H. L. Mencken, Cultural Elitism, and the Democratic Party

by: John Emerson

Sat Oct 31, 2009 at 14:30


Most people probably at least vaguely remember Inherit the Wind, the 1960  movie about the Scopes trial, with Spencer Tracy as the gruff liberal (Clarence Darrow in real life), Fredric March as the pompous Christian anti-evolutionist (William Jennings Bryan in real life) and Gene Kelly as the cynical newspaperman (H. L. Mencken is real life). In the movie, the Bryan figure represents the past, blind religious belief, and ignorance, whereas the other two men represent progress, science, and freedom.  The standard contemporary Democrat's image of the populist is along the lines of the film's Bryan figure (Matthew Jefferson Brady): an ignorant anti-intellectual full of hot air and self-righteousness.

The facts of the matter are quite different. Bryan was a Democrat, not a Populist, and while the Populists did support him in 1896, Bryan never even acknowledged his Populist support. The  defender of evolution, Clarence Darrow, was the real Populist in the room: Darrow had actually been a Populist stump speaker back in the day.

But I'll mostly be writing about the cynical reporter, H. L. Mencken (E.K. Hornbeck in the movie), because one large chunk of the Democratic Party is Menckenesque (as Christopher Lasch has already noted). Mencken offers a window into the cultural politics of that era, which I believe has a considerable continuity with the cultural politics of today.  

John Emerson :: H. L. Mencken, Cultural Elitism, and the Democratic Party
There's a lot to like about Mencken. He had a salty sense of humor and wrote vigorously and well. He mostly wrote about literature, music, and politics, but he had come up through the ranks as a newspaperman and had a broad range of experience to draw upon. He was thoroughly secular and a religious skeptic, and one of his specialties was ridiculing people who he felt need to be ridiculed. Even though he didn't like jazz, during the Jazz Age and the Prohibition era he was the acknowledged leader of the liberated and the forward-looking, and he helped bring a number of new realist authors to the attention of the American public. During the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations he heaped scorn on the ruling Republicans, and for that reason he remains a hero to many eighty years later.  

It thus seems a little odd when you find that Mencken was a Roosevelt-hater who opposed almost everything about the New Deal. There are actually two good explanations, though. The first is that Mencken was primarily a cynic, a contrarian, and a misanthrope who rejected democracy as a matter of principle, thought that the vast majority of men were complete idiots ("boobs") who deserved nothing but contempt, and above all, hated every kind of do-gooder and reformer like the plague.*  

The second explanation is that Mencken was a Bourbon Democrat. The Bourbon Democrats ruled the South and most of the big cities of the North. They (and their "stand-pat" Republican frenemies) were uniformly corrupt, cynical, elitist, anti-labor, and segregationist. During the 1890s they succeeded in destroying the Populist Party, and in the succeeding era they were under continual attack by progressives within the party, and they and the stand-pat Republicans fought to the death against reform. The Bourbons didn't lose their power within the party until 1965 or so, and during the New Deal they supported FDR only grudgingly, if at all.    

The most famous and most successful Bourbon Democrat was Grover Cleveland, who was perhaps the most anti-labor President in an anti-labor era and who, as President, was personally responsible for driving the Populists out of the Democratic Party.

Thirty-six years years after Cleveland had left office, at the beginning of the New Deal, Mencken wrote a fulsome piece on Cleveland ("A Good Man in a Bad Trade" in A Mencken Chrestomathy, p. 227) in which he regretted that the ignorant masses admired Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Abraham Lincoln far more than they did the much superior Cleveland. And to Mencken the most admirable thing about Cleveland was his sternness toward the people who supported him.  

In Mencken three legs of the anti-populist Democratic Party are already in place: cultural elitism, the "counterintuitive" contempt for the party base, and "realism". (Mencken was not exactly pro-corruption, but as a cynic and misanthrope he thought that it was inevitable, and he bitterly hated reformers as such.)

