When a thread on this article stretched through General Discussion: Politics last week, I had only a small amount of time to debate a few points in it, mainly, if the sales numbers for KOS’s book reflect the power from the left KOS is believed to have. I’d started a new job Monday and the learning curve was a bit steep. But with my first week there behind me, I thought I’d give the KOS article the attention it deserves from me – a die hard Bill Clinton supporter and a luke warm Hillary Clinton supporter. I’m sure KOS would expect no less if he knew me.
I’ll begin by quoting the blog at Real Clear Politics on this very subject:
Is Markos Moulitsas a mole for the Hillary Clinton primary campaign? I have to ask on account of this piece on the Washington Post op-ed page today. Because, you see, the surest way to guarantee a candidate’s election is to put them on the side opposite the Kos Krowd.
Kos waxes poetic about “Howard Dean’s transformational campaign,” where:
Even as the establishment mocked Dean and his supporters (“like a scene out of the ‘Star Wars’ cantina,” laughed a rival campaign aide), his army of hyper-motivated supporters organized across all 50 states. This movement exploded onto the national scene when Dean began reporting dramatically higher fundraising numbers than his opponents.
Of course, we all remember Dean sweeping the primaries and triumphantly taking the oath of office as national health care rained down upon … oh, wait. He came in third in Iowa, let out the yearrrrrrrrgh heard around the world and went onto a Mondale-esque defeat…
Let me go out on a limb here: There is nothing Hillary Clinton worries less about in life than whether the folks over at Daily Kos think she’s liberal enough.
In fact, in true Clintonian fashion, she could likely not be more delighted at being the target of the far-left’s rage. The more they hate her, the more the rest of America will get the impression: maybe she’s not that bad.
Kos suffers from the typical ideologue’s delusion: My party loses when it doesn’t do enough of what I want. It’s a tempting delusion, found on both the Left and the Right, for sure. And it’s not entirely without truth. Parties and candidates have to stand for something. If you look like you’re just sticking your finger in the wind, the voters notice, and they don’t like it. It doesn’t mean they won’t elect you — it certainly doesn’t mean that — but they won’t respect you.
The fact is, however, elections are typically won in the center. If Hillary gets knocked out in the primaries, it will be in favor of someone even closer to the center — not someone out in Kosland.
Greg’s Opinion chimes in on the above by saying, “Yeah … ditto that. If Markos’ op-ed was a dare, I think it’s a game of chicken he ultimately loses. At least wait until the outcome of Joe v Ned before you go picking fights with Hillary, dude.”
KOS’s op-ed does, indeed, appear to be another “I’m going to make the DLC radioactive” type leftwing call to arms. Jonathon Chait explores this phenomenon as well in his peace dealing with the left’s attempt to defeat Joe Lieberman:
WATCHING the left wing of the Democratic Party trying to take down Joe Lieberman has been a deeply confusing experience for me. The lefties say the Democratic senator from Connecticut is a self-righteous suck-up who lends President Bush undeserved credibility. Lieberman’s allies say the lefties are a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals.
They’re both basically right. So how am I supposed to deal with this?
In the end, though, I can’t quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What’s holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman’s sins. It’s a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them. (like Hillary Clinton)
But back to KOS’s op-ed, ironically titled “Hillary Clinton: Too Much of a Clinton Democrat?” One passage sticks out more than the rest of the piece, and it is the ironic part:
Despite all his successes — and eight years of peace and prosperity is nothing to sneeze at — he never broke the 50-percent mark in his two elections. Regardless of the president’s personal popularity, Democrats held fewer congressional seats at the end of his presidency than before it. The Democratic Party atrophied during his two terms, partly because of his fealty to his “third way” of politics, which neglected key parts of the progressive movement and reserved its outreach efforts for corporate and moneyed interests.”
The much-hated DLC blogger Bull Moose chimes in. Remember, being a former Republican operative, he has a perspective of Clinton you and I don’t:
Damn That Success! What is it about peace and prosperity and a two term Democratic Presidency that (KOS) doesn’t like? … Shock and horror – Clinton did not exceed the 50 percent mark in his two Presidential victories. Odds are that Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry could have lived with that!
