more on Kaus

Avatar

Freddie

Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

Related Post Roulette

15 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    Freddie,

    You’ve got some computer-ese jumble in this post (font sizes and everything). Maybe check the html view, to see what needs to be deleted.

    On the issue at hand, I think it would be better to differentiate (as Michael Lind does) between neoliberals (like Kaus), progressive liberals, and New Deal Liberals.

    The progressive tendency grows out of more European contexts (e.g. Croly). I don’t think that makes it liberal fascist as Goldberg has it, but it is in some ways a transplant (whether a healthy or invasive one is up for debate).

    My sense of Kaus (whom I don’t really read mostly ‘cuz I find his Instapundit style of formatting so ADD inducing and really unclear) is that he’s a neoliberal arguing against progressives. But this other wing gets left out. Now lots of progressives would disagree with Lind’s distinction between the New Deal/Cold War Liberals and Progressive Liberals, but I think it has some validity.

    In response to Conor, the neoliberals generally (or Blue Dog Democrats) were major supporters of the Bush tax cuts. Which had a serious negative adverse consequence for the US. I don’t know whether Kaus supported them or not.Report

  2. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    now that i’ve just posted that comment, I see that you have fixed the graphics issues.Report

  3. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Hey, I’ll agree post-haste that Kaus is a real jackass which is precisely why I don’t read him that often. That said, I’ll just say again that I spend the vast majority of my time bashing conservatives even though I consider myself to be one. I don’t know if that means the conservative movement should ridicule me, but I guess I’m not sure it matters. I’m a whole lot nicer than Kaus, so maybe it’s just a matter of style as I said before…Report

  4. Avatar Conor Friedersdorf says:

    What Conor does not understand, and can’t understand, is what it is like to come of age into a movement that is filled with people telling you that you are wrong to be one of them, that there is something dirty about your beliefs, that the appropriate state of mind for your ideology is shame and the appropriate political stance, capitulation or retreat.

    Where in the post that you excerpt does Mickey Kaus say that it is wrong to be a liberal, or that anyone who is should be ashamed, or that liberals should capitulate?

    Let’s look at the Kaus quote piece by piece.

    Welfare is a liberal sore spot that, if Republicans play it right, could become a bleeding open wound for the administration. Voters probably thought they’d settled the dole-vs.-work issue back in 1996.

    Here Kaus is saying that this issue could damage a liberal administration. It’s an observation about politics that doesn’t assert anything about the objective goodness or badness of the policy at hand.

    Obama will be fulfilling the crude GOP stereotype of his party if he even waffles on reopening it.

    Here Kaus is explicitly saying that going back on 1996 reforms would be foolish, and that it would fulfill the worst stereotypes of Democrats. Implicit in this is that he doesn’t want liberals to fulfill the worst stereotypes held by the other side. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Kaus believes — and has argued at length — that welfare reform was good politically for Democrats and liberals, good for the country, and good for former welfare recipients who are now working. He still hasn’t said it’s wrong or shameful to be a liberal — only that it is wrong or shameful if liberals return to what he regards as a bankrupt position, abandoning an alternative that liberals embraced with great results.

    And there’s something fallacious (i.e. circular) about a liberal Dem citing MSM coverage as if the New York Times was an infallible oracle of the people, as opposed to an infallible oracle of liberal Dems. This is what you see when you look up “cocooning” in the dictionary! …

    Okay. So Kaus thinks that the NY Times is a liberal leaning paper, and that it’s silly for a liberal Democrat to cite it as a neutral arbiter on an issue like welfare reform — on which it has long taken the opposite position as Kaus, and been proven wrong on many specifics — is tone deaf and disingenuous.

    Again, how is this a statement that it is shameful to be a liberal, or that liberals should capitulate?

    Imagine that four years from now Bobby Jindhal is elected president, and turns to a restrictive trade policy. Imagine that I wrote the following (this is a flawed example, but not in any way that impacts my point):

    Trade is a conservative sore spot that, if Democrats play it right, could be a bleeding open wound for the Administration. Voters probably thought they’d settled the free trade issue back with NAFTA. Jindhal will be fulfilling the liberal stereotype of the right if he even waffles on reopening the debate.

    And there’s something fallacious (i.e. circular) about a conservative Republican citing cable news coverage as if Lou Dobbs was an infallible oracle of the people, as opposed to an infallible oracle of the populist right. This is what you see when you look up “cocooning” in the dictionary!

