Editorial endorsements and ‘Stockholm Syndrome’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

"Stockholm syndrome," or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.

In reviewing the dislogic evident in several major newspaper editorial endorsements for Willard "Mittens" Romney, I can only surmise that editors of corporate media suffer from Stockholm Syndrome when they recommend to their readers that they should acceed to our Tea-Publican hostage taker's demands. "Just give them what they want!" Corporate media has failed its principle obligation as the "watchdogs of democracy." They are now recommending that we surrender to authoritarianism.

Ezra Klein describes this phenomenon today in Mitch McConnell, John Boehner strategy worked:

In endorsement after endorsement, the basic argument is that
President Obama hasn’t been able to persuade House or Senate Republicans
to work with him. If Obama is reelected, it’s a safe bet that they’ll
continue to refuse to work with him. So vote Romney!

That’s not even a slight exaggeration. Take the Des Moines Register,
Iowa’s largest and most influential paper. They endorsed Bill Clinton in
1992 and 1996, Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in
2008. But this year, they endorsed Romney.

Why? In the end, they said, it came down to a simple test. “Which
candidate could forge the compromises in Congress to achieve these
goals? When the question is framed in those terms, Mitt Romney emerges
the stronger candidate.”

* * *

The Orlando Sentinel also endorsed Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012,
and their reasoning is similar to the Register’s. “The next president is
likely to be dealing with a Congress where at least one, if not both,
chambers are controlled by Republicans,” they write. “It verges on magical thinking to expect Obama to get different results in the next four years.”

In the New York Times, David Brooks’s endorsement
is titled “The Upside of Opportunism.” The opportunism he’s endorsing
is Romney’s. But the opportunism that led to his endorsement is the
House Republicans’.

* * *

Romney, Brooks says, would also begin his term by heading to Congress
and asking members of the other party for cooperation on a fiscal deal.
The difference between him and Obama, Brooks thinks, is that Romney
would get that cooperation. So vote Romney.

* * *

These endorsements are proving Republicans right. As they show, the
Republican strategy to deny the president any cooperation and make his
Washington a depressing and dysfunctional place has done Obama enormous
political damage. In that way, the endorsements get the situation

While it’s true that President Romney could expect more cooperation
from congressional Republicans, in the long term, a vote against Obama
on these grounds is a vote for more of this kind of gridlock
Politicians do what wins them elections. If this strategy wins
Republicans the election, they’ll employ it next time they face a
Democratic president, too, and congressional Democrats will use it
against the next Republicans. Rewarding the minority for doing
everything in their power to make the majority fail sets up disastrous
incentives for the political system

[I]f you want the political system to work more smoothly, endorsing
McConnell and Boehner’s strategy over the last four years is folly.

Steve Benen today writes in a similar vein. An awkward defense of hostage-taking politics:

A couple of months ago, Ramesh Ponnuru made a curious case
in support of Mitt Romney. As Ponnuru argued, congressional Republicans
"aren't going to change," they're not going to compromise, and they'll
continue to make the nation ungovernable if President Obama wins. It's
better, he said, to have Romney win so Washington can function under
"unified Republican government."

In other words, GOP policymakers
will simply never work constructively or cooperatively with Democrats,
so if you want to avoid "gridlock," voters have no choice but to let
Republicans control everything.

David Brooks makes a similar case in his column today.
Republican lawmakers "still have more to fear from a primary challenge
from the right than from a general election challenge from the left," so
they'll continue to refuse to govern. If you want to "get big stuff
done," Brooks concludes, you have no choice but to give Republicans
power over the federal government.

It's rather remarkable to see
the Ponnuru/Brooks thesis in print, as if this is somehow normal. The
argument, in a nutshell, is that the politics of hostage strategies must
be respected and rewarded
, and that in an era of a radicalized
Republican Party, Democrats should accept that they simply aren't
allowed to govern, ever
. They're free to work with Republicans, but that's it.

The argument is just astounding. Inflexible Republicans, allergic to
compromise and obsessed with obstructionism, would rather destroy the
government than work cooperatively with Democrats
, ergo, don't elect
Democrats. The hostage takers of American politics aren't fooling
around, so it's better for everyone if they get their ransom

Voters should flatly reject this Tea-Publican prescription for authoritarianism and tyranny. America does not negotiate with terrorists who take America hostage to their radical ideological demands. We fight to preserve our Constitution and our deemocracy. Kick 'em all out!

UPDATE: Kevin Drum looks at Brooks from the angle of rewarding conservative hostage-takers:

Shorter David Brooks: congressional Republicans are such
implacable assholes that they’ll flatly refuse to support big
legislation that’s good for the country as long as Barack Obama is
president. But congressional Democrats are more reasonable, so if Mitt
Romney wins, he’ll be able to get some big stuff passed. Therefore you
should vote for Romney.

Shorter shorter David Brooks: the only way to deal with terrorists is to give them what they want.