Matt Bai is living proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His parents figured out how to bone and unleashed dangerous centrist spawn on the world nine months later.
In truth, though, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Warren speak to different audiences and reflect inescapably divergent perspectives on how to confront the epic challenges of globalization and inequality.
Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected, but also to build a more modern economy. He was the one, as spokesman for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who told Democrats again and again that they couldn’t succeed as a party that loved jobs but disdained the businesses that create them. Mr. Clinton transformed welfare, balanced the budget and declared an end to the liberal era of government, which is why a lot of conservative-leaning independent voters would re-elect him if they could.
As a Harvard law professor during the Bush years, Ms. Warren, who is now a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, came to represent a rebuke of such Clintonian expedience. Her indictment against the excesses of Wall Street and the abdication of centrist Democrats became popular among a new generation of old-style economic populists (most notably John Edwards and then Mr. Obama), who often cited Ms. Warren’s arguments in making the case that the party had to reverse course from the Clinton years and rein in a business community that was prospering at the expense of the middle class.
HOLY BALLS ARE THESE NOT CONTRADICTORY. Bill Clinton is not for a fucking financial collapse. Elizabeth Warren is not for incontinent irresponsible spending. Clinton is not in favor of letting credit card companies fuck over their customers. Warren is not for cutting off business from financing and capital.
THESE APPROACHES ARE, IN FACT, COMPLEMENTARY. Without strong oversight and strict rules, the financial system just doesn’t fucking work, does it. And if the ability of the financial system to provide capital to businesses is shunted, the economy doesn’t fucking work, does it. But I’m sure Clinton wants the former outcome and Warren wants the latter.
THESE APPROACHES ARE COMPLEMENTARY BECAUSE THEY ARE RESPONDING TO DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS, LIKE ADULTS. Would Warren have opposed balancing the budget and paying down debt in the late nineties? Is Clinton opposed to expanding food stamps and unemployment insurance right now? Is there anything contradictory in any of this?
THERE’S A GHOST OF A POINT HERE, BUT BAI FUCKS IT UP BY TRYING TO BE DAVID BROOKS AND INFANTILIZING IT. And it’s not one he spends a full clause on. “Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected,” end quote. Hmm that’s an interesting point maybe the Democrats have to take finance cash in order to win what are the causes of this situation what are the consequences Mr. Bai? Mr. Bai? Why are you putting that brightly colored plastic block in your mouth? Why won’t you tell me about the powerful structural factors that determine the political phenomenon you’re talking about? Why are you talking this bullshit about “competing worldviews” that you know is so abstract it isn’t even a gross oversimplification?
BAI’S INFANTILIZATION RESTS ON A CENTRIST POLITICAL AGENDA THAT IS NEVER EXPLORED IN THE PIECE ITSELF.
A. Making up a fight among Clinton and Warren makes it seem like “don’t fix the financial sector” is a viable political position within the Democratic Party, which puffs it up as a mainstream opinion instead of its actual existence as a whispy ghost on the fringes of acceptability.
B. By making up a huge fissure in the Democratic Party, it allows an implicit comparison to the Republicans, whose central story since Palin has been its war between moderates and looney tunes. Both Sides Do It! Partisan politics is tumultuous and eventful and exciting! The fact that Bai can’t find actual disagreements to make his point, the fact that he has to make shit up to make the point that politics is working out large disagreements with huge stakes, means that he’s a . . . big poopy head.
C. The mask slips at the very end and Bai starts to reveal his political preferences. In the guise of objective analysis, of course. “Is Mr. Obama, at bottom, the Clintonian candidate who tried to hammer out a “grand bargain” on the budget with Republicans, or is he the more traditional Democrat who skewers Wall Street bankers as “fat cats” and pretends he can fix inequality with gimmicks like “the Buffett rule?” ” The use of pejorative terms for one side of that “objective” question indicates where Bai stands, of course, but it goes even deeper. By ridiculing the perfectly-sensible-on-both-policy-and-moral-grounds Buffett rule for not single-handedly fixing income inequality, he denigrates the very idea of both the sensible rule and treating income inequality as a complex problem which will need a toolkit to take apart instead of a hammer. In other words, he’s denigrating the idea of being an adult about solving important problems.
How Bai has avoided SIDS this long I have no idea.