In my two posts titled Meet the Villagers (see here and here), I argued that the oligarchy that runs the US decide early on who they approve of to be political leaders and then use the media to make sure that everyone else is eliminated from the race early. The high-handedness of the media in deciding what views we should be exposed to was on extraordinary display when MSNBC first invited Dennis Kucinich to appear in the Nevada debate because he had met their criteria, and then at the last minute changed their criteria to exclude him. (I suspect that when they first set the rule about including only the top four candidates, they assumed that the fourth would be a Villager-acceptable candidate like Biden or Dodd or Richardson.) They thus ensured that issues like single-payer health insurance and the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the closing of bases there (to name just a few issues) would not be raised in the debate.
Recall that I said that the Villagers want election campaigns in which there is a consensus amongst the candidates to support the issues that the oligarchy care about. We are almost there.
Now a January 11, 2008 Reuters article by Kevin Drawbaugh has actually asked corporate executives which candidates they like and fear and the results bear out what I said. Of the leading candidates, they like Clinton and McCain and Romney and think they can deal with Obama.
The corporate suits fear John Edwards most. In fact, the title of the piece is “Corporate Elite Fear Candidate Edwards.” Mike Huckabee is the most feared candidate on the Republican side. This is because although both their policy platforms are hardly radical, neither is strictly following the pro-business script that gets Villager approval.
The media has, as always, dutifully picked up on these cues, especially on the Democratic side. The Washington Post dismisses Edwards as “angry” (anyone who highlights and attacks the corporate control of US politics is almost invariably described as “angry” or as otherwise irrational) and insists that this is already a two-person race between Clinton and Obama. Unsurprisingly, the more overtly right-wing corporate mouthpiece Fox News also attacks Edwards.
But the best way to undermine a candidacy is by ignoring it, especially in the early stages, the way that the Edwards, Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Kucinich, and Gravel candidacies were largely ignored. If not for the televised debates, these people would have been largely invisible. Another way you eliminate those whom you don’t feel deserve to be in the race is to give extraordinary attention to trivial differences among the Villager-approved candidates so that all the oxygen is used up discussing absurdly unimportant issues.
For example, by focusing heavily on spats between Obama and Clinton (Did she ‘play the race card’?), and on trivialities (Did she really cry after Iowa? Is he secretly a Muslim?), and on topics like gender and ethnicity and Clinton’s ‘likability’ and even the way she laughs (!) rather than on policy issues, the media effectively avoid talking about other candidates and thus give voters the impression that this is now a two-person contest. This despite the fact that some polls suggest that Edwards is the Democrat most likely to beat any Republican in the presidential race, while Hillary Clinton fares much worse than Edwards and Obama.
As the pro-Democratic blog Firedoglake summarizes: “If Hillary’s the Democratic nominee, we could very easily lose to any likely GOP nominee. If Obama’s the nominee, he does OK so long as he doesn’t face McCain. But if Edwards is the nominee, we’re sitting pretty. Which, I suspect, is one reason why Big Media hates John Edwards so much and does everything it can to destroy him. (Speaking of which: KingOneEye at DailyKos pointed out this morning how the NYT is ignoring a key result of its own poll on the race — namely, that as more people get to know him, Edwards’ favorability rating keeps going up.)” Greg Sargent also notes a study that supports the contention that the media is underreporting Edwards.
On the Republican side the Villagers have not been able to narrow the contest as effectively, to focus just on McCain and Romney. Huckabee keeps bobbing up to the surface although they seem to have effectively buried Ron Paul’s candidacy, although the latter is doing as well as, or better than, Villager-approved candidates Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani who still get a lot of media play. It will be interesting to see if and for how long Huckabee can withstand the media pressure to disappear.
David Sirota tries to combat the “just a two-person Democratic race” narrative fostered by the Villagers:
For those of you who think the Democratic presidential nomination fight is just a two-way race between Obama and Clinton, check out this brand new poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Yup, that’s right – it shows the Nevada caucus race [which will be held on Saturday-MS] a three-way, dead heat with John Edwards right in the mix.
Interestingly, this poll comes right on the heels of the Establishment viciously ratcheting up its angry attacks on the Edwards candidacy. Late last week, we saw a Reuters story headlined “Corporate Elite Fear Candidate Edwards” detailing how Wall Street moneymen and K Street lobbyists are frightened about Edwards populist, power-challenging message against greed and corruption. We also saw self-anointed Democratic “expert” Lawrence O’Donnell pen a fulminating screed demanding Edwards get out of the race – not surprising coming from a man who made his name running the U.S. Senate Finance Committee – long the most corrupt, lobbyist-ravaged panel in all of Washington (somehow, running the U.S. Congress’s version of a pay-to-play casino now makes people credible “experts” in campaign strategy and political morality).
According to the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism, Edwards has long faced a media blackout – one that at least some honest media brokers like Keith Olbermann have noted. As I said a long time ago, that Edwards has even been able to compete in such a hostile environment is a testament to the power of his message.
The question we should ask is what the hostility and media blackout is really all about? I’d say the media’s behavior is motivated by the same impulses that moves lobbyists to whine and cry to Reuters and self-important bloviators like O’Donnell to publicly burst a blood vessel on the Huffington Post – the people who have gotten used to the status quo are truly terrified by any candidates who they really believe will change things and threaten their power and status. Edwards is just such a candidate – one who threatens to muck up what the media and political elite want to be a race between two “nonthreatening,” Wall Street-approved candidates. Obviously, it’s a three-way race at this very moment – whether the Establishment likes that or not.
Incidentally, this is why efforts to broaden the base of voters are almost always done by grass-roots activist groups working independently of the major parties. These new voters are unpredictable and hence undesirable to the Villagers. The pro-business/pro-war single party is quite comfortable with the way the current political system works since it gives a huge advantage to the status quo.
POST SCRIPT: Religion and politics in the US
British comedian Pat Condell gives us his take on this topic, in a clip he calls “Pimping for Jesus.” Condell’s home page cheerfully describes his attitude to religion: “Hi, I’m Pat Condell. I don’t respect your beliefs and I don’t care if you’re offended. Cheers.”