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Sat Mar 10, 2012, 04:11 PM

Glenn Greenwald: Dennis Kucinich and "Wackiness" [View all]


SATURDAY, MAR 10, 2012 5:40 AM EST

Dennis Kucinich and “wackiness”

The now-defeated congressman consistently opposed destructive bipartisan pieties - and is therefore "crazy"


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Establishment Democrats have long viewed Dennis Kucinich with a mixture of scorn, mockery and condescension. True to form, the establishment liberal journal American Prospect gave Kucinich a little kick on the way out, comparing his political views to the 1960s musical “Hair” (the Ohio loser talked about “Harmony and understanding”!), deriding him as “a favorite among lefty college kids and Birkenstock-wearers around the country,” and pronouncing him “among the wackiest members of Congress.” Yes, I said The American Prospect, not The Weekly Standard.

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Neither the Prospect nor the Post would ever dare mock as “wacky” the belief in invisible judgmental father-figures in the sky or that rendition of life-after-death gospel because those belief systems have been deemed acceptable by establishment circles. ”Wacky”, like its close cousin “crazy,” is a term of establishment derision exclusively reserved for those who deviate from such conventions. And that’s the point worth making here: the real reason anyone with D.C. Seriousness, including many establishment liberals, relished mocking Kucinich is because he dissented from the orthodoxies of the two political parties. That, by definition, makes one wacky and weird, even when — as is true for the Obama assassination powers and so many other bipartisan pieties — the actual wacky and crazy beliefs are those orthodoxies themselves (we’ve seen this repeatedly with those who stray from two-party normalcy). In reality, the actual crazies are those who fit comfortably within that two-party mentality and rarely challenge or deviate from it, while those who are sane, by definition, dissent from it (just today, the Super Serious Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, a prime co-sponsor of the indefinite detention bill passed late last year, called for a naval blockade of Iran).

It’s not difficult to see why Democrats, including progressives, often took (and continue to take) the lead in demonizing Kucinich as a wacky loser. After his Party leaders decreed that impeachment of Bush was “off the table” — both because they feared it would jeopardize their electoral prospects and because top Democrats were complicit in Bush crimes — Kucinich defied their orders and introduced articles of impeachment against Bush for the Iraq War, his chronic lawbreaking, and his assault on the Constitution: exactly what impeachment was designed to prevent and punish. He was one of the very few people in Congress who vehemently denounced the assaults on the Constitution with equal vigor under the prior GOP President and the current Democratic one. He was one of the very few people in Congress with the courage to deviate from the AIPAC script, opposing the Israeli blockade of Gaza, condemning Israeli wars of aggression, and repeatedly publicizing the oppression of Palestinians with the use of American funds and support. He repeatedly insisted on application of the law to the Executive Branch’s foreign policy when all of Washington agreed to overlook it. He repeatedly opposed bipartisan measures to intensify hostility toward Iran. When the Democrats won Congress in 2006 based on a promise to end the Iraq War, only to turn around and continue to fund it without restrictions (thus ensuring that this politically advantageous war would be raging during the 2008 election), Kucinich continuously demanded that they follow through on their promises.

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I find this unpersuasive on multiple levels. For one, enacting legislation is not the only way to have an important impact on our political culture. Shining light on otherwise-ignored issues, advocating rarely-heard political positions, using one’s platform to highlight the corruption of those in power and to challenge their warped belief systems are all vitally important functions. Advocacy of that sort may not produce immediate, tangible successes, but it is a prerequisite for changing prevailing political mores and persuading citizens to think differently. “Talking a lot” is a synonym for persuasion, advocacy and debate. It’s far from “doing very little.” Those are all critical steps in changing a political system. It’s true that Kucinich cannot point to any law he passed that, say, guts the National Security State or corporate-lobbyist control over Washington, but that hardly means his work was inconsequential. Those types of changes often take years, even decades, of advocacy, and urgently need those with public platforms to amplify the underlying views to change how citizens think.


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Reply Glenn Greenwald: Dennis Kucinich and "Wackiness" [View all]
Hissyspit Mar 2012 OP
eyewall Mar 2012 #1
leveymg Mar 2012 #2
arely staircase Mar 2012 #3
drokhole Mar 2012 #4
russspeakeasy Mar 2012 #5
madrchsod Mar 2012 #6