Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Big discussion going on about partisanship, and all the nonsense the press is hauling out about how the Dems need to end partisanship. Digby led it off with some trademarked snark, of course.
The rancor in Washington really has gotten out of hand and people are sick of it --- especially, it would appear, the Republicans who just can't take another minute of this horrible lack of collegiality. (Those nasty Dems must be the problem, because I don't recall all this handwringing punditude over Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert.)
The real meat of it, though, came from Avedon Carol, with a simple observation: "Every time a pundit says something like this, a little bell should go off in your head that says, 'I must ask this person immediately how Pelosi is supposed to stop the Republicans from being so viscously partisan.'" Well put.

Both raise the question, though, of why the Dems get hit with this stuff. The easy answer is "biased media!" and while it's a good one, I don't think that's all of it. In an odd way, I think the media has an expectation that because liberalism is such a "touchy-feeling" ideology, especially compared to the fire-and-wrath exclusionist fury of movement conservatives and their theocratic allies, that the MSM simply expects that liberals are going to play nice with their ideological opponents.

Now, of course, there's two problems with that: liberals aren't (always) that stupid about what they have to deal with, and liberalism ain't always that touchy-feelie, especially about those who flout its focus on rights and tolerance. One really doesn't have to be that tolerant of the irrational and intolerant, and you have no right to harm the rights of others. The modern Republican party is the embodiment of everything that modern liberals stand against- there is every reason to treat them like it.

Avedon approvingly links to a piece by Paul Waldman entitled "Democrats, Don't Wimp Out":

All over Washington, the sage barons of the establishment media are warning Democrats not to get cocky. Don’t move too fast, they say. Don’t push a bunch of wacky, left-wing ideas. Seek compromise, give ground, hew to the center, for only there lies the greatest prize of all: the praise of David Broder and Joe Klein, the nodding approval of the Washington Post editorial page, the admiration the Beltway cognoscenti reserve for those who know their place and know whose rings they should be kissing.

Bull. What Democrats need to do is spend the next two years crushing their opponents like bugs. It’s not about mercy, it’s not about manners, it’s about three fundamental goals: limiting the damage the Bush administration can do, passing whatever legislation they can in the short term to help the American public and laying the foundation for future progressive victories.

Democrats finally have the upper hand, and now’s the time to use it. Here are a few things they can do to get started.
What are these things? Pretty minor, by Republican standards.

-Investigate, but in order to discover truth, not lay siege to the White House (like their counterparts did in the 1990s).

-Pick some fights, where the administration is placing itself "above the law", so as to highlight this tendency in this White House.

-Attack conservatism as a failed ideology, rejected by the American people. Point out that the Republicans got to enact a lot of what they wanted, and the results were not only disastrous from an objective standpoint, but were clearly rejected by the American people.

-Boycott Fox, and leave Ailes and his friends out in the cold. Say (in his words)

Want to spread GOP propaganda all day? Be our guest. After all, it’s a free country. But don’t expect any Democratic newsmakers to legitimize you with their presence. We’ll go on every other network, be interviewed by every legitimate news organization. But we don’t consider ourselves under any obligation to pretend that buffoons like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson are news professionals who deserve a moment of our time. We’re not going to try to fight you; we’ll just act like you don’t exist.
To me, this is perhaps the most important element. Face it: for the next year, at least, conservatives won't have much in the way of bully pulpits. Fox is their best one, and if the Dems cozy up to it, all they'll be doing is giving the Republicans a venue to take shots at them. The old line about "telling your side of the story" should give nobody pause- we all know that Fox will simply use whatever you say to turn it against you. Go somewhere better; once they figure out what happened, they'll not only treat you fairly, but recognize that you've got teeth as well.

Democrats have a great opportunity. It was almost accidental that they won it, but now that they have it, they shouldn't let the chattering classes rob them of the ability to use it.

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