In a great post today, Greg Sargent takes them on:
Ronald Brownstein, for one, is actually trying to claim that Howard Dean opposes the bill because he’s a “wine track” Democrat who doesn’t lack insurance and hence has the luxury to indulge in ideological struggles.
Brownstein writes that Dean and the “digital left” are able to “casually dismiss” the bill because “they operate in an environment where so few people need to worry about access to insurance.” He adds that for these critics, the debate is “largely an abstraction” and merely a crusade to “crush Republicans and ideologically cleanse the Democrats.”
Brownstein doesn’t meaningfully respond to any of Dean’s substantive policy objections to the bill. If he did, he could no longer claim Dean’s critique is purely “ideological.”
He’s not the only one making this claim. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The Times today wrote that “ideology” is “smacking the pragmatic president in the face,” presumably meaning that the word “ideology” is a good catch-all for all criticism of the bill. And Joe Klein has dismissed critics for being in the grip of “ideological fetishes.”
People using this word need to explain what they mean by it. Anyone who actually reads criticism of the bill on sites like Firedoglake and DailyKos can immediately see that much of it is substantive and detailed. Agree or not, most critics are making a case against the bill as flawed policy that will have adverse real-world consequences. Why is it “ideological” to claim a mandate with inadequate subsidies risks forcing people to buy insurance they can’t afford?
Besides, what would a physician and former governor who actually achieved nearly universal coverage for children in his own home state know about policy? No, it's all ideology and some kind of grudge against Joe Lieberman.
The growing opposition from the left to this proposal, particularly as it gets further diluted and further away from actually providing real reform, real affordability, and real help to those who need it most, is a substantive one. Dismissing that opposition, and those us expressing it, as ideologically motivated might be convenient, and is certainly easier than answering our policy concerns. But it's doing nothing to improve this bill while we've still got a glimmer of hope of doing so.