Democracy denied: David Broder, John McCain, and the delusional politics of centrism

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle, in his Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics sees virtue as an admirable character trait that is the mean between the vices of deficiency and excess.

In politics of course no one directly discusses ethics, just talking points in support of message.

Barry Goldwater was an exception: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

Michael J.W. Stickings captures this talking point of being reasonable, moderate, sensible, realisticall impressions meant to convey effective representation from a politician who is presented as one of us, no extremist, in touch, no other.

Stickings uses the despicable David Broder and John McCain, two paradigms of corruption and posturing that has won them the very model of all things corrupt and vile in American politics, and hypocrisy for spouting incessantly their independent, moderate, reasonable commitments against all things exteme and dangersous. Sticking destroys these two targets. Fun reading below:

By Michael J.W. Stickings in The Reaction

It takes a certain kind of masochism to get through the smug, centrism-über-alles drivel David Broder churns out at the WaPo column after unbearable column, and it takes that masochism to the nth degree actually to like it.

And yet sometimes, you just can’t look away, which is what happened to me when I read the typically Broderish headline to his latest, published today, “John McCain, your country is calling.”

Is it? Someone tell the country. It might not be amused.

In this column, as so often previously, in print and on TV, Broder celebrates what he sees as McCain’s admirable above-the-frayness, his unique statesmanship at a time and in a place where, apparently, such statesmanship is sorely lacking. In other words, he props up the McCain-as-maverick myth that McCain himself cultivated so carefully, a myth has occasionally matched reality, as when McCain has broken the orthodox Republican line to work with Democrats (as on campaign finance reform, way back when) or to challenge Republican orthodoxy itself (as when he ran against Dubya in ’00, doing remarkably well until the establishment crushed him, he lost, pouted for a couple of years, flirting with the Democrats, and then came running home to mama, embracing Dubya in ’04 and never really looking back).

“I did not begrudge him the $20 million he spent to win Tuesday’s primary, or whatever amount it was,” Broder writes. “Nor was I bothered by the doctrinal compromises the senator made to convince Arizona voters that he was, in fact, a conservative.” No, Dean Broder? Not bothered at all that this one-time quasi-independent mavericky pseudo-statesman and ardent and bipartisan proponent of removing the cancer of money from politics, scared of losing to the red-meat conservative J.D. Hayworth, basically blew the lid off the bank and ran as far to the right as he could, joining the ideological fringe that is now the mainstream of the Republican Party, as when he turned his back on immigration reform and a sensible approach to the issue of undocumented immigration by pandering to the nativist, racist GOP base in a state, Arizona, that has passed draconian anti-immigrant legislation? Really? McCain didn’t “respond forcefully” to Hayworth’s challenge, he just signed on to the current far-right Republican line. (Back in Spring ’08, by the way, in a column slamming Hillary and Obama and calling their primary contest “The Democrats’ Worst Nightmare,” Broder praised McCain as “the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest.” He was wrong then and he’s even more wrong now.)

McCain was never really the maverick he claimed to be and that the establishment media, of which Broder is a beacon, reported ad nauseam that he was. He was always a solid conservative and loyal Republican, save for that brief post-2000 flirtation, feelings hurt after the Bushies played dirty and smeared him without mercy, with the Democrats. Sure, he could have run with Kerry in ’04, and perhaps he should have, but, with an eye on ’08, he didn’t, remaining comfortably ensconced where politically he had always been. And, sure, the right has long looked upon him with suspicion, neocon crushes excepted, and there wasn’t much enthusiasm for him in ’08 until he picked Palin, to his eternal discredit (and let us not forget that Broder has a mad crush on Palin), but that doesn’t mean he’s the sort of leader America needs or even much of a leader at all.

“The last thing the Senate needs is a loudmouth ex-radio talk show host like Hayworth. What it does need badly is adult leadership, and it’s now incumbent on McCain to demonstrate that he is prepared to fulfill this role for both his party and his country.” I agree with Broder that the Senate doesn’t need Hayworth, who is, admittedly, far worse than McCain has ever been, but McCain has shown no willingness to be a leader with Obama in the White House, despite initial post-election suggestions that he might just fill that role.

