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Everything you wanted to know about how out of touch   the so called "Democratic pundit establishment" is can be seen in Jacob Weisberg's idiotic piece at Slate. This line Weisberg  uses to describe the Democratic leaders Reid, Pelosi and Dean says it all, about him and his group of Joe Klein-like "Dem" pundits:

Collectively, they convey an image of liberal elitism, disarray, and crabbiness.

In a classic "oh by the way" Weisberg utterly undermines his argument and evidences how little he knows about actual governance and politics in the very next paragraph:

Pelosi and Reid do deserve credit for getting the Democratic troops in line. Both are former party whips, and since their promotions they've continued to wield the scourge effectively. In Bush's first term, when the too-nice Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt ruled the roost, Democratic defectors let the president pass his tax cuts. In the second term, by contrast, the congressional minority has maintained discipline, winning a few morale-boosting victories and forcing some uncomfortably close votes. Bush was not able to peel off centrist Democrats to negotiate with him on Social Security, which meant a well-deserved defeat for his half-baked privatization plan. But whip work, which emphasizes horse-trading and instilling fear in the rank and file, is poor training for policy-making and message-building. Those are the facilities the institutional Democratic Party sorely lacks at the moment.

What a maroon. As Matt Yglesias points out, the job of Congressional leaders IN OPPOSITION is to oppose:

It seems to me that Jacob Weisberg's bashing of the Democratic leadership is almost entirely undermined by his own to-be-sure graf which begins with the observation that "Pelosi and Reid do deserve credit for getting the Democratic troops in line." This is huge. In the wake of the 2004 election this was the single thing that most needed to be done. It's also very difficult to do. American political institutions discourage party discipline, and the institutional set-up of the Democratic Party further discourages it. The emergence of a highly-disciplined Republican Party in the 1990s was a historic achievement in the American context, and the Democrats desperately needed to find a way to match it even though doing so would be even harder for them.

In the end, Weisberg's argument is really the old GOP talking point "Dems need a positive agenda":

For a sweep big enough to recover both houses of Congress, the party will almost certainly need an affirmative message as well as a negative one. Democrats need to demonstrate they won't just cut and run from Iraq, that they see security as more than a civil liberties issue, and that their alternative to tax cuts isn't just more spending on flawed social programs and unchallenged growth in entitlements.

Thus far, Pelosi, Reid, and Dean have been literally unable to develop such a national message for the party's congressional candidates. Not just a good message--any message. Their "legislative manifesto," originally promised for November, has been delayed more often than a flight on Jet Blue. When it eventually arrives, expect something benign and insipid. In 1994, Gingrich had the Contract With America. In 2006, Democrats will have another glass of merlot.

This is now proven to be such a stupid refrain that it is subject to ridicule even inside the Beltway. I'll discuss it AGAIN on the flip.

For example, E.J. Dionne wrote:

It is now an ingrained journalistic habit: After a period of bad news for President Bush, media outlets invariably devote time and space to "balancing" stories that all say more or less: "Yes, the Republicans are in trouble, but the Democrats have no alternatives, no plans," etc.

The pattern began to fall in place this weekend in the wake of two truly miserable weeks for Bush.

The stories about the Democrats are by no means flatly false -- Democrats don't yet have a fully worked-out alternative program -- but they are based on a false premise, and they underestimate what I'll call the positive power of negative thinking.

The false premise is that oppositions win midterm elections by offering a clear program, such as the Republicans' 1994 Contract With America. I've been testing this idea with such architects of the 1994 "Republican revolution" as former representative Vin Weber and Tony Blankley, who was Newt Gingrich's top communications adviser and now edits the Washington Times editorial page.

Both said the main contribution of the contract was to give inexperienced Republican candidates something to say once the political tide started moving the GOP's way. But both insisted that it was disaffection with Bill Clinton, not the contract, that created the Republicans' opportunity -- something Bob Dole said at the time.

The Democrats' real problem is that they have failed to show how their critique of the Republican status quo is the essential first step toward the alternative program they will owe the voters in the presidential year of 2008.

Apparently incapable of an original thought, Weisberg parrots the Ad Nags line. Pretty pathetic. Oh, and as for the "wondruous" Contract With America? This is what it said:

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

    * FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
    * SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
    * THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
    * FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
    * FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
    * SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
    * SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
    * EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.

