Talk Radio Liberals Watch

At Open Left, Matt Stoller writes:

Except, you know, he [Rahm] didn’t.  On lots of single issue checklists, he’s got good scores, but he is the political and policy architect of a centrist and unpopular Congress.  In terms of key votes, Emanuel voted for the blank check bill in 2007 to give Bush money for Iraq, which was the crushing blow against antiwar forces, and then for the FISA bill to immunize telecom companies.  More than that, he co-authored a book, The Plan, with the President of the DLC.  It’s not inherently awful to believe in centrist policy ideas, though I think that’s wrong.  It is weird that these people try to have it both ways, arguing that they believe both in progressive ideas while supporting the war in Iraq, etc, out of some sense of political pragmatism.

Hildebrand has a basic notion that any Democratic politician by definition represents progressive values.  Tom Daschle, for instance, co-sponsored the war resolution that authorized the war in Iraq, which was far worse than, say, Republican Lincoln Chafee, did at the time, or Jim Baker argued.  How can you call him progressive if the word is to have any meaning at all?

As I pointed out in comments, this is exactly how movement conservatives treat dissent from other right-of-center voices. Instead of considering disagreement or political factors, they simply dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as “not a conservative.” It’s a neat little trick, but it’s not something that’s all that helpful to a political coalition that wants to expand their identification not shrink it.

But on another level, these sorts of things just don’t make sense. How exactly do you aggregate who is and is not a progressive/conservative? Do we grade people out on issues? Do we include every conceivable issue of relevance in this? Is there some orthodox conservative/progressive position? Who gets to decide what they are? Did I miss the great political Council of Nicea in which the elders of progressivism/conservatism set down the opinions which would be acceptable for members of the church ideology to hold? Must one hold every orthodoxy on every issue? If not, where’s the cut off? Do some issues count more than others? Again, who gets to decide that?

All of this is nonsense of course, and it’s probably the biggest reason why both movement conservatives and movement progressives are rarely taken all that seriously. Progressives can complain all day that you’ve got to “punch a hippy” to be taken seriously, and maybe that’s true for all I know, but the bigger reason they rarely enjoy any influence is because they simply don’t have any sense of political reality or constraint. It’s like the ball hogging kid who’s constantly jacking up 25 foot shots with 2 guys in his face and missing every time; sooner or later the other kids on the team are going to stop passing the ball to him, or the coach is going to sit his ass on the bench. You play with the hand you’re dealt, period. Sometimes you can play it well, maybe even better than you should, but the cards are still what they are. And it’s hard to bluff someone who doesn’t care how many chips they lose, and if the Republicans are anything, it’s reckless.