    Again, I know that example is flawed in certain ways, but imagine that the underlying political realities squared. If I wrote that, would you conclude that I was ashamed of conservatism? That I thought the correct legislative posture for the right was perpetual retreat?

    I don’t think the excerpt you’ve provided is evidence for the point you purportedly made at all.Report

  5. Avatar Freddie says:

    OK. Here is one half of one page of Mickey Kaus’s blog. Identify for me how any disinterested, unbiased observer could tell me that this is a liberal or Democratic voice.

    #
    The Welfare Issue is Alive, Alive!
    Posted Sunday, February 15, 2009 3:02 AM | By Mickey Kaus

    1) A Times of London story highlights worries about the Thermidorian welfare reform backsliding in the stimulus bill. Sample:

    Douglas Besharov, author of a big study on welfare reform, said the stimulus bill passed by Congress and the Senate in separate votes on Friday would “unravel” most of the 1996 reforms that led to a 65% reduction in welfare caseloads and prompted the British and several other governments to consider similar measures.

    2) I get an “Even … liberal blogger” cite. Hahaha. Take that, Even the Liberal New Republic.

    3) But the reference to liberalism isn’t irrelevant, because the now-undermined welfare reform was the key to rebuilding confidence in (liberal) affirmative government. As Bill Clinton recognized, voters may well have been willing to let government spend, but they didn’t trust old style liberals not to spend in actively destructive ways, like subsidizing an isolated underclass of non-working single mothers with a no-strings cash dole. It’s a 75-25 values issue. Work yes. Welfare no. Even if welfare spending was only a tiny portion of the liberals’ spending agenda, it poisoned the rest of it. Only when Clinton’s New Democrats put an ostentatious “time limit” on welfare and required work did they regain the public confidence necessary to increase other kinds of spending (on work-related poverty-fighting benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, day care and Social Security, for example.)

    A reemerging “welfare” issue is a potential killer, in other words, for Obama’s big remaining plans, especially health care. If Dems seem determined to reinstate dependency–or at the least blind to the dangers of dependency–voters aren’t going to trust them to spend trillions on universal health insurance and fortified pensions. It’s hard to believe Obama doesn’t realize this.

    4) If not, he may soon. I don’t think the debate about welfare has been settled by the stimulus’ bill’s passage. I think it has just begun. I’m not saying this in a morale-maintaining way–“this fight is not over,” “Where do we go from here,” etc.” I mean that, in fact, there has so far been no debate about welfare the way there has been a debate about pork and Keynesian spending. Before the stimulus bill passed, its welfare provisions were hardly mentioned in the NYT and WaPo. They were just bubbling up from The Atlantic’s ‘s website to a Newsday blog last Friday, as Congress was voting.

    Now that the bill has safely passed, even the liberal MSM may feel the obligation to mention them in public. Maybe even in actual print. Reporters have to cover something. More on pork? Welfare seems fresher.

    5) In any case, the rump Congressional GOP and talk radio conservatives can force their hand. Why should opponents of the welfare-expanding provisions stop harping on them? Has Obama been asked about his welfare un-reform at a press conference yet? I don’t think so. He will have more press conferences. It won’t be an easy question to answer. (Reporters could also ask his HHS secretary … Oh wait. Never mind.)

    Welfare is a liberal sore spot that, if Republicans play it right, could become a bleeding open wound for the administration. Voters probably thought they’d settled the dole-vs.-work issue back in 1996. Obama will be fulfilling the crude GOP stereotype of his party if he even waffles on reopening it.

    Remember that Newt Gingirch rode the welfare issue to power after haranguing about “the liberal welfare state” for a few election cycles. The new welfare debate, if it happens, won’t necessarily be that prolonged. The main question is whether the Administration can effectively paper over the meaning of what’s in the stimulus. If not, Congress is still in session. It seems to me there is a real chance for Republicans to get it to “revisit” that part of the bill, as they say in Washington. Obama may decide he needs to excise the most poisonous part of the stimulus to save the rest of his New New Deal.

