Think of this as Volume 12, Number 43 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
The recent dust-up between the Obama Administration and Fox News deserves a proper response from someone who knows a little political history.
Squeal like a pig! (This is a family blog. Those who wish to can learn why actor Bill McKinney is smiling at y'all on his Web site.)
The most important thing a Thesis must do, not for validation but just to get its program through, is to change the formula of what is acceptable.
The boundaries were pretty easy to set in our nation's first generational crisis, the Civil War. Supporting the South was treason, supporting peace giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
The job was done most subtly by FDR. Many people think of the Hays Code as having been about sex. But has anyone asked why the Roosevelt Administration endorsed it? It was because the Code demanded that movies support the government, saying that "Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed."
So in 1934 the industry got right to work with films like My Man Godfrey and It Happened One Night. The rich were portrayed here as lazy, as vain, and their only hope for redemption was to recognize this. So Godfrey (William Powell) and Peter Warne (Clark Gable) got the girl, because their humble stations made them noble.
Agnew's "nattering nabobs" speech was a crude way of setting borders, but Nixon had been doing that sort of thing all along. Black people (Sammy Davis Jr.) were OK if they were friends of the Administration. So were rock stars (Elvis Presley). Those who declined to be co-opted were outside the fence. Despite popular opinion firmly supporting a quick Vietnam withdrawal Nixon had his policy endorsed in both the 1970 mid-terms and the 1972 landslide.
A thesis needs confidence to do this. Its leader must be confident he has a true Thesis, that this is not just Excess -- as it was for LBJ and Bush. If it is it's a false dawn. But in this case we can be very certain. Nixon was 40 years ago, Reagan's validation is 28 years in the past. Neither is going to rise from the grave and strike the new Thesis dead.
Even in a Thesis of Consensus there are people who deliberately set themselves outside that consensus, who refuse to engage in rational debate, who go batshit crazy. Playing the 1969 Game, who are William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn really? Probably this bozo (and his idiot wife) , followers of Beck and Limbaugh. Some may eventually lead interesting and fulfilling lives, but very few, and nowhere near politics.
As to their leaders, only those who engage with the consensus, in opposition, can be welcome at the table of government. What is startling about our time is just how much of the Republican base has decided to side with the crazies.
I can call these people crazy with some justification because it has been my task to engage with some of them at ZDNet. These people even think Horace Mann was a communist. Anyone who questions their ideology in any way becomes un-American, an enemy, something that must be destroyed and laid waste to.
Like Nixon was to the Weathermen.
Many liberals made a big mistake in looking at the George W. Bush Administration. We saw, in the nature of his selection and the secrecy of his policymaking, someone ruling strictly from the top down. This was not true. It was a mutual embrace by the crazy of crazy government. Bush and the Republican grassroots remained locked in an ideological embrace from which the movement has yet to awaken. Most still think Bush was absolutely right about absolutely everything, and buy into the argument that all who oppose him -- all Democrats, most independents -- are enemies of freedom.
It's this delusion that Fox News seeks to exploit, mainly for financial gain. News Corp. is not a terribly successful company, worth just one-third what it was a decade ago. Its paper media operations are dragging the rest down. Its cable operations are not wildly profitable, in part because its audience is not seen as highly desirable.
That's why its chairman, Rupert Murdoch, keeps trying to charge for newspaper content. It's about ARPU. You make a living from a small fan base by getting a high Average Revenue Per User. Murdoch is highly leveraged and needs the money. He is old. He is vulnerable.
The President would be well advised to ratchet up the pressure using every legal means at his disposal. There are other right-wing barons, but if Murdoch falls the rest won't matter.
So want to know about the title to this piece? It sums up my own attitude toward Murdoch's minions and the attitude the Administration needs to summon within itself, despite its desire for consensus.
Those who choose to live outside should be made to live there. That's the way power works.