THE SCENE: It is 2108. The world is clean, lawful, peaceful, prosperous and well-informed. The struggles of the 21st Century are far behind us.
We find ourselves looking in on the Museum of United States History, in the “Hall of Presidents Past.” A group of students is being led by a tour guide, and they are stopped in front of a holographic display entitled, “The Blogosphere and The Election of President Barack Obama.” Showing on the transparent wall are three life-sized representations of bloggers. There is a man in his late 30’s, white, with dark hair, wearing a button-down shirt and khakis; the label under him reads “Male Obama Blogger.” There is a woman, in her late 30’s, dressed in black and wearing chic glasses; the label under her reads “Female Obama Blogger.” Finally, there is a woman in her 40’s, dressed in business attire; the label under her reads “PUMA Blogger.”
TOUR GUIDE: And now, here is our exhibit on our first – but not the last – African-American President, Barack Hussein Obama. He was President from 2008 – 2012.
Here at the Museum of United States History, we assume that you already know the most basic facts about every President. Our goal is to focus on little-known but important aspects of each President’s history. That is why we have chosen to represent the way so many in the so-called “progressive” blogosphere helped elect President Obama.
STUDENT #1 (raising hand): The “blogosphere”? What’s that?
STUDENT #2 (to #1): Don’t you remember? There used to be something called the Internet where people would talk about politics and other topics of interest.
STUDENT #1 (with dawning comprehension): Ohhhh! That was the baby version of the Worldwide Peoples’ Network!
TOUR GUIDE: Exactly right – the Internet became the WPN. (smiling) Now, if I may continue?
STUDENT #1 (embarrassed): Sorry, ma’am.
TOUR GUIDE: Thank you. Now, many people are not aware that President Obama’s campaign was fiercely championed by the “progressives” in the blogosphere.
STUDENT #2 (raising her hand): Uh, ma’am? Sorry, but what’s a progressive?
TOUR GUIDE: At one point, people who considered themselves on the liberal side of politics adopted the label of “progressive.” This label, for some time, hid the fact that they hated women and the Presidency of Bill Clinton, and allowed them to take over the blogosphere from people who really were liberals.
STUDENT #1: Wow! Progressives sound like complete idiots!
TOUR GUIDE (smiling): You have no idea! Where was I? Oh yes. Progressives’ advocacy for President Obama was so inflexible that many on the left broke away and formed their own blogosphere. These bloggers called themselves “PUMAs,” representing either “Party Unity My Ass” or “People United Means Action.” Later in the 21st Century, these PUMAs formed their own UnParty, with which you are all familiar by now.
(THE STUDENTS NOD AND SMILE. STUDENT #3 holds up a pawprint badge that had been magnetically stuck to his jumpsuit.)
STUDENT #3: PUMA POWER!!!
TOUR GUIDE (holding up her own badge): PUMA POWER! (resuming the tour) Well, now we’re coming to the interactive part of the display. You’re going to love it, I promise! I need a volunteer to read a short sentence out loud.
(ALL THE STUDENTS raise their hands. The TOUR GUIDE picks STUDENT #3 out of the group.)
TOUR GUIDE: All right, John. Come to the display and read the sentence shown on the wall. Then, watch the reactions of all three bloggers to what you say.
JOHN (reading): “Today, Senator Barack Obama voted to give telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their illegal wiretapping activities performed at the behest of the Bush Administration.”
(ALL the holograms come to life.)
MALE OBAMA BLOGGER: Well, I know Senator Obama promised to filibuster this immunity, but that doesn’t matter. He’s just doing what he needs to do to get elected.
FEMALE OBAMA BLOGGER: Yeah! What you said!
PUMA BLOGGER: This sucks! And Obama broke his promise to vote against immunity, but Hillary didn’t. Why aren’t you supporting her instead?
(ALL holograms stop speaking.)
TOUR GUIDE: Did you see what happened there, John?
JOHN: I think so. Barack Obama broke a very important promise, and the PUMA blogger was the only one who said anything.
STUDENT #1: You mean – President Obama essentially gave the telecom companies permission to spy on Americans without repercussions?
TOUR GUIDE: Yes, Virginia. Bet you didn’t know that about him!
(ALL the students mutter confusedly.)
TOUR GUIDE: But this type of refusal to hold candidate Obama to account was not the only aspect of “progressive” advocacy. There was a darker side to it.
