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Who's Liberal? Whose Liberal?

| 61 Comments | 13 TrackBacks
Oliver Willis, as well as a few commenters are trying to "out" Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten as secret Bush operatives. I'm personally offended to have been left out, and am worried that when GWB is re-elected, my promised 2nd term ambassadorship to Grand Fenwick may not actually come through. Actually, I am fairly pissed about this. First, Jarvis criticizes and their anti-Bush ad campaign (the one where they silently pulled the Bush=Hitler ad). And then, in the comments, he gets piled on for being 'inadequately liberal'. And that's a pisser. First, and foremost, it once again wraps up the smug 'I know better than you' that the Democratic Party has become associated with - and which lots of people, including me, find amazingly offensive.
From commenter anne.elk (her handle):
At other times, when Jeff bravely stood by Jewish kids in France by stating how he would wear a kippah if it would only help them in their struggles against French anti-semitism, I tried to help Jeff understand how anti-semitism does exist in our own country, and encouraged him to wear a kippah to help our children. Again, to my dismay, Jeff did not respond to this invitation. I know that within Jeff is a liberal heart, and a considerate man, and I only ask again for Jeff to make use of his pulpit to explore his own ideas and theories.
I try and help my seven year old understand how to do division. I try and help him understand adverbs. When I am talking to my older sons, we discuss things and I express my opinions and make arguments with the intent of convincing them, because I believe they are individual actors with moral and intellectual standing comparable to my own. That may be a subtle difference to some, but to me it is as clear as a summer's day. Willis - whose blog has the tagline 'Like Kryptonite to Stupid' takes the intellectually sophisticated tack that liberal interests are served by the following:
I call these two guys on their liberalism because I am very aware of the straw man of liberalism that gets an enormous amount of play in the media and blog world. I don't expect people to toe the line with the Democratic Party, because I myself disagree with the DNC on quite a lot of issues. In their two cases, I find very little straying from the GOP line on any issue of merit. Even more so, I find that they both take every chance to bash liberals at the first blush - while giving the right a pass on practically everything. In contrast, I find folks like Alex Knapp and John Cole who are certainly more amenable to Team Bush even more critical of their "team" than Jarvis/Totten. I don't know either of them much in real life (although my brief meeting with Jeff tells me that he's wicked tall) so I look at their blogs and wonder how someone so orthodoxly in favor of the right can be considered a liberal. For Christ's sake, even the WSJ editorial page disagrees with the Bushes every 1,000 years! I look at the evidence, and call it as I see it.
Help me out here, Oliver - why does 'calling someone out on their liberalism' do anything at all to advance liberal causes? As opposed to, say burnishing your own self-image? I mean you're not even taking issue with any specific thing that they say, except 'Why do you pick on the liberals?' And, sadly, the basis is right there - in his explanation that Alex Knapp and John Cole are 'more critical' of the Right than Jarvis or Totten. Because, you doofus, Totten, and Jarvis, and I all care about liberal causes - real liberal causes like improving the lives of the less-well off, defending the environment in ways that actually accomplish something, and working to create a world politics that neither empowers the multinationals nor the kleptocrats. These values have been hijacked by the Bad Philosophers and the Nannies. This means that a) they are going to lose a lot of political power; and b) where they get political power, they will imitate the California State Legislature and do and spend lots while accomplishing very little. I said it a long time ago, and I've never understood why people just won't accept it:
"...I’ll comment that while my posts are pretty critical of the DNC establishment, they are critical with an eye toward creating an unassailable Democratic watch out!!"
We've been here before, of course. Remember POUM? And go read Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" to get a sense of what I'm talking about.

