Celebrity Death Pitch
Are stars hurting the Dems?
Boss in cocoon: I'm with Yglesias [v]-- this announcement is depressing. A Springsteen/Seeger album seems entirely pitched to a subset of the already-converted--no red-state audience there. And Seeger's a bit of a self-righteous twit, no? I bet half of Bosswell Eric Alterman's readers hate him. ... P.S.: I still contend that with a bit of subtle courting--it would take more than a few lunches at the Manhattan Institute, but maybe not that much more--conservatives could have at least partially pried Springsteen from the liberal death grip of Dave Marsh, Jon Landau, et.al. ... P.P.S.: Yglesias is actually making a broader point--that, given the successful GOP attacks on Dem elitism, well-known figures from the arts and entertainment world are "terrible spokespeople" for Democratic causes. It's nice that they give money--but as Yglesias points out you don't see rich Republican businessmen trying to become GOP spokesmen themselves and you don't see GOP politicians publicly celebrating their ties to rich businessmen. YetDemocratic music and movie stars are still under the illusion that they can "use their celebrity" wisely for the cause. At some point, someone is going to get them (even Clooney) the message: We want your money but we don't want you! Your celebrity doesn't help us. It hurts us. ... P.P.P.S.: Here's a good test case: Richard Dreyfuss, one of the smarter and more knowledgeable movie stars, recently gave a speech suggesting (not unsmartly) that President Bush should be impeached. Whether or not you think this is a good idea--I think it's a bad idea--did Dreyfuss' endorsement help or hurt the pro-impeachment cause? I'd say hurt. ... And if even a Dreyfuss hurts, an Alec Baldwin or Barbra Streisand can't help! ... [So it's a good thing for Dems that Springsteen isn't trying to reach the unconverted. He'd only hurt--ed I guess I'd draw a distinction between just giving speeches and endorsing--almost always counterproductive these days--and actually producing a work that in itself helps change minds. Name one--ed Steve Earle, "Ellis Unit One."] ... 11:49 A.M. link
[M]ore often than not, these liberal bloggers (especially Kos) act like they already have taken over the world--writing manifestoes, issuing threats, and engaging in all sorts of chest-thumping behavior. But, like I said, their batting average is still a big fat zero.
P.S.: OK, give Kos the manifestoes. That's what outsiders do. But not the thuggishness. ...[via RCP] 12:50 A.M.
Post-post-post-scarcity politics: Six ideas I took away from Garance Franke-Ruta's somewhat dense and academic essay on Dems and cultural "values" in The American Prospect: ... 1) Underneath, America's becoming like a videogame--"a more atomized, rage-filled outlook that values consumption, sexual permissiveness, and xenophobia." Yikes. ... 2) The half of the population that votes reacts against the growing anomie by embracing "moralistic politics." That's especially true of lower-income voters, who need moral order to survive in a more chaotic social environment. ... 3) In fact, "traditional values have become aspirational," complicating Tom Frankish efforts of Democrats to get less affluent voters to drop the Republican cultural nonsense and vote their pocketbooks. ... 4) Suddenly it's 1960 again, and Democrats like Franke-Ruta are worrying how to deal with "relative affluence" and "relative isolation" in a "post-scarcity society." ... 5) The last time around, in the actual 60's, JFK's Democratic answer to affluent isolation was not so much to embrace traditionalist values as create new, patriotic values ("Ask not," etc.) Is this national service answer now a) a harder sell than ever, b) needed more than ever, or both? If not national service, is there another non-traditionalist Dem morally-ordering institution out there? My instinct is that in 2006 health care--the social effort to beat back death and disability--is a more potent basis for egalitarian community than Peace Corpsing. For one thing, it's solidly rooted in individual self-interest. ... 6)Webbische Dean-friendly "progressives" like Franke-Ruta aren't likely to be the paleoliberal threat to the Democratic party many centrists fear. Why? As Matt Bai has pointed out, they have little allegiance to old Dem interest groups--unions and civil rights groups, in particular. At bottom, they're desperate reformers open to new ideas. ... 5:12 P.M.
Of course, if everyone followed the Fat Bald Guy Rule then it wouldn't work anymore, because it wouldn't be true that
when a fat bald guy manages to assemble a résumé that at first glance resembles that possessed by his good-looking competition, the FBGR assumes that the former record is actually far more impressive than the latter.
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.