    P.S.: No, the stimulus bill doesn’t fully unravel welfare reform–after 1996, welfare is no longer an individual “entitlement,” for one thing (a term or art that triggered a whole slew of court-enforced rights). The time limits and work requirements are still at least formally in place. States can still do what they want, in theory, within much broader limits than under the old AFDC program. Many states, with little money to spare, may still refuse to try to expand their caseloads (even if they now have an 80% federal subsidy to do it). A debate on the issue might, in fact, help ensure that states don’t go crazy and recreate the bloated and socially disastrous welfare caseloads of the three decades before 1996.

    More important, the debate would stop the Money Liberals in the Washington “antipoverty community”–e.g., Peter Edelman and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities crowd– before they can complete the rest of their agenda, which does involve unraveling welfare reform (eliminating work requirements, for example). Preserving Clinton’s biggest domestic achievement isn’t something you should want “even” if you’re a liberal who believes in affirmative government. It’s something you should want especially if you’re a liberal who believes in affirmative government.
    Filed under: welfare reform, STIMULUS
    #
    Not Faster Enough
    Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 3:23 PM | By Mickey Kaus

    MSM (in the form of Newsday) only now just waking up to the welfare-expanding, work-relaxing clauses hidden in the stimulus bill. … It’s not like it’s the day of the vote. … Newsday was tipped off by Ambinder’s page, apparently. … A couple more weeks of debate and, who knows, maybe the story would filter up to the New York Times (though it would still have to get past the paper’s “meddling” editors.**). … [Thanks to reader S.]

    **– “Every hour, a new set of instructions on what the story should say came from New York, believe it or not.”–Dean Baquet. … 3:33 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: welfare reform, MSM DINOSAURS, STIMULUS
    #
    Got Juice?
    Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 10:21 AM | By Mickey Kaus

    Marc Ambinder is now onto the stimulus’ “get-more-people-on-welfare” provisions, even if nobody else is. He offers a summary of the issue and then a Dem response (even though his summary included Dem responses). A few points.

    1) Ambinder writes

    a number of conservatives and even liberals have written to me wondering why the GOP isn’t making more of a fuss about this. The answers are fairly simple: they want to avoid being seen as poor-people bashers, they know that Americans still associate welfare with minorities, and there are different sensitivities they must consider when making political claims about the priorities of the first black president. [E.A.]

    If Republicans are unwilling to defend work over welfare because we have a black president(!), they might as well all retire en masse now. Hard to believe even GOP consultants are dumb enough to give this advice.

    2) See, the MSM doesn’t care! Ambinder’s anonymous Dem responder argues

    A pretty clear lesson of the four-year long welfare reauthorization debate was that there wasn’t much political juice left in the issue — didn’t exactly see it on page one much, did you? [E.A.]

    Hmm. Maybe that’s because the reauthorization debate didn’t threaten to roll back reform, and the caseloads were down. Now a) the Dems are starting to roll back reform, in order to encourage states to b) get caseloads back up. … And there’s something fallacious (i.e. circular) about a liberal Dem citing MSM coverage as if the New York Times was an infallible oracle of the people, as opposed to an infallible oracle of liberal Dems. This is what you see when you look up “cocooning” in the dictionary! …

    3) Ambinder’s anonymous Democrat says his party has always been suspicious of the “caseload reduction credit,” fearing that states will just push people off the rolls in order to get the credit (whether or not those recipients find jobs).

    Why exactly should a state get credit towards the work participation standards just because they have fewer people on the caseload? The evidence is pretty clear that it’s not like 100% of people who leave welfare get jobs

    A fair point–except that in this case it’s the Dems who are preserving the caseload reduction credit. They don’t want states to have to meet the “work participation standards” (i.e. make recipients work or train) so they’ve written the bill to let them to wriggle out of them using the “reduction” credit even when, as Dems intend, their caseloads start expanding. … P.S.: As with “card check,” Ambinder is a bit off on the details, in a spun-by-Dem-sources direction. He writes, confusingly,

    States get “casework reduction credits” for the number of people they move off of the rolls; these credits help states meet a mandated 50% threshold for their TANF recipients to perform some type of work-related activity. The idea here — if I’m reading the bill correctly — is that the caseload reduction credit would effectively be “updated” to account for economic emergencies. State would get more welfare funds without letting their threshold dip below 50%.