ALL STUDENTS: Ooooooh!
TOUR GUIDE (smiling): Indeed! (more seriously) The Obama bloggers actually spread false stories about President Obama’s opponents, both in the primaries and in the General Election. Believe it or not, they accused Hillary Clinton of making Obama’s face look darker and his nose look wider, in order to emphasize the fact that he was black.
(THE STUDENTS look puzzled.)
STUDENT #2: But didn’t people already know that President Obama was black?
TOUR GUIDE: Yes, of course! But it didn’t matter how nonsensical the accusation against Secretary of State Clinton was – the Obama bloggers would insist that it was true. Here, Virginia, you try reading the next sentence and we’ll see how the bloggers react.
(VIRGINIA steps up to the wall, and reads aloud.)
VIRGINIA: “I have absolute proof that Hillary Clinton has doctored this photo to make Barack Obama look more African-American.”
(THE BLOGGERS stir again.)
MALE OBAMA BLOGGER: OMG! I knew it! She’ll do anything to get elected!
FEMALE OBAMA BLOGGER: God, what a bitch! Has she no shame? She’s a racist!
PUMA BLOGGER: Hahahahahahaha! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! You idiots, those are two different photos!
(THE BLOGGERS freeze again.)
JOHN: So, what happened to that story? Was it true, or not true?
TOUR GUIDE: What do you all think?
STUDENT #4 (hesitantly): Um, true?
TOUR GUIDE: Believe it or not, it wasn’t true. The PUMA blogger was 100% correct. Despite the progressives’ claim of “absolute proof,” there was none.
(ALL STUDENTS, shocked, whisper amongst themselves.)
TOUR GUIDE: Now, there was one more aspect of this election that was very under-reported at the time. That was the sexism of the progressive blogosphere.
I said before that the progressives hated women. Well, that was never more clear than when Barack Obama ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin in the General Election.
STUDENT #4: You mean – President Sarah Palin?
TOUR GUIDE: Very good, Jimmy! Yes, President Sarah Palin. But the first time she appeared on the national scene, she did not do very well. And unfortunately, the progressive blogosphere did not treat her very well either.
VIRGINIA: What about the female Obama bloggers? Surely they were at least fair in the name of feminism?
TOUR GUIDE: You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But no. Very few of the female bloggers criticized her on issues. Most were content to make fun of her looks, and her supposed lack of intellect and experience. Not only that, but they spread a lot of rumors about President Palin’s son, Trig – they said he wasn’t even hers.
JOHN: But why?
TOUR GUIDE: It was just another way to get President Obama elected. The “progressives” decided that nothing was more important than defeating the Clintons and electing Mr. Obama. You see, they thought that the Clintons were too moderate, whereas Mr. Obama represented a more leftwing side of the Party.
JIMMY: They DID? But didn’t President Obama bring a lot of evangelicals into the Democratic Party? People who preached inequality for women and gays? Why would that be seen as leftwing?
TOUR GUIDE: Well, the progressives didn’t see it that way. They assumed President Obama was a liberal, even though he told them he wasn’t.
(STUDENT #2 raises her hand.)
TOUR GUIDE: Yes, Elaine?
ELAINE: I don’t understand. How could these people have had any influence on the election? It doesn’t seem like they were smart, informed or truthful about very much of anything.
VIRGINIA: You mean, they were sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigots!
(The entire group laughs.)
TOUR GUIDE: Ah, yes, “Nine to Five.” Still a classic! But to answer your question, it was because during the days of President Bush –
ALL STUDENTS: Worst President Ever!
TOUR GUIDE: Yes, indeed – the blogosphere was the only place for liberals to talk about how bad Bush was. The corporate media refused to report the facts about the President for several years. So, the progressive blogosphere built up a huge readership as the place to go for unbiased news. But unfortunately, what their readers didn’t know was that hatred of Bush did not equate to a love of liberal ideas like social and economic justice.
Well, we have come to the end of this part of the tour. Did you all enjoy it?
(The STUDENTS nod and smile.)
JOHN: It made me even prouder to be a PUMA.
TOUR GUIDE (winking): Me too, John. Let’s take a break before the next phase, when we’ll learn some little-known facts about Presidents Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin and Chelsea Clinton. Now, who wants hot cocoa?
(ALL THE STUDENTS cheer.)