Saturday, August 30, 2014
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About Jon Stewart and Wisconsin: What Digby said

About Jon Stewart and Wisconsin: What Digby said

For a number of years, the little-heralded queen of the liberal blogosphere has been the California-based Digby, whose posts on the uproar of the day are often so perfectly constructed that other bloggers simply put in the hyperlink and write, "What Digby said," rather than mess it up with our own inferior commentary.

I've resisted that temptation on most things, but when it came to Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show"'s disppointing tepid "view from nowhere" on the protests in Wisconsin, I realized that anything I tried to produce what just be a lesser version of what Digby said:


The interesting thing about all this to me is that the left's original critique of the mainstream media was that they affected this pose of being "objective" with this he said/she said . ( Jay Rosen has developed an entire thesis about it, called "the view from nowhere.") And Stewart isn't doing that exactly, even though he takes great pride in drawing an equivalence between the politics of Fox, which is owned by a giant corporation with an explicit, coordinated partisan goal and the "politics" of MSNBC which is also owned by a giant corporation and has allowed a couple of liberal voices to speak in public for purely pecuniary reasons. Instead, he's telling liberals (nobody else cares what he thinks) that it's more important to behave in a dignified, fair fashion than to stand up for your beliefs in a way that could be perceived as unseemly or one-sided. That makes you as bad as the other side.

Except, of course, it really doesn't. It's really about what you're fighting for. Tea partiers were trying to stop the federal government from reforming our health care system so that middle class workers will not go broke or die if they get sick. The Wisconsin protesters are trying to stop the Republican governor from making it illegal for them to belong to a union so that they can live a decent middle class life. Can we all see the pattern here? I'm sorry that people are misbehaving and failing to have the Oxford style debate that Stewart seems to think we should have, but this is a big argument that's taking place and I'm fairly sure that it's not going to be resolved by having some elite representatives of both sides sitting around Charlie Rose's table hashing it all out and then going out for drinks afterwards.

I will add this -- I think Stewart completely missed the point on why anyone would have the nerve to compare Cairo and Madison. Yup, no one is getting killed in Wisconsin, and that's a big difference. But on the other hand, I think Cairo and the related uprisings in the Middle East have had a huge influence on how this has played out. Before January, you would have seen maybe 20,000 folks come out to Madison for a couple hours on a Saturday, wear red -- and then go home and get clobbered on Monday.

That's what happened with the war in Iraq -- but Cairo taught the protesters what happened if you not only show up...but don't quit. What's more, the events in Egypt left many Americans who are frustrated by the ever-expanding power of the oligarchy wondering how and where they could take that same level of passion to the streets here at home, and Madison has proved to be that place.

I was surprised Jon Stewart didn't see that.

Hey, in his greatest season in 1941, Ted Williams still made an out in more than 59 percent of his official at-bats. Jon Stewart still has a higher home-run-to-strikeout ratio than anyone else swinging for the political fences these days, but so far he has whiffed mightly in the state of Wisconsin.

Why is why I'm glad the camel ended up on the cutting room floor.

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Will Bunch
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