How angry liberals reinforce the role of the right as agenda-setters

I’ve complained before about all the attention that the angry liberals—Air America, Keith Olbermann, The Huffington Posties, etc.—are playing to the nutters on the right, and I’m going to do it again. Not only does this obsession absolve them of developing and selling an agenda, and put them in the position of being mouthpieces for a centrist, business-friendly administration—it reinforces the role of Glenn Beck as an agenda-setter. Just as Olbermann can’t let go of Cheney, Obama’s clearly still in the discursive grip of Reagan.

Look at the liberal Americablog today. They’re attacking Obama for not wanting a censure of Joe Wilson because doing so creates a circus that takes attention away from health care. Apparently it’s more important to attack the Right than get health care passed. It’s just another example of how liberals let the Right set the agenda, foaming at the mouth when the Right does something they don’t like. We need to seize the initiative, not continually take the right-wing bait.

I’m no fan of economic crises as offering opportunities for political transformation—they could as easily, maybe more easily, break to the right as to the left, and they cause lots of suffering—but I had hoped that the near-meltdown of the financial system might lead to new ways of seeing, thinking, talking. Not yet.

The teabaggers are not the problem. A corrupt, inbred financial system is. That’s what we need to talk about, then change.

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