Let’s all take another swift plunge into the rhetorical abyss of liberal hypocrisy. In a lukewarm effort to justify Obama’s inflexibility on tax rates, Daily Kos revs up the noise machines to insist the president now yields an indisputable mandate. Adding untold insult to injury, their contentions are solely supported by shamelessly invoking — wait for it — the same Bush mandate they repeatedly rejected with resounding fervor. While few will be surprised, let’s all momentarily pause for a collective eye-roll nonetheless. Without further adieu, feel free to join alongside my swan dive into the following dangerously shallow cesspool of sophistry:
Obama will not compromise. And why should he? He just won an election. He won 332 vs 206 of the electoral votes. He got 51% vs 47% of the national votes. 4 million more votes than Romney. He fared much better than Bush who beat Kerry by 286 to 251 electoral votes in 2004, a much smaller margin, with 51% to 48% of the national vote, also a smaller margin, and Bush claimed to have a “mandate” in 2004. If Bush had a mandate, Obama sure as hell has one now.
Well the tides certainly have turned, haven’t they? Exploring the mandate issue will require quickly rewinding to November of 2004. Against all odds, Bush 43 inexplicably secured a second term by narrowly winning 51% of the popular vote in, what some consider, his only electoral victory not achieved by a Supreme Court ruling. The response of the left — particularly progressives — rest assured, was both swift and resolute. In fact, Democrats of every shade staunchly declared, in unshakable lockstep, that a slim voter margin of 51% did not yield Bush a mandate. For the record, I agree with them as much now as I did then. What remains worthier of noting, however, is that precious few were more outspoken on the does-Bush-or-does-Bush-not-have a mandate issue than the indefatigable dissenters at Daily Kos. To illustrate this point, consider the sampling of headlines below, each freshly exhumed from the Daily Kos archives:
- Rev Up Our Noise Machine – No Bush Mandate
- Bush’s mandate: Margin decreases in 18 states
- Still No Media Consensus About a Bush Mandate
- Bush’s Non-Mandate: The Numbers
- Bush’s True Mandate
- Help Weaken Bush’s [Supposed] Mandate
- Bush 2004 Shrinking Mandate – Final Update
- A Mandate?
- Bush’s Laughable Mandate
- Wa-Po Poll: Bush Has No Mandate
In the interest of full disclosure, I was — and will forever remain — no less horrified by Bush’s victory than any of the wordsmiths crafting the headlines on this list. Although, in stark contrast to the most recent progressive strain of liberal hypocrisy, I do not currently harbor any delusion that the enlightened era of Hope, Change & Health Care™ has been anything beyond a continued descent into policies aims ranging from careless to catastrophic or, on the rosier days, a mundane beltway exercise perserving a broken status quo. However, referring back to the headlines above, it is abundantly clear no one at Daily Kos believed a slim 51% margin afforded Bush a popular mandate. Therefore, one is only left to question how they now assume Obama’s equally narrow 51% margin to be any more worthy of distinction. Have they forgotten their endless comeuppances claiming that 51% doth not a mandate beget? Did Bernanke loan Kos contributors his experimental Keynesian models for guaranteed monetary alchemy? Because, I’m relatively certain they are the only known modalities yielding:
1(0) = 3(0)
Where 0 = 8, velocity is myth, inflation requires air, and the bullshit multiplier remains constant.
Short an equally absurd formula, a slim 51% margin = a slim 51% margin, especially after factoring in the constant variable of blinding polarization tarnishing both victories. And partisan nitpicking centered on meaningless Bush-Obama ratios of electoral votes does not change this fact — particularly when the utter futility of the Electoral College is the only issue currently featuring any level at all of resounding bipartisan consensus. For elucidation on a true presidential mandate, look to the electoral map of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He garnered 60% of the popular vote, a 98% electoral victory and his four consecutive terms necessitated a formal amendment to the Constitution. Folks, That is a mandate. Ironically enough, Roosevelt could also offer the modern left some serious pointers on actual progressive ideology. The former bears little discernible resemblance to the incarnation of today. Tracking back to the original point, though, how is any of this yammering about mandates even remotely helpful? For a political contingency that is constantly droning on about the need for partisan unity and reaching across the aisle, how is any of this divisive commentary contributing toward that end? Do they believe their fanatic devotion to haphazard missives with a precarious relationship to truth will somehow help bring everyone to the table? It genuinely boggles the mind. So, in the effort to put this mandate issue to bed once and for all, I offer up their own hostile prose with a minor spin to reinforce the point:
Bush did not have a mandate; Obama sure as hell doesn’t have one now.