13 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 7, 2004 7:02 AM
Has Anybody Noticed ... from Matthew J. Stinson | weblog
Excerpt: ... that the attacks on Michael Totten and Jeff Jarvis for being "fake liberals" or "non-liberals" or "insufficiently liberal" (take your pick of crimes against the party) sounds exactly like the paleocon attacks on neoconservatives for being "fake con...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 7:34 AM
Purging as Damage Control from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Ideological lockdown is a symptom of a movement in decline. Witness: Jeff Jarvis mentions in passing that he is a Democrat, and out came the witch-hunters saying he isn't actually a liberal at all. Oliver Willis says in the comments...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 4:21 PM
Liberals and Heretics from PhotoDude's Weblog
Excerpt: Liberals and Heretics - I'd already planned on linking this fine essay from Paul Graham, but it seems particularly appropriate to another political blog-spat that's developed in the past day or so. Graham has written an excellent piece on the concept o...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 4:42 PM
Purging as Damage Control from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Ideological lockdown is a symptom of a movement in decline. Witness: Jeff Jarvis mentions in passing that he is a Democrat, and out came the witch-hunters saying he isn't actually a liberal at all. Oliver Willis says in the comments...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 6:11 PM
Messy from Slyblog
Excerpt: I wandered by Fables of the Reconstruction an hour or so ago and got caught up on this inane debate about whether Jeff Jarvis is, actually, a liberal. Jarvis says he is. Oliver Willis and others say he's not. Michael...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 6:40 PM
Tidal shifts (1): On The Left from De Doc's Doings
Excerpt: Glenn points to a developing row about "liberal credentials". Apparently, some liberal bloggers think a litmus test is OK... to detect who's really "on their side". ... concerns have been expressed by folks like Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten about my ...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 7:29 PM
Excerpt: We've already had this argument over whether some liberals, by writing hard definitions of "what makes a liberal", are forcing out other potential liberals from the Democratic part. Mark thinks I'm insane, but that's nothing new. In my defense, it seem...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 8:55 PM
Purging as Damage Control from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Ideological lockdown is a symptom of a movement in decline. Witness: Jeff Jarvis mentions in passing that he is a Democrat, and out came the witch-hunters saying he isn't actually a liberal at all. Oliver Willis says in the comments...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 10:35 PM
Pissed-off Liberals from Swanky Conservative
Excerpt: I love this! The good Dr. Reynolds links to three liberals who have had it with the Left's intolerant attitude towards independent-minded liberals. Jeff Jarvis, Michael Totten and the Armed Liberal have each been chastised by other members of the...
Tracked: January 7, 2004 11:46 PM
When the Labelmaker Sticks from Andrew Olmsted dot com
Excerpt: While I know that most people tend to lump me in among the conservatives when it comes to labeling, I actually haven't called myself a conservative in many years. In fact, I don't really call myself by any label, and...
Tracked: January 8, 2004 8:48 AM
You say Liberal, I say Libel from Mudville Gazette
Excerpt: I've inadvertently drawn visitors here from Roger Simon's blog via a comment left there. As that was not my intention I feel I must now restore cosmic blogospheric harmonic (the triple "ic") balance and request you click here and read...
Tracked: January 8, 2004 2:47 PM
Excerpt: With the kind of statements being made by people dissatisfied with "liberal" political groups and the Democratic Party, "conservative" and Republican political leaders might think they're set to reap big gains. They ought to look again. Consider this, ...
Tracked: January 8, 2004 3:25 PM
Similarity failure from Thought Mesh
Excerpt: I found this post at Winds of Change interesting. The basic issue is some webloggers disputing the liberalism of other...


I remember POUM. I've read Homage to Catalonia and I know exactly what you're talking about. But, boy oh boy, if you actually put a name to this tactic instead of refer to it by the title of a work of literature, watch out. They'll call you a McCarthyist because they don't get it, they don't get it at all.

They think the history of the left began in 1968, 1992, or 2001, depending on the age of the person in question.

In the above post, I meant 2000, not 2001.

I think the purity thing is becoming a problem. The kinds of posts that attempt to kick people out of the tent are a bit silly, although it's quite possible that we're going through a realignment period in which libertarians head left and pass hawkish liberals going the other direction.

OTOH, I am interested in learning more about the domestic views of Totten and Jarvis.

Odd thing about that little post is that I criticize Bush from all sides--I'm a hawk myself, but I have issues with the way Bush handled the war. I suppose it's an attack "from the right" when I criticize his massive spending and an attack "from the left" when I talk about gay marriage, etc. I consider myself a liberal in the classical sense, which puts me on the side of the guys overturning dictatorships. But that's just me.

OTOH, I am interested in learning more about the domestic views of Totten and Jarvis.
Then pay attention for God's sake. Neither of them have been particularly less than outspoken when the topic comes up; it's just that for both of them (and for me, as far as that's important) defense is the most important issue right now.

Those of us who remember the McGovern campaign find it all very familiar, because the same exclusionary thing operated then too: the "Scoop Jackson" Democrats were summarily drummed out of the party and the election. We also remember who won that election.

Oh, by the way: what the hell is POUM?

Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (Workers Party of Marxist Unification). It was an anti-Stalinist Communist party in Catalonia, eventually purged by the other Communists. (Disclaimer: I Am Not A Historian).

"I think the purity thing is becoming a problem."

It all depends on how much this is reflected in the Offline World. After all, Oliver Willis holds absolutely no power in the Democratic Party - he can anathematize* to his heart's content and it won't have that much of an effect on the election. But if the Democrats in general follow his lead and start casting out the moderates... well, that probably won't happen.

I think.


*Choice of word deliberate.

I forget who said it, but it remains true; 'Politics has become religion. Republicans are looking for converts, Democrats are looking for heretics.'

More specifically, POUM was the tiny Trotskyite faction in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. While all the other western Communists joined the International Brigades (like the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, BTW) and fought with the Stalinist Communists, Orwell went to fight with POUM instead. Since POUM was so tiny, he ended up mostly within the anarcho-syndicalist militia structure. Orwell was on the losing side during the 1937 civil war within the civil war in Barcelona, when the Communists kicked the stuffing out of the anarcho-syndicalists, and, incidentally, the POUM.

Homage to Catalonia really is an excellent book.

Actually, I think excommunicate is a better word than anathematize.

I said this down in the "Things Democrats Carry" comments section, but it applies just as readily here:

"The problem for the Democrats this year is that they have decided to be the party of upper class white male hate.

Clinton wasn't that. Nor was Gore. Neither could win this year because of it.

It is as if the Democrats -- after having discovered the internet as an organizing tool equivalent to the Republicans using talk radio in 1994 -- have decided to use the 1994 Republican strategy electoral strategy of hate as an organizing principle for 2004.

The difference between now and then is several fold. First, is it a Presidential election cycle and not an off year election. Second, we are at war. Third, Republicans didn't have the past baggage of Vietnam that Democrats do. The General public is paying attention and Democrats hate of Bush is making them align with the enemies of the USA.

The Democratic center has collapsed. Centerist Democrats have no candidates and they are repulsed by their choices in the General Election. This is a perscription for a large number of voters to check out of politics completely for several election cycles.

