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Another tragedy in the marketplace of ideas

By Al Schumann on Wednesday May 28, 2008 01:07 AM

But... we have not done the Big Job, not even close. The conservatives' Big Ideas about government, taxes, security, the market, and the rest still dominate political discourse. Democrats in Congress still cringe at attacks based on these Big Ideas, and many have been intimidated into voting for conservative policies—on funding for Iraq, on government spying without a warrant, on taxes, on bankruptcy, and on and on. The Big Idea intimidation is still working. Changing that is the Big Job.

Rockridge says goodbye

Perhaps the underlying problem is that Democrats are not cringing and not intimidated, but are -- instead -- very enthusiastic in their support for the "conservative" ideas. Perhaps the countering progressive values and ideals that were to be framed into dominance would have fared better if they actually existed and were actually championed outside the drivel of Democratic Party marketing campaigns. Perhaps there's more to lending dignity and significance to ideas than the profligate use of capital letters. We may never know!

Comments (5)

Talk about tripping at the first hurdle! And the second, third, fourth....

Nicholas Hart:

Considering that it was Republicans who recently torpedoed the $165 billion Iraq war funding bill in the House, then the Democrats should be immune from the charge of "not supporting our troops" if they should follow suit.

Of course, I think that's just one excuse they use to support policies they actually favor. Considering the vast majority of Americans supports immediate and full withdrawal and the legions of spin doctors on the Democrats' payrolls this sort of excuse should ring hollow. The primary purpose of such spin is to keep their base from defecting.

And seriously, does anyone else appreciate the delicious irony of Republicans denying the war funds? The Dems are supposed to be the saviors of the antiwar movement, the force that will bring about an end to war, etc... and yet it was the Republicans who did the progressive thing (even if it was only intended as a political maneuver).

Al Schumann:


In one sense, as the Big Framing people readily admit, their efforts were a complete failure. They frame that part pretty well and they manfully resist blaming the failure of the Great Big Effort to Frame Our Values on the inadequacies of their financial supporters. The exhausted yet optimistic tone employed in the farewell is a nice, soothing touch and very considerate. They also use lots of capital letters to make sure the rubes gawking at the applied wonders of cogno-linguistic science understand the importance of what they've attempted and the tragic implications of its demise. And bless their hearts, they've left the archives online in case any values-framing self-starters care to take some personal initiative.

The typical play has typical phases. The potential sucker is first spotted and one member of the working team (called the outside man, steerer, or roper) arranges to make social contact with him. The confidence of the mark is won, and he is given an opportunity to invest his money in a gambling venture which he understands to have been fixed in his favor The venture, of course, is fixed, but not in his favor. The mark is permitted to win some money and then persuaded to invest more. There is an "accident" or "mistake," and the mark loses his total investment. The operators then depart in a ceremony that is called the blowoff or sting. They leave the mark but take his money. The mark is expected to go on his way, a little wiser and a lot poorer.

Sometimes, however, a mark is not quite prepared to accept his loss as a gain in experience and to say and do nothing about his venture. He may feel moved to complain to the police or to chase after the operators. In the terminology of the trade, the mark may squawk, beef, or come through. From the operators' point of view, this kind of behavior is bad for business. It gives the members of the mob a bad reputation with such police as have not. yet been fixed and with marks who have not yet been taken. In order to avoid this adverse publicity, an additional phase is sometimes added at the end of the play. It is called cooling the mark out After the blowoff has occurred, one of the operators stays with the mark and makes an effort to keep the anger of the mark within manageable and sensible proportions. The operator stays behind his team‑mates in the capacity of what might be called a cooler and exercises upon the mark the art of consolation. An attempt is made to define the situation for the mark in a way that makes it easy for him to accept the inevitable and quietly go home. The mark is given instruction in the philosophy of taking a loss.


It's really hard for me to see it as anything but an expert fleecing. It matches the method to an alarming degree. But it's possible that the pwogs, marks and operators alike, have so completely assimilated the ambient culture of magical thinking and thoughtless exploitation that goes with flat earth Friedmanism that they fall into the respective roles quite naturally.


They do love their self-imposed double binds. There's a touch of sadism to the elected Dems and an ocean of eager masochism to the "base". I think they'll handle the painful irony pretty well, by turning it into one of those godawful self-deprecating jokes they make about their own massively disciplined fecklessness.

Well, yes, and by tripping on hurdles, I mostly meant that the actual Ideas they thought they were combating were blatant apparitions. Even old Don Q could decipher that "small government" is about as important and real an Idea to the Biggies as is democracy. They might have tried to lay an actual glove upon the windmill before raising money for a lance...

Al Schumann:

I'm slow on the uptake sometimes. Please excuse my foot in the bucket routine.

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