“That reputation [for independence] is his ticket to influence, and a precious gift he can bestow on others, Republican or Democrat, who are willing to join him as a dysfunctional Senate prepares to struggle with a challenging agenda both domestic and foreign.” Yes, but he has effectively destroyed that reputation with a sordid, fear-based campaign just to win the Republican nomination in Arizona, and it just doesn’t seem that much influence remains. Sure, Democrats would love his vote, and it would be great if he could pull over the likes of Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins, three Senate Republicans who aren’t quite as extreme as the rest, to vote with Obama on key issues, but he’s had that opportunity already and he didn’t take it. Where was he on health-care reform? Or climate change? Or immigration? Just because he’s beaten Hayworth and will likely win re-election in November, does that now free him, as Broder suggests, to return to what he supposedly once was? Even if he really was once that, and even if he had the desire to lead, he’d likely be an ineffectual leader without many, if any, followers. He may once have commanded influence, and millions may have voted for him, but you’re living in a past that never was if you think the future is McCain’s to rule.

Broder, as usual, is wallowing in delusion, promoting a Beltway worldview of triumphant centrism that hardly resonates anywhere in America, however much Americans themselves may express frustration with the way Washington works. “One of the conspicuous failings in the past few years has been the absence of a second party making principled decisions on when to support and when to oppose the president. McCain has the best opportunity — and the best credentials — to restore this.” No, what has happened is that one half of America’s two-party system is descending ever further into madness. Even Capitol Hill Republicans, a bit more sane than the conservative base, have chosen the path of all-out opposition and obstructionism to anything and everything Democrats, with control of the White House and solid majorities in both houses of Congress, want to do. Against this, perhaps the dominant political development of our time, McCain would hve no chance of success even if he wanted to break free.

One big problem, though, is that Broder is not alone. He is not so much an independent thinker as the voice of a specifically inside-the-Beltway approach to politics. Unlike, say, the various pro-Republican mouthpieces at Fox News or The Wall Street Journal, Broder doesn’t really stand for anything concrete, nor does he have a distinct policy agenda. What he and many of his Beltway brethren promote instead is the politics of difference-splitting. This is what their centrism is all about. In this case, one assumes, Obama would lead the left, McCain would lead the right, and the synthesis of this friendly thesis-antithesis would be the desired outcome, one that fed up Americans would celebrate. Of course, this too is utterly delusional. Washington doesn’t work that way, or at least not anymore, and, in a world in which Republicans are trying to block everything they can and in which you need a supermajority in the Senate to get anything done, any such constructive “mutual respect” between Obama and McCain, assuming McCain is interested in working constructively with Democrats (we know Obama is more than willing to work constructively with Republicans, as he keeps showing even as he snubs his own liberal-progressive base), would likely go nowhere.

And, too, what of this very dynamic? Is the center between Obama and McCain really what Americans want and what would be best for the country? Given how far conservatives have successfully moved the American political spectrum to the right over the past few decades, this “center,” as the Broder-oriented media see it, is already pretty far to the right. It’s more of a center-right that leans Republican and tilts further to the right with additional conservative manipulation of the establishment media. Would the Broder approach have brought us health-care reform? Surely not, because McCain, along with Graham, Snowe, and Collins, were all against it, towing the GOP party line. Let us not forget, though Broder seems not to care, that Obama won the White House decisively against McCain and that Democrats have relatively enormous majorities in both the Senate and the House. Isn’t that the true reflection, or as true as can be in a democracy governed by money, media, and corporate special interests, of the popular will, and shouldn’t Democrats be able to govern effectively without having to secure 60 votes in the Senate? Why should they have to pander to McCain, why should they even need McCain, as Broder suggests, given the overwhelming electoral results of ’06 and ’08?

But Broder apparently cares not for the popular will, nor for majoritarian rule. What drives him is that smug center-right centrism that allows him to feel superior and above it all while feeding, whether he intends to or not, the conservative narratives that allow what has become a far-right party to block effective governance and the sort of meaningful leadership and change America needs. Perhaps it’s wrong to expect more from the Beltway media establishment — it certainly is from Broder himself — but American democracy is undeniably being denied by this appallingly misguided approach to politics.

