Hey Edsall: We Fought This War, Your Side Lost

Matt Stoller, who has been on fire the last few days BTW, takes DC Gasbag Tom Edsall (who seems intent as being as successful as the car with the similar name) to task:

[Edsall] is one of the Old Wise Men of Washington, or a Very Serious Person, as Atrios would say. After that, I would sometimes read his work in the Washington Post and think 'who is this silly man?' His sources are obviously heavily stacked towards neoliberal insiders on the Democratic side, and he dismisses progressive activists and voters alike. Even though voters rejected an anti-labor anti-choice political party, the lesson for Edsall is that voters embraced an attack on labor and more restrictive abortion laws. It's not hard to figure out why Edsall believes this - peer pressure. Edsall's crowd is that of Harold Ickes, Rahm Emanuel, and Steny Hoyer, people who live in a rarefied world of Democratic elitism.

Tom Edsall's "pearls of wisdom":

For the Democratic Party to revive, major tenets of American liberalism, economic and sociocultural, will have to be discarded. The party can join Studebaker and the Glass Bottle Blowers union, it can trudge along as No. 2, or it can undergo a painful transformation — without guarantee of success.

To stay in the fight, Democratic leaders will have to acknowledge political realities affirmed by the electorate in 1994 and 2006. Many Democratic constituencies — organized labor, minority advocacy organizations, reproductive- and sexual-rights proponents — are reliving battles of a decade or more ago, not the more subtle disputes of today. Public sector unions, for example, at a time of wide distrust of government, are consistently pressing to enlarge the state. For these players, adapting to a re-emergent center will be costly.

Democrats won on Nov. 7 by carrying a 59 percent majority of independent, moderate voters angered by the Iraq war and Republican corruption. These voters demonstrated 12 years ago that they can easily turn against Democrats.

. . . When Democrats bend to the will of liberal interest groups, even in pursuit of laudable goals, the damage to the party’s credibility can be devastating. President Clinton succumbed to such pressure, and Democrats in the House and Senate paid the price. Democrats now have a chance to regain public trust, but even a minor miscalculation can push the party off the tightrope. Its House majority is tenuous: 17 of the new Democrats represent districts that voted for Bush in 2004 by at least 54 percent, according to the political scientist Gary Jacobson.

The public will desert Democrats placing a disputed cultural or spending agenda above the broader public interest. This is especially true at a time of extreme uncertainty: lethal struggle in the Mideast, nuclear proliferation, mounting skepticism toward free trade, and a rising non-marital birthrate — now at 37 percent — that concerns moderate voters.

. . . Only two members of the House leadership are intuitively attuned to such problems: Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic caucus, and Steny Hoyer, the majority leader. But Emanuel has limited influence, and relations between Pelosi and Hoyer are distant at best. Still, the vigilance of Hoyer and Emanuel will be crucial to a party whose renewal could easily be stillborn. Congressional leaders are not all-powerful, but they can set the stage for a successful presidential candidate, or lay waste to the center-left, dooming the nominee. The Democratic Party can secure its 2006 gains, but to do so will require abandoning a decades-long willingness to indulge pressure groups on the left that no longer command broad popular allegiance.

Isn't it nice to have Al From and the DLC, disguised as this fool Tom Edsall, writing love letters to Rahmbo and Steny from the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times? Joe Klein look insightful. The funny thing is we had this war from the end of 2004 till this election. The scars and wounds are all over the blogs:

The electoral wave that is now threatening to capsize the Republican era of corruption in Congress, however, began far out at sea. Over three years ago Matt Stoller and I wrote a memo, "The Clark Congress" saying that the Democrats could, by generating a 5% ideological shift, take power by grabbing districts in Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and the upper midwest, buttressed by districts in the South. We weren't alone in this thinking - Tom Schaller was laboring in the vineyards to produce what may be the "Emerging Republican Majority" analog for a new political era. Frequently Daily Kos writer Armando also emphasized the "Lincoln coalition" in his posts. But at the time the memo was circulated, Democratic strategists, the press, and even much of the party base, was still hypnotized by going South.

The thesis was, and is, that the cultural climate of the South and Parts of the Rockie mountain west, even if they vote Democratic, will not be core to a progressive working majority in Congress.

Thus the Democratic Party should focus its energies on electing representatives that will form parts of that working core, and create a core presence in the other areas that can add weight in elections where events, local or national, are favorable. Seeing the Democratic Party as the instrument of progressivism led to the conclusion that one should look for progressive votes first.

This was the reverse of the Clintonian/DLC thesis that one sells out base voters in safe districts outside the South, to appeal to marginal voters in close races inside the south. Don't go after the 5%-10% of marginal Republican leaning independents in the north, but instead the 1%-2% in very close races who can't decide whether they hate gays or gas prices more.

. . . It was, at first, a lonely task. As Howard Park recalls:

Since almost the day after the 2004 election I've been informally promoting a few House candidates who are now in very competitive races. Over a year ago, however, I literally experienced laughter & derision when I even suggested that people take a look at those races. One person, a friend then & now, even suggested that I was promoting the Republican cause just by suggesting that a little seed money go into those races rather than being "targeted" at one of the 10 races or so that were thought to be competitive at the time. In districts that are now in "play"-- without the early, lonely groundwork -- gathering the signatures months & months ago, begging money from people they don't know for hours on end just like a telemarketer, spending hours campaigning without any real interest and nothing but disdain from the "professionals" we would not have anybody running in many districts that are now the key to a Democratic majority.