    But the effect of the Dem stimulus’ “caseload reduction” finagling is precisely to let the mandated “work participation” standards dip below 50% of the caseload. Example: Suppose a state’s caseload was 100 in 2005. Then it dropped to 85 in 2007 and 80 in 2008 before rising to 90 in 2009 and (thanks to the stimulus’ new federal incentives for caseload expansion) 110 in 2010. The stimulus bill lets states pretend that the caseload has stayed at 80, giving them a “reduction credit” of 20% from the 2005 baseline. This credit is deducted, point by point, from the 50% “work participation” requirement–meaning that our hypothetical state would only have to get 30% of its recipients into work or training activities. For the other 70%, it’s “come on down and get your cash–and stick around since the feds are now paying most of the bill.”

    4) Ambinder says

    Democrats respond, forcefully, that in ordinary recessions, unemployment benefits might tide families over, but during a mini-depression, there are no jobs to push welfare recipients into.

    That’s true, in at least some cases–though DeParle reports that some state administrators say there are still jobs of the type welfare recipients typically take. But lack of jobs isn’t a reason to loosen work requirements. It’s a reason for the government to provide the jobs. Have the Dems never heard of “workfare”? Give recipients useful community service work, and if they do the work then they get the cash. Simple. They can hold their heads up.

    Of course, Dems have heard of workfare–and they know that AFSCME hates workfare (fearing ex-recipients will do their jobs for less). But AFSCME is pushing on an open door. Money Liberals don’t really need to be pressured into relaxing work requirements. They’ve never liked work requirements, including “workfare,” and are always looking for an excuse to say “It’s OK to come back on the dole.”

    And the “mini-depression” is certainly no reason recipients can’t be required to train (or if necessary go to school and get their GEDs).

    P.P.S.: Stimulus welfare provisions a potential issue in the fight over Gillibrand’s seat? We’ll see about that juice. .. 12:58 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: welfare reform, STIMULUS
    #
    It’s on
    Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 9:36 AM | By Mickey Kaus

    Video #2: Senator Harry Reid, you’re facing a tough reelection fight. This vid’s for you! … 9:45 A.M.

    ___________________________
    #
    Don’t look now
    Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 1:30 AM | By Mickey Kaus

    Democrats down to the bare-minimum 60 votes on the stimulus in the Senate? … P.S.: Do House Dems really think that drawing the process out, by letting the Senate GOPs filibuster, will win it for them? From The Hill:

    “Make them filibuster” has been a rallying cry of rank-and-file Democrats all week, who say the strategy would portray Republicans as obstructionists and ultimately lead to legislation that better reflects the interests of the party.

    Hmm. Filibustering Republicans would have a lot to talk about! My guess is the longer the bill stays un-passed, the more sordid details will come out and the greater the chance that it will be pecked to death. House Dems are deluded cocooning. … 1:45 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: STIMULUS
    #
    Nastier, Please!
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 8:22 PM | By Mickey Kaus

    That was fast: 1) First video attacking the welfare-expanding provisions hidden in the stimulus package, from 24th State. Pointed and danceable! But not an attack ad directed at a specific, vulnerable Dem who voted for the bill. That’s what we want. In my neck of the woods a vulnerable incumbent might be Jane Harman, for example. But you could pick any of Rahm’s 2006 red-state recruits. Or a purplish Dem Senator (Bayh, Dorgan, Lincoln). Do they want to defend against the charge that they voted to undermine Clinton’s biggest domestic achievement?

    2) Senator Richard Burr, Republican from North Carolina, has cited the welfare provisions when justifying his opposition to the stimulus bill in the local press:

    He said he did not like some provisions, such as an extension of the Davis-Bacon act and what he calls a rollback of the 1990s welfare reform, in the bill.

    The Davis-Bacon Act requires people getting federal contracts to pay a prevailing wage, which Burr said is usually interpreted as the highest wages in an area. He said the bill also hampers efforts to get people off the welfare rolls.

    3) Quin Hillyer of American Spectator thinks the welfare issue is the last hope for sinking the whole package (his goal, not mine). He wants “hundreds of thousands of citizens” to flood Congressional offices with questions on the subject. Better call fast! …

    4) Congressional Democrats, in their handouts, routinely bury the welfare news (if it’s mentioned at all) under more popular talk of unemployment insurance and “Making Work Pay” tax cuts. The one internal Dem flyer I’ve seen refers only cryptically, at the very bottom of the page, to “keeping … Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [the basic welfare program] from being overloaded.” No mention of expanding it even where it’s not necessarily “overloaded” and relaxing work and training requirements. It’s entirely possible many Congressional Democrats don’t know how bad the bill’s welfare provisions are. ..

