Monday, August 13, 2007

Moderation For Thee But Not For Me?

Digby's all about the moderation. Specifically, about how the calls for Republican moderation are, well, moderate compared to the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the press over those horrible leftists corrupting the big tent of the Democratic party.

Matt is too.

Digby's under the impression that everybody in the press thinks it's still 1968. Fair enough. But the thing is, it's also about the type of people that they come into contact with in the first place. The progressives that the media types who matter meet are all DLC-style "centrist" Dems. They're the ones with the biggest bully pulpit, who get the most attention, who have the most sway in Congress. Real progressives or, God save us, liberals? Either they're so wrapped up in an individual issue that they couldn't survey the broader political landscape with a compass, binoculars and a map... or they're just not getting on television at all.

Meanwhile, the reverse is NOT true for the Republicans. They have an army of reasonable-sounding extremists, pumped out by the dozens by the Religious Right and scholaresque organizations like AEI, that are willing and able to go on television and give quotes and in general be the working hack's best buddy imaginable. If you need balance between sane and insane, you can guarantee that these guys will not only serve up farm-fresh madness, but they'll do it with "zazz", and "verve", and all those other things that mean "we found someone pretty and well-spoken to be our mouthpiece". They've been thoroughly trained to do this, and they know exactly how to deal with that well-meaning kid from the Sierra club. They'll chew him up and spit him out.

(Which any disinterested television exec is going to absolutely love.)

Of course, what influences television is going to influence print, and even then, it's all about who you know. Does your typical print reporter know a bunch of fairly hard-core, partisan, ideological liberals? Nope. They're probably not part of the DC scene anyway, since the various think-tanks that cater to progressivism don't want that type of liberal: they're (again) too issues focused and too uncomfortable with alienating members of the political discourse. The DC reporters might get a phone call or three from the real partisans, but that's not the same as being a local fixture. On the Republican side, though, there's any number of hard-core, take no prisoners, victory or death IDEOLOGUES who would be more than happy to give you a quote, that know exactly what to say, and probably have a sinecure at some think-tank to give them enough legitimacy to be able to pass off as an "expert". That makes them absolutely perfect for providing an opposing "expert" when you need balance against something so self-evident that no true scholar would think to oppose it.

How to beat it? Simple. Get progressives to Washington. Not as elected officials, although that's important. You need to find, train, and support liberals who can play this role. They'll probably never be as big as their conservative counterpart, because they won't have the advantage of playing the "expert" who is running contrary to common sense. Fine. You still won't have the DC crowd saying "who the devil is this 'Kos' guy, and why is he undermining that Washington fixture, Joe Lieberman?"

I mean, were Kos to be "Resident Netroots Promulgation Scholar" at the Screw Republicans Institute , he might have gotten the shrug that extremist Republicans are getting over their insurgent campaigns right now. The hard right is normal. The hard right is natural. Having them try to take down RINOS is inevitable. At least, in the eyes of reporters who talk to them EVERY DAY.

That's what you're fighting, and you can't do it in the blogosphere. Hate it or love it, you gotta fight it in Washington, and you've gotta find someone to pay the bills.

(Pity that Soros wussed out.)

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