A Vampire’s Tears


‘Don’t I look like an asshole?’

Color me unsurprised that #BiggestLiberalAsshole2012 Heat 6 winner, Charles Pierce, has joined the Vote for him in November, Protest him in February club with some histrionics in Esquire about the White House sharing more information with Congressional Republicans on Benghazi than it is sharing with Democrats about targeted killing.  Who gives a shit, right? We may not know where this ends, but we know it ends badly. But for Pierce, a partisan Democrat whose brand is anguish, this is an opportunity for much wailing and keening:

First, we have the ongoing charade of “transparency” as regards the president’s assumed right to kill Americans anywhere in the world including, absent a clear statement from this administration, which has not been forthcoming, within the borders of the United States. Then we have the drone program itself, which is a constitutional abomination no matter how effective you presume it is. Then, we have another attempt to reach a kind of bipartisan consensus with the various vandals and predatory fauna in the other party. And then, last, as part of the attempt at bipartisan consensus, a deal is struck in which the president’s hit list is kept in a vault while more fuel is fed into the Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!!!!!!111!!! infernal machine just as it was so sputtering to a halt.

Oh my. ‘BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!!!!!!… infernal machine’, indeed. You really have to love crap like this, where the president’s right to assassinate anyone, any time, anywhere is effectively put on par with routine Republican scandal-mongering. But since the objective function of  Pierce’s showy handwringing is to reconcile his readers to creeping tyranny, bathos is a feature, not a bug.

He concludes —

The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that’s become the precise job description.

Wow! The president is a criminal! Did he really say that? Actually, no, he didn’t. He said criminality is now institutionalized in the office of the president, without even hinting that this has anything to do with how uniquely ruthless Obama – yes, let’s be bolder than Pierce and actually use Dear Leader’s name – has been in increasing executive authority and updating the job description accordingly. To the contrary, for Pierce, it is ‘we’ who ‘have allowed [powers] to leach away from their constitutional points of origin.’

Of course, like all pundits, when Pierce says ‘we’, he doesn’t really include himself.  Shills use ‘we’ this way to promote the quaint notion that an oligarch-controlled  government really expresses the collective will, while bemoaning the downside of sharing the sacred rites of representative democracy with people dumber and less principled than oneself. For Pierce this ‘we’ talk not only absolves Pierce but also the president, who, as he has previously insisted, would be so much better were ‘we’ to ever prove ourselves worthy of him. In the risible pre-election shitfest that almost won him the #BiggestLiberalAsshole2012 contest, Pierce returned to this idea again and again:

‘In an age of unprecedented obstructionism, there has been more of Machiavelli in the man than the author thought possible. But toughness isn’t his failing; it’s that he thinks we are a better people than we are…

‘It’s really not about what he does… It’s about what we tolerate….

‘Too often, the president had been criticized for not being what other people made him out to be four years ago…He has no obligation to be what you wanted him to be, what you wished he would be. No person owes anyone else that…

‘The country and its people…can do two things at once. It can vow to reform itself while looking with an honest eye at where it allowed itself to go so wrong.

‘Perhaps all our best presidents are the ambiguous ones, the ones hardest to figure out, because they force us to take more of the obligations of citizenship on ourselves, and not to look for some Great Man to lead us.’

As the blogger, Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, observed at the time:

Obama, evidently, has no obligations whatsoever…This is bizarro-world anarchism, holding the people responsible for their governance… while holding an imperial executive above reproach.

How ‘we’ are supposed to make Obama, or rather, ‘the presidency’, less criminal remains unexplained, though we know for sure it does not include witholding our political support. It does not even include forbearance of Obama’s more militant detractors. By his own account, Pierce indulges none of “the wankerific fantasies of renegade ‘progressives'”  and even though he is a resident of that safest of safe states, Massachusetts, he voted for Obama, mainly to spite Green candidate Jill Stein, because she had ‘gone on TV’ and suggested that people were voting for Obama out of fear.

“It’s not fear”, insisted Pierce. “It’s simple compelling logic.”

But, of course, logical is the very opposite of what our self-regulating propaganda system requires people like Pierce to be. After all, is it really logical to continue to support a political office or office holder that you regard as deeply criminal?  As a vampire liberal, Pierce’s bread and butter is to publicly recognize how deeply corrupt and violent the government is and do nothing more dissident than wring his hands and blather about how flawed ‘we’ are for tolerating it, all the while heaping scorn on people who insist it’s time we do something else. Protest of Pierce’s kind isn’t really protest. It’s a self-absolution ritual amounting to nothing politically except continued acquiescence. By design.


Recommended reading:

Glenn Greenwald’s and my discussion of Pierce’s post on Twitter

#BiggestLiberalAsshole2012 Heat 6: The Nation Editors vs. Charles Pierce

The Fraudulent Dissent of Lawrence O’Donnell

The Cable News Heroism of Chris Hayes

The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman

Charles P. Pierce’s Cynical Defense of Obama”  at Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.

Follow me on Twitter.

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4 Responses to A Vampire’s Tears

  1. walterglass4 says:

    I was in a bookstore this morning and happened across Pierce’s book “Idiot America.” The title really says it all – what a stupid asshole he is.

    I do think when Pierce blames “we”, he is being unintentionally accurate – writers like him seem very helpful to our endless succession of war criminals-in-chief. His impotent brand of rancidity makes it seem like the country is having a robust debate about drones – he keeps everyone distracted sputtering about policies that are already set in stone, while the leaders quietly plan untold horrors we’ll learn about long after they are unleashed.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Yeah, ‘Idiot America’. That’s him all over. I said his brand is anguish, but misanthropic self-superiority is also a main ingredient. There are few things I find more repellent than a conformist shill that thinks he’s an iconoclast. Nice observation about ‘we.’ It’s not what he means, but it’s absolutely correct.

      Really disappointed to see people glomming onto this shit like it’s at all helpful. Have they learned nothing from me???

    • babaganusz says:

      i enjoyed Idiot America as a survey of The [Post-TV] Crank, but the overblown title and the “see what the Righties are doing to truth and communication” digs did grow tiresome (despite my finding it easy to lack sympathy for most aspects of ‘Right’-leaning). has a less partisan attempt in a similar vein been made by others?

  2. Pingback: Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall Summoned to West Wing, write Identical Opinion Pieces | The Rancid Honeytrap

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