My cyber friend Rodak, in response to my post regarding the Buckley – Vidal commentaries during 1968 wonders (and I am paraphrasing here) where have all the leftists gone? At least, why aren't any of them appearing on TV these days?
Let it be noted that despite the supposed "liberal bias" of the MainStreamMedia, figures on the true left are never seen on mainstream television. If not for C-SPAN, figures like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn would never be on TV at all. All of the neocons, and the rest of Wm. F. Buckley's spawn, by contrast, are on constantly. There are still left-wingers alive in the wild, but you have to seek them out for yourself; they are not brought to you free of charge by the MSM, as are the generations of Kristols and Podhoretzes.
And I have to agree with him, though I believe for slightly a different reason than he probably does. I believe a big part of it is how you view politics in America – is it left v. right or Democrats v. GOP? While the Democrats are the left and the GOP the right, those two possibilities are not really the same thing.
The conservative movement has been connected with the GOP since 1964. While there are dissenters (Pat Buchanan being the most prominent), most professional conservatives are seen as somehow surrogates for the GOP. This is not the case with the professional leftists, such as Chomsky and Zinn. Neither of those two could ever be considered surrogates for the Democratic Party. So considering the realities of our two-party system, in order to appear relevant, the media wants to have is a Democrat debating a Republican. They cannot fit into this dichotomy a debate between, say the left wing Chomsky and a libertarian such as Justin Raimondo.
A second problem is the decline of the "public intellectual." And by that, I mean someone who has a wide range of interests and knowledge and is not simply a specialist trying to discuss a narrow field or a political hack trying to score points. No matter what your thoughts on Buckley's or Vidal's politics, they both were polished intellectuals who could make an argument by reference to history and were well versed in high culture. Is there really anyone who can fit that mold today?
Looking at CNN's coverage of mini Tuesday, it seemed to me that the panelists were either political types or journalists. Bill Kristol was also there to be sure. But the debate was being framed as GOP v. Obama supporters v. Clinton supporters. In the general election it will be framed as GOP v. Democrat. So you will find a few GOP pundits and political types and have them face off against a few Democratic pundits and politics types. And the discussion will unfortunately be somewhat superficial and center around scoring points, rather than debating ideas.