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Glossing Mr Paine

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday February 4, 2006 07:52 PM

JSP's last post here was characteristically gnomic, but I've known the guy for a long time and I think I know what he means. Mind if I tag a little Talmud onto your Torah, J.S.? Feel free to tell me if I've got it wrong.

The Democratic Party has had several phases of existence, which you can define with reference to its dominant constitutencies. There was a phase when it was almost exclusively the party of the Bourbon "courthouse gangs" and lynchers down South. That picture got complicated a bit by Northern ethnic urban political machines, and really complicated during what you might call the Bryan years. Technocratic, instrumental-rationalist progressives and liberals later made their mark, and labor unions.

But recently -- with the decline of the unions and the Republican takeover of the white-sheet bloc -- the only really controlling constituency left in the Democratic Party is, well, liberals in the current meaning of that term. That is to say, people with graduate degrees, who work in management or the professions or academia or the media, who make better-than-average salaries and have higher-than-average cultural standards; rational, disciplined people, unmoved by unruly passions; cool-minded trader-offers and honest brokers; people motivated neither by greed nor by a Jacobin or Jacksonian chip on their shoulder. Reasonable, pragmatic, secular, Benthamite -- if you had to carve this class's face on Mount Rushmore, it would be the face of Hillary Clinton.

Now Hillary, in her Triangulationist style, is doing her best to look like anything but a liberal. Nevertheless, that's what she is -- and both her friends and foes know it. Her foes know it and hate her to the point of frothing at the mouth. Her friends know it and stick with her in spite of her support for war, and government snooping, and ethnic cleansing in Israel. The friends may deplore these compromises, but they stick with her because they trust her, and they trust her because they know, at bottom, she's one of them.

The larger public doesn't trust her, though -- and with all their fondness for awful TV shows, and dismal cuisine, and NASCAR races, and downmarket churches -- when it comes to Hillary and her ilk, the public is right.

Comments (2)


brother smiff....
if i could have said it so well...
would have

j.s. paine

(resident gnome-ifier)


between hillary
and the lower orders
ie "the people" ..
ie the demo in democracy

its a case of mutual distrust :

she don't trust them
anymore then they trust her

the diff....
she cherishes them
though they love not her

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