Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Daily Kos Syndrome

Susan Gardner and Markos Moulitsas published an exceptionally self-important commentary in yesterday's Washington Post. The piece is a great example of the Daily Kos Syndrome, which is the growing phenomenon in the Kos crowd for narcissism and megalomania.

Here, Gardner and Moulitsas argue that the hard left netroots now occupy the "center" of American politics. The Democratic Party - and its reactionary Democratic Leadership Council wing - has compromised with the evil forces of the American right, mounting attacks against the "centrist" blogosphere from the redoubts of Fox News!

Read some of the essay for yourself:

Three years ago things looked bleak for the Democratic Party. George Bush had just won a second term while his party consolidated its grip on Congress. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay crowed about a "permanent Republican majority," and Beltway Democrats acquiesced as Republicans built their unchallenged (and lawless) unitary executive.

Democrats appeared to be on the run, disorganized and demoralized. But outside of Washington there was hope. Grass-roots Democratic activists had seen the future of our politics in
Howard Dean -- plain-spoken and unapologetic. His presidential candidacy had come up short, but its fresh, optimistic approach -- predicated on offering clear contrasts between the two parties -- was poised to redefine the party.

Dean was elected chairman of the Democratic Party despite predictions of electoral doom by the usual suspects in Washington, including the
Democratic Leadership Council. In the House, Democrats chose Nancy Pelosi to lead them over current DLC Chairman Harold Ford, who warned of disaster if Pelosi won. Calling her a "throwback" who practiced a "destructive and obstructive" style of politics, Ford proclaimed, "I don't think Nancy Pelosi's kind of politics is what's needed right now." Today, Nancy Pelosi is the first female speaker of the House.

Ford, like his fellow Washington insiders, grossly misunderstood the American electorate. He and Maryland Gov.
Martin O'Malley continue to do so [" Our Chance to Capture the Center," op-ed, Aug. 7]. Convinced that this is fundamentally a conservative nation, Ford demanded that Democrats unceasingly inch toward the right or risk electoral irrelevance. As then-DLC official Ed Kilgore put it in 2005, "If we put a gun to everybody's head in the country and make them pick sides, we're not likely to win." But we who live outside the D.C. bubble -- in all 50 states, in counties blue and red -- were hearing voices at odds with the Washington consensus. People wanted real choices at the ballot box. And given the disastrous rule of the Bush administration, they wanted a Democratic Party that stood tall and pushed back like a true opposition.

The new leadership responded. A concerted grass- and Net-roots effort, bridging online activists and the labor movement, forced Democratic officials to reject any "compromise" with right-wing interests seeking to gut Social Security. Democratic poll numbers rose in the wake of this victory as Bush's fell. Standing strong for a core Democratic program was not only good for our country, it was smart politics.

Months later we championed
Ned Lamont's victorious primary challenge to Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut. Beltway insiders predicted that our success would cost Democrats the U.S. Senate, and consultants allied with the DLC fretted that activists were "pushing the party to the left."

In fact, we pushed the party so far left that we positioned it squarely in the American mainstream and last year won a historic, sweeping congressional victory, something the "centrist" groups had been unable to accomplish for decades -- not even in the DLC's glory days of the 1990s.Read the rest of the piece.
I'd have to differ in my interpretation of these events.

Howard Dean? The biggest loser of the 2004 election season. His appointment to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee was a demotion as far as presidential aspirations are concerned. Perhaps his move to head the party was a concession to the left's netroots fundraising abilities, but Iowa voters showed that even a lot of money doesn't trump common sense analysis of the candidate and their credentials.

Harold Ford and Nancy Pelosi? Ford lost his Tennessee Senate race in 2006, but his move to the DLC appears to be a smart one, given the electoral record of DLC-backed candidates (
Kimberly Strassel noted Friday that DLC-oriented candidates composed the vast majority of Democratic House seat pick-ups last November). Nancy Pelosi's certainly made history as the first woman House Speaker, but her legislative leadership record thus far doesn't appear to be one worth emulating. As Strassel notes:

Nancy Pelosi shrewdly presented her party as more centrist in last year's election, yet upon winning tossed the gavel to her liberal wing. Egged on by activists, Congressional Democrats have spent eight months fighting for surrender in Iraq, tanking trade pacts with Latin America and South Korea, and maneuvering to institute backdoor socialized health care.
Democratic poll numbers? Nancy Pelosi's negatives have been steadily rising since taking office in January. In comparison, the "unpopular" President Bush has seen his poll numbers improving, and he's currently just about tied with the Congress in the public's esteem, which is noteworthy, as the radical left constantly berates Bush as the "worst president in history."

Ned Lamont? His inability to win against Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut's general election is a powerful rebuttal to Kos's claims of netroots centrism.

The Democrats were unable to win control of Congress for decades? That's a strange one? What decades? The Democrats held the majority in Congress until 1994! It is an achievement to take majority control in 1996, but it pays to get the history straight.

And what's all this about the DLC's glory days of the 1990s? Well, let's not forget Bill Clinton, the only two-term Democratic President since F.D.R. What'd he do? Move the party to the center, right? Isn't that what this tricky commentary piece is all about. Can't stand free trade and welfare reform right? No, that stuff's only for the evil right wing!

Moulitisas and his crowd are deluded - they're suffering from the DKS, the Daily Kos Syndrome. There are other manifestations of the disease worth noting, not the least of which
is the Kos crowd's ugly tendency toward anti-Semitism. I'll look at some of those other DKS symptoms in later entries.

No comments: