Thursday, July 28, 2005

Why Do They Hate Us?

No, my title is not a reference to the oft-asked question of why do "they" (various definitions) hate us (US); it's the question that the DLC might ask itself about -- what can I call them that will sound neutral? I'm not sure there's anything, and of course I am quite frankly not neutral, but let it be said that I mean this description in the most neutral way possible -- progressive democrats, in particular the progressive internet community (the netroots, as they are somewhat optimistically called). If the DLC really wants to mend fences and win elections, then they might ask themselves: why so much venom in our direction? Sure, we disagree -- but why not more civilly?

Y'see, there's an ongoing netwar between the DLC and progressive bloggers. And on the progressive side, there's been a lot of bile. So perhaps the DLC is asking where it's coming from.

As I said, there's a flamewar on, and I don't have the patience, frankly, to chart all of the ins and outs of it. But the DLC attacked progressive democrats, to which various big-name liberal bloggers have responded, such as Atrios, Billmon, Digby, David Sirota, and lots of others. Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore (the "Vice President for Policy" of the DLC according to his bio) had a post over in Josh Marshall's place, responding to the idea that the DLC was attacking Kos... without mentioning the afforelinked attack on progressives. This struck me as technically dishonest and deeply misleading in a way that one would expect from, say, a right-wing columnist (I was going to say "Bush administration official" but they just flat-out lie), but which one wouldn't want to hear from a supposedly progressive voice. Even if the new article wasn't the inspiration for the original anti-DLC post, surely it is a relevant issue that needs to be addressed?

But, but, but, one wants to be fair. And as powerful as I found the arguments of the many progressive bloggers on this point, I was curious about Kilgore's real response. I wanted to be fair, hear both sides. After all, on some level, I agree with those who want to make peace. So I kept going over to TPM Cafe, and seeing if he'd posted again... but Nada. So finally I went over to his personal blog,, to see if he addressed the issue there. And here's what he wrote:

As some of you may have heard, there's a big assault underway on the DLC in certain precincts of the blogosphere. And here's my response: Whatever, Nothingburger, De Nada, Yawn, Zen Zen, and above all, Who Cares?

... So I was wrong: the DLC isn't asking Why do they hate us? They just don't give a shit. And the people they don't give a shit about are people like Kos and Chris Bowers and Atrios and others who are working extremely hard to try and breathe some life into the dying jellyfish we call the opposition party in this country. People who, even if you disagree with them, have clearly earned the respect of an articulated disagreement. But Ed Kilgore doesn't care. Yawn. Zen zen.

David Sirota
's making more sense every day....

(On the main issue, others have covered this well I think, but to summarize (no links because I forget where precisely I've read this, but these ideas are floating around out there): the main progressive beefs with the DLC are 1) that they repeat Republican talking points, giving them bipartisan cover; 2) that their candidates vote for Republican bills, or watered-down versions thereof, thereby giving them partisan cover and -- far worse -- adding obscurity rather than clarity to the whole 'what-do-Democrats-stand-for' issue; 3) that (as an extension of point 2) they and their candidates try to compromise on issues the Republicans raise (e.g. social security) rather than simply doing what the right wing always does in these circumstances, namely oppose them flat-out; 4) that they promote compromise, and their candidates vote compromise, even when unnecessary for practical political purposes; and 5) that they do all this and still loose all the time, so we're not even getting any political bang for our compromise buck. Of course we disagree on lots of issues (Iraq) and strategies (centrism), but we could do this in a civil manner if they didn't consistently disagree with the left in such a way as to actively help the right. On this point, let me just say that my earlier post about Sincerity applies, it seems to me, largely to DLC-backed candidates, thinkers and strategies.

And if this is wrong, then, Ed Kilgore, please let me know why. But if you simply Yawn and say Who Cares, then I have to admit, that the arguments against you are looking quite sharp in their one-person show.)

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