    5) Meanwhile, the silence in the NYT’s news pages and in WaPo (and on the evening news) has been kind of deafening, no? Even Jason DeParle, in a piece specifically about welfare (“The ‘W’ Word”) managed to not even mention the stimulus bill’s actual welfare-expansion provision. If I were paranoid I’d say it’s almost as if the MSM was in on the conspiracy! … 9:09 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: welfare reform
    #
    Time to Unleash You Tube Again?
    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 11:07 AM | By Mickey Kaus

    National Review says there’s “not much” Republicans can do about provisions in the stimulus intended to expand welfare caseloads and undermine the work requirements of the landmark 1996 welfare reform law. That may be true. But there is something National Review’s readers–and others who’d like to defend welfare reform–can do.

    During the immigration debate of 2007, an emailer suggested that one way readers might influence Congress would be to “go ahead and mash up some negative ads” on the issue and post them on You Tube. Readers responded, and some of the ads were quite good. I think they had an impact–not by swaying public opinion, but by striking fear into heart of legislators by demonstrating what they might face in their reelection campaigns if they voted for the Bush-McCain semi-amnesty bill. The bill died.

    It wouldn’t be hard to do the same thing with the anti-welfare-reform provisions in the stimulus bill. Again, the idea would not be to influence the public. The idea would be to directly terrify Democratic legislators worried about their reelections by giving them a taste of how their vote might play. (It helps that many politicians are generally terrified of You Tube and other new information technologies they can’t control.) Obama aide Rahm Emanuel, for one, is known to be sensitive to the political potency of “wedge” issues like welfare and immigration.

    As with immigration, the basic text of the ads practically writes itself: “In 1996, Congress passed the landmark. .. . Caseloads fell by 70 percent. … Now Congressman X wants to undo that success …” etc. But I don’t have the skill or creativity to do the job of putting one of these ads together, let alone to do the job well. Some of you do.

    It’s probably too late. The House is scheduled to vote on the stimulus package … er, tomorrow.** But things move fast these days! And even if the bill passes, if there is enough of a stink embarrassed (or terrified) legislators might change it. Anyway, it seems worth a shot.

    If you build them, I will link.

    **–I’m assuming the welfare provisions are still in the bill. [Update: They are, I’m told. $5 billion to expand welfare.] They were in both the House and Senate versions. … My goal isn’t to use the welfare issue to sink the stimulus, if that were even possible. It is to get the welfare provisions removed or reversed. Your goals may vary.

    More: Why would Republicans make an issue of marsh mice when they have welfare, a proven hot button (for good reason)? Hello?. … They could even be bipartisan about it, noting that it’s Clinton’s achievement that’s being undermined. … P.S.: Maybe it’s no accident– the GOPs secretly want the welfare provision to pass and hope the resulting caseload boom will be a good issue to run on in 2010. They’re saving their best shot for later. But that would be unpatriotic! It would also demonstrate an uncharacteristic amount of long-term thinking. … 11:34 A.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: welfare reform, STIMULUS
    #
    Will Krugman Thank the Centrists?
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 10:11 PM | By Mickey Kaus

    Steven Pearlstein argues that the ideal stimulus spending “is that which creates jobs and economic activity now, has big payoffs later and disappears from future budgets.” The last criterion doesn’t get much attention in many pro-stimulus arguments (including Pearlstein’s), but it’s important if you care about deficits. It’s also important if you think the claim of government on the national GDP is limited, and you want there to be room for universal health insurance down the road. And, Paul Krugman even claims (for somewhat tricky technical reasons), it’s important if you care about maximum stimulus, because “temporary government spending has a bigger effect”–i.e. it’s better at creating new demand than spending that won’t disappear from future budgets.

    So if the big dispute in the stimulus conference committee was over school construction spending, where

    House Democrats are pushing to have school-repair funding listed as a recurring expense; Senate Republicans want such an allocation to be a one-time-only deal.

