Left Behind

Hearts aflame, commenters speak fire

Lefties left behind wish desperately they were among The Fifteen Thousand Witnessing History in the Mile High City. Instead, they have to rely on said Fifteen Thousand to bring them coverage of the Convention and on Talking Points Memo Café to give them a soapbox.

TPM Café, which normally serves as a communal blog for TPM readers—an open mic night, if you will—has, during these heady Convention times, functioned more as a steam valve for a wide range of heaving emotion.

Take Theda Skocpol, Harvard sociologist by day, TPM blogger also by day. Professor Theda, it seems, is seeing stars as history comes full circle, eats its tail, and wormholes to a brighter tomorrow (and she would know: Skocpol’s husband is an experimental physicist):

For me personally it would be hard to top last night at the Democratic Convention, listening to Bill Clinton and Joe Biden set the stage for Obama and bring the nation and the Democratic Party to the brink of the most important political watershed in the past four decades. As Michigan State college students in 1966 and 1967, my hustand-to-become [sic] Bill and I met while working on a Civil Rights project in Mississippi. We participated in a small way in the fight for American fulfillment through the enfranchisement of blacks and in the repudiation of racial segregation that our generation helped to junp-start. [sic] Then, in 1968, we cried with millions of others when the hopes of the era took a dark turn after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. We watched as increasingly viscious [sic] right-wingers tore blacks from whites, and pitted the middle class against the less privileged—all the while constructing a predatory U.S. state by and for the crassest of the super rich, and bringing our politics to a shameful nadir that McCain has now embraced, to his ever-lasting shame.

It is such a privilege to be alive to see the turning point in 2007 and 2008, to participate in this chance for Americans to take back our country and for Democrats to overcome the divisions of the past and lead the way to a better future at home and in the world…Thanks to both Clintons and the Bidens, and to the many other leaders who have spoken with passion and toughness at the Convention. Now it is up to the rest of us to make it happen across the land. Obama can lead, but he cannot do it alone.

That means it’s time for a war straight out of Revelations, people. Writes Skocpol:

It is time for all of us—professional experts and commentators, too—to cease self-importance (listen up, Carville) or distanced and pallid commentary (that means you Harold Ford and Mark Shields) and join the fight of our lives. This election matters like only a few others in the history of the United States. Our nation will either move forward, or fall down very far—think of what it will mean in and about America if we cannot grasp the bright potential Obama’s candidacy embodies! The battlefield has been set, and all of us should network, speak, write, give money, and do whatever we can to achieve the November victories for Obama/Biden and Democrats all down the ticket that offer the opening wedge toward a better tomorrow.

First order of business in this War of the Ages: wiggle the wedge and make sure that damn Sean Wilentz doesn’t slither on through: “Any of us from the progressive side of academia who runs into Sean Wilentz after that execrable smear-job he wrote in Newsweek,” writes Skocpol, “should cross to the other side of the street and keep moving!” YEAH! Who’s on the wrong side of history now, huh? History professor, indeed.

Oh, and the crowd goes wild for Skocpol! Quoth Phelicity: “I recognize the ‘stars’ in your eyes because, although I’m about 12 years your senior, I have them too…” Oh, and Skocpol’s son, a correspondent for Brown University’s paper (a Chablis drinker, no doubt), will be there covering the event! Just how neat is that? “Your son Michael,” writes a similarly starry-eyed commenter, “may very well be witnessing the American equivalent of Mandela being released from jail.” Yeah, that sounds just about right.

But we digress. This is war, people! “Obama must, beginning with his speech tonight, immediately seize the initiative and begin to take control of the agenda, the debate and the message of the entire campaign. He must put McCain and the Republicans on the defensive and keep them there. Unless that happens, his chances of victory are slim,” wrote one commenter. But worry not. “Fortunately, however, there’s still anger” out there, Phelicity reminds us.

Oh, there’s plenty of bilious fighting spirit, yes, especially when you factor in The Commenter Formerly Known As NCSteve. He’s got enough to power Obama’s jet pack from here to Armageddon, wherever that is.

“I’ve watched a lot of conventions. I’ve always found them entertaining. This year, however … this year, the asshats just will not shut the fuck up,” he writes in a post called, fondly, “Dear Sweet Mother of God, Will You People Just STFU Already?

TCFKA NCSteve lets everyone covering the Convention have it: stupid Chris Matthews (“Tweety”), “I’m With Stupid” Olbermann, Chuck Todd—even poor, dead Tim Russert gets nicked in the drive by. He was, apparently, a huge old tool.

And CNN, God don’t get me started on those idiots. Who gives a pile of steaming monkey feces [sic] what a bunch of washed up has=been Democratic “consultants” and super-extra evil Republican pigs have to say about anything? Who cares about the empty drivel pouring out of Wolf Blitzer’s mouth. And Bill Schnieder? The notion that that imbecile knows anything about politics would be laughable if not for the fact that he’s there, on my TV running his mouth with that oh-so-knowing and wise gleam in his eye as he just says stuff with no apparent connection to any fact-based universe.

And oh the problems for Obama. Problem, problems everywhere. Problems to the left of him, problems to the right. Problems with money, problems with Hillary, problems with everyone and everything. Problems connecting with the all important white 70+ women with “Ring Bell for Service” tatooed on their ass demographic. My oh my oh my. The problems, problems, problems.

Um, this is getting awkward…

Just shut the fuck up already. You’re embarassing yourselves and the country. Shut up. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to be able to watch this shit at all if all they’re going to do is sit in their booths in the nosebleed sections and yap and yap and bleat and baaaah.

Um, NCSteve? You okay?

Thank you. The “Rant About the Asshats” light has been turned on. You are free to rant about the cabin.

Oh. Okay. Well, there you have it, folks. If you feel like swinging by and patronizing your neighborhood crazies at the TPM Café, you’ll be sure to find a wide range of, um, informed emotion sloshing about. Or you could try to talk TCFKA NC Steve off the ledge—as many of his commenters tried to do - by recommending he tune into the soothing, soothing sounds of CSPAN. Ahhh…

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Julia Ioffe is a freelance writer based in New York City.