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4 Responses to "Democracy denied: David Broder, John McCain, and the delusional politics of centrism"

  1. fixthefuture911  August 28, 2010 at 8:31 am

    AC Griffith has reported to the Examiner that within Agenda 21, poor communications between levels of the operation are broken by design. One level does not know what the other is doing. Agenda 21 is being played out in the Gulf to let the people die and take their land according to Griffith.

    “This is a major way the nation is being taken apart.. but the people are unaware of it,” stated Griffith.

    “Stewart, a third generation commercial fisherman, … like Miller, is an eyewitness to planes dispensing dispersant at night, as well as the Carolina Skiff crews spraying dispersant. ‘I worked out off the barrier islands of Mississippi,’ Stewart said. ‘They would relentlessly carpet bomb the oil we found with dispersants, day and night,'” reports Washington’s Blog.

    “The USAF has been spraying dispersant off the Florida coast under cover of darkness here,” a resident claimed to Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “There is so much of the stuff in the water that it has washed onto the beach as crystals, ironically at Crystal Beach last week.”

    VOO employees across the Gulf Coast are saying the same thing. Stewart told Truthout his crew would regularly find oil, report it, be sent away, then watch planes or Carolina Skiffs arrive to apply dispersants, or the next day find white foamy emulsified oil remnant left on the surface after oil had been hit with dispersants. (Washington’ Blog)

    “Whenever government people, state or federal, would be flying over us, we’d be instructed to put out all our boom and start skimming, acting like we were gathering oil, even when we weren’t in the oil.”

    Washington’s Blog concludes:

    “There is a clear pattern that VOO workers in all four states are consistently reporting:

    VOO workers identify the oil.
    They are then sent elsewhere by someone higher up the chain of command.
    Dispersants are later applied by out-of-state contractors in Carolina Skiffs (usually at night), or aircraft are used, in order to sink the oil.
    The oil “appears” gone and, therefore, no additional action is taken.”
    3. Foodweb tainted: Craig Johnson for CNN reported on August 16, “The industry is hoping shrimp caught now are bigger than the ones harvested early from the Gulf of Mexico in May” and Harlon Pearce, chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board told CNN on the 16th, “Right now, part of our challenge is to get the shrimpers back in the water… We need to do something to jump-start our fishermen.”

    Echoing Obama and the Gulf seafood and tourist industries, Louisiana’s Houma Courrier reports this week that “federal agencies are correct in saying Gulf seafood is safe. Intensive investigations have consistently shown no public health risk from the oil spill.”

    Intensive investigations? Out of work fishermen are being encouraged to take a course in “investigating seafood.” It’s called Sniff Testing 101 and it is outraging fishermen who know better than to trust fish by smelling them. (Also see: Gulf Coast Seafood Must Pass Sniff Test)

    Exasperation that no genuine testing is being done on seafood and that people are being abused is growing among those not too sick to be directly involved in the ongoing atrocity. One fishermen commented in writing:

    “We are not retarded! we know there is a 150ft crack in the ocean floor, and corexit is being dumped at the bottom of the ocean so BEEPEE doesnt get fined, and we know that you use heavy metals chemtrails on top and all over the seriously what planet are you from? Obviously not from this one and definitely want to do harm to people….oh and I bet your getting paid to say that too!! God can see you!”

    Many are still concerned about Gulf seafood safety according to ABC News and Project Gulf Impact on Intel Hub.

    “Fishermen return from working on cleanup crews or from recreational angling trips with stories of crabs whose lungs are black with oil, or of oysters with shells covered in sludge. They take photos and carry tarballs home like talismans to show what they have seen. They talk about their fears with anyone who will listen, and often their voices are tinged with panic.” (Charles, J., Louisiana Fisherman Slams Claims that Oil Almost Gone, Solve Climate, August 11, 2010)

    The fishermen “between a rock and a hard place,. If they don’t go fishing, then BP isn’t liable to pay them any money. But if they do, they are going to be risking public health with the shrimp and fish they are bringing in.” (ABC)

    Now, scientists have proven what fishermen have been saying. Gulf seafood is poisoned to the core. To encourage public consumption of it is criminal.

