DOUTHAT AND GREENWALD: SEPARATED AT BIRTH?
Hey, kids! It's quiz time!
One of the following passages was written by right-wing hack Ross Douthat. The other was written by the Last Living Progressive Truth-Teller, Glenn Greenwald. Can you tell which is which?
1. The United States is living through an era of unprecedented elite failure, in which America's public institutions are understandably distrusted and our leadership class is justifiably despised. Yet politicians of both parties are required, by the demands of partisanship, to embrace the convenient lie that our problem can be pinned exclusively on the other side's elites -- as though both liberals and conservatives hadn't participated in the decisions that dug our current hole.
In this climate, it sometimes takes a fearless crank to expose realities that neither Republicans nor Democrats are particularly eager to acknowledge.
In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Paul has been the only figure willing to point out the deep continuities in American politics — the way ... overseas commitments multiply no matter which party is in power, the revolving doors that connect K Street to Congress and Wall Street to the White House, the long list of dubious policies and programs that both sides tacitly support. In both election cycles, his honest extremism has sometimes cut closer to the heart of our national predicament than the calculating partisanship of his more grounded rivals. He sometimes rants, but he rarely spins -- and he's one of the few figures on the national stage who says "a plague on both your houses!" and actually means it.
2. ... America's election season degrades mainstream political discourse even beyond its usual lowly state. The worst attributes of our political culture -- obsession with trivialities, the dominance of horserace "reporting," and mindless partisan loyalties -- become more pronounced than ever. Meanwhile, the actually consequential acts of the U.S. Government and the permanent power factions that control it ... drone on with even less attention paid than usual.
Because most of those policies are fully bipartisan in nature, the election season -- in which only issues that bestow partisan advantage receive attention -- places them even further outside the realm of mainstream debate and scrutiny. For that reason, America's elections ironically serve to obsfuscate political reality even more than it usually is.
... for better or worse, [Ron] Paul -- alone among the national figures in both parties -- is able and willing to advocate views that Americans urgently need to hear.
If I didn't know the answer, I suspect I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, apart from a few subtle telltale clues. Maybe you could. If you care, Douthat wrote the first passage, Greenwald the second. Both insist they're not endorsing Paul. Both, I imagine, are not agreeing with each other for the last time.
UPDATE: On further reflection, I realize I'm being a bit unfair. The Douthat column and the Greenwald post take divergent paths apart from the passages I've quoted: Douthat sincerely blames both parties for the mess we're in, while Greenwald aims almost all of his anger at liberals and the Obama administration (for failing to live up to the marvelous progressive model set by Ron Paul, who, of course, will never have to put what he yammers about into practice, since he'll never be president, or even lead a congressional coalition large enough to fight for his agenda). Douthat and Greenwald do agree on one larger point: the Republican Party does not deserve the lion's share of the blame for America's current troubles. Thanks for that insight, guys.