We also have with Dean a recognition that the organizational barrier to entry for creating a national party organization has falled radically.

This is the historical perscription for collapse of the Democrats and the creation of a new major American political party."

As I wrote at Oliver's, I'm worried that many of the liberal hawks seem much more enthusiastic about bashing their old friends than scrutinizing their new-found friends (DeLay, etc.). Or to use your metaphor—and I've read Orwell, too —the liberal hawks really are becoming the "social fascists", as if POUM actually were cooperating with the Nationalists in deed, instead of merely in the Stalinite propaganda. Is it the Deaniacs and Clarkies who are cutting off their noses to spite their faces, or Totten and Armed Liberal?

Incidentally, as of my last visit to Spain in 1979, the Communist Party had been legalized, but not the Anarchists.

You know, there are very smart people with known knowns; they know what they know. And then there are very smart people with known unknowns; they know what they don't know.

And then there are people with unknown unknowns, who don't have a frickin' clue how clueless they are and pretty much just wind up looking like Velcro to stupidity when they attempt to throw people out of Liberalism based on a definition of liberalism as anti-interventionist neo-isolationism which isn't even as old as Natalie Lileks and would qualify, in any decade of the past century, as anti-liberal Leftism, not liberalism.

Read an actual BOOK instead of just blogs for your historical education, such as Mead's Special Providence to name just one of the most recent, and you'll find that it's Totten, Jarvis, etc. who, as Wilsonians with a fondness for intervention, American defense, smashing fascism and so on, are the liberals here. At least, until Pope Willis throws John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Franklin Roosevelt out of the party, too.

Number of words it takes Andrew J. Lazarus to get from being piously "worried" to using the word "fascist" to describe people who commit the unforgivable sin of arguing over the principles of their own side: 41. Not world-class yet, but getting there. We will crush dissent yet!

Conservatives complain about "RINOs" quite a bit too, but their complaints seem to differ from the current lefty obsession with what they call Faux Dems. In my experience, the conservatives just grumble that "RINOs" are illegitimately using the Republican label to get themselves elected, which is something that could well be true in some cases (Mike Bloomberg, for example). Many of the complaints about "Faux Dems", on the other hand, allege some dark wide-ranging conspiracy among conservatives to select and groom fellow conservatives to claim to be Democrats as part of a rhetorical means of scaring people away from the Democratic Party and/or scaring the Democratic Party away from more left-leaning views. This is actually a pretty profound difference.

Mike G, I don't think you understand the Spanish Civil War metaphor here. (I don't generally use "fascist" outside historical context.) The orthodox, Stalinist Communists described the POUM as "jejeune revolutionaries" and "social fascists"—those were code words for Anarchists and Trotskyists, respectively.

Oliver Willis, as well as a few commenters are trying to "out" Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten as secret Bush operatives.

And this is hard to believe because?

Keep up the "purity" campaign and I just might push myself out of the Democrat party . . . I believe it's the Democrat party that needs to have the spotlight shined on - I have absolutely nothing in common with the leftists.

I've been watching for years as classic liberalism was co-opted by Hard Left, and I've tried to make some big picture sense of it.

What the Hard Left proposes (especially its attitudes towards tyrants of all stripes) is ultimately extremely dangerous to liberalism.

Which leads me to the conclusion that the Left is indeed not opposed to totalitarianism. THEY want to BE the totalitarians.

If you don't recognise the profoundly authoritarian character of Baby Boomers, you don't understand that generation, particularly its early cohorts. Crop of 1949 myself, BTW.

Democracy and Totalitarianism are not opposites. They answer two different questions -- who will be in power, and how much power with that 'who' have.

Led by Boomers, the Left in Europe and America wish to use the institutions of Democracy to establish their own Totalitarian rule, and will not let facts, truth, decency, ethics or humanity get in the way of their visceral lust for power.

Liberals should be afraid.

I think that the anti-war protests did more harm to the democratic party than is realized, and not politically so much as psychologically. First, it caused a lot of moderates to check out. The level of hate and anti-western attitude on display was simply repulsive to a lot of soccer moms. Second, it convinced the true believers that they were in fact the silent majority, when in reality they are a very loud and very small minority. Seeing 50,000 comrades in one place will do that to you, but it's an illusion. The democratic party has forgotten that without Catholics, Jews, and labor unions, they are indeed a very minority party in the US. For every former Green party voter the dems pick up, they lose half a dozen moderate middle Americans. Its going to take a real Republican landslide this fall to make it clear just how small the leftist fringe really is. Will it teach them humility? Will it inspire them to go out and win support through debate and reason? Not likely. What is likely is that the barely hidden disdain that the left holds for the middle class, Joe six-pack, Jane soccer-mom, average American will go on full display. Bush being reelected may be only the beginnning of the meltdown.

Forgive me for a brief simplistic digression:

I think it might help a lot if folks would just stop using the words "conservative" and "liberal" as personal acronyms for either their beliefs and actions or those of a group they oppose.

The words lost their original meanings long ago, and now mean a dozen different things to every 12 people.

If you insist on using either one of them, in the interest of clarity and context, consider providing what you believe to be a definition.

Thanks. Please carry on.

UncleBob, here is my take on it from my comments on MT's site (edited for typos):

Liberals support free markets, liberty, individual rights, property rights and limits to government power.. They agree with Federalist papers and support the ideas behind the Consitution. In the US they disagree over what those terms mean, which is why we have "liberals," "conseratives" and "libertarians" and "independants." But anyone who agress with above are by definition a liberal.

