afternoon as the FDL crew recuperates or heads off to yet another blogfest, I thought I’d take the opportunity to dish about Jane and Pach and Christy behind their backs a little. And you too.

I think we can all agree that FDL made quite a splash at YKOS, can’t we? I was watching from afar, as most of you probably were, and people came over to my blog drooling over Jane and Christy. (I’m sure they would have drooled over Pach too, if they’d seen him.) The blogosphere was proud as a peacock to have such smart hot women representing them. Not that physical attractiveness is the most important thing, by far, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

The Plame panel was a huge hit, fascinating and insightful — and regardless of the snooty pooh-poohing of the mainstream bozos, when Joseph Wilson and Murray Waas were given standing ovations, it choked me up, and I’ll bet it choked up a lot of people in that room too. I’ve been following Waas since the 90’s when he was one of the few who kept his head and exposed the fetid underbelly of the anti-Clinton movement in Salon Magazine. And any man who was willing to take on both Saddam Hussein in 1991 and the Bush Administration in the spring of 2003 cannot be considered anything but a hero. How proud I was to be a member of this tribe at that moment.

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Clinton Rules

 

Atrios has written a very important post today on why we should be alarmed at this latest breathless girly gossip about Hillary Clinton. I have received a lot of emails and comments to the effect that Hillary is a (fill in the blank) and so deserves itand therefore we should all be happy that the New York Times is doing God’s work by destroying her candidacy. This is a very short sighted and historically clueless way to look at this. We call these "Clinton Rules" but they are not really about the Clintons — it’s about the press corps and the way they treat Democrats.

 Atrios says;

 [T}he broader issue … is that the mainstream media has long had multiple conflicting and inconsistent standards when it comes to the private lives of public figures, especially politicians and members of their own club. More than that it presents yet another mainstream media corrupt habit of making something news for no particular reason and then pretending that the story just appeared out of nowhere, even when in this case there is literally no semi-legitimate hook for it. In this case it’s doubly corrupt because it’s The Paper of Record, which as we all know is liberal, so that gives additional license for the rest of the corporate press to jump on the story. There’s also the little issue of the press’s history with the Clintons, where at some point there was no personal detail, no matter how poorly sourced, which was not considered to be legitimate news. One would’ve liked to have thought that post-Monica Madness this little habit was beaten out of them, that maybe they even had a few regrets, though it’s clear again that it’s not the case. The Clinton Rules of Journalism never left us.

 And, finally, it puts on display the utter vapidity of the press corps we’re dealing with. If Dean Broder, who has been covering Washington since 1820, can’t sit through a 45 minute speech on energy policy, and the press on Air Force One would rather watch King Kong than the Hayden hearings, while they devote their time and resources to a long 50-source article about how often the Clintons are getting busy, then we have a problem, and it’s not something we’re going to clear up at a blogger ethics panel.

And I would add that there is another equally pernicious dimension to this. This tabloidization of political news is almost exclusively focused on Democrats and gives the impression that the left is unserious.  John Kerry’s butler  and his strange, wealthy wife. Dean’s flinty personality and odd, reclusive wife. Gore’s  pathological lying and his phony manhood. The list goes on. It’s all very "entertaining" but it makes people associate Democrats with celebrities in the most shallow sense.

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FDL Book Salon: Before the Storm, Pt. 1

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(Today we’ll be discussing  Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein.  We’ll be reading Part 2 for the following week when Rick himself will be joining us — JH)

I grew up in a very rightwing household. My father was born in 1922 and has never voted for a Democrat, including Roosevelt in 1944 at the height of WWII. I recently came across a letter from my mother to her parents in 1960 in which she lamented about "that Mr Kennedy" stealing the election. Although we lived in many places, they were California Republicans — the home of both Nixon and Reagan. (Both of those presidents used the Southern Strategy to get elected, but they weren’t of the southern hierarchy that makes up the GOP today.) This was arch-conservatism of the old school.

Of all the politicians my Dad admired over the years (and there were actually precious few — he’s got a good radar for phonies) there was only one he truly respected: Barry Goldwater. This was his kind of guy — a straight talker, completely open about his beliefs, unsanctimonious, a man’s man without unnecessary polish or attitude. And he was as conservative as they came, just like my dad — an anti-communist to the core, a strong believer in the use of military power and a fundamental belief in self-reliance (even if he, like my father, fudged the details.) These were people who never signed on to the New Deal and at the time Goldwater ran for president, there were very few liberal establishment types who believed such people even existed.

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FDL Book Salon: Before the Storm, Pt. 1

beforethestormcov2.jpg

(Today we’ll be discussing  Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein.  We’ll be reading Part 2 for the following week when Rick himself will be joining us — JH)

I grew up in a very rightwing household. My father was born in 1922 and has never voted for a Democrat, including Roosevelt in 1944 at the height of WWII. I recently came across a letter from my mother to her parents in 1960 in which she lamented about "that Mr Kennedy" stealing the election. Although we lived in many places, they were California Republicans — the home of both Nixon and Reagan. (Both of those presidents used the Southern Strategy to get elected, but they weren’t of the southern hierarchy that makes up the GOP today.) This was arch-conservatism of the old school.

Of all the politicians my Dad admired over the years (and there were actually precious few — he’s got a good radar for phonies) there was only one he truly respected: Barry Goldwater. This was his kind of guy — a straight talker, completely open about his beliefs, unsanctimonious, a man’s man without unnecessary polish or attitude. And he was as conservative as they came, just like my dad — an anti-communist to the core, a strong believer in the use of military power and a fundamental belief in self-reliance (even if he, like my father, fudged the details.) These were people who never signed on to the New Deal and at the time Goldwater ran for president, there were very few liberal establishment types who believed such people even existed.

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Late Nite FDL: Breaking The Code

 

 (Tonight’s guest poster is Digby)

It’s always interesting to see how the right wing deals with its inherent racism. They used to wear it proudly and openly, but since we have managed to make some progress in the last 40 years or so, they have had to become much more creative in the way they convey their solidarity with the racist among us. The patron saint of Republican operatives (and Karl Rove’s Godfather) Lee Atwater discussed the GOP’s dilemma way back in 1980:

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’

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