Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not Helping, Dennis

In political jargon, useful idiot is a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they do not understand, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

Well, looks like Dennis Kucinich, defeated last March in a gerrymandering-forced primary, has found post-congressional employment. But it's unlikely to help his progressive causes:

Former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just signed as a paid contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Network. His new gig will begin on Thursday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor.

(Yes, I know the picture is Elizabeth Kucinich. I got really tired of getting baited into opening fund raising emails sent out under her name, only to find pictures of Dennis instead. And no, I still can't figure it out.)

I've never really been a Dennis Kucinich fan. Sure he had a mostly good issue record, though it's worth noting that he had a 100% anti-choice record... until he decided he wanted to run for president.

It was more a matter of his style. A little too intense, a little too self-important, a little too self-righteous... a little too, well, odd. He's like a caricature of what conservatives hate about liberals.

And there were his supporters. Sure, some good Democrats opted for "pure" and there's a niche for that in any caucus. But Kucinich also attracted the Hey Hey Ho Ho crowd. They'd do tacky stuff like crash other candidate's events and bully the actual supporters out.

The Kucinich folks had a particular hostility toward us Howard Dean supporters. They were, frankly, jealous that Dean had taken over their anti-war niche. Kucinich's final middle finger to the Deaniacs was his caucus morning pact with John Edwards, calling on his supporters to realign for the then still pro-war Edwards rather than with the more logical choice of Dean.

(Not just ANY blogger can cross-reference nine year old posts. Or hold a nine year grudge. Or remember ANYTHING about the 2004 caucuses except that one thing everyone remembers about the 2004 caucuses.)

Shilling for Fox is pretty cynical. But that's not shocking coming from Kucinich. See, Dennis is mostly about Dennis. And for his end of this shameless sell-out he gets a nice paycheck and more important, he gets to see his own face on TV daily rather than doing some noble but obscure work, while no doubt plotting a comeback as Cleveland Commissioner of Canine Containment or some other office.

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes said, "I've always been impressed with Rep. Kucinich's fearlessness and thoughtfulness about important issues. His willingness to take a stand from his point of view makes him a valuable voice in our country's debate." 

Ailes is a genius. An evil genius, but a genius. Ailes gets to define liberals, and the Democratic Party in general, through the frame of Dennis Kucinich's most goofy moments and outlandish statements. His audience will get its daily dosage of stereotype reinforcement.

Kucinich will get to be the Democrat that Republicans love to hate, and he'll revel in his own martyrdom. The only question left: is Dennis Kucinich smart enough to realize that the joke is on him?


Adam B Sullivan said...

Much of Fox's viewership is coming around to non-interventionism at the same rate Democrats are getting excited about Bush-style militarism. Kucinich can speak to that audience.

John said...

Perhaps - but I really don't think that's what Ailes is looking for here.

Adam B Sullivan said...

That's definitely not Fox's angle, but maybe part of Kucinich's.

I'm not sure there's a place for someone like Kucinich in media. Organizations which might have offered a warm reception in the Bush days are now cautious about anyone who might say too many bad things about their president.