Thursday, March 03, 2005

Elephants and Jackasses

Marc Cooper has a snarky piece coming out in The Atlantic Monthly about how certain sectors of the, yes, liberal elite, prefer to think of politics as a form of psychotherapy rather than as a project of coalition building. The article, I think, is both nastier than it needs to be, and takes on awfully soft subjects without spending as much time as it should trying to propose positive alternatives. Here's a sample Cooper himself is particularly proud of:
Sampling the dinner parties, salons, book events, and fundraisers on the liberalish West Side of Los Angeles over the past few years has been its own sort of nightmare, thank you very much. It features the liberal left as the new incarnation of the John Birch Society, the black-clad beneficiaries of studio residuals and university tenure—often banking family salaries deep into six figures (or much, much more), their offspring booked into $20,000-a-year prep schools—as the last-standing defenders of enlightenment and democracy. At one liberal party last year, in a sprawling Sunset Boulevard mansion bedecked with statues and gold leaf, where Aaron Sorkin and Rob Reiner clinked glasses with Laurie and Larry David, the Chanel-clad hostess (a very wealthy industrialist) mounted her staircase and, speaking to the all-Democratic crowd, vowed to dedicate her energies to fighting George W. Bush. To thunderous applause she announced, "We are tired of being disenfranchised!"
In general, I agree with Cooper's assessment that the Democrats would probably do better if they read more Thomas Frank and less George Lakoff. In other words, as readers of this blog know, I think the Democratic Party needs come up with a clearly differentiated story that challenges the DLC-Republican orthodoxy that promotes welfare for corporations and "market discipline" for the working classes.

But if I largely agree with what I take to be Cooper's political point (small precaution: I haven't read anything else by him), I still have to question whether blasting away at the fecklessness of Hollywood fundraisers really advances the cause, or if it simply provides an echo of what you get in rawer form on Fox talkshows or the op-ed pages of the WSJ. Surely Cooper understands that rich Hollywood donors are the useful idiots of the Party, and both should be encouraged to keep giving, and as much as possible kept out of the political spotlight. His writing about them this way accomplishes neither of those goals.

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