If We’re Playing Fantasy Politics League

Hey, if this is going to be a dream, let’s not dream small (like Elizabeth Warren on the Supremes). Warren is 65, which is about 40 years too old to play in my liberal justice fantasy league. I want the Doogie Houser of constitutional law, except he or she needs to be of the gender and racial background most hated at the moment by whatever the right wing is calling itself (Tea Party, Sluts Must Die Party, Fascismo Americano, etc.). My Doogie, who began college at age 12, will have completed law school and passed the bar the day before his or her 18th birthday. During college and law school, his or her spare time will have been divided between pro bono work at a legal clinic for undocumented immigrants and escorting women to the their appointments at the local Planned Parenthood abortionplex.

Now that, my friends, is a nominee we can all get behind.

Beautiful Losers

Ian Welsh’s post on the “failure” of the progressive blog movement has been making the rounds (I got it from Jay Ackroyd). Here’s the part I don’t get:

Unlike the Tea Party, most left wingers don’t really believe their own ideology.  They put partisanship first, or they put the color of a candidate’s skin or the shape of their genitals over the candidate’s policy.  Identity is more important to them than how many brown children that politician is killing.

So progressives have no power, because they have no principles: they cannot be expected to actually vote for the most progressive candidate, to successfully primary candidates, to care about policy first and identity second, to not take scraps from the table and sell out other progressive’s interests.

The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.  Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion.

This is a really short-sighted view of power. The Tea Party is indeed feared by elected Republicans, and they have primaried and challenged a lot of Republicans in purple districts, and what did that get them? Certainly not Senators Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle. As a movement, all but 27% of the nation hates them, the legislation they’ve fought for the past 5 years is now being implemented (Obamacare) and their favorite legislator (Cruz) is damaged goods after leading the last big fight they picked. Progressives are supposed to want that?

I’d like to see some examples where progressives failed to vote for the most progressive candidate in a primary, where the candidate was any good. In my own state, I’d happily vote for someone to the left of Chuck Schumer. And DiFi needs a primary, badly. But I”m not going to hang my head in shame for thinking that primarying, say, Jon Tester is a bad idea.

Another part of Welsh’s post criticizes the 2008 Obama campaign for going around the “blogging gatekeepers” when organizing their campaign, but come on: the 2008 Obama campaign was pretty much a model of small donor grassroots financing. Isn’t that kind of engagement what Progressives are supposed to want?

It may be the devil or it may be the Lord

Like everybody else, Howard Dean needs to get paid:

Dean argues that IPAB can’t work and thus that “getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on.” He’s Howard Dean, and he represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party! He also represents McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a Washington lobbying firm.

Dean’s op-ed notes his affiliation in the tagline, but it doesn’t say what his clients think about IPAB. For that matter, Dean has refused to disclose which firms he’s representing on behalf of McKenna Long & Aldridge. It seems to be regular practice at the Journal editorial page to let retired Democrats lobbying for the health-care industry write op-eds calling for a repeal of parts of the law that reduce the industry’s profit margin.

He’s not so different from Evan Bayn or Chris Dodd, I’m sad to say.

Glenn Greenwald’s Portman/Obama Comparison on Marriage Equality is Crap

It’s rather amusing to watch Glenn Greenwald attempt, yet again, to insinuate that President Obama is no different than a Republican.

In a Twitlonger he likely jotted off because of the pushback he received in response to his vapid tweet earlier this morning, Greenwald compares President Obama and Rob Portman’s evolution on marriage equality: Rob Portman attributed his position shift to finding out that his son is gay and Obama “partially” based his position shift on the fact that he has gay friends.

Both Obama and Portman are selfish and narcissistic, Greenwald claims, but that’s how political positions are often formed and how political progress is achieved:

Re: Portman & Obama: get as angry as you want, but: Read more

He Likes the Troll Life, He Loves to Boogie

One thing you learn from following Glenn Greenwald on Twitter is a certain kind of specialized trolling. Glenn is very good at phrasing something he believes in a way that will piss off his erstwhile allies, people who voted for Obama but may be sympathetic to the more radical positions Glenn holds. This tweet is a good example. Can I argue with the underlying point Glenn’s making here? Not really–Obama’s change on gay marriage was a political calculation, as Portman’s was. It showed Obama’s cautious political nature and general unwillingness to grasp progressive causes unless he sees that cause moving towards the center.

But there’s at least one difference between Portman and Obama on this specific issue: Portman did it because changing his position will lead to a clear and direct personal gain–his actual gay son might get an real benefit from the state based on his father’s position. As far as we know, Obama’s change in position gives him no such benefit. For you freshman logic fans, that’s the fallacy of equivocation. Glenn’s trying to say that one of Obama’s stated reasons (his empathy for friends and staff who are gay) is the same thing as Portman’s (a real parental interest in the outcome of the debate).

That doesn’t invalidate Glenn’s whole argument–as I said above, he’s mostly right that Portman and Obama engaged in political calculation. But Portman’s political calculation was essentially random–lighting struck in the form of a gay son, so Portman changed one single position, while he holds on to his others. Obama has been slowly marching towards gay rights, perhaps too slowly, but his movement is based on a set of coherent, consistent political beliefs that might not be radical enough for Glenn but are certainly going to do more for gay rights than sitting around waiting for more lightning strikes.

To forestall the first dozen comments pointing out that Glenn trolled me here because I’m writing about one of his tweets, guilty as charged, and so what? Greenwald’s an interesting character and I sure don’t think I’ve gotten him figured out, because I don’t understand the need to piss off a whole swath of people who agree with a cause near to your heart to make your latest point about Obama’s lack of purity.

Le Freak, C’est Chic

If I can over-simplify ABL’s post about the chained CPI as “chill out, Obama’s got this”, then my position is something like “chill out and trust Obama to hear you”. The fact that Obama was a community organizer has been repeated so frequently that it’s cliche, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he’s looking for engagement from the people he represents. So when I wrote my Member of Congress to tell her not to support chained CPI, it wasn’t because I think that Obama and his surrogates are sellouts or phonies or frauds, it’s to encourage them to make a deal that doesn’t involve Social Security. My feelings about the Obama Administration–it’s fairly centrist, willing to compromise to get things done, too militaristic, a bit over-cautious, saddled with a terrible Congress, and probably the best Democrats can do at this point in history–didn’t change much.

What’s so irritating about a lot of the professional Progressives isn’t the policy content of what they’re saying, it’s the implicit or explicit notion that every compromise or too-conservative policy decision made by the Obama White House reflects some kind of betrayal. There’s got to be a way to criticize the Obama Administration, or to try to push it in a different directions, without all the sweet emotion we’ve been hearing for the last 4 years.

They Just Never Stop

Here’s Matt Stoller with the new and novel argument that we should let Romney win to advance the case of progessivism.

I guess this explains why his client, Alan Grayson, lost to Webster in the last election. They just threw the race to advance the cause.