The Village Discovers the “Jihadists” among Them

Steve Pearlstein is one of those pundits who reliably spouts the Village narrative, often to the point of wankery. Which is why I find his use of the language of terrorism to describe the TeaParty and the corporatists that empower it more significant than Joe Nocera’s use of the same language a few weeks ago.

Want to know who is to blame, Mr. Big Shot Chief Executive? Just look in the mirror because the culprit is staring you in the face.

J’accuse, dude. J’accuse.

You helped create the monsters that are rampaging through the political and economic countryside, wreaking havoc and sucking the lifeblood out of the global economy.


My own bill of particulars begins right here in Washington, where over the past decade you financed and supported the growth of a radical right-wing cabal that has now taken over the Republican Party and repeatedly made a hostage of the U.S. government.

When it started out all you really wanted was to push back against a few meddlesome regulators or shave a point or two off your tax rate, but you were concerned it would look like special-interest rent-seeking. So when the Washington lobbyists came up with the clever idea of launching a campaign against over-regulation and over-taxation, you threw in some money, backed some candidates and financed a few lawsuits.


What started as a reasonable attempt at political rebalancing turned into a jihad against all regulation, all taxes and all government, waged by right-wing zealots who want to privatize the public schools that educate your workers, cut back on the basic research on which your products are based, shut down the regulatory agencies that protect you from unscrupulous competitors and privatize the public infrastructure that transports your supplies and your finished goods. For them, this isn’t just a tactic to brush back government. It’s a holy war to destroy it — and one that is now out of your control. [my emphasis]

But what’s even more … amusing is the agency described here. Pearlstein suggests the few Big Shot Chief Executives he accuses here have, through organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and some front organizations, provided key funding and sanction for the radical right-wing cabal conducting this Holy War.

The more successful it was, however, the more you put in — hundreds of millions of the shareholders’ dollars, laundered through once-respected organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, phoney front organizations with innocent-sounding names such as Americans for a Sound Economy, and a burgeoning network of Republican PACs and financing vehicles. And thanks to your clever lawyers and a Supreme Court majority that is intent on removing all checks to corporate power, it’s perfectly legal.


It’s not just that you have remained silent as the financial sector has sucked away much of the profit generated by the private sector, stolen away much of the nation’s best talent and transformed the process of capital allocation and formation into a casino. Even worse, through organizations such as the Chamber and the Business Roundtable you reflexively provided them with crucial political support that allowed them to beat back regulators who tried to restrict their growth, curb their risk-taking or put a stop to the kind of fraudulent activity that nearly sank the recovery, and from which it will take years to recover. Given your role in society and in the economy, your silence amounts to complicity.

That is precisely the kind of action Pearlstein denied exists back during the last hostage-crisis–on the Bush tax cuts.

I know there are many Democrats and independents who believe that Republicans get up in the morning determined to do whatever is necessary to help their rich friends and campaign contributors. While that may explain some Republicans’ behavior some of the time, I strongly doubt it’s the primary motivation.

For starters, there is no American Association of Rich Persons out there with a huge political action committee and a formidable grass-roots lobbying effort. Yes, there are cabals of very rich people who fund conservative think tanks and political advertising. But American democracy is not so corrupt or dysfunctional that a tiny portion of the population, driven purely by selfish greed, can capture so many elected officials and bamboozle so many voters.

It seems Pearlstein has changed his estimation of the damage this association of rich people have done and the power they wield.

That’s important because something else has empowered these “Jihadists” over the last several years: Village pundits like Pearlstein, who dismissed the concerns of those of us who raised early warnings about them.

Mind you, Pearlstein seems to have little awareness of his own complicity here.

But if the Village wants to finally get around to shaming those who have looted our economy, I guess that’s progress.

13 replies
  1. frandor55 says:

    Nice work, emptywheel. I no longer go near WaPo, so thanks for doing the dirty work. I might occasionally read Ezra and Eugene, but is mostly a vast wasteland.

    ps where was the main link?… hiding in plain sight probably, but I could not find it.

  2. radiofreewill says:

    Where were these same Pearlstein eyes when the looting was in full swing?

    Why is it that, now, when the treasury is almost empty – suddenly he can see what was happening all along?

    What caused his loss of faith, crumbled his Loyalty and started him looking for common sense explanations – after years of being a propagandist?

  3. rosalind says:

    meh. this kinda deathbed conversion only happens when it gets personal. my money is on his stock portfolio taking a huge hit in the market kerfuffle.

  4. Rpm says:

    The core issue is that the American public is the problem, obsessed with getting ahead,shopping till up drop while supporting endless military adventures throughout the world it has little moral compass.

  5. MadDog says:

    Rip Van Pearlstein awakens?

    I’m from Minnesota, so I know and despise TPaw. But having said that, this bolded part of the quote from over at Politico is TPaw admitting the truth:

    …“What I brought forward, I thought, was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing — a two-term governor of a blue state,” said Pawlenty. “But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different.”

    Very simply, TPaw is admitting what we all know, and the MSM refuses to speak out loud: “The Crazies want a Crazy.”

    After their loss in the 2008 elections, the only folks left willing to be identified as Republicans were the Crazies.

    As I said of the Republicans at the time, “When all you have left is Crazy, you go with Crazy.”

    I now would add the following corollary: “When you go with Crazy, all you get is Crazy.”

  6. 1970cs says:

    What Pearlstein only now recognizes is that this isn’t just some union workers that might lose their jobs. He see’s his access threatened and how it will effect him.

  7. Mauimom says:


    Yeah, I too was wondering what “woke him up” to the damage created by those he’d promoted for so long.

    Perhaps the opening of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has something to do with it.

    And Marcy,

    But if the Village wants to finally get around to shaming those who have looted our economy, I guess that’s progress.

    could be amended to

    But if the Village wants to finally get around to shaming those who have looted our economy, all they have to do is look in the mirror.

  8. P J Evans says:

    I’d add that ‘regulation is also what makes sure your food, cosmetics, toys, and machines don’t injure or kill you’. Which Pearlstein doesn’t seem to have picked up on. Yet.

  9. masaccio says:

    Watching the villagers wake up to the real economic problems we face is horrifying. They have all spent so much time on horse-race politics they don’t have the intellectual resources to talk about the economy, and they fall back on the conventional wisdom sold by the economist enablers of the crazy party.

    In a few years, after they read some textbooks and learn a new language, maybe we can make progress.

  10. Gitcheegumee says:


    But if the Village wants to finally get around to shaming those who have looted our economy, all they have to do is look in the mirror….mm

    I didn’t think thatvillage vampires were allowed to look into mirrors,are they?

  11. matthew carmody says:

    @Rpm: the American public no longer matters and in no meaningful way makes decisions on how money is spent. Don’t cite elections because they’ve become as corrupted in this country as they ever were in the Soviet Union.

  12. rkilowatt says:

    “seems Pearlstein has changed his estimation of the damage this association of rich people have done and the power they wield.”

    Association? Isn’t that like a union?

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