  1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses. (Bill Text) (Description)

  2. THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, "good faith" exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools. (Bill Text) (Description)

  3. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility. (Bill Text) (Description)

  4. THE FAMILY REINFORCEMENT ACT: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society. (Bill Text) (Description)

  5. THE AMERICAN DREAM RESTORATION ACT: A S500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief. (Bill Text) (Description)

  6. THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world. (Bill Text) (Description)

  7. THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years. (Bill Text) (Description)

  8. THE JOB CREATION AND WAGE ENHANCEMENT ACT: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages. (Bill Text) (Description)

  9. THE COMMON SENSE LEGAL REFORM ACT: "Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation. (Bill Text) (Description)

  10. THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators. (Description)

Hey Weisberg, that ain't exactly the Declaration of Independence. You know what it is? It is a press release saying "we have a positive agenda." With friends like you, what hope does a Democratic Contract With America have of being treated with the same adulation? Zero.

And there is the significant difference - our pundits work for Republicans inadvertently and are basically dolts. Their pundits are bought and paid for. I guess I like ours better, but it is a real "lesser of two evils" situation.

Originally posted to Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:22 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not a biggie (4.00)
    But this is  pet peeve of mine.

    The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

    by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:15:45 AM PST

    •  Where's Media Whores? n/t (none)

      "Alea jacta est." George Bush, January 20, 2001

      by smintheus on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:24:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks to Atrios (none)
      I guess this diary will be getting some extra attention.

      It's been a long time since 1994 so I'm not surprised people need to be reminded of the truth about the Contract With America:

      1. Yes, it was incredibly vapid ("no proxy votes in committee! that'll get Middle America to the ballot box!"), and no one would have cared if the media hadn't sold it as a bold new agenda.

      2. History is written by the winners.  If the Republicans hadn't taken over in 1994 the whole thing would be a tiny footnote.  Since they did win, people feel like it must have been a result of that brilliant contract thing.

      But I'd add another point...

      3) The Contract With America represented something more than legislative talking points - to the extent it mattered to voters, it was because it projected CONFIDENCE.  The GOP acted like they really, really were going to win that election, and that got people's attention.

      Confidence has also been the only saving grace of George Bush's presidency.  Why don't the Democrats fight harder?  Because Karl Rove says "we're going to win on this issue," and Democrats get all scared and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Confidence counts for so much.

      What will make or break the Democratic version of the Contract with America has nothing to do with the merits.  It is all about whether the Democrats will unify behind the message.  If they all stand behind it with confidence, no matter how vapid the message will get, the media will pick that up and run with it.  The media loves a winner and they won't want to miss the opportunity to be on the ship when it sails.

      On the other hand, if the rollout of this agenda happens in the typical way, by which I mean anonymous Dem staffers and consultants go on Fox News to whine about how they think it's the wrong tone and they doubt it will make a difference and how the Dems need to focus on other priorities instead... well then, expect the media to laugh the whole thing off.

      This time needs to be different.  Will it?

  •  Worse Yet... (none)
    ...at least in my mind, was the C-CPAN call-in show earlier this week when Dems were invited to call and state their opinion of the Dem leaders...

    Lots of whining and blathering about how Weisberg was right.

    Maybe they were Republicans calling in.  ;)

    "Ninety-nine miles of solid-gold track, lay on the whistle and don't look back..."

    by InquisitiveRaven on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:15:52 AM PST

    •  Dems are dolts (none)
      I mean that with love.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:19:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most Callers were Dems (none)
      I heard most of the C-SPAN program, and I was also discouraged by the large number of callers who agreed with Weisberg. However, I don't think they were Republicans calling in, I think they were mainly Democrats who've head the Rethug talking points so many times that they have begun to believe them. Nevertheless, there were some forceful calls from Democrats standing up for Dean and other effective Democratic Party leaders.

      --Bill

  •  One thought to add (none)
    If anyone does not understand by now  that the Republican message in 1994 was that the Clintons were homosexual luvin, Communist sympathizing perverts then they  just didn't pay attention.

    The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

    by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:23:45 AM PST

  •  If I could get one of those chatterati (4.00)
    by the lapels for a few minutes, I think I could convey a couple of messages before he or she bellowed for help:

    Message One-- Tip O'Neill was right: All politics are local. Local candidates shape their campaign around local messages, and not around the Faux Philosophical Talking Point some blow dry job on TV wants to talk about.