To Mencken all goody-goodies were the same: many of the political progressives of the 19th and early 20th century had a Christian background, and among the progressives causes like anti-corruption, anti-monopoly, and women's suffrage often were mixed in with to Prohibition, health cults, and sometimes even nativism.

Thus, if Mencken were alive today he would thoroughly enjoy the scandals and the imbecilities coming from the two parties, and he would be perfectly happy to note the corruption and boodling of the Democrats and the Republicans, but the ones he would really hate would be the Naderites, the Chomskians, and the few remaining honest liberals.  

Mencken, however, was not a miliarist. He opposed World War One and was very doubtful about World War Two. (He had real difficulty deciding who he despised most:  Roosevelt, Hitler, the isolationists, the leftists, or the pacifists.

Over at the New Republic, however, you had the fourth leg of Cold War liberalism. The New Republic liberals were educated, tough-minded, and sophisticated. They shared Mencken's contempt for the populists and the churchy progressive reformers, and like Mencken they were sophisticates who despised the culture both of the masses and of the genteel middle class. Unlike Mencken, however, they believed in the power of government to improve things - as long as it was scientific, tough-minded, and top-down. And unlike Mencken, they strongly supported the First World War, even though they had trouble figuring out why. (As Lasch said, at the beginning they didn't know what their war policy would be, but they knew that it would be a tough policy.)  

Between Mencken and the New Republic liberals, all of the elements of the Cold War liberalism that still controls the Democratic Party were in place by 1920: anti-populism, administrative elitism, militarism, "tough-mindedness", and culturalism.***

However, something had been lost. One key element of the New Deal Democratic Party did not survive WWII: the various independent, third-party, and dissident Republican and Democratic populists / progressives (mostly from the West and Midwest) who forced Roosevelt to do (more or less) the right thing. Most of them thought Roosevelt moved too cautiously, and many of them were isolationists, and while Roosevelt knew that couldn't have accomplished what he did domestically without strong pressure from his left, during the war a national unity government was put in place and the progressives faded from view.  

After the war there were little twitches of progressivism here and there, but the party was purged of leftists during the pre-McCarthy and McCarty eras. The party leaders didn't want any more of that grief, and by and large the Democratic Party became a pro-business, pro-war corporate-liberal organization. Intellectuals like Richard Hofstadter** helped out  by portraying the odious Joe McCarthy as the true heir of the populists and progressives who had given the machine Democrats so much trouble during the fifty years beginning in 1890.

The pro-business, pro-war wing of the Democratic Party has always been there, and so have the elitist, cultural liberals, and often they've been allied against the populists and progressives. When Wellstone said "I'm from the Democratic branch of the Democratic Party", he wasn't being quite accurate, and he knew it. What he really should have said (though it would have been too wonky) was that he was from the Farmer-Labor branch of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the official name of Minnesota's Democratic Party, which came into existence in a merger of the old Democrats with the radical Farmer Labor Party).  

So what's my point? First, during their best years the Democrats were heavily dependent on dissident progressive frenemies of various sorts, but in recent decades they've lost that resource and exclusively associate with Republicans.  The results haven't been pretty. The corporate anti-populism of  today's Democrats alienates them from one of their sources of strength and makes them poor representatives of the American people.  

And second (a point I haven't been able to develop very well today), too many of the Democratic rank and file - what I call the "wonk demographic" -- have bought into the anti-populism, cultural elitism, and administrative liberalism of the machine Democrats, and this cripples the party. In many contexts, becoming a liberal is a way of making yourself a better class of person, the same as buying a nicer pair of shoes or a better kind of cheese. The only hope is that sometime in the future the economic crisis will take such a big bite on the multitudinous pseudo-wonks in the party that they will grudgingly waken to the fact that they really aren't all that, and are really just nothing but People like everyone else.

NOTES    

*Mencken also thought that most women were idiots and  didn't think that they should be given the right to vote, but in his condescending way he sort of liked them. This hatred of reformers and do-gooders can also be seen in Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes the ex-Abolitionist (see Menand's The Metaphysical Club) and in a less political form in Mark Twain.  

(Final edit 2:45. Sorry, folks!)

