Southern California has a plethora of tourist destinations so it is understandable if you have never felt compelled to visit the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. From the outside it resembles an upscale strip mall. The building is nestled deep inside the miasma of the white flight Orange County suburbs, which allows distinguished speakers a healthy buffer away from the leftist riff-raff and brown people that the 37th President despised. In other words it was the perfect setting for the Fox News Democrat/crisis manager/dictator errand boy known as Lanny Davis to lecture a gracious audience about the evils of the “hateful left.”
But Lanny was here to talk policy and political polarization goddammit! Or at least that is what he got around to eventually after spending the first 15 minutes praising the “great man” Richard Nixon. According to Davis’s alternate timeline, it was Democrats who started the war into political incivility by “unfairly” using the special prosecutor law to attack poor Dick Nixon. Later on that witch hunt manifested itself in a surplus of hate that almost consumed Davis’ good friend Bill Clinton. Finally the “angry bees” of political hate swarmed onward into the Bush years where his fellow Democrats dared to bicker (AT HIS DINNER PARTIES IF YOU CAN IMAGINE) about penny-ante bullshit like torture, pre-emptive illegal wars, and income inequality. Lanny, being the entirely genuine and upstanding citizen that he is, could not take this culture of hate any longer. If Democrats were going to hate on his “likable and good hearted” fraternity brother in this fashion, Lanny would take his one man traveling circus of civility to Fox News, because they pay better know how to respect political dialogue.
Lanny Davis prefaces everything he says with “I am a liberal Democrat.” It’s pretty much the daily affirmation he needs in order to function. When he wakes up in the morning and checks his bank account stuffed with blood money: “I’m a liberal Democrat.” When he lobbies for griftin’ for-profit schools: “I’m a liberal Democrat.” When he tips three percent on his tab at the Ritz: “I’m a liberal Democrat.” But dismissing this as a quirk or a rhetorical crutch for Davis is missing the point. Lanny is a smart man and this is a conscious decision of his to essentially make the phrase “liberal Democrat” as meaningless as “bipartisan” or the now parody-worthy idea that “both sides do it.” It is this trend of smiling cynicism that persuades most normal people to avoid politics all together, which of course leaves a wide void for Lanny’s friends and clients to buy up as much influence as they possibly can.
Simply calling Davis a “Fox News Democrat” as a means of equating him with other hapless useful idiots on that channel does a great disservice to the subtle malevolence of that demur little monster. In Davis’ world, he alone exists as a potential martyr of civility. It is Davis holding back the gates against the hordes of murderous liberals seeking to expand healthcare to poor kids by raising taxes on rich people (or some other unimaginable horror). Those who point out the substantial and factual ways in which his own positions are more aligned with his “friend” Jack Kemp are dismissed as liars and defamers. Only Davis could equate legitimate criticisms about the plethora of abuses undertaken by the Bush Administration with the obvious insanity of the right wing campaign to completely destroy the last two Democratic Presidents.
During Wednesday’s lecture, Davis lamented the permanent stains that an internet search engine leaves on one’s reputation, all without specifically acknowledging his own personal Google Problem, since any cursory research exposes his long trail of working for Union busters, infant formula poisoners, Medicare fraudsters, and of course the dictators (emphasis on the plural).
Lanny must have wised up since his earlier tangle with an Atlantic reporter on this same tour concerning his previous dalliances with unsavory dictators of yore. A man who describes American political partisans as a “swarm of killer bees” will understandably have a tough time defending his work alongside warlords in Honduras, Equatorial Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. In response, Davis has simply reframed his past as well-coifed mercenary into the new narrative of “Lanny Davis: Nobel Peace Prize Contender”.
If you believe Lanny, the only difference between him and Jimmy Carter is a southern accent. Davis now explains that these foreign jaunts were undertaken as some sort of covert State Department assignment; a curious claim especially given the immense personal fee ($100,000 per month in the case of the Ivory Coast) that Davis required directly from the dictators themselves. In fact the real victim of the Ivorian civil war was Davis himself. As Davis tells it the wounds inflicted by the machetes of his client’s death squads were nothing compared to the psychic injuries that he suffered from as a result of that famously critical New York Times article:
“I was miserable at our lakehouse. I didn’t go skiing. Just miserable”.