    “The phytoplankton feeds and fuels the ecology of the ocean – if those guys are in trouble, then the Ocean’s in trouble,” reported the University of South Florida’s researcher that risked their lives on a 10-day Gulf research project when they returned August 16. Their tests clearly show the base of the food-web, phytoplankton is poisoned.

    “But federal researchers say their tests have shown no contamination.” (ABC)

    “The last thing I want to do is scare anyone away from the seafood down here,” said Dawn Nunez, standing at the counter of the shrimp wholesale business and deli she owns in the tiny fishing town of Hopedale. “But if I’m not eating it or feeding it to my children, I can’t advise anyone else to eat it either.”

    On their dock across the street, Dawn’s husband Marty Nunez pulls a clump of oil-ridden marsh grass out of a plastic bag and says, “There’s people fishing where this is at – or worse than this,” he said. “I can’t understand how they say things are getting back to normal.”

    On the 20th of August, The Intel Hub reported on the real bombshell in its article by Alex Thomas: Bombshell! Feds admit to not testing seafood in oiled water, what have they tested for?

    “The FDA is now openly admitting that they AREN’T testing seafood in areas that have been impacted by oil. This is absolutely criminal! No wonder they have had success with the seafood that they have already tested. To date, BP and officials within the government have lied about every single aspect of the spill. One has to wonder, have we been told the truth about anything?

    “Hundreds of fisherman have spoke out against the lack of testing done on their seafood and have actually been blamed for, ‘ruining the seafood industry.’” (See the remarkable videos about this news at

    4. Public health worsens in Dead Zone: Nearly 2000 citizen incident reports have flowed into Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s Oil Spill Crisis Map in the past week according to LBB.

    “It appears officials are trying to give the impression that all’s clear,” reports LBB today.

    “At Fort Walton Beach, Fla., a citizen reported, ‘Beach warning signs have been removed in some areas, stored seemingly for potential further use nearby, and remain posted on other nearby locations on Okaloosa Island in Florida’s panhandle.'”

    “Oil sheen and dead fish is what I woke up to today in my back yard,” another report from Bayou Chico in Florida states. “I have been feeling the health effects with sore throat, runny nose and swelling of my hands and body. Off and on we have been seeing oil reach the west end of the bayou throughout the summer, but today my heart is not only racing from breathing the air as I take these pictures, it cries as nature is dying in front of me.”

    Michael Edward bases his Blue Plague report on interviews with his Gulf Coast family and friends, two RN’s working at a Gulf Coast Emergency Room and an Emergency Clinic plus his personal research. (Edward, M., The Gulf Blue Plague, The World Vision Portal, August 10, 2010, online:

    Unlike health officials’ continual focusing on mental health problems of Gulf Coast survivors, Edward is concerned about physical health problems due to lack of oxygen. With enough oxygen to breathe, people’s mental injuries would likely be lessened.

    “A cousin who owns his own shrimp boat was hired by BP to assist with oil boom and cleanup operations. Other family members were also hired and have been his crew while undertaking BP boom and cleanup assistance operations. They were all forced to sign agreements not to publicly speak about their work or anything about BP operations. Their legal agreements do not mention anything about speaking openly to their families.

    BP reports that 1500 of the 40,000 workers are sick. Edwards’ report concurs with BP workers who quit and told Project Gulf Impact that “all the workers are sick.”

    Edwards writes, “Every one of those working on the shrimp boat have suffered from flu-like symptoms since the end of May, 2010… migraine headaches, eye aches, joint aches, ear aches, severe coughing bouts, fevers, vomiting, and swollen glands (especially in the neck),” the same same symptoms seen in the coastal ER’s.

    The same illness has struck people who work outdoors 10-20 miles inland according to Edwards. Southern Mississippi and Louisiana ER nurses report over 600 cases of “BP flu,” but it is not “flu.”

