Glenn Greenwald’s Mitt Romney Surrogacy

by A. Jay Adler on June 7, 2012
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I might just as well have titled this Glenn Greenwald’s Collateral Damage, The Politics of Animus, or the Politics of National Destruction or the Puritopian’s Dilemma – the list goes on. Here’s a list that goes on longer, among Glenn Greenwald’s last eighteen blog posts:

Probing Obama’s secrecy games; U.S. again bombs mourners; Tough Guy Leaking: Iran edition; How extremism is normalized; Obama the Warrior; “Militants”: media propaganda; The Authoritarian Mind; The Imperial Mind; WH leaks for propaganda film; John Brennan’s new power.

The last twelve posts are all attacks on the Obama administration or President Obama himself. Of the six before that, four are directly critical. Even a post entitled “Egyptian wisdom,” ostensibly intended to praise emerging “democratic accountability” (a subject on which Greenwald regularly displays a penetrating lack of discernment) is merely a short set-up, using an Egyptian “man-on-the-street” quote, for a closing link intended to criticize Obama for not pursuing Bush era criminal prosecutions.

Of course, these topics should all be open to consideration and criticism. But it should take little of that discernment Greenwald lacks – absent ideological blinders or that politics of animus – to recognize that context matters, and consequence, and that we do not rail against the demigods, or what passes for them, on an island. Glenn Greenwald does not care. He is angry, he is right, and he will destroy what doth of late preoccupy him to target – sort of like a drone – even if the collateral damage is the American nation.

We are in an election year. The alternative to Barack Obama is Mitt Romney and a reactionary GOP, the goal of which is to undue not just the accomplishments of the Great Society, but of the New Deal, to reverse the gains in Black civil and women’s rights, in labor and working people’s rights, in voting rights, and to stop in its current advance the progress of gay rights. As I wrote at greater length in “From the People Who Brought You Richard Nixon and George W. Bush,” the effects of these monomaniacal Puritiopian visions – “There is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans” – is felt for generations, in people’s financial and job security, their health care (and thus their lives and deaths), their loving and familial relationships, in the developing governance of the nation, and in the very rights of individuals as citizens.

For all of Greenwald’s calculated and small “c”/big “C” constitutional hysteria over the Threats to Democracy perceivable in post 9/11 anti-terror policy, for all of GOP hysteria post the election of the first Black Democratic president of the threat to democracy of “big” federal government, the truth of American history is something other: the most consistent source of threat to American freedom – electoral and other tyrannies of the majority, restrictions on civil rights, abuse of minority rights – has occurred neither in the federal government per se or from its national security powers, but has taken place at the state level. That is what we have seen on a massive scale just since the GOP electoral victories of 2010. This is what a GOP win in November promises, with a solidification of a reactionary Supreme Court that, just as in consequence of GOP presidential dominance over the 1970s and 80s, offers reactionary conservatism the opportunity to shape American culture for a generation or two.

Many who read and fulminate over Greenwald would not vote for the Democrats in November anyway. But like all public voices, Greenwald has influence – he, unfortunately, more than most. He may offer whatever high-minded rationales he likes. The first truth is that he is not high minded. He is as disingenuous, hypocritical, and vitriolic a smear-monger (“smear” serving as one of his favorite projected insults) as may be found on either side (you decide) of Rush Limbaugh, though with none of the low entertainment value. I have documented and analyzed his techniques multiple times at this site, but an easy sum of his argumentative character can be found in Brad DeLongs words about Noam Chomsky.

What I object to is that Chomsky tears up all the trail markers that might lead to conclusions different from his, and makes it next to impossible for people unversed in the issues to even understand what the live and much-debated points of contention are.

To campaign so constantly against the Obama administration at this point in an election year has consequences. Greenwald may claim to feel whatever disregard he might toward Mitt Romney. His efforts to diminish Obama can only have the effect of diminishing, in return, among some segment of the electorate, the enthusiasm for Obama’s reelection and the ultimate turnout on Election Day for Obama. This will only help elect Mitt Romney. Then everyone to the left of Scott Walker and Rick Scott can decide how they like that America.

And Glenn Greenwald will need to face his own accountability. Accountability he will reject. And accuse someone of smearing him.


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