    Message Two-- Yers'Truly, an average American voter doesn't give a rats rear end about "single unified messages." There are, for examples some issues with which I agree 100% with the majority of the Kos community, some at 50%, and a few not at all. That's what I always guessed a democracy was all about. If some "suit" on national TV or a "hack" pounding the keyboard is inconvenienced by having to actually think that there JUST MIGHT be more than one way to perceive a problem and shape issues--gee, I'm really sorry, but if that's too hard for them, then someone should give them a rest from their toils at the keyboard.

    Message Three--The idea that the Democrats don't have positions on issues is a GOP Talking Point, nothing more. If writers want to keep up their simplistic (and lazy) commentary then perhaps the best forum for them would be Reader's Digest.

    •  On the same vein (none)
      How many even know who Pelosi is?

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:32:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm good (none)
      with numbers 1 and 2, but IMO, 3 is lacking.

      Writing off the very true statement that the dems DON'T have a unified position on a host of issues as just a RTP is also simplistic and lazy.

      As evidenced by Roberts, Alito, Gay marriage, national security, voting reform, etc..., this is in fact not untrue.

      (Cross-posted in my pants)

      by Calishfornia on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:34:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hurried #3 (none)
        and didn't --obviously-- make myself clear. What I mean to convey is that I don't require every Democrat to hold the same opinion on every subject (Roberts, Alito, gay marriage, national security..etc). Some Democrats can oppose public funding of campaigns, and still get my support on environmental issues. Others may not hold to my opinions on the environment, but I like their stances on education funding, and so on.

        My point was, before I hacked it up, that lock step ideology has never been, nor do I think it should be, a characteristic of the Democratic Party. Most Dems I know hold a variety of positions, and since I'm not a single issue voter I find that I fit much better in the ranks of the Dems than in the "troopers of the Bushites."

      •  Actually, (none)
        it is nothing but a talking point. Never in history, including 1994, has there been a "unified message" put forward by any opposition party.  Serious studies have demonstrated that the Contract had little impact on the course of the '94 elections, but the contrary quickly became the conventional wisdom, and no amount of evidence seems able to dislodge it.

        Regardless, the contract wasn't introduced until late summer in 94 anyway (end of August, irc).  Demanding a unified message this far out really is just an empty slur, an effort to artificially raise the difficulty of unseating incumbents.  It's the corollary of the empty "obstructionist" charge.  There are three types of Democrats to the GOP, those that "obstruct," those that "lack a message," and Zell Miller.  

        Theoretically, sure it would be nice to have a real national message capable of dominating a midterm election.  And a pony.

        Find out what's the matter with K Street at Slingshot.org.

        by dtmky on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:47:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  what you say (none)
    may all be true, and I find Weisberg and his ilk to be "shrinking liberals", but on the other hand, if this is the CW (and I suspect it is)--it almost doesn't matter whether it's true or not until it's disproved by some Dem victories, electoral, legislative, or otherwise.

    Incidentally, count me as someone who thinks it would be better for all of us if the "liberals" could articulate their principles and goals in a clear, assertive, and consistent way. The job of Dems may be to oppose, but I don't think a lot of uphill election campaigns were won on opposition alone.

    2006--win or get out of the way

    by JMS on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:33:04 AM PST

    •  IF what is true? (none)
      That Ad NAgs is saying this? Duh.

      Actually it matter very little.

      One of their biggest frustrations these days, the main reason they  hate the NEts is they are no accorded little respect.

      No one is listening to them anymore.  

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:37:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another thing.... (none)
    ....is that the Republicans didn't release their Contract on America in March of 1994. Back then, they were not expected to take control of Congress. They released it in August, close to the elections.
  •  Weisberg stinks like a bowl of piss. (none)
    Slate is just sooooo irrelevant. It's an irrelvant wart on the butt of an irrelevant old man.

    Anything's possible with Commander Cuckoo Bananas in charge. -Homer J. Simpson

    by Cheez Whiz on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:49:56 AM PST

  •  Armando, please help me out... (none)
    What is a "maroon"? I see this used often enough on this site that I know it is not a typo for "moron," but the only definitions of maroon I am familiar with are the color, and escaped slaves living in the West Indies.

    I must be missing out on some online etymology, and I would be grateful if you (or someone else) could help me out on this.

  •  I've said it before. (none)
    Today, here.

    What's wrong with-

    'My name is ek hornbeck and I'm running for you, the people of the 435th CD.  Unlike my opponent I'm not tied to the culture of corruption and the unified vision of the Beltway Boys.  I work for you.'

