Saturday, June 24, 2006

That Donkey Party

More on the “Inside Tee-Ball” item I posted yesterday. Martin Peretz, The New Republic’s editor-in-chief, responds to the Ranting Kos, and the response is brief enough that I’ll post it in its entirety rather than link it.


Forgive me. But I never read Daily Kos until today. Well, now that I've read it, the first thought that came to me is how illiterate Kos is, just plain illiterate. There has been other not-with-a-pick-axe-but-with-a-bludgeon left-wing journalism in the English speaking world, the American PM, for example, or the British Tribune. If you look them up (they must be some place on the Web), you'll see how elegant surgical argument can be. OK, that's not what the Daily Kos is. Daily Kos is actually a rant, Kos's own rant and then his comrades.

And his rant against us, well, borders on a nut case's. When a high-minded or, rather, high-strung moralist is accused by The New York Times of journalistic hanky-panky and then by TNR of running an ideological censorship bureau, reminiscent of the old Catholic Legion of Decency, he will go off the rails. And he did. "This is what The New Republic had evolved into--just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy." An old professor of mine once warned me against writers who use capital letters for emphasis. Good advice she gave me. Capital letters suggest some imbalance in the mind of their employer. In whose interests has TNR sought "to destroy the new people-powered movement"? Kos answers his own question: "for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neo-con owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutosphere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats." Don't look at Kos's grammar. He's ranting.

It feels a bit demeaning to defend oneself against Kos. But I am one of the neo-con owners, and I am titular editor-in-chief. So here goes: The New Republic is very much against the Bush tax programs, against Bush Social Security "reform," against cutting the inheritance tax, for radical health care changes, passionate about Gore-type environmentalism, for a woman's entitlement to an abortion, for gay marriage, for an increase in the minimum wage, for pursuing aggressively alternatives to our present reliance on oil and our present tax preferences for gas-guzzling automobiles. We were against the confirmation of Justice Alito. And, institutionally, TNR was against several policies that I favor, including allowing the government more rather than less leeway in ferreting out terrorists and allies of terrorists. From today's newspapers: I see nothing wrong with the feds scrutinizing international monetary exchanges in the dragnet for enemies of not just our civilization but civilization. But TNR is a heterodox institution, a concept Kos surely cannot fathom.

--Martin Peretz

This is getting pretty interesting, and aside from being fun to watch, I believe there’s more than a little significance to this outbreak of internecine warfare. Kos may have started this brouhaha, but I find it encouraging the moderate Left has refused to lie down and “take it.” As I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s a bit of a struggle right now within the Donkey Party, a struggle to make the Dems relevant in American politics once again. The firebrands on the radical Left appear to have hijacked the Donkey Party, and that’s not a good thing. To my way of thinking, the dKos constituency is mostly clue-free 20-somethings and old radical hippies who never succeeded in growing up. TNR’s audience, on the other hand, more closely resembles that hoary old cliché of The Silent Majority. Given that fewer than 15% of the American public actually read blogs, let alone know what they are, I’d venture a guess TNR has a LOT more readers than Kos. At least I hope so…

Anyway. As John Hawkins of Right Wing News so aptly observed

That's why these efforts to come up with "new ideas" keep failing -- because as Teixeira said, "The old centrist-liberal debate in the party is to some extent dead." What Teixeira didn't say is that the reason that debate isn't as hot is because the centrists lost. There isn't a free spirited debate about ideas happening on the left. Instead, what you find is a lot of Bush bashing and debate about how to beat Republicans. In the minds of most people on the left, the ideas are set -- the only question is, "How do we foist these ideas on a public that doesn't currently want them?" To do that, they've encouraged activism among judges and they consistently lie about the things they really care about in hopes of being able to do a bait-and-switch on the American people when they get into office.

More power to Peretz and those like him, e.g., Peter Beinart. These guys need to take back their party if they want to have more than a snowball’s chance in Hell of taking back the country.

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