The Liberal Village Speaks

by digby

I know this will come as a shock to many of you, but so-called liberal political pundits think other liberals should STFU.

What is their problem? News reports suggest that disgruntled Clinton supporters are angry about alleged sexism in the coverage of her campaign, while other Democrats are upset at Obama's recent moves toward the center. The second complaint is childish. Securing your base and then moving to the center is the fundamental move of politics, like the basic steps of the fox-trot. And Obama is hardly responsible for Clinton's press coverage. But there is no easy way these folks can vent their anger at Chris Matthews. So they are taking their revenge on people without health care, women who need abortions, and others who they (if they supported Hillary) must think will be harmed by a Republican victory in the fall. That'll show 'em.

If you listen to a lot of right-wing talk radio (as I do), ...they have turned their guns on Barack Obama with remarkable ease and speed.

Democrats aren't like that. It's not that they're too nice or too principled, or too unwilling to be ruthless. The hatred of George W. Bush on the left--and the eagerness to see him gone--is at this point as extreme as anything the right has to offer. (I know this because I share it.) The desire to win for winning's sake is pretty deep, too. Furthermore, as I suggested in this space a few weeks ago, it is at least an open question as to whether Democrats this year will attempt to match the Republicans in their willingness to "swift-boat"--that is, to play dirty in what they regard as a noble cause.

But true, professional unscrupulousness--the kind of do-anything-to-win pragmatism that Democrats envy in Republicans--requires more than just working yourself up into a lather of dislike. Sometimes, in fact, it requires the opposite: putting aside your dislike, your disappointments, your anger, your feelings of betrayal. In the case of Hillary Clinton's erstwhile supporters, all of these feelings seem overwrought to me. But there is no point in arguing about this, or at least not now. Now is the time to just get over it.

As the ultimate expression of do-anything-to-win pragmatism, perhaps Democrats should just run actual Republicans for office then? I hear Mitt Romney's available.

And why is it that people are always telling liberals to "get over it" when they register the slightest objection to getting stabbed in the back by the political establishment over and over again? Setting aside his complaints about the disappointed Hillary supporters, who seems to become more morbidly fascinating to the press even as their numbers dwindle (there's just something about the Clenis and the Hillgina that sends tingles up some people's legs,) this is a perfect example of Villager conventional wisdom. Yes, there are certainly occasions when it is necessary to tack right (or left) after a primary. There are many, I'm sure, who would argue that this is one of them. (As I've written before, I can certainly see that the breakthrough nature of Obama's candidacy offers special challenges --- I just don't think that Barack's approach to "reassuring" voters is particularly believable or effective.) But the idea that this is some kind of inviolable political rule is just nonsense. Ask Karl Rove. Or Ronald Reagan. There are many examples of winning presidential candidates who went all the way to November without seeming to twist themselves into pretzels on fundamental issues of principle. Sometimes they are even called "transformational."

As for the idea that the Democratic base are a bunch of babies who don't have the ruthlessness and pragmatism required to blindly follow their leaders over a cliff, well --- thank goodness. In fact, here's a little reminder of what that looks like:

July 28, 2005
A Stroke of Genius?

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Look, all this lecturing to liberals to "get over it" sort of misses the point. If Obama is shifting to the right to appeal to people who think he's too liberal, then it can only help him if his liberal base is upset, right? The campaign is getting exactly what it wants. Perhaps it's Kinsley who should get over it and let us all play our assigned roles in this political kabuki dance. He's ruining the storyline.

But then, he's not speaking for the Obama campaign. He's speaking for the village media and they don't really care about anything but maintaining their stale political narrative of a conservative majority of salt of the earth working folk who recoil in horror at the mere sight of elitist, condescending liberals. But if that's true at all it's because liberalism is represented by people like Michael Kinsley who think that any kind of earnest engagement in politics is silly and any form of principled political passion is unseemly. Why wouldn't people hate us? If he's what people see a liberalism then they logically think we are nothing but a bunch of snobbish voyeurs who don't really believe in anything.

Update: The NY Times has published a story proving that the only Democrats who give a damn about wireless surveillance, or anything else of substance for that matter, are a bunch of crazed, leftwing freaks:

Ms. Shade, the Green-turned-Democrat-returned-Green voter, spoke about Mr. Obama while leaning out her second-floor apartment window, where she has placed homemade signs urging the impeachment of President Bush. Others say “Free Gaza” and “Occupation is Terrorism.” She said twice that the American political system was “rotten.”

“You realize,” Ms. Shade said, her voice fading with resignation, “that you’re talking to somebody who’s pretty far out of the mainstream.”

The normal Democrats are nicely following the rules:

“Seventy-five thousand people do not attend political rallies unless something truly magical is happening,” Bob Blanchard wrote on May 18 in the comment section accompanying an account of the rally on the New York Times’s Web site. “Our great country will soon close the book on ‘government by division,’ and embrace ‘government by inclusion.’ ”

Asked last week whether Mr. Obama’s vote on the surveillance law or any other recent statements or actions had altered how he felt about the candidate, Mr. Blanchard, of North Smithfield, R.I., said “absolutely not.”

“When are these people going to go, anyway?” Mr. Blanchard said of left-wing critics he believes have hurt Democrats in past elections. “My attitude is lighten up on the guy. We want to win. Moving to the center is not a crime in this country.”

You can say that again.