**Many people have been generous enough to explain to me that Hofstadter didn't do this single-handed. Thank you, many people!  

***In The New Radicalism Lasch shows how a lot of the adulation Kennedy received was not for any real merits he had, but just because he was cooler and more attractive than other politicians.  

SOURCES  

A Mencken Chrestomathy, H. L. Mencken, Knopf, 1949.
The New Radicalism in America, Christopher Lasch,Vintage, 1965.
The True and Only Heaven, Christopher Lasch, Norton, 1991.


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Good read, John (4.00 / 4)
I have nothing to add.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

Conversely (0.00 / 0)
Just because YOU couldn't imagine doing such a thing, doesn't mean THEY didn't.

[ Parent ]
Sorry folks (4.00 / 2)
My edit and republish may have erased some comments. All my fault.

Some of the things I'm talking about here also came up on this Crooked Timeber thread (for those who have a lot of time to kill):

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/...


Very Good Diary, John (4.00 / 2)
It's very important for folks to understand just how far back all these battles go.  It's all quite natural to think that it started with your generation (whatever it is) versus the old fogies.  But it's always much, much, much more complicated than that.

Mencken praising Cleveland at the darn of the New Deal is emblematic of that.  But are you aware that Gore Vidal is a Cleveland man, too?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Vey interesting discussion. (0.00 / 0)
Well done.

Oh!, Man. (4.00 / 6)
That last paragraph.
And second [...] too many of the Democratic rank and file - what I call the "wonk demographic" -- have bought into the anti-populism, cultural elitism, and administrative liberalism of the machine Democrats, and this cripples the party. In many contexts, becoming a liberal is a way of making yourself a better class of person, the same as buying a nicer pair of shoes or a better kind of cheese.

And, they wield it like a cudgel against against anyone with populist instincts or populist complaints.  I think it's a blood relative to this behavior Greenwald characterized thus,

People love now to assume the role of super-sophisticated political consultant rather than a citizen demanding actions from their representatives.  Due to the prism of gamesmanship through which political pundits understand and discuss politics, many citizens have learned to talk about their political leaders as though they're political strategists advising their clients as to the politically shrewd steps that should be taken [...], rather than as citizens demanding that their public servants do the right thing [...].

I'm not quite certain of how they array on the family tree, but they share enough of the same physical characteristics that you'd figure they'd have to be cousins, at least.


Hmmm. Maybe We Could Write A Political Simulation Game (4.00 / 2)
Where you win the election, get your legislation through Congress, and die from any one of a number of different socially preventable causes as a reward?

Strategist triumphs.  Citizen dies.  Millions flee flood.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Thanks (4.00 / 10)
I hadn't seen the Greenwald. I read him regularly, but not every word.

One point I've made elsewhere is that one kind of wonk actually outsmarts himself. You're always hearing people say things like "There's no way we're going to get X with this Congress, so it's just a waste of time to try for that". That's part of what's happened with healthcare -- instead of asking for what we really think would be best, we compromised before the fight started and asked for second best. (Lambert, if you're still there, I've always agreed with you that much).

This is just normal bidding and bluffing game theory -- you don't start bidding with your final offer, you work the process and see what emerges. It's generally true that the more determined and less reasonable negotiator (the Republican) usually wins, and that the reasonable, fair-minded negotiator (the Democrat) usually loses.

A lot of rank and file Democrats have backgrounds in fields like education and psychology where conflict-reduction and is the whole job, and others work in bureaucratic, administrative, and academic contexts where competition is usually veiled and harmony is the goal. There are really things that you need to know in politics that you couldn't have learned in kindergarten.

And I also think that a lot of wonk Democrats also retain vestiges of deterministic and reductionist kinds of social science that teach you that surface conflict is unreal and meaningless and that wise scientists who understand the "underlying causes" will know how things will turn out in advance. That's the old "Let's not get emotional about this, but look a little more closely at what's really going on" dodge. Most ordinary people really hate that kind of stuff, which is closely associated in the popular mind with weeny liberalism, but it also makes wonk liberals into losers in competitive situations, because reality really isn't like that.