    “But as family and the RN’s have confirmed, these symptoms are not caused by any viral flu. This is not the same as the Asian Flu or any other viral flu bug. These symptoms are directly caused by a lack of oxygen due to airborne chemicals and toxic gases.” (Emphasis added)

    There are increasing cases of severe symptomatic cyanosis, a condition in which the lips, fingers, and toes appear blue due to abnormal blood circulation – such as from lack of oxygen in the blood. (See:

    Edwards highlights that “lack of oxygen in the blood can also have a purplish appearance where the skin surface is red from sun exposure but the blood beneath the skin is blue. Red and blue make purple.”

    “Short term exposure and biological complications to gases and chemicals that starve the air and lungs from oxygen, creating cyanosis, are usually reversible. However, long term exposure is not fully reversible. Long term exposure depends on how depleted the air is of oxygen and how much time a person has been exposed to that condition.”

    Before the Gulf explosion on May 20, the most notorious dead zone is a 22,126 square kilometer (8,543 mi²) region in the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi River dumps fertilizer high-nutrient runoff from its drainage basin including the over 200 oil refineries and U.S. agribusiness in the Midwest. This drainage ha s caused massive fish kills and affected important shrimp fishing grounds.

    In May, research showed a 30-60% decrease in Gulf oxygen levels.

    Outsiders have asked if the public health risk is as serious as alternative, progressive news reporters state, why haven’t more people in the southern most Gulf coast region organized or at least participated in protests, or fled the increasingly dead zone area.

    Wikipedia sates under Dead Zone, “I might be expected that fish would flee this potential suffocation, but they are often quickly rendered unconscious and doomed.”

    A Project Gulf/IntelHub guest recently reported that many people are complaining of being “fuzzy” headed, unable to even think clearly to know what to do to survive.

    They know from past experience that Gulf evacuations for a hurricane may keep them away indefinitely and that the oil giants and government might confiscate their home. They’ve seen it happen to other families in the area. (See:

    The painful truth is that the Gulf is increasingly a dead zone, just as the late Matt Simmons predicted.

    If the American public fails to reach out and help defend fellow man, woman and child in the Gulf region, Simmons’ other main Gulf prediction is likely to be equally valid:

    “There will be a heavy resident death toll.”

    Copyright © 2010 Deborah Dupre. All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied, posted, republished without author permission.

    Deborah Dupré, with post-graduate science and education degrees from U.S. and Australian universities, has been a human and environmental rights advocate for over 25 years in the U.S., Vanuatu and Australia. Support her work by subscribing to her articles and forwarding the link of this article to friends and colleagues or reposting only the title and first paragraph linked to this Examiner page. Dupre welcomes emails: [email protected] See her Vaccine Liberty or Death book plus Compassion Film Project DVDs.

    Gulf incident reports can be made and viewed at Mobile phone users can text or call in reports to (504) 27 27 OIL. Reports can also be sent to [email protected] and through Twitter with the hashtag #BPspillmap. If you are in danger or witness an emergency, please contact your local emergency response agency immediately. The Oil Spill Crisis Map is not an emergency response service

    Listen to Intel Hub at 10 pm Est, live on The Intel Hub Radio Network

    Also see:

  2. fixthefuture911  August 28, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Gulf fraud smoking guns. U.S. crime against humanity in-country continues
    August 20th, 2010 7:58 pm ET.
    Dead Zone before May 20 Gulf explosion, now expanded
    Photo: NOAA
    “Today my heart is not only racing from breathing the air as I take these pictures, it cries as nature is dying in front of me.” Louisiana Bucket Brigade incident report

    “There are not, and we can tell, sir, by your actions today, you have no intentions of appointing the fishing families, or any of the commercial fisherman, or conservationists to this group. This body is bogus.” Sun Herald


    The petrochemical-military-industrial-complex (PMIC) Gulf operation fraud that is furthering Agenda 21 is now uncovered. PMIC’s PR campaign is the only thing that has somewhat changed in the ongoing Gulf crime against humanity. Oil still spews; dispersant poisons are still aerial sprayed; the oceanic food-web is poisoned at its base so seafood is tainted, and public health worsens daily with no protection or national outcry for millions of people being poisoned.

