SocraticGadfly: 5/14/06 - 5/21/06

May 18, 2006

Specter shows true pandering colors

Anybody who still believed Arlen Specter’s self-written bullshit about being a Northeastern version of John McCain’s Straight Talk Express should be disabused of this notion once and for all after Specter ramrodded the gay-marriage ban amendment through the Senate Judiciary on a party-line vote.

The one thing that surprises me is that, in his contretemps with Feingold, Specter didn’t trot out his old “I was a Warren Commission attorney” shtick.

Let me rethink the point of this post, though.

Specter’s well into his 70s, will hold Judiciary’s chair as long as the GOP holds the Senate, and is never going to seek the GOP presidential nomination. In other words, he has little GOP capital to gain by such blatant support for the bill.

So, rather than showing his true pandering colors, it appears he’s simply showing his true colors.

May 16, 2006

Bumiller can’t even get history correct in Bush-on-immigration suckup

In her story about how W. just looves those “south of the border” people, New York Times reporter Elizabeth Bumiller says:

Mr. Bush was also living in a state that has stronger historical and cultural ties to Mexico than any other.

Uhh, wrong.

The Spanish, coming up from Mexico, settle New Mexico a full century before Texas.

Besides, as, Salon reports, Jose Canseco remembers a W. as owner of the Texas stRangers who wasn’t quite so glad-handing.

Kos tries to have it both ways

Kos, owner of The Daily Kos, of course, and formally known as Markos Moulitsas, claims to be about pragmatism above all else in his advocacy for Democrats regaining the House, the Senate and the White House. He certainly denies being about ideology as ranking as highly as pragmatism.

Yet, in his new Washington Post column , he tries to have it both ways.

Early on, we have:
Our crashing of Washington's gates wasn't about ideology, it was about pragmatism. Democrats haven't won more than 50 percent of the vote in a presidential election since 1976. Heck, we haven't won more than 50.1 percent since 1964. And complicit in that failure was the only Democrat to occupy the White House since 1980: Bill Clinton.

One would assume that “The Big Dog” (whom I, as a Green-leaner, DO fault on policy grounds, and not political strategy, is going to be lambasted for failure to carry Congress, or other lack of political pragmatism. However, that is not the case. The paragraph above is written out, only to be followed unblushingly in the nest graf by:
The Democratic Party atrophied during his two terms, partly because of his fealty to his “third way” of politics, which neglected key parts of the progressive movement and reserved its outreach efforts for corporate and moneyed interests.

Sounds pretty much like an ideology statement from where I sit.

Arguably, to some degree, the pseudo-pragmatism, if you will, of the insider, and policy or even ideology in a rawer form, are inseparable. One could argue Kos is obtuse not to recognize this. Or he’s obtuse in another way for not defining himself and his understanding of this dichotomy better. Or he’s willful, for believing he can upset the applecart that much while still claiming to be about pragmatism.

Or, he’s practicing his own definition of pragmatism by using the idea of “policy” or “ideology” while largely emptying it of content. (The degree to which he upholds someone such as Montana Gov. Schweitzer, who, while he may be more environmentalist in many ways than many Republicans, is far, far from being “green,” as his coal gasification ideas have shown, is Exhibit A in Markos’ bread ultimately being buttered on the pragmatism side. (Exhibit B is the degree to which many Kossacks foam at the mouth whenever I use the word “Green” (as in Party, not environmental stance) when posting there.

Meanwhile, Markos says, in essence, that “good Hillary” needs to be rescued from “bad Hillary.”
In person, Clinton is one of the warmest politicians I’ve ever met, but her advisers have stripped what personality she has, hiding it from the public.

Reading between the lines, Kos is apparently offering himself, as a leader of the “netroots,” as the person to do the political exorcism.

Well, if only he had analyzed Hillary better.

First, he claims that the national health care debacle made her hypercautious. Wrong. The type of national health plan she would have foisted on us was itself a product of high caution.

Second, neither she nor Bill showed any great degree of political progressivism in Arkansas, even during his storied first term as governor.

Third, implying this is the result of a machine, rather than who Hillary Clinton is, suggests that Kos can’t read polticians that well, or that…

Fourth, he’s self-delusional about Hillary, because he believes that he can rescue “good Hillary” in the name of, and for the service of, pragmatism, with enough policy window-dressing and dollops of ideology to satisfy people who actually are to his left, as well as hers.

In short, the column is interesting more for an illumination into the working of Kos’ mind than for any grand insights of political reality.