Sunday, September 29, 2013

After Oiling Anti-de Blasio Fire, NY Times Columnist Back-Pedals

<IMPORTANT: the Public Advocate is essentially the vice-mayor, ready to step in when the mayor cannot perform his/her duties or to succeed the mayor if tragedy strikes. See this post on the profound education and libraries issues contrasts between candidates Letitia James and Daniel Squadron. The Democratic run-off is Tuesday, 10/1. This blog enthusiastically supports James.>

Now, here's an "about face:"

After the New York Times pioneered the red scare against mayoral front runner public advocate Bill de Blasio, a Times columnist wrote a column softening the issue, and going as far as to debunk some mistaken notions about de Blasio.

But the problem with this is that the Times had already established the paranoid tone in the campaign. For two or three days, the media repeated the red-scare campaign narrative. The original Times article did contain this qualifying information:
[He] went to Nicaragua to help distribute food and medicine in the middle of a war between left and right. But he returned with something else entirely: a vision of the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government.
As I noted in my first post on the matter, the article states his purpose:
The article says that he went there to deliver food and medicine. This was through a Catholic charity organization, the Quixote Center (not the Sandinist government); below the scare headlines the Times concedes that the center did not side with the Sandinistas.
Never mind the details, the Times set out the canvas and the rhetoric to paint de Blasio as a leftist. The Times should know full well that there is less understanding of the nuances of left terms in the U.S., and that casting enabled the Post/FoxNews/FrontPage to paint him as red; that the right is able to make this formulation (with no challenge in the mainstream media or even liberals in the political class): anyone to the left of Howard Dean = communist, as democratic socialist = Marxist = communist = supporting the gulags and the Katyn massacres. Thus, the Times really committed political arson with this one.
The Times' story was perfectly made for the Joe Lhota campaign playbook. Make no mistake-- the goal of this immature distraction is to steer attention away from real issue contrasts, such as on education. Here's my analysis and reposting of another blog that assesses the de Blasio/Lhota contrasts on schooling issues.

So here's the Times' minor attempt to correct the damage, a column by one of the Times' major columnists for municipal politics, Michael Powell:
He once self-identified as a democratic socialist, which would put him in the same ideological column as Golda Meir, Moishe Dayan, Willie Brandt and François Mitterrand.

And more or less all of those social democrats stood up to and argued vociferously with the hard left, including Communists.
Thus, akin to my post on the red scare, they noted how conventional democratic socialism can be, although they stopped short of pointing out the wartime mayor Fiorello LaGuardia parallel, which would really his the point home for New Yorkers. Powell continued:
Lastly, as to those Sandinistas: This was a complicated revolutionary movement. A remarkably diverse coalition at first, it overthrew a cruel dictator. The leadership included some Communists, as well as social democrats and priests.

Some of its key leaders harbored unfortunate authoritarian tendencies. They stood – a touch reluctantly – for two elections deemed fair by many foreign observers. After it was defeated in that second election, in 1990, the movement shifted into the democratic opposition. Whatever their failings, the Sandinistas did not impose a repressive regime on their impoverished Central American nation. There was no mass jailing of opponents nor mass execution of opposing soldiers.

Quite a few liberal-left students and young people in the 1980s supported revolutionary movements in Central America. They may have been more than a touch naïve about the nature of these movements, but they at least realized that these nations had suffered terribly at the hands of United States-supported dictators.
But this qualification is too late. Instantaneously the right-wing paranoia politics machine predictably snatched the Times's story and went into action. The column was published online on Wednesday, 10:23 am, long enough after it had let the Fox machine as well as mainstream outfits like CBS or Christian Science Monitor own the news cycle as, de Blasio, the leftist. For at least two full media days, the public was exposed this "scandal," and the media essentially echoed Lhota's insistence that de Blasio answer for this. The Times in the final analysis of the vote breakdown should be credited with shaving down de Blasio's 40 point lead and losses in swing neighborhoods of the city.