Righists and Leftists don't. It's that simple. The US has had very few Rightists and Leftists, as these are European ideas. Both Rightists (Fascists, National Socialists) and Leftists (Communists, Anarhists) are socialists and anti-liberals, and Europe has been dominated by socialists for almost two centuries.

European Conservatives, those that support Throne & Alter - e.g. Monarchists, are deader than dead in Europe. In the past, they often supported the Rightists agains the Leftists. But they are still not liberals or the same as American "conservatives."

Socialism of any stripe, Right or Left, is NOT liberalism. Socialists are the enemies of liberals. Monarchists, racialists, terrorists and religionists are enemies of liberals. Pretending that liberal vs. conservative in the US is the same thing as Leftist vs. Rightist in the European context is to be disingenuous.

And let's not pretend there was any serious Rightist movements over the last 50 years, at least compared with Leftist movements that seriously advocated the overthrow of the Constitution and a socialist/communist ditatorship. Sure there were a couple Fascists in the US during the 1930s who are dead and buried, but we have seen more than 100 years of active subversion by the the Left. Fascism as an American idea and movement is dead (thankfully!), but the Left in America lives on.

The Left is a vile anti-liberal import from Europe, and American liberals of all stripes - libertarian, conservative and liberal - would be well to disassociate with these vile idealogoies.

(Note that I am speaking of individual's beliefs, not of polical/economic systems. Most Western nations are still liberal democracies, despite being under the assalt of Leftist/Rightist anti-liberals for nearly two hundred years. To say that Canada or Britain are socialist is a bold-faced lie, as they have liberal parties or constitutionas that check any socialist government or legislation.)

Then pay attention for God's sake.

Who isn't paying attention? Been tracking my websurfing lately, Charlie?

I thought I was saying something positive, as in "Totten and Jarvis are interesting bloggers and I want to know more..." but it appears I touched a nerve.

Personally, I've grown quite tired of arguing over Iraq, the clash of civilization, etc. I don't anyone honestly has any idea what the ramifications will be 10 years out, and given that very smart and informed people still disagree about Vietnam and the Cold War , I doubt there will be much consensus any time soon.

Homage to Catalonia is available on-line.

In a two party system, both sides need true believers and pragmatists. And both sides need to have each faction dominate. The true believers/extremists/purists are necessary to define the goals of the party. The pragmatists/centerists/compromisers are needed to define the methods. Without one or the other a party becomes either a church or a whorehouse. Since our parties are so large, they cover a lot of ideological ground. There can be vast disagreements even in the true believer area.
If the Democratic Party ( or the Republican Party for that matter ) drives out enough of either faction, it is doomed. Force out the center and it becomes Green Party lite. Get rid of the Deanists and it has no reason to exist. I have no reason to wish the Democratic Party well. If it dies, something will replace it. I'd still probably vote Republican. So long as the primary debate is on what is a liberal instead of what is best for America, the Democrats will be in decline. A purist win will not demolish the Democrats, a purist inquisition will.


Nice comment. Unfortunately, few use the term "liberal" that way any more without prefacing it as "classic". That's why the classifications in Meads "Special Providence" (Hamiltonians, Wilsonians, Jeffersonians, Jacksonians) are so handy--although imperfect and inexact they don't have a lot of the baggage that other terms carry.

Also, nobody believes in free trade they just define it differently. If you believe in import or export duties or quotas, patents, copyrights, licenses, restrictions on the movement of capital across state or national boundaries, limits on immigration, etc. for any reason however valid you don't believe in free trade, you believe in managed trade.

Finally, I used to believe that the disagreements between Democrats and Republicans were a family feud--they agreed on the fundamental principles and ends they just disagreed on means. I've really come to doubt that. The disagreement appears to be increasingly on fundamental issues and, frankly, I don't think much of what either party seems to stand for.

There is no consensus about the Cold War? Heck, even Les Moonves gave Reagan credit for that. And what about Gulf War 1 or Kosovo? Massive opposition (especially to the gulf war) at the time, does anybody serious look back on those as mistakes at this point? No we cant read the future, but it is almost impossible to imagine Iraq becoming more vile than it was under Hussein. Even the chaos of a Lebanon didnt begin to approach the atrocities of Sadams regime.

Hmmm. Let's see. Jarvis bashes liberals, liberalism, and Democrats several times a day, while you have to go back four months or so to find any kind of criticism of Bush. Most recently, he calls liberals "cheap" because the less-expensive tickets at an event sold out first. (Doesn't that sound like a right-wing comment to you?)

Note, please, that Jarvis's critcism of the Democratic candidates is not simply for their national security or even foreign policy views. He doesn't like Dean on business regulation, public health or his religious beliefs. Curiously, despite being all undecided and independent, he doesn't criticize George Bush for those things. Hmmmm. Why is that?

On the other hand, he loves Joe Lieberman. Tell me, is Joe Lieberman a "liberal"? Am I being exclusionary by calling him a conservative - or at least a centrist - Democrat? Or am I just calling things by their real names?

If Lieberman can be called a conservative Democrat, why can't Jarvis be called that, too?

By the way, is Dean himself a "liberal" or a "centrist"? Oh wait, am I being exclusionary by asking that question, too?

