Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Pretending that I’m doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
I’m lonely but no one can tell
Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
I’ve played the game but to my real shame
You’ve left me to grieve all alone
Yes I’m the great pretender
Just laughin’ and gay like a clown
I seem to be what I’m not, you see
I’m wearing my heart like a crown
— The Platters, 1955
David Sirota. Matt Taibbi. Arriana Huffington. The Great Pretenders. Three of the more popular pied pipers of the left, they’re more concerned with ideological purity than winning, they condemn Democrats with the same passion they do Republicans, and they’re ultimate goal is to lead the Democrats off the cliff and doom them for another generation.
Earlier this summer, the NY Times puts into words the feelings I’ve had about the far left blogosphere for sometime now. In his unflattering critique of Sirota’s “Hostile Takeover,” Tobin Harshaw wrote:
The clichéd revolutionary language, the wafer-thin allusions to popular culture, and the childish taunts quickly become oppressive.
Unlike blogs, books need editors, but there is no evidence in “Hostile Takeover” that Sirota has ever met one. Despite his creditable analysis, the end product too often reads like the work of a high school newspaper editor going through his Marxist or logical positivist phase: to the author it speaks of revolution; to the reader it resonates immaturity.
Harshaw also took issue with Sirota’s use of “facts,” something I’ve also questioned Sirota on, and his obsessive disdain with the moderate/centrists of the Democratic party:
Sirota’s facts may be accurate, but the suppositions he draws from them are often questionable…
… While Sirota urges his readers to “remember the real fight, and forget the cocktail party arguments,” his venom seems directed less at the ruling Republicans than at their main opposition, mainstream Democratic centrists… As such, the book Sirota has written is not so much a manifesto for change as a crib sheet for the Democrats’ intramural squabbling.
David Sirota, in true reactionary form, claimed the NY Times had embarassed themselves by waiting until the book became a bestseller to review it, and is now on his figurative ememies list:
The Times for months refused to review Hostile Takeover, preferring to try to ignore it. Only when the book hit the bestseller list did the paper realize it was embarrassing itself by its behavior. Not surprisingly, the review that the paper finally agreed to do is indeed a spectacle – and it highlights the fault lines of power that have taken center
stage in American politics.”
The very first point Sirota took issue with is a claim by the NY Times that Hostile Takeover is “directed less at the ruling Republicans than at their main opposition, mainstream Democratic centrists.” Sirota writes:
That’s factually inaccurate – the book is roughly 75%-25% critical of Republicans vs. Democrats, respectively.
I’ve read the book, and though I haven’t done any sort of breakdown on who is attacked the most in it – Republicans or moderate Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – everyone knows Sirota’s schtick is aiming vitriol at moderate Democrats in general and the Democratic Leadership Council specifically. He’s making a career of it. So if Sirota wants to squabble with the NY Times or anyone else over just how much he is doing it, in this book or elsewhere, there are volumes of source material to refer to.
Sirota also takes issue with Harshaw’s labeling of his style as that of a “high school newspaper editor going through his Marxist or logical positivist phase,” yet Sirota turns around and displays that style in grand fashion as he spins the review:
The Times review then goes into a barrage of cliched attacks calling me, among others, a “Marxist” and a “high school newspaper editor.”
Then, unable to hide a classic op-ed page elitism, Harshaw displays outrage that “a blogger tries to write at length” in book format… That, my friends, is the fault line that is driving everything in today’s politics: a battle between the people inside the Establishment whose careers rely on protecting the status quo and the vast majority of Americans who have been locked out of their own political and media debate.
Imagine that! A bad review of his book is equated to a battle between “the people inside the Establishment whose careers rely on protecting the status quo and the vast majority of Americans.” Can Sirota be any more narcissistic? And by referring to his movement as “small ‘d’ democratic influence, at least Sirota has finally quit pretending he’s a Democrat. Or maybe his hypocritical side is showing again by inferring his loyalties are to a cause greater than to the Democratic party – the very ideal he has condemned Joe Lieberman for.
But most of us know Sirota is merely an opportunist, hitching his wagon on the “progressive” gravy train and hoping to ride it to some future success. This isn’t the first time he’s looked for a meal ticket like this.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he sought employment with the very entities he now claims to despise. Last month, it was revealed that Sirota interviewed not once but twice for jobs with Joe Lieberman – both times AFTER Lieberman had done all those vile things Sirota accuses him off. Earlier this month, Ed Kilgore revealed Sirota once interviewed with the “nefarious” DLC (the object of his scorn) and wasn’t hired. He settled for a post with Vermont Independent and admitted socialist Rep. Bernie Sanders.