[ Parent ]
I Have To Disagree (4.00 / 4)
A lot of rank and file Democrats have backgrounds in fields like education and psychology where conflict-reduction and is the whole job, and others work in bureaucratic, administrative, and academic contexts where competition is usually veiled and harmony is the goal. There are really things that you need to know in politics that you couldn't have learned in kindergarten.

In kindergarten you learn that bullies have to be stood up to.  It's the later experience that causes them to forget.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well..... (4.00 / 1)
You need to learn that Teacher isn't going to be there to protect you, and a good kindergarten won't teach you that.

[ Parent ]
But A Good-Enough Kindergarten Will (4.00 / 1)
As in Winnicott's "Good-enough mother":

"The good-enough mother...starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure" (Winnicott, 1953)


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
And I guess I'd say... (0.00 / 0)
that a good kindergarten will not teach you that some people lie all the time.

[ Parent ]
I Think I Leared That Well Before Kindergarten (0.00 / 0)
Talk about an "enriched environment!"

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Terrific essay... (4.00 / 3)
... and this comment in particular really hits a nerve with me. In an insightful way, of course.

This observation is one I share every time I have a friendly argument with my erstwhile "liberal" friends... usually as a result of them telling me "what's possible" and "what's not" and oh how they love to whinge about GOP obstructionism. All while totally ignoring the fact they themselves have already defeated the agenda by buying into this bullshit narrative. Suffice it to say the emails aren't flowing with the same frequency they once were.

That said, I do think you are right about the economy will create a lot of converts. A shattered standard of living will focus a lot of people. Indeed, I also think the current failed (it's not a complete failure, of course, but it's not really going to change all that much, from what I can see thus far) effort at healthcare reform will also focus a lot of people. It's just too bad people have to wait until Obama is reelected to figure out just how badly they got screwed.

The sooner people learn politics isn't a parlor game, the better, methinks. As such, I really appreciate your focus here.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Another self-destructive lifestyle ornament (4.00 / 1)
And second (a point I haven't been able to develop very well today), too many of the Democratic rank and file - what I call the "wonk demographic" -- have bought into the anti-populism, cultural elitism, and administrative liberalism of the machine Democrats, and this cripples the party. In many contexts, becoming a liberal is a way of making yourself a better class of person, the same as buying a nicer pair of shoes or a better kind of cheese. The only hope is that sometime in the future the economic crisis will take such a big bite on the multitudinous pseudo-wonks in the party that they will grudgingly waken to the fact that they really aren't all that, and are really just nothing but People like everyone else.

What's the Matter With Kansas? - it's not just for Republicans anymore.

(I think you made the point well, John.)

http://attempter.wordpress.com


I don't necessarily defend... (0.00 / 0)

my meta meta namesake's views.

But I do think Gene Kelly was much better than Darren McGavin.


My work is not done yet (0.00 / 0)
http://crookedtimber.org/2009/...

For a variety of reasons, the Crooked Timber people are not a good audience for me, though I still enjoy trolling there.


So, A Burr In The Timber'sCrook (0.00 / 0)
Sounds like a good place to be.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry. (0.00 / 0)
Color me dense.  Which voice is yours?

[ Parent ]
I'm not on that thread. (4.00 / 2)
But Bertrand and at least one commenter use the word "populist" simply to mean "angry, ignorant demagogue".  That's kneejerk among academics, especially in Europe (or so it seems).

The CT people all want democracy and equality, but they're pretty invested in their expert status too, and like many or most American liberals and European socialists, they're committed to a slowly retreating defensive battle where The People are one of the enemies.
This is the thread I'm on:

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/...


[ Parent ]
That Was A Pretty Amusing Thread (0.00 / 0)
The part of it I read, at least.

The Farmer-Data Analyst party, for one.

And the the Farmer-Data Analyst party, for another.

Now that would be a two-party system I could get behind.

And speaking of party, my Halloween video diary just went up.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Ah! (0.00 / 0)
Thank you.  I can be real dense sometimes, and this was one of those times when I feared I really had a problem.  