Jarvis says that throwing him out of the liberal club is tantamount to racism, sexism and homophobia. What victim group do I get to belong to for him labeling people against the Iraq war "the Coalition of the Pissy"?

I once suggested in Oliver's comment section that he change his tag line to "Like Stickum to Stupid" because of his blind loyalty to the Democrats.

I got banned.

I have read these postings and I find myself being totaly in agreement with the previous poster (Ryan). I thought that the whole idea of the democratic party/liberalism was to be a big umbrella that would include all types of people who gathered together for the common good. From reading these comments as well as the ones on a couple of other blogs, it seems to me that the conservatives come a hell of a lot closer to the classic liberalism that the liberals who are trying to out Messrs Totten, Jarvis, et al. I call myself a conservative but in a lot of the social issues I am fairly liberal. I am in foreign policy a hawk. When I see the disagreements we are having with France, Germany, et al, I tend to think that if we follow the money we will find why the French and Germans and others disagree with us (check the French and German balance sheets with Iraq and you will find true illumination). I find the French policy to the Islamic and Jewish head gear and the Christian cross extremely distasteful. I find the European anti-semitism extremely distasteful and reminiscent of the 30's. I find the fact that the EU constitution is not going into affect in large part because the French and Germans seem to think, much like the "liberals" here, that the only means to true consolidation into a EU is if the French and Germans tell the others how to behave and how to think. It reminds me very much of the old printing on the maps "There be dragons there."

If the liberals ever hope to come back into power in this country, they are going to have to reclaim their umbrella or they can just sit there and bitch and complain about how misunderstood they are. Believe me anyone who has taken a political science course at a major college can tell you that they are not misunderstood at all. They are just being rejected by the people who, apparently in their view, are not intelligent enough to appreciate their point of view. Folks, when are you going to realize that in the view of the majority of the country your emperor has no clothes. The majority wants reasonable welfare and jobs and taxes they can afford and no socialism. You are out there giving your speeches as to what you want and it sounds very much to the voters as if you are preaching socialism and anyone who has seen the current and recent attempts at socialism, all of which have ended up as dictatorships, wants nothing to do with that policy. You need to get the true message of liberalism out there and it does not mean that you have to have cells that are filled with true believers. You have to realize that the majority of the people in this country are good and do want freedom for all and equality for all but they are not going to agree with all your leftist beliefs. They will support you if you can make a case for those views that are important to them and a case also that you can include people who do not march in lockstep with you. Right now and judging from what I have read in your comments, there is not a snowball's chance in hell of that happening soon.

I am wondering about this "you're not left enough to be 'liberal.'" Is there a second line drawn, saying someone is TOO left to be a "liberal?"

I'm rather on the starboard side, Myself, so there may be a parallax problem, but I consider "liberal" to end somewhere before Michael Harrington or Ralph Nader. I'm sure many here think differently, but is it really right that Angela Davis is called "liberal?"

Here is a useful reminder of what Democrats potentially face this year with Dean as the nominee.

This is via Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail.

"Democrats were wrong about the biggest moral issue of this generation. Voters will not trust them with the White House for a long, long time."


"Republicans will add five to 10 senators this time.

Five Southern Democrats are leaving the Senate. This time, Republicans have to defend only 14 seats. Democrats defend 19.

As to issues -- remember them? -- Republicans resonate with the crowd. Democrats do not."

Jarvis bashes liberals, liberalism, and Democrats several times a day, while you have to go back four months or so to find any kind of criticism of Bush.

I spend a couple of thousand times as much effort criticizing the policies of American government officials and politicians as I do criticizing the policies of Mexician officials.

Does that mean I'm Mexican? Does it mean I'd rather live in Mexico? It's only ten miles away; I could be there within the hour.

No. It means that I care a lot more about stupid American activities, because I AM AN AMERICAN. Jeff is a liberal. He's just an intelligent, thoughtful liberal who asks questions and points out contradictions; naturally folks like Willis dislike him.

Some people think the best way to build a political coalition is to demand strict adherence to party policy and ostracize those people who stray. Well, I've got news for you guys: you're only about a third of the American population. Every year you insist on absolute goose-stepping loyalty is a year you'll spend out of political power.

I spend a couple of thousand times as much effort criticizing the policies of American government officials and politicians as I do criticizing the policies of Mexician officials.

No, but at least no one would call it purging if I asked you whether you, in fact, were American or Mexican.

Anyway, Jarvis's criticism is not of the constructive variety. He's bashed Dean and liberals not just on foreign policy, but on a range of issues. As far as I can tell by scanning months' worth of posts, he's got nothing good to say about liberals or liberalism and nothing bad to say about Bush. It is perfectly acceptable for Jarvis to be a centrist or conservative Democrat - there are lots of them. Why he needs to adopt this mantle of liberalism I cannot fathom.

at least no one would call it purging if I asked you whether you, in fact, were American or Mexican.

Ah, but you're not asking if Jeff's a liberal. You're telling him he's not. The parallel would be telling me "if you're going to criticize the American government, you're un-American and should move someplace else."

Jarvis's criticism is not of the constructive var. He's bashed Dean and liberals not just on foreign policy, but on a range of issues.

Sounds like a perfect description of John Kerry and Wesley Clark. Are they Republicans too?

Many, many people confuse a 'movement' with a party.

Republicans used to struggle with this a lot, but seem to have arrived more-or-less at being a /party/ that derives inspiration from one or more movements.

