Posts Tagged ‘Matt Stoller’

Talk Radio Liberals Watch

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I don’t want to make this the “Respond to Open Left” blog, but this post by Matt Stoller is way too ridiculous to let go. Arguing that Caroline Kennedy is “no liberal:”

This is where Kennedy really shows her colors. 

She did not provide answers about other issues that may prove more controversial. Ms. Kennedy did not say whether she supports a cap on local property taxes in New York, something that has sharply divided Democrats and Republicans in Albany. And she did not say whether she supports raising state or federal income taxes for the rich to help balance the budget and pay for government programs.In her responses, Ms. Kennedy expressed strong support for Israel and said an undivided Jerusalem must be the country’s national capital.

New York Governor Patterson just proposed a cruel and regressive budget that closes a massive budget gap without raising taxes on the wealthy, a budget Kennedy endorsed.  I get that Kennedy can’t go against Patterson, but refusing to answer a question about Federal income taxes is a pretty clear indication that her instincts are not yet honed enough for a major political seat.  And you can throw in the deeply problematic answer on Jerusalem for good measure, which I see simply as evidence that her campaign is being entirely driven by a center-right aristocratic New York consulting class.

This is why elections are useful, though to be fair, they do have those pesky voter people.

There’s not much to unpack there, but it’s just so ridiculous I almost don’t know where to start.

First of all, lets make sure we note that Stoller makes no mention whatsoever of Kennedy articulating unambiguous support for gay marriage, a position that would put her in the minority of the Senate Democratic caucus, and is a departure not just from Hillary Clinton, but from Barack Obama as well. That would seem pretty relevant in judging Caroline’s progressive credentials, but Stoller just ignores it. And that he ignored it is really the only conclusion you can come to, since it’s the position given the most prominence in the Times article he cites.

On the “merits” of his complaint, Stoller is just flat out self-contradicting. In regards to the tax question, he acknowledges that it’s problematic to go against the position of the person who is going to make the appointment, but he deems this evidence that Kennedy’s political instincts are lacking. Most people, I think, would see that such a quick recognition of the precarious nature of the question is a strong indication that she’s got very good political instincts. It’s certainly what I take away from it. On the second point, though Stoller goes on to snark about elections, he chalks up Kennedy’s support for an undivided Jerusalem to the “Democratic Consultant class,” the Snowball of the the netroots, as opposed to, say, the large Jewish population of New York. I’ll say without equivocation that I support making Jerusalem an international city outside the jurisdiction of either Israel or Palestine, but I understand that a Senator from New York is going to run into problems if they’re on the record agreeing with me on this matter. And that’s fine, because that’s democracy.

The point of the “talk radio liberal watch” is to catalogue instances in which the “netroots” demonstrates characteristics of the talk radio right-wing. Far from being designed to run them down, it’s meant to be a constructive excercise, to keep the left from cocooning themselves into total irrelevance and detachment from reality the way the right did over the past 8 years. But in this instance, it’s something more entirely, because the only way to understand this instance is through the prism of complete hackery. Stoller is far too smart not to realize he’s contradicting himself, and certainly has to realize, in the wake of the Rick Warren controversy, that he’s completely ignoring the fact that Kennedy is willing to go on record supporting same-sex marriage at a time when most Democratic politicians still are not. So it seems to me that the point of this posting is simply to cover for the people at Open Left and elsewhere who have been pushing against Kennedy for so long, which was always going to be interesting if and when Kennedy largely aligned herself with progressives on the issues. But instead of acknowledging the obvious, that Kennedy cast her lot with progressives on a major issue very few Democratic politicians are willing to stand up for Stoller bent way over backwards to use the same article to proclaim a Kennedy isn’t a liberal.

Hannity couldn’t do better.