Monday, December 06, 2004

Icky People

Taibbi on who's behind the campaign to shun the icky people.

Marshall also signed, at the outset of the war, a letter issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) expressing support for the invasion. Marshall signed a similar letter sent to President Bush put out by the conservative Social Democrats/USA group on Feb. 25, 2003, just before the invasion. The SD/USA letter urged Bush to commit to "maintaining substantial U.S. military forces in Iraq for as long as may be required to ensure a stable, representative regime is in place and functioning."

One of just a handful of Marshall's co-signatories on that letter was Bruce Jackson, who also happens to be the head of the PNAC (whose letter Marshall also signed) and the founder of the aforementioned Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Jackson is not only a neo-con of high rank and one of the chief pom-pom wavers for the war effort. He was also a vice president in the weapons division of Lockheed-Martin between 1993 and 2002—meaning that he was one of the implied targets of Bowling for Columbine, which came out in Jackson's last year with the company.

Clearly, Marshall was thinking about the good of the Democratic Party, and not the integrity of his grimy little network of missile-humping cronies, when he and Al From made the curious—and curiously conspicuous—decision to denounce Moore, Hollywood and France at the DLC meeting in early November.

There were a number of things that were strange about the release of this obviously coordinated series of sound bites from the DLC heavies.

For one thing, people like Al From, Donna Brazile and DLC president Bruce Reed—event speakers who are all high-level political heavyweights whose instinct for spontaneity died with their souls 100 years ago, and would never say anything without first calculating its potential impact—would seem to gain very little by mentioning Moore's name at all in the conference.

To say openly in front of a roomful of reporters that the party has to disavow Michael Moore is to remind a roomful of reporters that the Democratic party is still currently linked to Michael Moore. This would be like George Bush Sr. using the word "wimp" in public, or John Kerry using the word "effete" or "snob." No alert political operative would recommend it, under normal circumstances.

Furthermore, as both Marshall and From surely know, there was no effort whatsoever even this time around by the Democratic Party to associate itself with Michael Moore. Excepting the brief and mostly unrequited love affair between Moore and Wes Clark, most of the party candidates recoiled from the fat director as from a diseased thing throughout the entire campaign season. They've already kept him at arm's length—why talk about the need to do it again? Why bring him up at all?

Well, that's easy. It's one thing to avoid public appearances with a Michael Moore, and to accept his support only tacitly. But it's another thing entirely to openly denounce him as anti-American, which is what Al From did last week.

What From, Marshall and the other DLC speakers were doing last week was not just ruminating out loud about the need to shy away from certain demonized liberal icons. They were, instead, announcing their willingness to embrace the other side's tactic—I hate to lean on this overused word, but it is a McCarthyite tactic—of branding certain individuals as traitors and anti-Americans. What they were doing was sending up a trial balloon, to see if anyone noticed this chilling affirmative shift in strategy and tactics.