I especially liked this comment:

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/...

Right on.


[ Parent ]
So why not leap into the populism thread? (0.00 / 0)
I did. And Chris might be calling you out.

[ Parent ]
Bad liberals and good ones -- the key, as in all things is cui bono (4.00 / 4)
The first time I realized that I was a leftist and not a liberal was during the fight against in loco parentis rules at universities which led later to the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Clark Kerr was an exemplary liberal, and I owe my own education to his policies, but he was sure as hell no populist. Neither were the guys from Michigan State, I think it was, who set up the abominable Strategic Hamlet program in Viet Nam.

Since then of course, I've read a lot of history, and more or less located my own views in the spectrum which you touch on here. That's why it pisses me off when columnists, particularly younger ones, maintain that radicals in the Sixties read Marx and Kropotkin rather than Locke and Madison. They don't fucking know what they're talking about, and while Hofstadter may be partly to blame, I think that the leadership of the AFL-CIO and folks like Hubert Humphrey should get more than an honorable mention. Truman stood up to MacArthur, but these guys folded for McCarthy, when they could easily have kicked his ass for him.

If there's one point which you and Paul never fail to get across, it's that democracy and economic security are inextricably linked. Yeah, we read Marx, but certainly NOT because we thought Locke was irrelevant.

Shorter version: Thanks, guys.


Funny (4.00 / 1)
I was going to say something about Kerr at the very beginning of this discussion. He certainly struck me as very much in the Menken vein at the time, as I listened to it all unfold over the radio in far-off Campbell (Westside San Jose) at the time.  Worse that he had been a somewhat good guy during the McCarthy scare a scant decade earlier.

And Mario Savio still stands up rather well, I think.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Yeah, ain't politics always a mixed blessing? (4.00 / 5)
There was much to admire about folks like Kerr and R.M. Hutchins, and I did admire them. As a young student, though, I wanted to be a participant, not someone to be patted on the head. The kind of patronizing we took from them was unbelievably callous, I thought.

Then I looked over at Martin Luther King and realized that I had absolutely no clue what callous was, still less the real nature of the thread which  linked a relatively privileged young person like myself with black people denied even their fundamental dignity as human beings. Then I talked to some old geezers at the ILWU Hiring Hall who'd gone to Spain with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

From that moment on, I realized that I didn't want to be either an academic, or a liberal, not if it meant managing other people's affairs for their own good. Right-wing yahoos were the enemy, all right, but these guys were the kind of allies who'd sell you down the river in a heartbeat. They did, too -- my whole generation.

After that, it was a long time before I'd call myself a liberal, and I do so now only because Rush Limbaugh hates 'em. I still remember the day, though, when I hated 'em worse than he does.


[ Parent ]
P.S. (4.00 / 4)
That's why I always hoped for a President with a union background, and when that became impossible, for a black president. That's also why I'm so damned disappointed in President Obama. He's no Frederick Douglass, nor even a Thurgood Marshall.

In all fairness, though, how could he be? He knows how to play that organ, perhaps, but that's not the same as experiencing what it took to build it. He might have made up in sympathy what he lacks in experience, of course, but so far, there's not much sign that he did.


[ Parent ]
Very important distinctions being made here (4.00 / 4)
One of the things I appreciate most about John's post is its implicit recognition that party politics get shaped in large part by the personalities and outlooks of real human beings. The contempt for others, the desire to distinguish oneself above and facing away from others, is an unfortunate human trait that does gain powerful expression in institutions and political parties.

Having read Walter Karp's famous 1980 book about the moves that party bosses made through the Spanish American War and WWI to derail the Farmer-Labor movement, and being a former film student with an affection for the film that John uses to kick off the post, it all had great resonance for me.

Many thanks.


Thank you for going after Hofstadter (4.00 / 1)
It is depressing how much even in much of the blogosphere he is still revered. Yglesias mentioned him just today, saying Glen Beck keeps him relevant, when, in fact, if you don't understand Glen Beck as a tool of the elite, you don't understand Glen Beck.

