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Marc Ambinder, Howard Dean, and the Intimidation of Acceptable Discourse

emperorsnewclothes.thumbnail.jpgThe list Blue Texan put together earlier today brings back some disturbing memories–such Democratic stalwarts John Kerry, James Carville, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Trippi all being forced to distance themselves from the accusation (rudely brought up in 2004 by Howard Dean, and admitted as true now) that the Orwell Bush administration manipulated terrorism alerts for political purposes.

But then, that’s how things were back then. Glenn Greenwald quotes Atrios:

Sometimes it’s a bit hard to remember just how nutty the world was in those post-9/11 days. Suggesting that Bush was using the terror alert for political purposes would have made you a crazy person, the mere suggestion of it would’ve put you outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

The timorousness of Kerry, Carville, et al. in reacting to Howard Dean’s truth-telling is proof of that. Anyone who recalls the fable of the emperor’s new clothes should be familiar with the dynamic: The peer pressure to accept official lies can be enormous.

Of course, most of the people reading this don’t need to be reminded. Hell, the entire liberal blogiverse basically came into being because a large segment of ordinary people all across the country needed a way to convince themselves they weren’t crazy for believing the obvious truths they saw. . . and needed it so badly that they commandeered an entirely new form of media to communicate and share information with each other.

So, when Marc Ambinder gripes about the "triumphalism" of those who rightfully ridiculed him for regurgitating the mindless-Bush-hatred meme (one invented by the same folks who sold Ambinder the bogus terror alerts he fell for), he shouldn’t be surprised. When intelligent, genuinely serious people get treated with that kind of contempt for five or six years, they get a little ornery. Go figure.

But in his partial mea culpa, Ambinder is sufficiently wounded to tell a belated truth, admitting that the Bushites were consciously "scaring Americans. . . [and] exploiting the national security divisions in this country for electoral gain." Now he just needs to go a step further and recognize that it wasn’t just "weak Democrats" they took advantage of, but pliable journalists such as himself.

Oh, and he could reflect on the fact that having been so morally unconstrained while in power, this same wing of our politics is now reacting to being out of power by encouraging their more unstable followers to physically intimidate their opponents–to the point of bringing firearms to public policy discussions.

I can’t see how this could possibly go badly if they should ever get back into power.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (