, who I took to task in my last post, writes a very good one today on the "Obama Issue":
I would only observe that the sort of respectful debate Obama is calling for ought to be a two-way street. Generally speaking, it's a bad idea to simply attribute bad faith to people with whom you disagree, especially when the people in question are broadly "on the same side."
Ed's colleague Marshall Whittman, for example, not only gave his reasons for favoring a "yes" vote on John Roberts but has been in the habit of attributing disagreement with his view to the fact that Democrats are "hostage to liberal special interest groups." But look. I thought Democrats should vote "no" on Roberts and I'm not hostage to special interest groups. Ed also advocated a no vote, as did Bruce Reed. Neither of them are anyone's hostages. And, indeed, the interest groups themselves offered arguments in favor of their positions. There were a lot of debatable points of substance and tactics in this area, and those points should be debated, not just ignored in favor of allegations of cowardice and hostage-holding.
And I think anyone who paid attention to the front page of daily kos would have learned that the respective merits of the positions on Roberts were indeed debated - and with great respect. Markos and RonK and others argued the "dry powder" position eloquently. Some of us argued the opposing position, perhaps not so eloquently.
The most interesting thing about it is that, as Ed Kilgore noted, Markos himself wrote:
Disagreement is obviously a component of political discourse. God knows we beat the shit out of each other here, and we're among friends and allies. We've disagreed on the Roberts issue, amongst others. I wouldn't be surprised if just about every active member on this site hasn't been called a "sellout" or "appeaser" by someone else at some point.
But of course, we don't get to vote on legislation. We don't have the bully pulpit our elected officials have. And the higher the profile, the sharper the knives.
So here's the bottom line -- our elected officials need to explain their votes. The more controversial the vote, the more important the explanation. In return, we'll be more likely to give those elected officials the benefit of the doubt, more likely to disagree on the merits, than to lash out against the person.
Now, it turns out Senator Obama received a great deal of criticism for his post here at daily kos. I myself strongly disagree with much of the substance of Senator Obama's post, and I hope to write a coherent rebuttal for tomorrow. But Markos captures something important -- explain your thinking and let's engage the issue. I highly commend Senator Obama for doing that here, even though I have strong disagreement with him on the issue. (Please note that Obama voted NO on Roberts. My disagreement is with his view of the reasonability of the Yes votes by some of the other Democratic Senators.)
Now, Part 2 is to consider OUR arguments, as Yglesias suggests, and let's hash it out. We are allies. We are all Democrats.
To dismiss our arguments as "hostage holding" and the like does not do our arguments, or the important issues being discussed, justice. In that respect, I think the "hostage holders" of daily kos did a much better job of debating the Roberts issue than did Senator Obama. But more on that tomorrow.