    And if as a result of the moderate GOP Senate crossovers like Susan Collins holding firm, the school construction spending will be a one-time only deal …

    Then haven’t the much-criticized Senate centrists, at least on this one issue, helped produce a better stimulus bill–not just a lower-deficit stimulus bill, or a stimulus bill that leaves a bit of room for health care, but, according to Krugman, a more stimulating stimulus bill? … Am I missing something? … 11:06 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: STIMULUS
    #
    Special Fratricidal Edition
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 6:24 PM | By Mickey Kaus

    I apologize for the dropped posts (now back). Slate’s new blogging system is cr … undergoing continuous improvement! Lucky I’m not the type to let that sort of thing drive me crazy … If anyone notices any other missing posts, please let me know. … Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan’s bellicose and bullying “New Orwell” era archives magically reappear at the very moment they come in handy for him. Funny how that happens! … 6:46 P.M.

    ___________________________

    You mean “dollar cost averaging” is a bad idea? Experts (not just Suze Orman) have been telling me to do that for decades. Still seems smarter than trying to time the market. … [via Gawker] 6:35 P.M.

    ___________________________
    Filed under: EXCITABLE!
    #
    Turning Over the Rock
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:31 PM | By Mickey Kaus

    Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley note that the anti-welfare-reform provisions in the stimulus bill aren’t as bad as I’d feared. They’re worse. They attempt replicate the fiscal mechanics of the old welfare (AFDC) “entitlement,” but with a bigger incentive to welfare expansion:

    For the first time since 1996, the federal government would begin paying states bonuses to increase their welfare caseloads. Indeed, the new welfare system created by the stimulus bills is actually worse than the old AFDC program because it rewards the states more heavily to increase their caseloads. Under the stimulus bills, the federal government will pay 80 percent of cost for each new family that a state enrolls in welfare; this matching rate is far higher than it was under AFDC.

    12:58 P.M.

    ___________________________Report

  6. Avatar Freddie says:

    I do not know a single liberal who considers Kaus to be on our side, Conor, not one. I know many, many conservatives who will concede he is full of it. Draw from that conclusion what you will.

    I still have heard no one even offer an attempt at answering the question of how his repeated “they called me a liberal! Me!” jokes– like that in point 2 of the first item above– can make any sense whatsoever, unless the point is that he thinks it’s ridiculous for him to be called a liberal.Report

  7. Avatar Freddie says:

    This is demonstrably false, and the demonstration is an easy one: immigration reform! Did Mickey Kaus depart from the pundit consensus and ding Bush and McCain to annoy and degrade liberals? Obviously not. So I guess that isn’t “always always always” his motivation.

    Most liberals support comprehensive immigration reform!Report

  8. Avatar Conor Friedersdorf says:

    Okay, to cite the first example I came to:

    the reference to liberalism isn’t irrelevant, because the now-undermined welfare reform was the key to rebuilding confidence in (liberal) affirmative government. As Bill Clinton recognized, voters may well have been willing to let government spend, but they didn’t trust old style liberals not to spend in actively destructive ways, like subsidizing an isolated underclass of non-working single mothers with a no-strings cash dole. It’s a 75-25 values issue. Work yes. Welfare no. Even if welfare spending was only a tiny portion of the liberals’ spending agenda, it poisoned the rest of it. Only when Clinton’s New Democrats put an ostentatious “time limit” on welfare and required work did they regain the public confidence necessary to increase other kinds of spending (on work-related poverty-fighting benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, day care and Social Security, for example.)

    If Mickey Kaus isn’t a liberal, why does he care about a foolish liberal stance on welfare poisoning the ability of the federal government to increase other kinds of social spending? Why would he care about rebuilding confidence in liberal affirmative government?

    That is the core of the issue. Mickey Kaus believes in liberal affirmative government. Are conservatives hoping that Democrats earn and maintain the trust and political capital to expand the federal entitlement state to include child care and health care?

    Almost everything you excerpt is about this one issue. One additional note: scroll down through Kaus’ post and you’ll see that he thinks the Welfare provisions in the bill will be a huge electoral liability for Democrats — that the ads will write themselves. Would a conservative be concerned about that? Is it an argument you’d ever hear used on The Corner?Report

  9. Avatar Freddie says:

    I thought I said that Kaus can be a liberal. I just don’t see what possible good he does for the liberal cause.Report

  10. Avatar Conor Friedersdorf says:

    John McCain is actually a useful example of someone who is obviously conservative in many ways, is widely considered by fellow conservatives not to be on their side, and who takes pleasure in dinging conservatives.

    Also, Kaus’ “they called me liberal” remark merely reflects that he is well aware of his own reputation.

