Those of us who have studied the public media or public discourse of any other era in history besides the current one will no doubt have noticed the eerie lack of dissent in today’s mass media. With the exception of Fox and the Breitbart-style sites, there’s rarely any variation at all in the opinions presented to the public.
I’m not big on conspiracy theories; I’d suggest that reason there’s no diversity of opinion out there is because the vast majority of media employees are trained and educated in identical fashion from the moment they enter high school. By the time they’re working for the Times or HuffPo or Gawker or CNN they’ve been indoctrinated in doubleplusgoodthink for so long that it just comes naturally. Why would you disagree on a political issue when you’ve all been taught exactly the same set of opinions?
Yesterday’s piece in the NYT, titled Friends of Joe Biden Worry a Run for President Could Bruise His Legacy seems like a shocking departure from standard Times practice. Not to worry; it’s not the media that’s gone off the reservation, but rather Smokin’ Joe himself.
“Concern trolling” is the practice of pretending to be worried about someone so you can criticize them without being labeled as that most nonsensical of Millennial epithets, a “hater”. Here’s a “concern troll” I just made up:
Listen, I love the work of Lindy West, and I love what she’s doing for plus-sized women. I just worry that her heart will give out from that beautiful fatness of hers before she can completely defeat the patriarchy with her brilliant writings and gender-fluid insights.
Concern trolling isn’t a new phenomenon — it’s as old as a fellow who once said,
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him
but it’s become almost overwhelming in online discussions nowadays due to people’s sensitivity to “haters” and open criticism. The innovation of this century, surely, is the mental gymnastics that allow people to ignore criticism because it’s critical. Can you imagine if Nixon had been able to do that? He could have faced the television camera, secure behind his desk, and told the country, “Well, of course the Democrats are going to criticize the break-in! They’re haters! That’s what the fuck haters do!” And just like that, there’s no Gerald Ford administration.
Concern trolling is not limited to left-leaning people and organizations, but it’s more prevalent there, the same way appeals to patriotism are not exclusive to the Right. Most of the time, just like anything else you see online nowadays, it’s done in a completely half-assed fashion. So kick back and let the Times show you how it’s really done:
Those supporters, in the White House and the Senate, and within the political circles he has moved in for decades, fear that the legacy Mr. Biden has built as an effective partner who took on tough jobs for President Obama, not to mention the deep reservoir of public good will and sympathy he has amassed in his poignant handling of personal tragedies, could be sacrificed in the pursuit of an unsuccessful challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
They fret that Mr. Biden, as well known for his undisciplined, sometimes self-immolating comments as he is for his charm on the trail, could endanger Mr. Obama’s own legacy by injuring Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy and causing his party to lose control of the White House.
While the concern about Mr. Biden appears widespread among his political allies, few seem eager to tell him out of fear of hurting his feelings and seeming to be presumptuous about a decision that is all too personal.
“People deeply care about him and admire him,” said one person who is personally close to Mr. Biden and has worked closely with him, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his relationship with the vice president. “But you obviously have to worry about the feasibility and ultimate impact of a run.”
Oh, that’s the dank weed right there. Let’s remove the passive voice from all these assertions and let them stand naked:
* If Biden challenges Hillary, his “tragedies” will be used against him personally.
* If Biden challenges Hillary, he will be hurting Mr. Obama’s legacy.
* If Biden challenges Hillary, his feelings will be hurt.
* If Biden challenges Hillary, he will CAUSE HIS PARTY TO LOSE CONTROL OF THE WHITE HOUSE.
* If Biden challenges Hillary, there will be an ULTIMATE IMPACT, like a giant asteroid striking the Earth.
Furthermore, none of this matters anyway, because he cannot win. Hillary has been preordained to win the nomination. You can read the whole article to read the rest of the passive-aggressive threats — including a flat-out note that Mr. Biden is 72 years old and therefore too old for the job — but the meat of it’s in those four paragraphs. Biden must stand down for the good of the party because…
…even the slightest challenge to Hillary could damage her.
In other words, everybody knows that Hillary’s laundry list of crimes and felonies is so long that merely to have a Democrat allude to them is potentially enough to cause her to lose the election. In particular, there is no way Biden can run against Hillary without resurrecting Mrs. Clinton’s decision to put her email on a server that probably allowed classified information to escape her control. And that’s far from the only skeleton Mrs. Clinton has in her closet. One wonders if Vince Foster’s odd suicide note,
I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience and overwork
I did not knowingly violate any law or standard of conduct
No one in The White House, to my knowledge, violated any law or standard of conduct, including any action in the travel office. There was no intent to benefit any individual or specific group
The FBI lied in their report to the AG
The press is covering up the illegal benefits they received from the travel staff
The GOP has lied and misrepresented its knowledge and role and covered up a prior investigation
The Ushers Office plotted to have excessive costs incurred, taking advantage of Kaki and HRC
The public will never believe the innocence of the Clintons and their loyal staff
The WSJ editors lie without consequence
I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport.
which seems written for the sole purpose of exonerating Mrs. Clinton and which was considered by three separate handwriting experts to be a forgery, will reappear in the public discourse.
It’s dangerous to Mrs. Clinton to put even the possibility of risk to her campaign on the front page of the NYT, so why did the Times have this written, and by two authors no less? The two-author move is a classic strategy to emphasize that this is ex cathedra from the Times. Why is “The Gray Lady” pulling up her skirts here?
Well, as previously discussed, the American media speaks with a single voice, so the fact that this article is prominently displayed by the Times means that it reflects the general opinion of the Establishment. Joe must not run. If he does, he will be punished. His legacy will be deliberately tarnished. Instead of going into history as a lovable Ted-Kennedy-esque mountebank and trusty lapdog of Mr. Obama, he will banished from polite Washington society and written into the record as a failure. For a man who is conscious of the historical perspective, as Mr. Biden certainly is, that is a nontrivial threat.
So why make it in public?
There is no way in hell that this article is simply the work of two dudes sitting around and talking to Biden’s anonymous friends. It’s meant to tell Joe Biden what to do. Is it seriously the case that nobody has privately made this pitch to Biden until now? That none of his wealthy, influential friends have sat him down? That nobody’s made a call, sent a letter, left a horse’s head in his bedroom?
The clue is in the lede:
Later this month, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will escape for a family retreat to mourn his late son, Beau, but also to mull, as his dying son urged him to do, a campaign for president.
In other words, the man lost his son and he’s not inclined to listen to whispers any more. He’s entered that unique don’t-give-a-fuck stage of his life. He can do whatever he wants. What are you going to do, kill his son? He’s lost two children. It just might get into his head to become the President. Yes, he’s been whispered to — and he’s told the whisperers to go to hell.
So now they’re talking to him the only way they can: on the front page of the Times. It’s as open a threat as the Mafia gangster who worries that “something might happen to this store.” But it’s the last trick left in the bag for Mrs. Clinton’s masters and lackeys. They don’t want him opening his big mouth in public. But he’s already the Vice President. He’s not likely to, ahem, commit suicide or die in a private plane or anything like that. You can’t touch him, not unless you can get Congressman Brody in a bunker with the guy. (Sorry, that’s a “Homeland” joke.)
I cannot say I’d welcome a Joe Biden presidency. I’ve never thought much of him and I doubt he’d do anything good for this country. But for the sake of his self-respect, his son’s wishes, and the idea of a United States where we conduct our political business in public instead of a back room somewhere, I hope he runs.