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Sometimes, you really just have to sit back and laugh at the ridiculousness of the purity-obsessed political culture we now live in. Take this poorly written screed in which Dave Sirota belittles Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's (D) anticipated run for president. He goes through what makes Obama unfit to represent "the movement," and this is the one that just makes you chuckle:

For progressives, this situation is perilous indeed. Obama is a candidate who has kept his record deliberately thin, who has risked almost nothing  for the bigger movement, and in fact who has sometimes gone out of his way to reinforce dishonest stereotypes about the left.

Think about it. The national media roundly ignores Sirota, who marginalizes himself every time he writes a column. Yet, at the same time, they are implicitly acknowledging that he has no interest in appealing to readers (or voters) who are not in lock-step with his creepy insistence on ideological purity. In other words, readers are to simply accept that even though Sirota has done nothing to roll back Republican dominance, his pursuit of Marxist ideals trumps all -- even Obama's actually DOING SOMETHING for the people who elected him to the Senate.

I don't blame Sirota for not having accomplished much - he has written meaningless diatribes for the Nation for a couple of years now.  But the main concern about him is that he doesn't actually seem to ASPIRE to affecting the Washington power structure (by winning elections), and doesn't seem to be interested in challenging the status quo of Marxist/"progressive" dogma in any fundamental way. Using his leftist rants as a guide, it suggests that any writing by him is about him, his speaking ability and his fawned over talent for "connecting" (whatever the hell that means) with other leftists.

This is a man who has undermined Democrats by describing their presidential aspirations with words like "ridiculousness" and "danger." This is a man who belittled Barack Obama as a do-nothing. This is a man who refused to lift a finger for mainstream Democrats. Flocking to an ideologue like that without demanding that he change only reinforces the truth:  that his "movement" is a Seinfeld Movement about nothing.

I want to be clear: Narcissistic Sirota doesn't think his movement is a Seinfeld Movement. But don't fool yourself: a movement that rushes to embrace a writer who belittles leading Democrats - well, that sort of mindless negativity could be a death blow for what we are working toward. Movements move because writers write in ways that unify and promote popular causes -- and because they spell words like "wield" without inappropriately applying mnemonics like "i before e except after c and sometimes w." Movements are killed by false prophets like Sirota, who mistake self-righteousness for substance.  They "weild" their power for their own, self-referential agenda.

Look, I'm willing to admit that maybe it's true: maybe in this age of cynicism where people have completely given up on the idea that government can do anything, all the country really wants is a slipshod writer who nebulously "connects" the Marxist dots - a talk show host hack writer who makes us feel good when he's self-righteous, even as he refuses to use his power to actually change anything. But I think now, more than ever, people are looking for real leaders - someone who has either done something, like Barack Obama, or at least used their platform to try to do something that actually changes the political status quo, instead of trotting out old leftist canards.

I sincerely hope that Sirota becomes a reality-based writer, whether he stays at the Nation, or actually writes something that people will read. I mean that, because our side needs good writers, and because I don't want to see our movement be tricked by someone who is not really rational. If he becomes a good writer, then there is no quandary for progressives, and he would make a great leader - one that I would loudly cheer on.

However, the fact that Dave Sirota has to drum up a diatribe against a fellow Democrat as a WAY to interest readers rather than him writing cogently and thoughtfully as a way to convince people that he has TRIED to seem smart and relevant is really a sad commentary on the substance-free nature of knee-jerk progressives today.

Originally posted to demosthenesqpublic on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 10:14 AM PST.

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