Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The coming campaign's foundations are already in place. They rest on three building blocks: an attack on the loyalty of those willing to recognize reality; the construction of an alternative reality in which victory is deemed to be imminent; and, finally, a shifting of blame for a supposedly premature withdrawal to those who refuse to play along.

That was Eric Alterman last September, anticipating that the right would turn to the stab-in-the-back theory -- subterfuge by traitors -- to explain the outcome of the Iraq War. That isn't happening with regard to Iraq -- the right thinks we're kicking ass -- but Team Clinton is using stab-in-the-back arguments to fuel resentment among Democrats, portraying Hillary's failure to secure the Democratic nomination as something that occurred in large part because of skulduggery by dishonest enemies. The scapegoats are, in many cases, the same.

The classic stab-in-the-back theory puts a lot of the blame on a press that favors the enemy. Well, here's Bill Clinton on Todd Purdum's recent article about him in Vanity Fair, accusing a press that should be neutral of, well, favoring the enemy:

" ...It's just slimy. It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's just the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama.... It's all about the bias of the media for Obama. Don't think anything about it."

"But I'm telling ya, all it's doing is driving her supporters further and further away-- because they know exactly what it is-- this has been the most rigged press coverage in modern history..."

Elites who hold ordinary citizens in contempt are also regularly described as backstabbers, as are ethnic minorities -- and here's Geraldine Ferraro on Friday sinking both balls with one shot:

... Reagan Democrats ... see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment....

They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind....

The incessant invocation of Clinton's (questionable) popular-vote lead, the references to Zimbabwe and the civil rights era and Florida 2000, all make the case that Clinton is the rightful winner, done in by traitors. It's precisely what Alterman talks about in reference to the classic stab-in-the back scenario: "the construction of an alternative reality in which victory is deemed to be imminent."

It's no wonder that a good number of long-time Democrats are taking their anger out on "the enemy within." That wouldn't be happening, even if Hillary Clinton had campaigned to the bitter end, had she made it clear that she felt the process was legitimate and the GOP was the real enemy.

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