The Democrat party OTOH have become almost totally dominated by 'movement' people, especially at the national level.

If the Dems cannot appropritely marginalise their 'movement' people they are likely to be stranded on the beach for a long, long time.

Funny...if you asked the "man on the street" his definition of "liberal" he would respond "someone who is tolerent."

I don't see much tolerence from the Jarvis/Totten-bashers around here.

"Why he needs to adopt this mantle of liberalism I cannot fathom."

Why it means so much to you, the rest of us cannot fathom.


If you're so upset about MoveOn's Bush-Hitler ad, why are you not concerned about the amazing amount of conservative/right-wing/GoP hate speech frequently bandied around. Example: Ralph Peters' asociation of Dean with both communism and facism in the same editorial in yesterday's NY Post.

Seem sto me that there is much to much invective on all sides being tossed around. Like a bunch a little schoolkid gangs, taunting each other from opposite sides of the same playground. Amazing when one considers that the playground fence is open in many places, and plenty of vile creatures lurk just beyond the fence waiting to strike...

One thing is for sure. The boomer civil war is heating up to a crescendo and 2004 looks to be a violent election before it is over. I wonder who will win?

The disintegration we are now seeing into disarray and electoral debacle on the left is the other shoe dropping following the collapse of communism.

After 1989, the left rolled on and tried to pretend as though nothing of note had happened, as though the dream of collectivism had not suddenly been discredited around the world. The left had become a hollowed-out hulk; still moving along but as fragile as a house of cards. All it took was one challenge, as it happened from the Islamists on 9/11, and this whole structure is coming crashing down.

The dream of a utopian 'third way' (better described in my opinion an as the ever-present daydream of an 'easy way') will be back, it always comes back.

It is becoming very clear though that it's going to take a long time to put together a plausible set of inanities they can all agree on. That for the foreseeable future is the left's real problem. It has little to do with Republicans, evangelicals or the right. It's that the only things the left can agree on are so loopy that ranting to gain attention just makes them look ridiculous.

I say leave them to it. They will be back to threaten chaos and economic disruption eventually, but not it seems any time soon. And the current bunch will in any case be in wheelchairs, or worse, by then.

I've thought a bit about this issue, and here are two things I've written before, one rational and matter of fact, one kind of hysterical:

"For those of us who are passionate about our politics, there are three are broad categories of what we spend our emotional and mental energy on:
1) what kind of policies we support or oppose
2) the people in politics we think of as "the Goodies", people we think of as "The Baddies", and people we are emotionally indifferent to, though we may agree or disagree with them in intellectual terms.
3) the kind of political rhetoric and worldview that we use and admire, the kind of rhetoric and worldview we passionately disapprove of and even hate, and that we are indifferent to, though again, we may approve or disapprove in intellectual terms."

". . .There is something pathetic about the way people who usually wouldn't give Delong's substantive arguments the time of the day are singing hosannas of praise when he posts a diss of HRC. It confirms my suspicion tha the only thing that counts for these people is whether you're willing to say nasty things about the Clintons and Gore. If you say bad things about the Clintons and Gore, then you join the Instachildrens' select group of "LIBERALS I CAN AT LEAST RESPECT". If you make absolutely sure to say nothing in praise of Clinton or Gore, then you make their list of "LIBERALS I CAN AT LEAST TOLERATE". If you make a habit of praising Clinton or Gore (not just praising their policies. praising the actual people) then you become part of "THE DELUSIONAL, EXTREME LEFT WHOSE DELUSIONAL BELIEFS ARE JUST SO . . .DELUSIONAL. BOY, THEY SO CRAZY. AND THEY HATE AMERICA. AND THEY LOVE SADDAM". I don't think the acceptance of these people has anything to do ideology. It has to do with the willingness to say nasty things about Clinton-Gore, and at all costs to refrain from defending Clinton-Gore with any passion or intensity."

AL, I think "Don't blog in anger" is a good motto. And I would suggest matter of factly that if you and O-dub don't disagree much on policies (except the Iraq war), then you probably disagree on who the Goodies and Baddies in American politics are, and what kind of political rhetoric and worldview you like.

BTW, your description of Move-On "quietly pulling their Hitler ad" could not be more unfair. They ran an ad contest, and screened the ads for legal issues but not for content. Out of 1500 entries, which their members were supposed to vote on, two ads had the objectionable Nazi content, and they were very unpopular in the voting. For Ed Gillespie to prance around pretending that Move-On as an organization was promoting a Bush-as-Hitler theme is shameless and contemptible, and shame on you for falling for it, and slandering people who don't deserve it.

Funnily enough, I basically agree with Jeff Jarvis's criticism of the contest, though I think some of the ads are terrific:

Here is the best:

Child's pay

And here are the link to the finalists which Move-on members actually voted for. Some of them are dippy, some of them are disturbing (footage of fallen soldiers should never be used in a political ad IMO), some are very good, but none of them equates Bush with Hitler. And anyone who knows better and says otherwise is a damned liar.

If you say bad things about the Clintons and Gore, then you join the Instachildrens' select group of "LIBERALS I CAN AT LEAST RESPECT".

I propose a version of Godwin's law for blogs:

As a blog discussion grows longer, the probability of an Instapundit mention approaches one.



yes, the right-wing is full of damned liars. see the lie above. Move-on has never supported the meme that Bush is HIlter and neither has its funders... finalist. this is obviously a neocon fake. the damned liars.

