Matt Taibbi has a hysterical takedown of Times reporter Matt Bai, and how David Gergen confused him with Bai.
I’ve met Matt Bai. If you remember, I attacked him for half-assed coverage in the same piece last week, so this is pretty funny:
Bai is one of those guys — there are hundreds of them in this business — who poses as a wonky, Democrat-leaning “centrist” pundit and then makes a career out of drubbing “unrealistic” liberals and progressives with cartoonish Jane Fonda and Hugo Chavez caricatures. This career path is so well-worn in our business, it’s like a Great Silk Road of pseudoleft punditry. First step: graduate Harvard or Columbia, buy some clothes at Urban Outfitters, shore up your socially liberal cred by marching in a gay rights rally or something, then get a job at some place like theAmerican Prospect. Then once you’re in, spend a few years writing wonky editorials gently chiding Jane Fonda liberals for failing to grasp the obvious wisdom of the WTC or whatever Bob Rubin/Pete Peterson Foundation deficit-reduction horseshit the Democratic Party chiefs happen to be pimping at the time. Once you’ve got that down, you just sit tight and wait for the New York Times or the Washington Post to call. It won’t be long.
Comedy gold! But on to the actual critique:
So in other words, those of us who think robbing Social Security a second time to pay for the continuation of the obscene Bush tax cuts — well, that’s “demanding fealty to the one” and “brooking no dissent” and lacking “thougtfulness and openness to new ideas.”
On the other hand, approving those Social Security cuts and green-lighting the continuation of those insane tax breaks — tax breaks that were extremely radical even by Republican standards when Bush originally passed them amid two preposterously expensive war efforts — well, that’s being “pragmatic” and seeing “all dogma ” as “anachronistic.”
Here’s what this all comes down to, dogma or no dogma: who is going to pay for a) the Bush tax cuts b) the bank bailouts and c) the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? If you want to get there by making janitors and pipe-fitters wait until they’re 69 to retire, raise your hand. If you want to get there by making Jamie Dimon rent out his 900-foot rooftop terrace in Chicago two nights a year, raise your hand.
The really infuriating thing? Bai has it backwards. The real consensus, i.e. the consensus of actual human beings, outside Washington, overwhelmingly backs the idea of not fucking with Social Security benefits and ending the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000. In fact, only 26% of Americans support extending the cuts for everybody.
So when Bai talks about “bipartisanship” and suggests that extending the Bush cuts is a move to the center, what he’s talking about is the Washington consensus.
In some very vague way I suppose it could be argued that Barack Obama crawling into bed with John Boehner represents “post-partisanship,” but if you want to talk about building actual political bridges, the only meaningful way to achieve that is through the union of voters on the left who want to end the Bush tax cuts, and the voters on the right who want to end the Bush tax cuts. Unite the elderly Democrats who want to hold on to their Social Security Benefits and the elderly Republicans who want the same thing. That’s bipartisanship, but not in the way these Silk Road types like it.