    All politics is local.  My vision is your vision.  I work for the people.  What are we not understanding?

  •  The main problem with Weisberg's piece (none)
    is that he doesn't have a positive agenda.  All he's doing is tearing down our leaders without saying what he'd do instead if he were in their place.

    Ironic, isn't it?

    FWIW, in response to Kos's question on the FP, I do read Slate -- plenty of gold (or at least bronze) in there among the dross -- and as differing perspectives go it's generally more palatable than many of the alternatives.  And, its writers have an odd tendency to go rapidly on to bigger and better things.  But unfortunately, its editorial stance from Kinsley forward has always emphasized keeping progressive Democrats at arm's length, often with fingers around windpipe.

    I'm glad you diaried this, Armando; I was going to do it when the article came out but even thinking about it sapped my will to live.

    My apologies to students who took my U.S. Government class in the 90s: evidently the Constitution doesn't limit Presidential power after all. Who knew?

    by Major Danby on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:45:44 AM PST

  •  I am not fully alongside this diary (none)
    I have waited with great anticipation for the Democratic policy statement that was supposed to have emerged a few weeks ago. It never did.

    Although I appreciate that "the job of Congressional leaders IN OPPOSITION is to oppose" is a simplification of what Matt Yglesias was saying, it is nevertheless naive.

    I wrote in December 2004 that the job of the Democrat Party was to form itself into an effective opposition and then to demonstrate to the country that it was both fit and ready for government. Opposition alone is not enough.

    You must be your own judges of how effectively you think the Democrats have organised themselves in opposition. I will comment that they seem a long way from having demonstrated to Middle America that they are ready for government, if only because no coherent policy has yet emerged.

    There is time for this before 2008 but denying that Weisberg  has no justification for his comments will not help this process to occur. It is the sort of thinking that has (fortunately) kept the Conservative Party in the the backwoods of ineffectiveness for the last twelve years.

    •  Sheesh (none)
      The elections are when? When will this message be delivered on governance? By the way HOW?

       To be honest with you, you're buying into the "positive agenda" myth and there simply is no support for your view at all.

      And  are you sayig I did not characterize Yglesias correctly? How  so?

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:49:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (none)
        "The elections are when?: Well, the first mid-term elections are in just eight months time.

        "How and when will the message be delivered" I wish I could lay my hands on what I think was a DNC comment that a Democratic Party policy statement was to have emerged a few weeks ago. Maybe it was, in which case it sank without trace. The "how" is that you start to gain firm party discipline, you then begin to have "on message" statements made in a united front on issues by all the Democrats in Congress and you intensify this and steadily build up through 2006 to 2008. I do not see this happening at the moment.

        You write "are you saying I did not characterize Yglesias correctly?"  No. My comment was to recognise that I was referring to and criticizing just such a characterisation of his view, without paying respect to the depth of the argument that he used to support it.

    •  Incidentally, I have recommended this diary (none)
      You don't have to agree with a diary to respect its arguments and the importance of the topic that it raises.

      (I should also clarify that the Conservatives to which I refer are those in the UK)

      •  Of course (none)
        Disagreement is what we do.

        However,   I really think you are buying the myth of the positive agenda.

        Throw the bums out is what elections are about

        The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

        by Armando on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:54:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have replied more fully up thread (none)
          I don't disagree that I am uncomfortable at what I am buying into. It is really a matter of how much a myth this really is and how much of it has a good basis in truth.

          For what it is worth (not much probably) the view that I am expressing is that which seems to be held by a substantial section of friendly liberal and left commentators in the UK. (This is an impression, not a fact that I am able to substantiate, before you ask)

        •  What our message must be: (none)
          Republicans are a bunch of fucking crooks, and they're fucking up the country.

          Oh, sorry, is that too crude? Fine. Replace it with this: Republicans are a bunch of lying crooks, and they're ruining the country.

          That must be our message. Any "We will do X or Y or Z" is a distraction. The Onion was right about Kerry's message - that it should be one thing, and that one thing should be: "I am not George W. Bush." From that, all good follows.

          The more we argue about whether X, Y, or Z is superior, more popular, or more "electable", the less we focus on denouncing Bush and Congressional Republicans as a bunch of lying crooks who are ruining the country. Any discussion of what Democrats would do is so much mental masturbation until we convince people that Bush and Congressional Republicans are a bunch of lying crooks, who should be politically hobbled as quickly and effectively as possible.