    But again, the root of the issue here is that Mickey Kaus’ actual beliefs are liberal. Who he likes to annoy, the flaws he focuses on, what others consider him to be, etc. do not change the fact that he wants to increase social equality even if it means decreasing freedom, that he votes for Democrats for the presidency, and that he wants to massively expand the federal role in health care and child care — a collection of positions that are pretty damned hard to explain if he isn’t a liberal!Report

  11. Avatar Conor Friedersdorf says:

    I thought I said that Kaus can be a liberal. I just don’t see what possible good he does for the liberal cause.

    Okay. Well, his kind of neoliberalism is one reason why Democrats are today seen as a fiscally responsible alternative to the GOP. His advocacy for a larger federal role in health care is a dear liberal cause, and one he is uniquely positioned to advance before conservative causes. His championing of social equality, and his book on that topic, advance the cause of egalitarianism in the United States, and in a way that genuinely advances that debate by suggesting a new approach that accomplishes liberal ends. And his criticism of other Democrats and liberals provides a critique from someone who often shares the same ends, which is sometimes useful.Report

  12. Avatar Scott de B. says:

    Note that Kaus’ argument against the welfare provisions isn’t that they are objectively bad (he clearly believes that, but doesn’t bother to articulate an argument in favor of that position), but that they might be used as a weapon by the media against the Democrats (“In any case, the rump Congressional GOP and talk radio conservatives can force their hand.”). But Kaus is a member of the media! And he’s using it as a weapon against the Democrats! He is pretending to be on the Democrats side unlike ‘talk radio conservatives’, but he is doing exactly what he says they are going to do.Report

  13. Avatar Consumatopia says:

    John McCain is actually a useful example of someone who is obviously conservative in many ways, is widely considered by fellow conservatives not to be on their side, and who takes pleasure in dinging conservatives.

    Mickey Kaus is like the circa-2003 McCain that almost ended up with a Democratic VP nomination. In fact, yeah, this Kaus/McCain comparison is the best way to see both figures–who they decide to bitch at that morning is always more a matter of their personal resentments than reason.

    Whether this helps or hurts liberals is arguable, though honestly I find it hard to believe that reading Kaus is worthwhile for anyone on any point of the spectrum.Report

  14. Avatar Matt C says:

    Freddie, that sample you posted seems fairly benign. First, he calls a GOP stereotype “crude.” That seems like a critique to me. He clearly is opposed to the old welfare system that Clinton reformed, most likely because it was a “bleeding, open wound” for much of the pre-Regan left. So maybe he’s looking out for Democrats in this instance. Finally, he’s is 100% correct that the NY Times does not speak for, nor represent, the people who have pushed Democrats into the majority over the last few election cycles – it’s not like Obama had to turn New York or Conneticut in order to win. Maybe Kaus would like to see something from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or the South become the MSM newspaper of record for the Democrats.

    I do not typically read Kaus, but it sounds like to me that he is merely an ardent nonconformist within the left political sphere. These people can be very troubling to read and debate against, but at the end of the day – like Larsion noted – if you evaluate his voting record I bet he’s supported every liberal Democrat he could.Report

  15. Avatar Koz says:

    “What Conor does not understand, and can’t understand, is what it is like to come of age into a movement that is filled with people telling you that you are wrong to be one of them, that there is something dirty about your beliefs, that the appropriate state of mind for your ideology is shame and the appopriate political stance, capitulation or retreat. Whatever is true of the conservative movement that Conor has grown up into, it is a movement that is proud of itself and its positions. That was not true for a long, long time of liberalism, and there is still work to be done.”

    Why exactly is this supposed to be wrong? This is a sensitive subject and I’m hoping that you can address it in a soft a way as possible but if you can’t I’ll understand.

    My earliest political-type memories are of the late seventies. It seems to me that in terms of having any real big-ticket accomplishments, liberalism is oh-for-life for anyone my age, younger, or even a little older. In what context have you experienced people telling you that there is something dirty about liberalism because for me that’s the dog that hasn’t barked for 25 years or so?

    About Kaus in particular, I this relates to his “reputation” as a jerk. Frankly I can’t see how he got that rep, he seems affable to me. It’s just that most of what he says is politically inconvenient for the Left. Considering that bloggers like Digby, Amanda Marcotte, Spencer Ackerman, etc,. are more or less in good standing, the Left is getting uncomfortably close to the idea that political reliability is the only criterion for aesthetic judgment.Report