Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Worth reading, if wrong

A week ago, as part of worrying about the worst-case scenario should Democrats retake one of the Houses of Congress, I wrote:

Premise E: If Democratic Senators and Congressmen are often reluctant to rock the boat now (as revealed, for example, by their absurdly timorous reaction to Russ Feingold’s censure resolution), they will only be more so when they have more to lose—namely, the perks that come with even a narrow majority.

Well, though I often dislike Amy Sullivan, she has written an article for the Washington Monthly that argues reasonably convincingly that congressional Democrats aren't actually as timorous as CW would have us believe.

I still don't believe Democrats are going to win any kind of convincing victory this fall, but I am willing to entertain the idea that they are not, in fact, as lame as they appear in some ways. At the same time, one of the reasons Democrats are often accused of not standing for anything is because of something Sullivan concedes but moves past:

On some of the defining issues of the day, Democrats are indeed conflicted and divided. Most Americans and virtually the entire Democratic base wants universal health care, and yet congressional Democrats compete to offer marginal changes to the system. On a key economic issue like bankruptcy, too many Democrats sell out to lobbying interests, making it hard for the party as a whole to attack Republicans over it. Iraq has dominated the political scene for nearly four years, but Democrats couldn't agree whether to get into it, and now they can't agree on how to get out.

I would add key social issues like gay rights and reproductive freedom to that pile, and basically complete truancy on issues like torture, the elimination of meaningful habeas corpus privilege, and the president's desecration of the Fourth Amendment. I'd also say that there are a LOT of "key economic issues like bankruptcy" where Democrats have sold out to lobbying interests over the last 15 years, leaving us with no meaningful progressive voice to combat corporate interests.

In other words, Democrats may be better and better at winning small victories and turning public opinion against Republicans (hugely aided, however, by Republicans' own massive corruption and incompetence becoming increasingly difficult for the press to ignore), but they still aren't taking any risky public stands on major issues.

Tags: politics, Amy Sullivan, Democrats


  • At 1:26 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    OK, I've been working my way through 8 seasons of South Park, which I recently acquired, so excuse my constant SP references. But when I read this I wanted to yell "WotWotWot" like Kyle's mom.

    I agree with all your analysis, but disagree with your conclusion. If the Dems are getting everything that's even slightly important wrong, then they are the very definition of lame and timorous.

    I read Sullivan's piece, and I completely buy the argument that stupid media bias is grossly distorting what's really going on. John Stewart as this generation's Walter Kronkite doesn't help. And I realize that it's very convenient for Republican operatives that the CW paints the Dems as hopeless and useless. But that spin wouldn't work if the Dems weren't so lame and timorous when it comes to anything that matters (with the exception of some mavericks like Slaughter).

    I did like this detail, though:
    Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduces an amendment to rename the FY2006 budget bill the “Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion” Act.

  • At 2:22 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Well, her argument seems to be that they're cannier than they get credit for, not necessarily braver. In other words, they're rocking the boat when they think only the other guy will fall out.

    Also, remember that in Washington bravery is conventionally defined as pissing off your own base. It's a weird world.

  • At 3:56 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    In other words, she seems to be asking, what do you want them to do? They're better than they used to be, aren't they?

    Maybe I should have been clearer in my last sentence that I was emphasizing risky public stands. I believe the Dems are taking public stands, sometimes, as in the case of Social Security, very important ones. But for the most part they are not taking them where there is any significant degree of danger involved.

  • At 10:05 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    OK, and as a corollary she'd say that the CW systematically ignores and undercuts all these canny maneuvers in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    But there still seem to be a lot of lost opportunities. And then there's the whole leadership thing. Kerry needs to retire, because he is party kryptonite.


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