Tuesday, March 3, 2009

David Broder Is Not An Antiabecedarian

David "Dean" Broder, the Washington Post columnist widely regarded as the senior MSM American political analyst, published a column over the weekend that typifies the myopia and general cluelessness of the journalistic political establishment. In the column (here), Broder responds to President Obama's brilliant budget speech by calling the president a "gambler" "putting at risk the future well-being of the country and the Democratic Party's control of Washington."

"Is he naive?" wondered the Dean. "Does he not understand the political challenge he is inviting?" After all, the
House chamber was filled with veteran legislators who have spent decades wrestling with those issues. They know how maddeningly difficult it has been to cobble together a coalition large enough to pass a significant education, health care or energy bill.
"When we elected Obama," Broder concluded, "[W]e didn't know what a gambler we were getting."

Where to start? The Dean writes as if the country does not already face a dangerous future. Isn't Broder the naive one here? Articles openly speculate whether or not the country is in a depression. We are in a situation that calls for bold action, not timidity over the difficulty of passing legislation.

If there's one word that does not characterize Barack Obama, it is "naive." You don't come out of nowhere to defeat the Clinton and Rove machines in the same election without being able to tell a hawk from a handsaw. What Dean Broder characterizes as naivete is instead a capacity to grasp the historic quality of the moment we're in and the courage and smarts to act on it.

Beyond this, what has Obama done that surprises anyone outside of Dean Broder's claustrophobic office? He's acting on the campaign promises he made. He wants to settle the issues that people have worried over for years but that no one has done anything about: Obama is right to argue that we can't have a healthy economy without health care reform and energy independence.

Barack Obama is the right man at the right time. Without a leader of his boldness and intellect to guide the nation there, the future well-being of the country is at risk. It is anyway, but Obama is less of a gamble than a cautious Beltway politician who passes on the future to "cobble together" short-sighted legislation...

Paul Krugman thinks Obama's proposed budget is exactly right:
President Barack Obama's new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course...

Frank Rich disagrees, citing public anger over continued bank bailouts:
As Obama said, we can't move forward without a functioning financial system. But voters of both parties will demand that their congressmen reject another costly rescue of it. Americans still don't understand why many Wall Street malefactors remain in place or why the administration's dithering banking policy lacks the boldness and clarity of Obama's rhetoric...

Mothers and others: The evolutionary origin of mutual understanding...

Dark Roasted Blend explores the phantasmagorical art of New Orleans, focusing on the Antiabecedarian Movement:
Considering how surreal New Orlean's environment can be, is it any wonder that this "almost-reborn" city hosts some of the most absurd and interesting art scene to be found in the US...
What is an Antiabecedarian?
"Antiabecedarians" is a word from the Anna Livia passage of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. Although Mr. Joyce's precise intent as to the definition of "antiabecedarian" is debated, we intend that Antiabecedarians imply those who are familiar with the rudiments and rules enough to turn them on their heads.
Here are a couple of the very impressive entries in this show, starting with this setup photo by Dana Sherwood:



Paint on wood by Taylor Lee Shepherd:


Note that the current first line is from Sir Walter Scott's Lochinvar, a poem every English schoolboy was once required to memorize. Today, it's proof that a compelling first line does not a great poem make...

7 comments:

ZenYenta said...

"Is he naive?" I love that. How many in the punditcorps have wondered something similar lately? They're too busy forming the judgments that they pass along to us to really notice the person who was so recently elected president. The shock about his doing the things he said he'd do is pretty funny as well. But then, Dean Broder thinks that bipartisanship, as he defines it, is a virtue even if it produces nothing of value to anyone.

Great post and a new word as a bonus!

John Hayes said...

I agree with your take on Obama, & continue to have high hopes for his presidency.

"Abecedarian"-- referring to the alphabet or to something as rudimentary as the "ABCs"-- also a 16th century sect who disdained all human knowledge (hmmm, how does this line up with conservative commentators); & last but certainly not least, a great 80s band from Newport Beach.

K. said...

ZY: Broder is singularly clueless, all the more so because he views himself as a consummate insider. Which he is, I suppose, except that right that doesn't especially qualify his perspective as especially useful. The odd thing is that he prides himself on getting outside of Washington, but it usually seems to be with the idea of reinforcing his perceived need for bipartisanship for its own sake. You are quite right to point out that bipartisanship is not an inherent good. It's a desirable tactic only if it contributes to progress. I see no use for it now, when one side has willfully isolate itself...

John: How about a double bill of Abecedarian opening for Zyzzyva? It would be worth putting together the bands just to see them on a handbill!

Renegade Eye said...

Broder is known for the Broder Bounce. He is the one who kept predicting Bush will get a bounce, like from the surge etc. Bush finished at 22% approval.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

i too am very hopeful. i agree with your take...right leader for these troubled times!!

wow, that is one art exhibition that I'd love to see! unfortunately doesn't appear to be the type of show that will go on a national tour....and it's gone now so can't even make a trip to n.o.

I'll be in tx in april so not that far away!

Patrice said...

I'm here to say "here here" for the Obama info -

But mostly to say WOW - I love the artwork!...especially the painted wood. Go New Orleans!

K. said...

That show is pretty impressive, isn't it? I had no idea that NOLA had such a strong visual arts scene.