Monday, June 01, 2009

That Was Then – And It Still Is

I can pretty much tolerate most right-wing hacks, at least on a personal level – not that I know any of them personally. I’m not disgusted or appalled by them – don’t have a visceral reaction one way or the other. Now that the good guys and gals are in charge, the radio pipsqueeks, cable nimrods and blogging boneheads are mere annoyances. When they are really on their lame game – like Glenn Beck currently is – they are mildly amusing and slightly facinating to watch, as we watch them spin themselves ever deeper into their own sad delusions of false righteousness and legitimacy.

It’s the same with most of the right-wing politicians who, not so long ago, were actually relevant and even held some power in the country, believe it or not. For instance, regardless of how much the wing-nuts tried to convince everyone that the opposition to Junior Bush’s disastrous policies were based on irrational rage, I never hated the little punk and I don’t know anyone who did. He was an empty-suited front for a bunch of manipulative but, ultimately, failed and sad white guys who are now justly losing the rewards they never deserved. Even Dick Cheney fails to get my blood boiling, as he continues his legacy tour of lies and pathetic self-rationalization.

In other words, it’s the issues – not the people who are so wrong about them – that deserve our passion and emotional connection. People come and go through politics and the various media noisemakers, but the important issues of the past several generations – civil rights, war and peace, protection of the environment and economic justice – remain. That’s why it’s easy – for me, anyway – to be at least polite with people I might run into on opposite sides or the fence, the political divide or the courtroom. Even if it is sometimes not reciprocated by a certain self-righteous member of the Marquette law faculty, or others.

Bipartisan and legal comity being a virtue, then, I’ll get to my point:

Screw Ted Olson.

Ted Olson is the lawyer who led the Bush campaign’s legal team that succeeded in shutting down the Florida recount in 2000, resulting in the worst U.S. Supreme Court decision with the most disastrous consequences (i.e.: the entire Bush legacy) in history. I can still hear his voice arguing in the Supreme Court in those dark days, when democracy was stolen in broad daylight. Using the most tortured interpretation of the equal protection clause anyone not named Scalia could imagine, the hyper-activist Rehnquist bare-majority (thanks for nothing, Sandra Day O’Connor) bought Olson’s snake oil just enough to install the worst president in American history before the votes were properly counted.

Last week, Olson popped up in a weird pairing with David Boies – who righteously represented the Gore campaign in the same historic case. For perhaps the first time in his career, Olson this time is on the Right Side, promising to join forces with Boies to challenge California’s Prop 8 anti-gay marriage amendment in the Supreme Court.

Boies and the Prop 8 opponents are too gracious in letting Olson tag along, even if he does lend his nut-right, Federalist Society credentials to the fight. What Ted Olson needs more than anything, if he is indeed trying to sneak his way back into polite society, is a good shunning. And, yes, I know his wife died on the plane that slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11. And, no, the justifiable sympathy from that personal tragedy does not get him off the hook for Bush v. Gore.

And, while I’m at it:

Screw Christopher Ruddy.

Ruddy is the pretend-journalist who provided fodder for Clinton-haters throughout the ‘90s with fabrications, lies and fantasies regarding the supposed crimes of the then-president. It was he who provided the gullible with the "facts" they needed to think the worst of Bill Clinton. He drove the phony "controversy" over Vince Foster’s suicide by claiming Foster was, instead, murdered in some dark Clinton conspiracy. He also pissed on the grave of another Clinton compatriot, Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash, but who Ruddy claimed died of a gunshot wound (during the plane crash, I guess). Ruddy’s smears were financed by right-wing financier Richard Mellon Scaife, and happily distributed throughout the wing-nut echo chamber, poisoning the political atmosphere for an entire decade and unjustly impugning the reputation of a fine and - in spite of him and them - successful president.

How strange, then, to read that the repulsive Ruddy is palling around with...Bill Clinton. In an otherwise heartening essay in the New York Times Magazine this weekend, Ruddy pops up as a most unlikely F.O.B. "I guess we thought, This is just politics," says the sleaze merchant, who remains in the bullshit business on NewsMax. "But looking back at my role, I was probably over the top. And if I knew then what I know today, I wouldn’t have pursued some of that stuff as aggressively as I did. I did an honest reporter’s job [ha]. But I have a different take on it now." Thanks for letting us know, asshole. Now, get off the stage.

David Boies and Bill Clinton need to use a little more discretion before they go around legitimizing their tormentors after-the-fact. Shake hands during a chance meeting in public? Sure – that’s what hand-sanitizer is for. But befriend and work together? Never.


patrick said...

A liberal takes the high road....

Rick Esenberg said...

Well, Mike, that is not my recollection of that event, although I do recall that it tool me a moment to remember who you are since we had only met once before and I am not the best with names and faces.

As for being self-righteous, I can be. But I like to think that my writing - on the blogs, in the paper and in journals - is something other than a string of derogatory adjectives and vitriol directed at people who have the temerity to disagree with me. Why would you expect people who you claim have no souls and no brains to be nice to you? Are they supposed to understand that you don't mean it?

Rick Esenberg said...

But, if I did give offense (and apparently I must have), I apologize.

Mike Plaisted said...


Apology accepted and I hope we have a chance to meet again sometime. There was a lot of weird energy in the air that day (for me, getting a taste of the Federalist Society vibe was fascinating), in the heat of the campaign and, besides, doesn't the mere presence of James Bopp set people on edge?

As for souls and brains, I know I said something about somebody, somewhere having "no soul" and you've sniped at me about that on your blog for a couple of years now. I see, on 9/11/06, I wrote that Junior Bush had no soul because of his constant exploitation of 9/11/01 for political ends. I'll stand by that, in that context. I do remember saying that John McCain sold his soul to front the current GOP, and I stand by that. But, as an ex-altar boy and current chronic agnostic (I don't know if there is a god and don't much care), who am I to judge who has a soul or who doesn't? Good point.

As for brains, I think I have given the main right-wing mouthpieces their due on that front; as in, they are too smart to really believe a lot of the nonsense they spew (global warming is a hoax, Obama is a socialist, ad nauseum). So brains are not the problem - using their brains to manipulate rather than inform and conduct fair debate is.

In any event, I notice both of us have been a little quiet lately, at least on our main platforms. I look forward to reading more of you and writing more of me.


AnotherTosaVoter said...

Based on the juvenile tone of your writing, I find it extremely difficult to believe you're capable of being civil in person to those who disagree with you.

You're probably not capable of having friends who are conservative, are you?