Irrational Obsessions

One bad things about obsessions, they tend you to make really stupid on the face of it statements, particularly if you’re already prone to such really dumb statements. Jamie Kirchick’s obsession with the netroots is probably among the very best of examples, as it’s currently leading him to say some really, really dumb things like, to my mind, this absolute gem from his article in Politico from yesterday:

Obama’s run to the center is hardly the first thing that’s broken the Netroots’ collective heart. From the Netroots’ inception, they have been constantly disappointed. Remember their first candidate — the man to whom they forever gave their hearts — Howard Dean? Wesley Clark, who entered the race thanks to a Netroots-driven “Draft Clark” movement, didn’t last particularly long. And since seizing Congress in 2006, the Democrats — supposedly emboldened by the power of the Netroots Nation — have repeatedly failed to subvert President Bush’s war policy.

To make this easy, let’s break it down in pieces:

Obama’s run to the center is hardly the first thing that’s broken the Netroots’ collective heart. From the Netroots’ inception, they have been constantly disappointed. Remember their first candidate — the man to whom they forever gave their hearts — Howard Dean?

You mean the current DNC Chairman? The guy who implemented such netroots favored strategies as the 50 state strategy, the red-to-blue project, and actively recruiting candidates like Jon Tester and Jim Webb who were both sufficiently progressive, but also close enough to the median voter in their area to get elected. That Howard Dean? He seems to be doing alright.

Wesley Clark, who entered the race thanks to a Netroots-driven “Draft Clark” movement, didn’t last particularly long.

Putting aside the fact that Clark’s failed candidacy had much more to do with Clark’s less than stellar campaigning ability than anything else, Kirchick has just wildly contradicted himself. Clark entered the race in September-October of 2003, when Howard Dean was very much the prohibitive front-runner. And Kirchick has just, in the immediately preceeding sentence, called Dean the man the netroots “forever gave their heart to.” So was the netroots overwhelmingly behind Dean, or did they push Wesley Clark into the race?

And since seizing Congress in 2006, the Democrats — supposedly emboldened by the power of the Netroots Nation — have repeatedly failed to subvert President Bush’s war policy.

Which says more about Bush’s bombastic lack of concern for everyone else than it does about the Democrats.

But wait, there’s more:

The only other discernable accomplishment of the Netroots was to get Dean elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Yet this supposed triumph has proven to be small beer, seeing that party bigwigs have kept him on an incredibly tight leash. His near-invisibility over the past three years is yet further evidence of the illusory “power” of the Netroots.

This is mostly because Dean spends most of his time organizing and party building, like a good chairman should. He’s the anti-McAullife, who preferred to get as much face time on TV as possible. Of course, McAullife’s efforts turned out pretty poorly at the ballot box, whereas so far Dean’s are reaping dividends.

And the “party bigwig” talk is nonsense. Dean is the DNC chairman, he is a “big wig.”

After that, Kirchick pivots to my absolute favorite part of the article.

Clinton understood the exaggerated influence of liberal bloggers when she said at a closed-door fundraiser in April, “We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party.”

Um, Jamie, I don’t know where you’ve been, but Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic primary. Indeed, your overall point in the article is one about Barrack Obama, the Democratic nominee for President. And indeed, the overwhelming bulk of Obama’s delegate margin was forged in those caucus states that Clinton thought gave a disproportionate edge to the netroots activists. That’s not an argument that the netroots is irrelevant, it’s an overwhelmingly convincing argument as to their organizational strength (this is where obsession makes one irrelevant).

Kirchick also throws in his damn near obligatory Lieberman reference, remarking on rumors of Lieberman being cut out of the caucus, but that isn’t limited to the netroots at the moment. And Kirchick doesn’t so much as mention that the reason a whole lot of Democrats are mad at Liberman right now is that he’s not only actively campaigning for John McCain, but that he has emerged as one of the most enthusiastic of McCain’s dogs in attacking Obama and the Democratic Party at large. The Democratic Party, and indeed no sane actor, would respond to such by continuing to not only bend over to keep Lieberman in their caucus, but reward him with a committee chairmanship he’s not entitled to. Indeed, Kirchick limits his half-truths to a mere:

Netroots vitriol against Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) is the most latent example of their irrationality. Lieberman, who has an impeccably liberal voting record, barring his stance on the Iraq war, is a prime target of the Netroots, which brooks no deviation from leftist orthodoxy. The latest Netroots crusade is the website Liebermanmustgo.com, which hosts a petition calling upon Democratic Senate leaders to revoke Lieberman’s chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. And at the annual convention of the Democratic Leadership Council last month, Daily Kos’ Moulitsas referred to “that a–hole Joe Lieberman” during a panel discussion.

Of course, Markos drew a large round of applause for that remark, from a DLC audience. If that doesn’t tell you how out of favor Lieberman is with the party at large, then you don’t know very much about Democratic politics.

I generally don’t like to make really personal characterizations of people I don’t know, but Kirchick’s constant reliance on such invective more than warrants giving some back at them. So as I see it, the answer is pretty clear; Kirchick is an openly gay individual who, ideologically, identifies with people (neoconservatives) openly advocating for discrimination and bigotry directed at gay people like Kirchick, or at least the shameless political exploitation of it. So it’s not all that surprising that such a person has to lash out so often.