          One final note: the best side effect of running on the platform of "Republicans are a bunch of lying crooks, and they're ruining the country" is that any other message - lobbying reform, tax fairness, health care, education reform - can be stolen by Republicans and compromised into meaninglessness. Remember NCLB? Joe Lieberman's DHS? The Medicare drug benefit? Republicans stole those issues and fucked them up.

          There is one message Republicans cannot steal: Republicans are bunch of lying crooks, and they're ruining the country.

        •  Throw the bums out so long as... (none)
          the alternative is no worse?
  •  A national message which is simple (none)
    President Bush represents the greatest danger facing the United States today. We Democrats pledge to keep America secure, prosperous and free, and we will do that by addressing the most urgent priorities first.
    We will do everything in our power to oppose President Bush's systematic but ill-conceived, elitist and self-defeating attempts to reverse 200 years of American history.

    Only when the goal of replacing the current administration and Congress has been accomplished, when our troops are no longer facing mortal danger daily in Iraq will we have the luxury of polite conversations about how to run the country. Right now it's enough to say we will stop it being run into the ground.

    [There should never be anything more said--proposing anything at all is self-defeating. Rather than playing the science-fiction game of "what would happen if the Democrats had any power", we MUST, MUST, MUST repeat as often as possible that it is the Republicans that have all the power. Instead of asking what the Democrats would do, we must ask what the Republicans would do--if they could do anything right.]

    -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:55:26 AM PST

    •  How about... (none)
        Are you better off now than you were six years ago??? And do you want this to continue?  

      "Now if people got problems and they got problems with people oh yeah I know what it is to be there." - DW

      by ScantronPresident on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 12:04:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about tweaking it...? (none)
        Are you better off now than you were last year? How about the year before that? And before that? And five years ago? What about since Clinton left office?

        No? Ever wonder why? Ever want to just make it all stop? Let's!

        -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

        by thingamabob on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 05:47:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And a baseball team is hereby christened (none)
    elitism, disarray, and crabbiness

    PERFECT!!!

    We can use our past name on the back or just re-logo and wear the old ones backwards. (We Hate You)
    .

    napoli: To brutalize, rape, sodomize a young, religious virgin

    by Peanut on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 11:55:31 AM PST

  •  An important point to underscore (none)
    The Contract with America did not involve any heavy lifting. The Republicans did not tackle difficult issues -- it doesn't address health care, immigration, education, Social Security and Medicare trust funds, or the environment. It was crafted to simply avoid any areas where it would be difficult to form a GOP consensus.

    Dems are being asked by the pundits to do something much more difficult and risky: build a party-wide consensus on issues such as the war in Iraq and health care reform. Gingrich knew better than to attempt anything like that.

  •  What I *detest* about that piece... (none)
    What I detest about that piece is that it falls into the standard Democratic-bashing punditocracy format of recycling one of the worst Republican talking points: "Your leaders suck. No matter who they are, they suck, and you should change them."

    Jesus fucking Christ, the reverse psychology is obvious. I know why the RNC pushes it; it's an attempt to get Democrats to help neuter their leaders. I know why the media prints these articles; they're colorful and you can always score points for "independent thinking" and "being ahead of the curve" by predicting Democratic disaffection. I know why Democrats contribute to these stories, because they want to usurp the power of those in these positions. What I DON'T know is why Democratic leaders stand for this kind of insubordination and self-defeating behavior. When people like Joe Lieberman and Steny Hoyer cross the party, conspicuously, to the detriment of the party, for their own self-aggrandizing purposes, they need to be smacked down.

    I'd never argue that the party should exert any influence on the media, but the party and its leaders can sure as hell exert some influence on its members, or it can kick them the fuck out of the party, so they're not destroying it from within.

  •  dem message emerges from cacophony anyway (none)
    kudos to the lad who said he didn't want the dems lockstep-unified. we don't indeed.

    the rethug message of 94 was easy to decode. all the contract on america did was give them a figleaf to hide behind. their message was:

    no taxes for anything but guns,
    no help for cities or education,
    no abortions except for the daughters of the rich,
    no affirmative action,
    no economic justice,
    no healthcare reform,
    no bipartisanship in congress.

    the dem message of '06 is already pretty clear, and pretty defensible. those who see disarray are either lazy or tendentious. our composite message is:

    return to a constitutional presidency
    return to an honest legislature
    return to a rational military policy
    return to a safe social security and medicare system
    return to fiscal responsibility and fair taxation
    return to local educational diversity
    return to environmental respect
    return to energy sanity

    ps. is it significant that the end-of-cartoon bullseye out of which porky pig emerged to lisp "that's all folks!" was colored maroon?

