For online commentators there's no target quite like conventional wisdom to drive up readership. But often the urge to flout said conventional wisdom yields only pure crap, proving why the targeted wisdom was so conventional to begin with.
If you'd like to read the Platonic Ideal of this observation, then by all means scurry on over to The Politico and treat yourself to "Stalled nomination could be good for Dems." In general it's a seriously playful tugging at the tails of conventionality; specifically it is 806 words of absolute bullshit.
Written by Peter Fenn -- Democratic consultant, ubiquitous cable-network pundit, especially on the fallen "Tucker" of MSNBC, and seemingly all-round and genuinely nice fellow -- "Stalled nomination" stands reality on its head and attempts a lipstick application on this, the most swinish of situations: the endless, internecine war among progressive forces.
Peter wishes to deflate Republican elation, which conventional wisdom says is well merited: "My Republican friends are jumping for joy. Their dreams have come true ... Months more of discord in the Democratic Party." So it's curtains for Democrats.
But, says Peter, "Not so fast," for "there is a clear and persuasive argument that precisely the opposite may be true."
Well, I'd love to read it, wherever it is, but it can't be found in Peter's musings. His argument is clear enough, all right, but the "persuasive" part must have fled Peter's mind before landing on paper. His attempt to justify and even bless -- presumably for Hillary's benefit -- the blood being spilled from Maryland to California and on all battlegrounds in between is like a history of the Japanese war effort, circa 1945.
From caucus-to-primary island to island, doom descended on Madame Clinton long ago. But she just won't quit. She'll make "them" pay for this disgrace, and turn what began as perhaps an honorable affair into the most dishonorable of utterly unnecessary and suicidal bloodbaths.
In Hillary's defense Peter happily reports that "getting the bulk of the arguments out now about the pluses and minuses of the candidates may avoid a series of 'October surprises' sprung by the Republicans.... They will be better-known, better-understood and, I hope, better-appreciated than any candidates at such an early stage in the campaign."
That was Peter's Argument Number One, the first of four that I would itemize in some detail if they weren't pretty much identical. But they are identical -- the selfsame felicitous upsides to internal slaughter; a little positive thinking, folks; the unconventional vision to see the silver lining of this darkening storm.
In brief, Peter further writes that "Clinton and Obama will continue to be the story, and it will be tough for Sen. John Mccain to break through"; "McCain does not know whom to attack, how to attack or which way to go. And surely both Clinton and Obama will train their fire on McCain" (ask me not where that expectation came from); and last, "The excitement for, and appreciation of, both candidates has strengthened the Democratic Party. Polls consistently show that the Democrats (and independents) are much more energized and engaged than are the Republicans."
Even briefer, just a spirited, healthy debate between friends in which the victor -- Obama, which Peter doesn't concede -- will come out a better candidate. Yet it's those four little words -- "which Peter doesn't concede" -- that cause his arguments to fall flat on their abortive face. Hence we can not unfairly treat Peter's four arguments as one.
Barring some metaphysical intervention, Obama is already the winner, just as surely as the Japanese were the losers by 1942. It's true that the currently running war permits him to hone his fighting skills, but those sharpened skills would be more profitably attained by fighting his main opponent -- McCain -- rather than defending against "friendly" sniper fire from the rear.
Potshots, cheap shots and tawdry hardball politics are indeed thrilling, but they generally go down better when directed at the actual opposition. In Hillary's case they're aimed inward -- pointed straight at the heart of necessary millions in November. Rather than motivating, or enlightening, or "energiz[ing] and engag[ing]," they are designed to demotivate and darken, to sap the spirit of Obama's forces.
Already we see signs that they're finding their mark. Whereas, for instance, Obama not that long ago led McCain by a dozen points in a head-to-head matchup, he now leads, according to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, by only three.
Yet Hillary's attacks will have the corresponding effect of sapping the spirit of her own forces as well -- potential, vital and profoundly logical Obama allies. For the brushfires she has ignited will smolder for months, if not years.
The most recent conflagration, for example, was designed to incinerate any of Pennsylvania's white, blue-collar vote for Obama, but the boomerang effect will linger far past April 22. You called our side racist, when of course no one of any thoughtfulness did any such thing. There's a chasmic difference between noting racist tactics and hurling pejorative labels. I, for one, no more believe that Hillary Clinton or Geraldine Ferraro is a closet racist than I believe myself to be Teddy Roosevelt. And on this side I'm far from alone.
But that rather notable distinction has gotten lost in defensive passions and tactical warfare. You called our side racist is all that many of Hillary's forces among assorted demographics now hear and will long remember. In turn it could easily cause either a deep urge to stay home in November or to cast a vengeful vote for McCain.
There's nothing breathtakingly keen about that observation. It's just conventional wisdom, but it happens to possess the unfortunate property of truth.
Desperate politics breeds enduring divisions. Therefore the prospect of party-wide hand-holding diminishes by the day.
And for what? An already lost cause.
Sorry, Mr. Fenn, but there ain't no upside to this senseless war. It's mutually destructive, although there is a beneficiary.
THE FIFTH COLUMNIST by P.M. Carpenter
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.