Back in May, the "failing" New York Times published an article profiling the existence of various bloggers and talkers collectively known as the "intellectual dark web." The Times described the IDW as:
...a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now.
For every respect-worthy member of this group -- I'm a fan of Joe Rogan and Sam Harris in particular, there are more than a few assholes and stuffed shirts in the IDW including conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro. I don't completely dislike Shapiro, despite his seemingly Adderall-fueled, hyperspeed delivery, which is to say Shapiro isn't a big Trump fan, and he can often appear reasonable in an age of proud, slackjawed unreasonableness.
That said, Shapiro's Twitter feed often abandons his occasional thoughtfulness in lieu of outright mind-blowing hackery like this:
Shapiro is referencing President Obama's remarks late last week, kicking off the former chief executive's Fall appearances to support Democrats running in the midterms.
Before we dig into the meat of why this tweet is ridiculous, I'd like to point out how, once again, a white conservative is telling a black ex-president to shut up. Odd, given how the Republicans are presently crapping their cages, accusing Twitter and YouTube of "silencing" conservative voices. But Obama needs to shut up, right?
I guess Shapiro didn't bring his "intellectual" mojo to the floor when he tweeted this out because it's nothing if not a boilerplate hack observation we've overheard many times before. In fact, he could've inserted any Democratic Party name in place of "Obama" and the observation will still work for what it is because, simply put, they use this attack against all Democrats. Do the list: Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton (especially), David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and so on.
No matter who it is, you've probably heard conservative screechers concern-trolling the left about how our leadership is allegedly motivating Republicans to vote.
There's no polling or statistic proving this phenomenon as anything other than anecdotal, and the only way it can work is in the context of a colossal propaganda campaign against these leaders, such as the one orchestrated by Russia, the Trumps and Fox News in 2016 against Hillary. In that case, voters were bombarded with anti-Hillary myths and lies, so that when Hillary appeared with all of this artificial baggage, some voters in targeted districts, perhaps some who voted for Obama in 2012, ran away from her and into the hairless arms of Donald J. Trump. Like idiots. (Another thing I'm not supposed to say, or else...)
Generally, though, the talking point used by Shapiro in his tweet is horseshit. It's a way to intimidate Democrats into moderation and to disarm our own leadership -- it's a way to make us second-guess the campaign strategies by the DCCC, the DNC, the DSCC and the candidates themselves. Sorry to report: Democrats are fickle and we often bend in the face of Republican attacks.
One example is the debate about impeachment. Some Dems believe our candidates shouldn't campaign on impeachment because it'll drive voters to Trump somehow. Where'd this come from? Republicans on cable news and elsewhere, of course -- Republicans with a vested interest in depressing Democratic turnout. Not only will the "i-word" apparently motivate the Red Hats to turn out, they say, but Obama's campaigning will, too.
And then, somewhere in the war rooms of the aforementioned Democratic organizations, operatives begin to wonder whether they're inadvertently helping the White House and the GOP. Let me be perfectly clear: they're not! Shapiro is marketing in a hack myth.
You know what really drives undecided voters to cast ballots for Republicans? Weak Democrats who are afraid to show some backbone, that's who.
Barack Obama remains the most popular American in the world. He defeated two strong Republican opponents to not only become the first African-American president, elected in a time when racism is far from dead, but also the first re-elected black president. The enthusiasm that accompanies his public appearances is so ebullient, it can barely be charted. His retrospective approval rating is 63 percent, the fourth highest among the last 10 presidents, compared with Trump's RCP average of 41 percent and falling. If anyone is motivating voters to turnout this year, it's Trump motivating Democrats and depressing Republicans. Indeed, Democrats are averaging 20-point gains in special elections throughout 2017 and 2018.
One last thing: shocking that in the face of Trump who continually insists he's the greatest president in history, Republicans like Shapiro continue to play the "Obama's ego" card.
Bottom line: intellectuals don't deal in overused concern-trolling and general hackery. Time to re-evaluate his IDW membership, I think.