  •  Idiotic piece? (none)
    It's a hit piece, IMO.  You were too kind to the maroon.  Even the title; "The Three Stooges." And Weisberg's use of this stupid lie:  Dean was "headed for the nomination until he yodeled in Iowa"?  So fundamentally dishonest from the start.  

    And I'd like him to explain this:

    Democrats need to demonstrate they won't just cut and run from Iraq, that they see security as more than a civil liberties issue, and that their alternative to tax cuts isn't just more spending on flawed social programs and unchallenged growth in entitlements.

    Could Mr. Weisberg please show which members of the Democratic leadership share or have advocated these views?  

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 12:57:05 PM PST

    •  Slate has enshrined cynicism since their inception (none)
      In fact when I wrote a chapter on cynicism for my Soul of a Citizen book, I used one of their ads as the quintissential example, as follows below. They're constitutionally unable to give the slightest legitimacy to social change efforts.

      Here's my description of Slate's ad, opening a  chapter entitled THE CYNICAL SMIRK

      ...In a recent issue of Harper's Magazine, I came upon an ad for Microsoft's on-line magazine, Slate, edited by former Crossfire host and New Republic lead columnist Michael Kinsley. "It's what everyone is talking about," the ad proclaimed: "media, politics, technology, high and low culture...all with a certain insouciant smirk that thinking people find compelling."

      Which insouciant smirk, and which thinking people? My dictionary describes insouciant as "carefree" or "blithely indifferent." Carefree seems fine, even if it conjures up endless parades of Laura Ashley maidens in flowered summer dresses. But is indifference a virtue? Does the ad mean to suggest that Slate's editors and writers stand above it all, and nothing they say really matters?

      Praising any smirk, especially a "certain" one, seems worse yet. People smirk when they're full of themselves, smiling arrogantly, "in a self-conscious, knowing or simpering manner." They know the score, you don't, and they're about to put you in your place. Multinational oil companies smirk. So do grade-school bullies and corporate raiders. William F. Buckley, Larry Flynt, and Donald Trump smirk. Marie Antoinette's famed phrase, "Let them eat cake," was an ill-timed smirk that cost her her head.
      Yet Slate, or their ad people, has decided that an ethic of contempt boosts sales. They present it as something to be proud of. All of us, the ad suggests, should approach life with such hip detachment. Merely knowing the right people and being able to drop the right insouciantly clever names and phrases exempts us from any broader responsibility to our fellow human beings. We simply need to acknowledge that the world is inherently corrupt, bought and paid for, and that all talk of changing it is naive.....

      And so on....

  •  I love slate (none)
    They have a piece bashing our leaders. Yeah, that sucks. Plenty of times they bash the Republicans as well. I find Slate to be a good look at all aspects of life, not just politics. I check it several times a day. Their explainer section, human guinea pig, supreme court dispatches and dear prudence are all very interesting sections. And today's papers is a good wrap around of the news.
  •  Here my nominee for tiredest refrain (none)
    Democrats need to demonstrate . . . that their alternative to tax cuts isn't just more spending on flawed social programs and unchallenged growth in entitlements.

    The sad ironies here are two in number:

    (1) Who can forget the days of Bill Clinton, when entitlements went unchallenged under the banner of catchy slogans like "Ending Welfare As We Know It" and "The Era of Big Government Is Over"?  Oh, wait a minute.  Maybe, to parrot Howard Dean, Democrats are a party than you can trust with your money.  I mean I don't really agree with either the sentiment or the implementation of the Clinton welfare "reforms," but it's hardly fair to say that the Dem platform of the last 15 years has contained an "unchallenged growth in entitlements" plank.

    (2) Who are we to blame for "more spending on flawed social programs" other than Democrats?  Oh, wait another minute.  Maybe we should blame the current Republican administration and Congress for things like their record deficits, their expensive and bungled prescription drug benefit, their bridges to nowhere, and on and on and on.

  •  More on Slate... (none)
    Here's some intellectual noodling from Slate's Daphne Merkin on Bill Paxton's new HBO show Big Love:

    The show's setup has the strange effect of inverting the terms of the unreconstructed patriarchal paradigm that the sexual politics of polygamy plays to.

    Understandable? Yes. Readable? You tell me. It's a fucking TV show.

    And they say the media's out of touch with mainstream America.

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