Dennis Kucinich and 'Wackiness'

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Salon.com

Dennis Kucinich and 'Wackiness'

Last week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich was defeated in a Democratic primary by Rep. Marcy Kaptur after re-districting pitted the two long-term incumbents against each other. Kucinich’s fate was basically sealed when the new district contained far more of Kaptur’s district than his. His 18-year stint in the House will come to an end when the next Congress is installed at the beginning of 2013.

Establishment Democrats have long viewed Dennis Kucinich with a mixture of scorn, mockery and condescension. True to form, the establishment liberal journal American Prospect gave Kucinich a little kick on the way out, comparing his political views to the 1960s musical “Hair” (the Ohio loser talked about “Harmony and understanding”!), deriding him as “a favorite among lefty college kids and Birkenstock-wearers around the country,” and pronouncing him “among the wackiest members of Congress.” Yes, I said The American Prospect, not The Weekly Standard.

The Prospect article also praises as “great” a snide, derisive Washington Post piece which purports to “highlight some of the particularly bizarre facts about” Kucinich. Among those is the fact that “he introduced impeachment articles against former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Cheney for their roles in the Iraq war” and “proposed a Cabinet-level agency devoted to peace.” What a weirdo and a loser. Even more predictably, a team of four interns at The New Republic – the magazine that spent years crusading for the attack on Iraq, smearing Israel critics as anti-Semites, and defining its editorial mission as re-making the Democratic Party in the image of Joe Lieberman – denounced the anti-war Kucinich as “ludicrous,” citing most of the same accusations as the Prospect and the Post. [...]

So let’s recap the state of mental health in establishment Democratic circles: the President who claims (and exercises) the power to target American citizens for execution-by-CIA in total secrecy and with no charges — as well as those who dutifully follow him — are sane, sober and Serious, meriting great respect. By contrast, one of the very few members of Congress who stands up and vehemently objects to this most radical power — “The idea that the United States has the ability to summarily execute a US citizen ought to send chills racing up and down the spines of every person of conscience” — is a total wackjob, meriting patronizing mockery.

Both the Prospect and Post recite the trite case demonstrating Kucinich’s supposed weirdness. He’s friends with Shirley McLaine, who believes in reincarnation, and he once (according to McLaine) claimed to have an encounter with a UFO. Is any of that really any more strange than the litany of beliefs which the world’s major religions require? Is Barack Obama “wacky” because he claims to believe that Jesus turned water into wine, rose from the dead and will soon welcome him to heaven? Is Chuck Schumer bizarre because he seems to believe that there’s some big fatherly figure sitting in the sky who spewed fire and brimstone at those who broke the laws he sent down on some stones and now hovers over him judging his every move? Is Harry Reid a weirdo because he apparently venerates as divine the “visions” of a man who had dozens of wives, including some already married to other men?

Neither the Prospect nor the Post would ever dare mock as “wacky” the belief in invisible judgmental father-figures in the sky or that rendition of life-after-death gospel because those belief systems have been deemed acceptable by establishment circles. ”Wacky”, like its close cousin “crazy,” is a term of establishment derision exclusively reserved for those who deviate from such conventions. And that’s the point worth making here: the real reason anyone with D.C. Seriousness, including many establishment liberals, relished mocking Kucinich is because he dissented from the orthodoxies of the two political parties. That, by definition, makes one wacky and weird, even when — as is true for the Obama assassination powers and so many other bipartisan pieties — the actual wacky and crazy beliefs are those orthodoxies themselves (we’ve seen this repeatedly with those who stray from two-party normalcy). In reality, the actual crazies are those who fit comfortably within that two-party mentality and rarely challenge or deviate from it, while those who are sane, by definition, dissent from it (just today, the Super Serious Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, a prime co-sponsor of the indefinite detention bill passed late last year, called for a naval blockade of Iran). [...]

Read the rest of this article including updates here.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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