The MSM is full of articles about the shutdown and how it will affect the country and the reputation of both parties. The whole thing is being treated mostly as a political game in which one side will win—and that side is generally expected to be the administration and the Democrats.
I don’t pretend to know how this will ultimately go. In this I suppose I differ from most politicians and pundits, who do just that: pretend to know. Their pretending has a purpose, which is to not just analyze and reflect but to influence, to create a public perception that will become a reality.
They do it because propaganda works. And Democrats are much better at it than Republicans, for a number of reasons, first and foremost that the press is almost entirely composed of Democrats, and secondly because Democrat appeals (the poor starving children!!) lend themselves far more readily to propaganda than Republican ones do.
When I look at stories such as this one and this, it’s crystal clear to me that the Obama administration is creating a crisis where none exists, in order to blame Republicans. Charles C. W. Cooke describes the game plan well in his article in National Review:
America, we are told, is in the grim midst of an unrivaled constitutional crisis that is being perpetrated in anger by “racist,” “bomb-throwing” “anarchists” whose “endgame” and ultimate fantasy is the shutting down of government — not, of course, because the co-equal branches of the American polity cannot come to a budget agreement, but because a vocal “extreme” minority, that has magically managed to transmute itself into a majority of the House and 46 percent of the Senate, does not believe in having a government at all.
It is transparently absurd, and yet it’s a “narrative” that might win out, because it’s been screamed so loudly and so often, and most people are not only not paying attention, but most people really are strongly influenced by what they read in the MSM whether they admit it or not or are even aware of it or not.
There are glimmers of hope; as I said, I don’t really know how this will play out. I like to think that people have enough sense to see through this and are paying enough attention and reading through the lines enough to perceive that it is the Democrats who will not negotiate and are forcing the shutdown and then exaggerating its effects. In this respect it’s been interesting to see that the British papers sometimes seem to have more sense than American ones. For example, there’s this in the Telegraph from Nile Gardiner (who admittedly is a conservative):
Cursing political opponents will do Obama no good and smacks of arrogance and desperation from a White House that has lost its grip on reality. The legacy of President Obama will be the relentless rise of big government and a large expansion of government dependency, the strangling of economic freedom, a huge increase in the national debt, and the implementation of hated health care reforms that carry with them a $1.85 trillion price tag. The Obama presidency will also be remembered for its bitter partisanship, and its relentless vilification of political opponents, emanating from an administration that would rather engage with a terrorist sponsoring regime in the Middle East than talk to elected US lawmakers three miles down the road.
Would that Gardiner were right, but I wonder whether Obama doesn’t in fact have an excellent grip on reality: the reality of how well his propaganda works, that is. Sp far it seems to have been working well enough to do the trick.
[RELATED: A good article by Fred Barnes.]