    People of the Gulf have been calling on national peace, justice and human rights groups to help defend them. Their deafening cries for help continue falling on deaf ears. Human Rights Alert has issued a call for signatures on a statement being submitted to the UN Council on Human Rights but such gestures will not ease immediate suffering of the voiceless, those the new “Commission” excluded from its first meeting. As seen in PGI’s video coverage of the meeting, one woman interrupted Governor Barbour convening the meeting. She attempted to be that voice of the voiceless.

    Now people of the Gulf demand action after exposing the Mississippi Gulf Commission fraud. Project Gulf Impact (PGI) filmed the Gulf Commission’s first meeting. In so doing, PGI helps clarify how Gulf fraud is being committed by officials and how Agenda 21 i being conducted, including not only covert fatal poisoning, but also land grab a, an “opportunity” for local residents. (See The Intel Hub video below)

    “BP has been calling the shots since day ONE. The Federal Government has repeatedly shown themselves to be nothing less than mere puppets of an international corporation,” writes Alex Thomas of Intel Hub.

    Scientists are contesting the PMIC fraudulent claims, as reported by Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

    Two universities have contested recent government reports claiming most of BP’s oil poses no threat to humans and wildlife.
    Scientists at University of Georgia claim nearly three quarters of the oil remains hidden beneath the surface.
    Researchers at University of South Florida estimate plumes of oil are lurking in an underwater canyon in the Gulf. An independent toxicologist issued a statement to the Food and Drug Administration contesting its claims that dispersant isn’t harmful.
    1. Oil still spews: AP reports that a 22-mile-long invisible mist of oil is below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably loiter for months or more according to scientists Thursday with conclusive evidence of an underwater plume from the BP spill. “The most worrisome part is the slow pace at which the oil is breaking down in the cold, 40-degree water, making it a long-lasting but unseen threat to vulnerable marine life, experts said.”

    Thursday, however, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson stated, “With the spill successfully capped we turn our focus to recovery for these communities and restoration of the environment.” (Top Administration Officials Meet with Gulf Coast Damage Assessment Trustees, WGNO ABC News, 19 August 2010)

    The fact is that up to 80% of the oil spewed is still in Gulf of Mexico waters and shores. Testifying before a house panel on Thursday, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official gave the following estimate: “About three-quarters of the oil that spilled into the Gulf from BP’s ruptured well is still in the environment.” (Marian Wang, Federal Agency, Under Questioning, Clarifies Its Rosy Gulf Report, ProPublica, August 20,2010)

    Furthermore, the operation fractured the ocean floor, relief wells may fail and basic data is being hidden. (See Top Expert: Geology is “Fractured”, Relief Wells May Fail … BP is Using a “Cloak of Silence”, Refusing to Share Even Basic Data with the Government, Washington Blog, August 19, 2010)

    2. Aerial spraying continues: If Gulf oil is gone, water cleaned, and seafood safe to eat – why is the PMIC still aerial spraying poisons over the gulf region?

    The government and BP have said no dispersants have been sprayed in the Gulf since the well was partially capped on July 15th but local residents say Corexit is still being sprayed.

    On August 8th, PRNewswire reported, “Despite denial by BP, local fisherman and residents report that dispersant continues to be sprayed.

    On August 10, Lt. Cmdr. Dale Vogelsang, liaison officer with United States Coast Guard, told Destin Log that Unified Command “confirmed” with him that that dispersants were not being used in Florida waters.

    On August 16, Washington’s Blog highlighted consistent reports from Gulf Coat locals that Corexit continues to be sprayed in the article, Corexit Is Being Sprayed at Night, Even Now (According to BP Vessel of Opportunity Workers and Others).

    Friday morning, [Comdr. Vogelang] “again reiterated that “no dispersants were being used in Florida waters,” and no dispersants have been used anywhere since mid-July. When The Log asked Vogelsang about the two articles, which state C-130s have been used for dispersant spraying, he said “if they were being used here locally to spray dispersants, then Unified Command didn’t know about it.”

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