Sirota has a long history of unethical behavior and a habit of playing fast and loose with the facts. Sirota was fired in 1999 after working only three weeks on the mayoral primary campaign of Dwight Evans in Philadelphia, after it was discovered he was connected to the creator of a fake website for Evans’s opponent. Though he is known for anti-beltway rhetoric, he was heavily involved in Washington, DC politics through his employment with the Center For American Progress.
Honesty isn’t the best policy for Sirota. During the heated battle to see who would be the Democrats’ senate candidate in Ohio, Sirota told a whopper about Paul Hackett. And after he published one of several drafts of his “Debunking Centrism” piece, both Matthew Yglesias and Greg’s Opinion picked it apart.
Arianna Huffington is hard to please. She’s mad at Bill Clinton for not being a reactionary leftwinger or, rather, for being loyal to a longtime friend before becoming loyal to his party. How else do you explain her rant against the only twice elected Democratic president in over 60 years? She takes issue with Mr. Clinton for first supporting Joe Lieberman in the CT primary, then for supporting Ned Lamont when he won that primary. She’s ticked off because Clinton didn’t denounce Lieberman’s statements concerning Lamont and terrorists strongly enough, or soon enough, or something enough that isn’t quite clear. For that, she says, the Clinton doctrine must die.
Fascinating, but not surprising. See, Huffington is not a Democrat. Never has been. When she ran for California governor in 2003, she ran as an Independent. After a less than impressive debate performance on September 24, she withdrew her candidacy on the Larry King cable program, she flip-flopped and announced that she was then opposing the recall entirely.
And Huffington has never been a friend of Bill Clinton’s anyway. Before she took that massive pendulum swing from the far right to the far left, she spend her days helping her Republican husband, Michael Huffington, try to knock off California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 1994. After that, she spent time in the service of House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the days of the GOP witch hunt for Bill Clinton. Afterwards, she championed the candidacy of John McCain.
But liberals say Huffington has seen the light. And I believe it. She got a good look at the light as she ran past it from right to left.
Then there is Matt Taibbi. Think David Sirota off his meds. In 2005, he wrote the utterly disgusting The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death of the Pope. He was an editor of the Moscow-based eXile newspaper (think Jackass with a radical political perspective) where he once bragged about being immune to libel laws. In other words, he knows how to pull sophmoric stunts and write the revolution-ladened prose those on the far left like to read, but he’s hardly a reputable source or a responsible journalist and certainly not someone the left should desire as a spokesperson.
Don’t be fooled by the great pretenders for they’re not really Democrats. They only see the Democratic party as the easiest route to achieving their goals and they’ve mislead many well-meaning liberals along the way. They would never get a foothole in the Republican party and they’ve learned from experience (1948 and 2000) that third parties only expose how small their numbers really are.
They demonstrate a severe lack of knowledge on how the political process works and, indeed, the very definition of “politics” is a distant memory from their high school civics class. They don’t understand that Senate and congressional campaigns in red states cannot and should not be influence by activists in blue states. Their historical perspective of the Democratic party is laughable, with Harry Truman being a radical one day and a forerunner to modern neocons the next being just one example.
Should the Democratic party be a big tent? The far left doesn’t think so, unless everyone in it toes their ideological line.
Do they believe they’re the chief instigators of the modern day infamous Democratic circular firing squad? Of course not. They believe it is an old cliche designed to silence them.
Prone to factual inaccuracies and given to wild conspiracy theories, allowing these people to control the Democratic party is tantamount to parents leaving their teenagers home alone for the weekend. Upon return, the house will be in shambles.
Cathy Young has a great piece at the Boston Globe on welfare reform:
WELFARE REFORM had long been a contentious issue in American politics. In the 1980s and early 1990s, ending “welfare as we know it” was a staple of cheap political rhetoric for Republicans and Democrats alike. It was also widely regarded as a nearly utopian goal. Then, President Clinton made the drastic overhaul of the welfare system a reality, in a bill signed into law on Aug. 22, 1996. Ten years later, the welfare reform report card disproves much scaremongering on the left and points to some important accomplishments, but it also highlights how much there still is to accomplish, both in reducing poverty and strengthening families.