Moving along, there is only one thing rivaling the absurdity of this case for a mandate. And, that thing comes in the form of the infographic chosen to support Obama’s mandate in the ongoing tax stalemate. Therefore, let’s change course to review another shining example of, my more recent object of loathing, informational graphics boasting designs as complex and colorful as the spin being placed on the data. While entirely uncertain what overarching point the author sought to achieve by including it, beyond skewing (however well-intentioned) the opinion the reader, the following graphic is on display beneath the piece in question:
The first glaring issue? The title. Who earns $250,000 a year? Who cares. I will tell you who doesn’t earn $250,000 a year. Me. I am also entirely unconcerned with distastefully calculating a tax margin into racial profiles. Aside from myself, let me introduce you to another, far more relevant group of people not earning $250,000; more importantly, a group that is glaringly absent on this infographic. Meet Public Enemy #2 of the self-anointed progressive tax foundation. You might already know them as the single, taxpaying American household earning $200,000 a year. But, one doesn’t generally hear much about them beyond this designation because the data is marginal. Technically, the looming Bush-era tax rate expiration at the heart of Obama’s mandate-less inflexibility, to say nothing of author’s subject, includes the twin perennial targets of married households earning $250,000, as well as single households earning $200,000. Although, I cannot wholly fault the author for excluding this class, as every aggregate data account on earth generally excludes them too.
However, as an aggravating factor, albeit the lesser of the two, the infographic encourages the misconception that these tax margins comprise 2 percent of total households in the taxpaying public. In reality, they account for 4.2 percent. And, while you certainly will not hear this fact from the left, that 4.2 percent of taxpayers currently pays upwards of 50 percent of total income tax contributions. Incidentally, moving outside the chart at issue, it is also worthy to note that the top 20 percent of households pays a whopping 94 percent of the total federal tax burden. So, given this tremendously lopsided nature, exactly how much are Obama, congressional Democrats and Daily Kos mandate-inventors estimating the “fair share” of this 4.2 percent to be? 75 percent of contributions? 90 percent of contributions? 100 percent of contribution? In a last-ditch attempt at optimism, I suppose the irrelevancy of the selective data breakdown fits terribly well with the irrelevancy of the piece and, frankly, the entire website some days.
Now, before accusing me of being an aggressive, right-wing pedantic with an axe to grind, allow me to clarify a few things. I am somewhat aggressive, and I do tout my axe like a badge of honor; I also robustly encourage everyone else to do the same (with very heavy emphasis on Eric Garland and Glenn Greenwald). However, I do not polemicize on behalf of, or in support of, any partisan interest on either side of the aisle. I am as thoroughly disgusted by the right wing as I am the left. Additionally, there is a worthwhile distinction between pointless exercises in pedantry and critical details begging to be addressed. While I’m likely guilty on both counts at various times, the lack of acute importance afforded the latter is precisely what enables media hacks, to routinely pass off missives lacking an ounce of credibility to their readers. And in a world where the dutiful masses took 30 seconds to fact-check something they read, the point would be moot and I would carry on my merry way with a clear conscious and a spring in my step. Clearly, we don’t live in that world. And, repeatedly seeing article after article populated with everything from blatant lies to half-truths – irrespective of the venue – is really starting to drive me crazy. I am also more generally just tired of paying a terribly steep price for the blissful ignorance of another. As an aside, reading through the comments underneath this article (for which – clearly, no one other than the commenter is responsible for) I came across the following brilliant gem of vacant acumen that, really, is just too sufficiently horrifying to not share. If you are not already varying degrees of terrified by your fellow voters, this should definitely seal the proverbial deal:
“Bill O’Reilly said that White people were a minority in this country. This graph shows a gross majority.”
I honestly could not make this stuff up. How this individual managed to mistake a number reflecting the amount of white taxpayers in a 2% tax margin as a number reflecting the amount of white citizens in the population is simply breathtaking to me. The real cherry on the cake, though? The quote embedded beneath the signature of the commenter reading, “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.” Oddly enough, this is probably the only statement on Daily Kos – certainly the only one in this piece – with which I am in resounding agreement. Take note: If you do not have the ability to read a simple chart or construct a thoughtfully credible argument, as in the author’s case, chances are indeed excellent you will never have the smart people on your side.
As far as the rest goes, there are several things of which I am absolutely certain. First, Obama does not have a mandate; Second, if there exists a Daily Kos editor, heads should be regularly rolling; Lastly, in the fantastical land occupied by Obama, his supporters, Daily Kos contributors, non-mandate wielders and unicorns, unenumerated details are clearly on the same slippery slope to extinction as unenumerated rights. Feel free to file this between: “Are You F*ucking Kidding Me?” and “The Holy Trinity of Hope, Change & Health Care™.” Also, as we collectively inch toward Secretary Geithner’s long overdue resignation, be sure to regularly check back for the iBankruptedU™ update.
Disclaimer: I feel compelled to point out, the entire Daily Kos narrative at issue births merely ten complete sentences, yet somehow manages to launch a sustained, multi-pronged attack on communication, facts and basic grammar with alarming precision. That’s all.