Tom Edsall appears to be the Rip Van Winkle of his time, having slept through these discussions and the crushing DEFEAT the DLC suffered in this election. And yes this was a defeat for the DLC and for Edsall. So meet the new Times Gasbag. Obsolete before he even wrote his first column.

Very funny.

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  • Display: Sort:
    So (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by aw on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 11:10:20 AM EST
    So we elect a Democratic majority and now we're supposed to go away?  Good luck in 2008 with that. If you take away minority interests, including women's issues, labor, and environmental groups, who's left?  Big money, bringing more corruption, of course, exactly what everyone, including those independents, were so fed up with (along with Iraq).

    Shouldn't the Times be embarrassed that they are still running this kind of incoherent swill?

    Democrats must remain with Labor- (none / 0) (#7)
    by Tim on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 04:33:57 PM EST
    I agree with AW.  A few viable third parties would be great, but Democrats have to remember who they are who they are not. We must remain on the side of civil liberties, the underclass and all people shut out by the intolerant right and blind status quo. We have to stand for something besides profit. Unions are far from dead and still a major force for the democratic party. To suggest otherwise is just plain wrong. Too often people put themselves at a higher level than those they represent due to crtitical thinking when in reality it is circumstances and a few choices that separate people.  

    How Left is Left (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Texas Gene on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 07:45:48 PM EST
    I agree with Bill, I dunno how far to the left the Democratic party will be eventually, but one thing I DO know is that Geo W Bush and his minions have moved wwwwwwaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy far to the right of Barry Goldwater, who was the most right-wing candidate of any I remember in my lifetime.  So there is plenty of reasonable room for just about anything to the left of this fascist mess we have in the oval office now.  At least we can take some comfort in the fact that W seems like Adolf Hitler and Curley Howard's love-child! His extremism is somewhat balanced by his mindless incompetence!  My apologies to Curley's family for the ugly analogy...

    The Hate Machine (3.00 / 1) (#3)
    by koshembos on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 12:58:55 PM EST
    I couldn't care less about Edsall, but Stoller gets to me. Like the best Bolsheviks, he blames the Mensheviks - the guys a little to the right of the on the edge leftist. So now we know the enemy is Harold Ickes, Rahm Emanuel, and Steny Hoyer because their views are not extreme enough.


    what BS (4.00 / 1) (#4)
    by soccerdad on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 01:22:06 PM EST
    so anybody who opposes the war is an extremists. Spoken like a neocon.

    Ickes, Rahm Emanuel, and Steny Hoyer all pro-war stay the course Dems who in essence back Bush just more of the DLC trash


    Edsall the visiting columnist at the NYT (4.00 / 1) (#5)
    by dutchfox on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 01:34:38 PM EST
    We were told at the start of his stint that he'd only be there for a month. I read his first installment and thought what a crock! To me he's just so haughty and know-it-all. And he's a journalism professor; what does that tell us about the current crop of news reporters?

    Okay, but (none / 0) (#6)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 04:25:01 PM EST
    So now we know the enemy is Harold Ickes, Rahm Emanuel, and Steny Hoyer because their views are not extreme enough.

    Could you please list the Democrats with extreme views and tell us what these extreme views are?


    Buh-buh-but it's the New York Times... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Bill Arnett on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 11:47:01 AM EST
    ...aw, you know : All the News Republicans Tell Us is Fit to Print.

    It's no wonder American newspapers are held in such low regard, they're nothing but a propaganda arm of the bush maladministration.

    And I'm so sick of hearing how Democratic leaders "must run to the center" when WE WON THE ELECTIONS FROM WHERE WE STAND NOW.

    WE WON. Read that again and again and tell me why it is necessary for Democrats to change ANYTHING, much less follow rethug and admin. political hack's advice?

    People voted for CHANGE, not the status quo.

    'Mornin, aw.

    His advice = poison (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 04:26:29 PM EST
    When Democrats bend to the will of liberal interest groups, even in pursuit of laudable goals, the damage to the party's credibility can be devastating. President Clinton succumbed to such pressure, and Democrats in the House and Senate paid the price.

    Clinton succumbed to nothing but DLC attempts to suck up to the corporate money teat. Hence NAFTA and a selling out of the Democratic base. Hence the '94 elections and Democratic minority status for 12 years. The 1994 and 2006 elections were about the electorate reacting against CORRUPTION...and the continuation of it is exactly what this guy is really advocating for the new Democratic congress. If they go that route they will be gone in two years.

    never supported it (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 05:50:32 PM EST
    Big Tent - Your choice for a title to this post is demonstrative.

    We fought this war, your side lost

    You were always against it, and you never supported it, and you are happy to admit it.


    BTW - Does it ever occur to you, as an American enjoying the fruits of this country, that just maybe you have some resoponsibilties along with all the rights... to protest...not support....criticize... etc.