RE: but it is almost impossible to imagine Iraq becoming more vile than it was under Hussein

here's the scenario I foresee for Iraq that is both more "vile" for those living in the colonial borders of "Iraq" and likely if Bush Admin stays on its present course.

US government not willing to cede absolute leadership position sufficiently to allow more int'l participation by individual countries or NATO or UN. Domestic US population not supportive of increasing military presence enough to end insurgency completely (hundreds of deaths and $100mm+ per year for years). US government decides heavy commitment too much to bear and withdraws its troops, leaving weak "Iraqi" governing infrastructure. Wahhabi Sunnis, fundamentalist Shi'ites and Kurdish separatists fill the vacuum. Killing ensues. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia/Arab League/Pak fundamentalists chip in material aid. Killing multiplies. UN moved to act, but finds no unanimity in Security Council. Killing continues. Many hundreds of thousands of deaths later, Kurdistan succedes and is invaded by Turkey.

The future cannot be predicted. Unfortunately, the United States was led into a war by a President that predicted ending WMD disbursement threat, securing said WMD, being welcomed as liberators, efficiently installing Iraqi government of Western-friendly individuals thru modestly defined democratic means, and Iraqi oil to pay for it.

Who in their right mind wanted Hussein to stay in power? George H.W. Bush for one argued he should stay in power in 1991 after considering the alternatives. No leftie he. So how would 41 answer the inevitable question that Dean will be asked if he is the nominee: if we took your position, Hussein would still be in power.

I see the goal as 'moral' but the means ought to be the issue.

Much of the hatred of Bush is the hatred of someone who feels he was lied to. Much of the love of Bush is the love of someone who believes he won't be lied to.

That's why in polls "Bush vs. unnamed Democrat" the numbers are essentially equal. I think other Dems have a better chance against W as it stands today, but Dean has time to broaden his appeal over the course of the year. His cult won't abandon him, neither will Bush's cult tho.

As for the more-liberal-than-thou inquisition, there is nothing new in it other than the medium people use to hold the hearings.

Modern American Liberals are as they do: they vote Democrat because of their domestic agenda.

"Move-on has never supported the meme that Bush is HIlter and neither has its funders..."

You evidently read those George Soros quotes a lot differently than I do.

"Much of the hatred of Bush is the hatred of someone who feels he was lied to."

In reality the loathing predates even 911.

Indeed it does. Much of the Bush loathing dates back to the contested election. Many Democrats, Liberals and lefties (I know, labels) believe the election was stolen from Gore despite all of the recounts and evidence to the contrary. Yet these same people were willing to accept Bush as the President, albeit an illegitimate one, because they assumed that the contested election left him in such a weakened state that he would be forced to govern from a position of conciliation.

Imagine their shock when he audaciously decided to govern as if he’d won a landslide victory! The first tax cut, the one that everyone said would never get passed, was passed almost intact. The education bill that everyone said wouldn’t fly; it got off the ground with Senator Kennedy’s help and a whole lot of apparent compromise (I say apparent because while Bush appeared to be compromising to get the bill, it’s obvious now that it was just an illusion). Yes, every time his critics thought they’d outsmarted, out flanked, out thought or out politicked the man they lovingly call Shrub, he always wound up on top.

I fully understand and appreciate the many reasons that so many on the left now seem to suffer from BDS. After all, when you go through life perceiving yourself as a member of the elite - highly educated, smarter than the rest, more in-tune with socio-political issues than the average mid-westerner – it must come as quite a shock trying to reconcile your world-view with the reality of the “Chimp-in-Chief” beating y’all like rented mules at every turn.

"'Move-on has never supported the meme that Bush is HIlter and neither has its funders...'

You evidently read those George Soros quotes a lot differently than I do."

You evidently can't discern sarcasm.

I think Mr Modean has captured (inadvertantly?) why outsiders Dean and Clark are doing so well: only they seem to understand that the lack of discipline in the Washington Democrats has indeed allowed them to be outsmarted by Bush every time. From the stopped recounts on! (Why conservative Democrats think Joe Lieberman will do better this time than 2000 is beyond me; perhaps they view the Democratic primary contest as competition for the privilege of losing honorably in the general election.)

D & C -

I didn't bash anything except what I took as moveon's kinda tacky silence in allowing the ad to stay up through the contest, and then, when slapped about it, withdrawing it with no comment or explanation (that I could readily find on the site). I kind of like the idea of the 'people's ads,' and while I'm PO'ed at moveon about some historic issues, thought the campaign was a good and interesting idea. Note that I'd be equally interested in a GOP version, as I'm primarily interested now in the changes in the mechanisms of politics as preface to changes in the content.


roublen -

Sorry, gotta disagree that my "...description of Move-On "quietly pulling their Hitler ad" could not be more unfair. They ran an ad contest, and screened the ads for legal issues but not for content. Out of 1500 entries, which their members were supposed to vote on, two ads had the objectionable Nazi content, and they were very unpopular in the voting."

C'mon, roublen - how long would ads with antiwoman metaphors or ethnic slurs have stayed up? Would the sponsors have vetted them for 'legal issues' but not content?


Perhaps next time MoveOn should use the BBS mechanisms where very low-rated submissions stop appearing (like kos's anti-troll ratings). The Hitler ad I saw had low marks, which my own ratings did nothing to improve.