One of the key rhetorical moves Hofstadter seems to employ is that of so many advertisers, con men, and seducers: flatter the mark. Read the 20 pages of so comprising the Paranoid Tradition essay itself and you feel that you have deep psychological insight into myriad political movements in a variety of contexts, about most of which you will know nothing but what Hofstadter says. A stance that enables you to feel sophisticated without requiring you to actually think is a supremely easy sell, especially to wannabe know-it-alls. Another essay in the book teaches you to be "almost touched" by the ignorance of the bi-metalists attempting to actually understand the world without being intellectually equipped to do so, without giving you even a hint of the substance of the debate.  


I plan to do a piece on Hofstadter himself (4.00 / 2)
Along with Schlesinger, Galbraith, Daniel Bell and a few more he provided the ex-post-facto rationale for the  transformation of American society which took place when the US went on a permanent war footing in 1945, and which was reaffirmed when Truman bought into the Cold War.

There's a lot of distortion and special pleading in Hofstadter, and historians of his generation had problems with his reliance entirely on secondary sources. He's much more influential than he deserves to be, above all at the introductory level, and with the Democratic pros.

As for the CT thread, I'd just hijacked a different thread a day or two before, and my hands were full here at OL. In any case, Bertrand didn't actually say anything interesting about populism, he just thoughtlessly used the word. I did ask myself whether he had me in mind, but decided that that was paranoid.


[ Parent ]
The trouble with WWII and the Cold War (4.00 / 2)
Is that even if you agree that both were necessary, the permanent costs were enormous. As it stands, we have a permanent war establishment which will generate a new war every 5-10 years, a media and political establishment of which a large part of which automatically supports war proposals, and a populace of which a significant proportion are also automatic hawks.

[ Parent ]
Ah, But WHO'S Cold War? (0.00 / 0)
Kennan's Or Nitze's?  That's the question.  Kennan saw it largely as a political struggle, where perhaps our greatest vulnerability, in the long run, was our own imperfections.  And though this view was largely submerged, it did play a significant role in changing elite attitudes about civil rights.  In the recommendations section of "The Long Telegram", Kennan wrote:

(3) Much depends on health and vigor of our own society. World communism is like malignant parasite which feeds only on diseased tissue. This is point at which domestic and foreign policies meets Every courageous and incisive measure to solve internal problems of our own society, to improve self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit of our own people, is a diplomatic victory over Moscow worth a thousand diplomatic notes and joint communiqués. If we cannot abandon fatalism and indifference in face of deficiencies of our own society, Moscow will profit--Moscow cannot help profiting by them in its foreign policies.

Nitze saw it in purely military/intelligence terms, and that was by far the dominant view.

What drew my attention to this was a remarkable paper, "Kennan's Long Telegram and NSC-68: A Comparative Analysis," East European Quarterly, Vol. 31, no. 4, January 1998, by Efstathios T.
Fakiolas, that analyzes the fundamental differences between those documents in terms of different underlying conceptual models. I've discussed it before various different times--here here and here--for example.  And I get the feeling I should discuss it again.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
OK, Bento, you win (0.00 / 0)
I posted my two-minute populism lecture at Crooked Timber, for what it's worth.

[ Parent ]
One Small Correction (0.00 / 0)
     The character portrayed by the wonderful Fredric March was named Matthew Harrison Brady, not Matthew Jefferson Brady.

Bookmarked. Very well done. (0.00 / 0)
Glad to see the current fight put in context.  I learned a lot about these struggles from reading "The Promise of Paine" by Harvey Kaye.  That's when I realized I was a lefty and not a liberal.  

Matt Taibbi in "Spanking the Donkey" says that now Democratic campaigns are "seduced by the Primary Colors paradigm-- a hip clique full of mildly sexually gregarious twentysomethings who have been working on their memoirs since hight school, dreaming of that chance to crack saucy jokes on The Jimmy Kimmel Show....  the ideological vision that mainstream Democratic politics has offered America since Clinton has been the super-cool high school, the party of the popular kids."


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