Well, first of all, the reason that the Democrats lost so many seats back in ’94 was that the Clinton Administration betrayed its New Democrat roots in the first two years and veered to the left. And of course, the left (despite his protestations) is exactly where Mr. Kos would take the donkey. By the way, how did that work for Kos’ candidate of choice, President (sic) Dean? Those netroots were crazy about Dean, but the real, live voters were not.
In 1996 and 1998 when President Clinton returned to his New Democratic roots, Democrats prospered reversing the “six-year itch” setback that incumbent parties generally suffer. And of course, a Democrat was re-elected President for only the third time in the century. Small potatoes, Mr. Kos?
Not only did Clinton offer a new vision of opportunity, responsibility, and community, he also put flesh on the bones, with concrete proposals of welfare reform, national service, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. He offered an optimistic, pro-growth, free-trade approach to the economy. He ran against type as a hard-headed progressive and eventually became the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term.
And yet, the ever astute and erudite Mr. Kos suggests, “Clinton’s third way failed miserably.” And what, Mr. Kos, would you consider success?
The Moose can attest, that back in ’96-’97 before impeachment, the conservatives thought that Bill Clinton had their number. The Moose distinctly recalls attending countless meetings on the right in 1996 and 1997, where Republicans fretted that Clinton had gotten their number and their ascendancy was being threatened. Clinton had successfully co-opted Republican wedge issues and advanced a political agenda that was at once fiscally responsible and progressive.
The right wingers had no strategy to combat the Third Way. That is why they pursued impeachment with wild abandon. The transformation of the party unfortunately was aborted by impeachment… Now, Kos is kvetching about Hillary’s centrism and that she isn’t leading with big ideas. Well, here’s a big idea that Hillary is taking the lead on that deeply rankles Kos and his buddies – she’s tough on national security… Hillary is by no means an inevitable nominee. But it is a smear against her and her husband to suggest that they don’t have ideas which have translated into political success for Democrats.
So, moving to the meat of the KOS op-ed…
Moving into 2008, Republicans will be fighting to shake off the legacy of the Bush years: the jobless recovery, the foreign misadventures, the nightmarish fiscal mismanagement, the Katrina mess, unimaginable corruption and an imperial presidency with little regard for the Constitution or the rule of law. Every Democratic contender will be offering change, but activists will be demanding the sort of change that can come only from outside the Beltway.
I used to be surprised when “activists” demanded anything. I’m not anymore. Afterall, they’ve achieved so many electoral victories. (LOL!)
Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment — led by her husband — that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad.
Earth to KOS. As asked above, what “failed Democratic Party establishment” are you referring to? The only twice-elected Democratic President since FDR? The biggest economic expansion, if not ever, in our lifetime? So, in using the term “failure,” I must take a page from the Clinton playbook and state, “The depends on what the meaning of ‘failure’ is.” To KOS, it surely must mean Clinton didn’t turn the nation into a near socialist paradise. But I doubt the 22 million people that went to work in Clinton’s economy would call it a failure.
And the charge that Clinton enabled the George W. Bush presidency? Are you on crack, KOS? In 2000, people like you listened to people like you and voted for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore. You’re probably hoping Democrats will forget that. We won’t.
And there lies the weakness of your entire premise, KOS. You try to build a case of a failed Democratic establishment to bolster the need for leftwing netroots saviors, but there was no failed Democratic establishment in the 90s. The failed establishment came from the 70s and 80s – remnants of the “McGovern revolution” – and, when the country had had enough, they were swept from power in ’94.
I don’t always agree with what Clinton did, or the policies and writings of the DLC, but I don’t always agree with my wife, either. But I’m committed to her.
So I’ll quote the Bull Moose blog one more time:
These netroots types think they are something cutting edge when they are merely McGovernites with modems. One only wonders why the much maligned “Main Stream Media”, much less elected officials, pay so much attention to them. And their complaints about the political establishment just echo those of the New Politics folks who culturally marginalized the party until Bill Clinton came along.