Your party has gotten too small. It has played exclusionary games so long that now it is vulnerable to a take over by an angry primary voting minority in a factured field.

As long as the politics of hate dominates your party. You are going too lose and deserve too lose big.

This is what Mark S. Mellman, president of The Mellman Group and a campaign consultant who has worked for Democratic candidates and causes since 1982 says about the electoral reality of a Dean candidacy.

Perhaps the pre-eminent symbol of Dean’s severe general-election problem is his standing in New Hampshire. Nowhere, outside of Vermont, is he better-known. Nowhere else has Dean spent as much money, time and energy courting voters. He has catapulted himself into a significant lead in the Democratic primary.

But recent polling makes it clear that despite all the ads, despite all the time he has spent and the press coverage he has generated, Dean is in desperate straits in a New Hampshire general election where he trails Bush by an astounding 27 points (57 percent Bush, 30 percent Dean). And this is a state Bill Clinton won and a state Al Gore lost by only 7,211 votes. But Dean has alienated all those who do not identify as Democrats. Less than 1 percent of Republicans would vote for Dean, while 14 percent of Democrats support Bush. Most troubling is the fact that Dean garners only 11 percent among swing independents (undeclared) while Bush gets 63 percent of this vote. Moreover, this poll predates the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The most important thing thing in professional electoral politics isn't to win. It's to avoid losing through mistakes, AKA damage control. The biggest mistake to avoid is don't nominate a candidate for office the other side's electoral base would crawl across broken glass to vote against. So what does only one percent of Republicans in New Hampshire voting for Dean mean?

Mellman points out, that this Dean problem is pretty much nationally universal:

Dean’s serious troubles are evident in a variety of other states as well. Florida is central, but Dean loses by 23 points. Arizona is a state we hope to bring into the Democratic column in ‘04, but Dean lags 15 points behind Bush. Democrats always hope for Ohio, but Bush has a 19-point advantage over Dean.

Dean says he hopes to make gains in the South, but his clumsy handling of the Confederate flag issue has only made that goal more elusive. He is 21 points behind Bush in Virginia and 22 points behind in North Carolina.

Dean’s desperate general election straits also are clearly evident in national polls. A Washington Post poll at the end of December showed a generic Democrat trailing Bush by just 9 points (50 percent to 41 percent) while Dean trails Bush by 18 points (55 percent to 37 percent). Among independents, a generic Democrat trails Bush by 12 points (50 percent to 38 percent) while Dean loses to Bush by 21 points (56 percent to 35 percent).

The recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows Bush having opened up a 23-point lead over Dean, while NBC/Wall Street Journal pegs Dean’s deficit at 21 points. CBS found Bush 20 points ahead.

A.L., the long term solution for your party, assuming Dean does not taint the party brand name with treason in time of war, is to give up your party's hate. Not just of Republicans, but of anyone in your party who is different and to the right of the current dominant political faction.

You have got to regrow a national security wing of your party that will go out and kill America's enemies and be trusted to do so by non-Democrats.

Until you do, the Republicans are going to get fat and arrogant with power.

BTW, your description of Move-On "quietly pulling their Hitler ad" could not be more unfair.

They had the ads up, then deleted them after complaints, without saying anything. Careful examination of the URLs at the time shows there is a gap in the numbering for both ads. Ergo, they pulled them quietly.

They ran an ad contest, and screened the ads for legal issues but not for content.

Then they're responsible for the comtent. "We didn't screen the articles for slander" isn't a defense against slander.

Out of 1500 entries, which their members were supposed to vote on, two ads had the objectionable Nazi content, and they were very unpopular in the voting.

Then how'd they get chosen to be in the top 15?

By the way, belated thanks to everyone for explaining "POUM". I haven't read nearly as much Orwell as I probably should.

Trent and Mellman left out that none of the other Dem candidates is polling significantly better against Bush. Hey, Joe Lieberman already had a crack at Bush, and he lost. The other Democrats like to think, "Hey, we are behind Bush just as much, but because we believe such-and-so, we'll be able to make up ground better than Dean." Well, it's hard to evaluate counterfactuals, but maybe they would run a campaign against Bush just as ineffective as the one they are running against Dean.

You know, I don't think a party has to win all the time. If the Democrats' ideas are better than Bush's (run up the deficit so as to bankrupt the public fisc, etc.), we'll know soon enough. Goldwater Republicans had the courage of their convictions and were willing to bide their time. As it happens, I think the weaknesses of Bush's policies

(One should also mention that the race will be much closer after the Dems stop fighting with each other and turn on Bush. One-a-chicken, two-a-chicken,...)

I meant to write, "The weaknesses of Bush's policies will be more evident by the general election."


There is a national security wing of the Democratic Party. Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt voted for Gulf War II, but criticize Bush 43 for how he ran the prewar diplomacy and the postwar rebuilding. Daily Kos posted the following numbers from the Des Moines Register poll:

Dean: 20% (likely voters), 21% (definite voters)
Kerry: 26% (likely), 33% (definite)
Edwards: 23% (likely), 19% (definite)
Gephardt: 18% (likely), 16% (definite)

The Register's website tracked the back of the pack as well.

Kucinich polled at 3%, Clark at 2%, Braun, Lieberman and Sharpton at 1%. Five percent were undecided. In summation, among likely, decided voters:

Democrat hawks: 72%
Democrat doves: 28%

The pro-security wing IS the Democratic Party, the Dean wing is a well-organized insurgency.

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