The disconnectedness and arrogance of the Beltway pundits is reaching a point where it can no longer be ignored or spun. Most of these pundits remain convinced that in spite of a poll that contradicts their position, they alone understand the sentiment of the American public. What more evidence does one need when figure like Joe Lieberman, who should be regarded as a national embarrassment, are still considered high watermarks of credibility?
Media pundits are so suffuse with narcissism and self-importance that they automatically think that their own views on any topic are, by definition, held by “most Americans,” on whose behalf they speak, even when they don’t.
An example is that in spite of virtually unanimous disapproval of the Bush administrations presidency and policy failures, none of these “experts” bothers to consider whether Bush and co have moved too far to the right. Instead, they regard the Commander Guy’s position as centrist and question whether critics are too far to the left.
On the Stephanopoulos bobble head roundtable this morning, Cokie Roberts raised the baton and started the drumbeat: the Democrats risk moving waaaaay too far to the left and that is going to be a biiiiig problem for them “just like it was in Vietnam.” Yes, she said it out loud. And David Gergen agreed whole heartedly.
Does anyone recall these gasbags saying that Bush was moving so far to the right with his monarchic, fundamentalist, shock and awe presidency that it was going to be a biiiig problem for them? I must have missed all those warnings. Now that he’s at 28% and the conservatives are on the run after having proven that there really is a limit to how far the crazed radical wingnuts can go, they are still warning about the Democrats moving too far to the left. These people have not had an original thought in 40 years.
Recently, there was the apparent debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. The Beltway media were quick to seize on this moment as a defeat for Obama, in spite of evidence to the contrary.
As always, when wielded by Beltway media stars, the terms “centrist” and “moderate” and “mainstream” mean “whatever views I personally happen to hold on a topic, regardless of how many Americans actually share it.” Hence, the unanimous, wise Beltway wisdom was that Barack Obama “blew it” in the last Democratic debate by proclaiming his willingness to meet with leaders of hostile countries, while Hillary Clinton scored a big victory.
And what of polling data that shows exactly the opposite? Who cares? Beltway wisdom is more representative of what Americans believe than what Americans actually believe. From the latest Rasmussen Reports poll:
Democrats, by a 55% to 22% margin, agree with Obama.
It is not difficult to understand why Americans are supportive of Obama’s pro-diplomacy instincts. It is because they have seen the alternative for the last six years and know that it is a petulant refusal to speak to the Bad People that is the real fringe, dangerous, extremist position.
Yet while Obama-like calls for diplomacy are almost immediately labelled “too left” or “extreme” despite polling data that shows the opposite, people who advocate insane military attacks on Iran are virtually never labelled as such even though polling data shows how fringe they are. That is because “centrism” and “extremism” and “fringes” designate nothing other than what Beltway media stars personally believe, and anyone who favors war — old ones or news ones — is inherently mainstream, responsible and . . . serious. That, more than anything else, is why we are still in Iraq, and why withdrawal is universally depicted as the “extreme” leftist position even though most Americans favor it.