NBC hired Chuck Todd away from the National Journal last year to "beef up" its political coverage, to get younger, to get more in tune with reality.
In doing this they went the opposite way.
Todd is a typical Beltway wanker. The Wikipedia definition in this case is out of date. What I’m describing is someone so steeped in the conventional wisdom that if their head was any further up their ass it would be coming back up their throats. Washington is absolutely chockful of wankers. They dominate the Sunday chat shows. Wolf Blitzer is a wanker. Maureen Dowd is a wanker. Tim Russert is a wanker. Chuck Todd is a young wanker.
What distinguishes wanker-ism, in my view, is a deep internalization of the Nixon Thesis, and (sometimes) the Clinton AntiThesis. They don’t even know they’re spouting ideological nonsense, because all they’re looking at is the day-by-day maneuvers in front of them. The evidence of change emerging from every poll is just noise to them. The concept of a fundamental change in how people think is anathema.
Yet the evidence is overwhelming. By 2-1 Americans want a real solution to climate change. By 2-1 they want out of Iraq, now. By 2-1 they want a solution to the health care mess. They are tired of the Nixon ideology, they have rejected it.
Still wankers like Todd, when they analyze the political playing field, pretend these changes don’t exist. They go on endlessly about the machinations of the GOP field, just as a generation ago most reporters looked only at the Democratic race, ignoring the changes taking place in the minds of America’s suburban dads and moms, the growing hunger for the red meat Goldwater had offered them, that Wallace was feeding them, and that Nixon would come to be associated with.
Rule number one at a time of crisis is that Republicans don’t matter. Democrats don’t matter. Voters’ attitudes matter, not candidates, and it is only as candidates mirror the new majority attitude that they represent anything at all.
So, Chuck, if you’re up to it, a little wisdom.
While Mitt is trying to embody the failed Nixon Thesis, playing to social issue knuckle-draggers and demanding that Guantanamo’s size be doubled, his father George actually represented where Americans were getting to, 40 years ago.
George Romney was a businessman. George Romney seemed effective. George Romney was an executive. George Romney was conservative, and had that big family (including a young Mitt). Wankers believe George Romney fell on the word "brainwashed," but history says he really fell because he changed his mind on the War in Vietnam, which the silent majority still supported as a Cold War activity, and as a way to "make a man" (or woman) out of their hippie children.
There is a similar risk facing Barack Obama, who holds Romney’s place in today’s Democratic race. The temptation must be strong for him to "get tough" on the issue of immigration. That’s what Lou Dobbs wants. That’s what Republicans insist the majority want. But every poll I’ve seen shows that’s not what the American people want. The American people want a rational solution to a complex problem. If Barack Obama offers anything like a "simple plan" on immigration, he’ll be doing just what George Romney did, changing sides in the wrong direction.
Romney’s fall gave Nixon the Presidency, and Obama’s fall would do the same thing for Hillary Clinton. If Obama faltered, in fact, I believe that would indeed bring Al Gore to the race, where he would take the place Ronald Reagan took in 1968, the True Hero who would come in with too little, and too late.
I haven’t mentioned John Edwards yet, and Todd dismisses him prematurely. Because Edwards has won two important constituencies already in this race. He has the greatest support in the Netroots, and he is fast becoming labor’s candidate. While Todd dismisses labor for its past failures, and sees the Netroots as losers because Dean lost, this is just his wanker-ism coming to the fore. In fact, most voters today agree with Dean on nearly every issue, they see the Netroots as prophets, and labor can still win those early primaries. They delivered for Kerry in 2004, for Gore in 2000, they could easily deliver for Edwards. And the candidate who wins the early primaries wins the race.
You don’t need the most money to win. You need enough money to win. John Edwards is still a serious player in this race to the White House. He represents the ideological heart of the Democratic Party, its Democratic wing, and just because wankers like Chuck Todd have decided that doesn’t matter — because Democratic Wing candidates have failed throughout his own career — change is coming.
If you want to know what is coming, read the polls, read the people, and stay the heck out of Washington, D.C. until January of 2009. Most important, don’t listen to a word old wankers like Tim Russert, or new wankers like Chuck Todd, have to say.