More leftist internecine warfare!


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    You know who else’s inaugural included salvos against money changers?Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Just so no one gets the mistaken impression that I think a bunch of whining on the internet somehow makes things better: I don’t and it doesn’t.

    On one level, I see it an an opportunity to hash memes out.

    I’m just one guy with one vote in one district in one city in one state in one country with 50-60 million folks just as inclined to vote as I am.

    How can I get my message out? How can I get folks inclined to vote with me to vote at all, how can I get folks who don’t know how they want to vote to consider my position, and how can I get folks who aren’t inclined to vote for positions similar to mine to forget to show up at the polls?

    Well, I can put my memes out there.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    For my part I’m volunteering time and money to try and shatter the hopes and dreams of Maggie Gallagher and her withered coterie of gay obsessed grief mongers (NOM) here in Minnesota.Report

  4. Avatar mw says:

    Your FDR analogy doesn’t work today because the leftists pushing him had actual, real popular support. Schickler’s point is that the electorate today is much more opposed to activist government today than during the great depression, and we should adjust expectations accordingly. * My frustration with the dissenting left is that it seems completely unaware that many of its positions are electoral poison. Politicians follow voters, and that’s how a democracy is supposed to work. If you want a more progressive country, then try to make America more progressive. Hint – calling a president with an 80%+ approval rating from Liberals a tool of the “banksters” is probably counter productive to that endeavor.

    * please don’t cite me those mid-1930’s gallup poles indicating otherwise. Polling at that time was garbage, just ask president Wilkie.Report

    • I don’t know how to respond to this because it’s somewhat incoherent, plus it’s suffused with more contestable assumptions than I’ve the time right now to challenge one by one.

      I mean, for starters, your contention — delivered with the kind of blustering confidence generally reserved for one who doesn’t even know what they don’t know — that our democracy as it stands today is essentially functional, i.e. that pols in DC follow “the people” (definition: not found), isn’t born out by any of the recent political science literature. Unless by “the people” you mean “the wealthy with lobbying connections”; and in that case I’ll concede that bringing them into the leftist fold is likely an effort in vain.Report

      • Avatar mw says:

        polls have consistently shown that large majorities of the electorate are skeptical of government spending and hostile to tax increases in almost any circumstance. Moreover, they are generally hostile to regulations. Finally, self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by 2:1. In order to win elections, and stay in power, Democrats have to placate this instinctively hostile electorate. That means doing things like trimming the stimulus bill to limit the deficit, finding places to cut the federal budget, etc.

        Those of us who recognize these limitations, and point them out, are not telling you to “clap louder.” We’re just saying that you should either get off your butt and do something to build progressivism (note – insulting your critic’s intelligence on the Internet does not count as building progressivism), or accept that any Democrats who get elected will be moderate liberals, at best.Report

        • Public opinion on macroeconomic policy is incoherent and uninformed. Pointing to that rather than the idea that people want results is shoddy reasoning in the extreme — especially from someone who previously said that public polling is not allowed to be cited because of its lack of infallibility.

          The conservative:liberal thing is a red herring considering most moderates lean Dem (most Indies lean Rep) and that when you break it down to issue-by-issue, the electorate is quite amenable to many liberal ideas. What’s more, you simply ignored my last argument in favor of shifting the goal posts around and changing the subject by implementing new (to the conversation; they’re hoary old things, in general) talking points.

          So yeah this is the kind of argumentation that often leads people to conclude that your fundamental goal is to get Obama’s critics to shut it. (I don’t think I insulted your intelligence, by the way; but if I were to do such a thing I doubt it would much hurt the Liberal Crusade.)Report

          • Avatar mw says:

            “Public opinion on macroeconomic policy is incoherent and uninformed.”

            Agreed. Let’s do something about that. Or, if we can’t, find a way to sell Keynesianism in a manner that jibes with the electorate’s prejudices.

            “public polling is not allowed”

            I wasn’t dismissing polling altogether. I was trying to prebut a standard lefty talking point, begun by Krugman, that FDR faced an electorate with economic views similar to those held today. Specifically, Krugman loves citing to 1930s Gallup polls showing hostility to public spending and deficits. The problem is that, b/c phone service was still something of a luxury at the time, those polls reflected the views of the very wealthy. Indeed, gallup’s 1936 polling predicted that FDR would lose his re-election campaign by a substantial margin.

            Re the intelligence insult (or lack thereof) – I don’t really care that much personally (this is, after all, the internet, and that wasn’t my finest commenting hour). However, your initial response fit into a pattern of Obama’s left critics engaging in personal attacks (“you love dear leader,” “clap louder,” “unthinking partisans,” “o-bot,” etc.) in debates about the President’s performance. These attacks are counterproductive to building a broader progressive movement, especially considering that the vast majority of Liberals approve the President’s job performance (putting aside the issue of whether they should do so).

            Finally, I’m not saying “shut it.” I’m saying that you have to be realistic in your criticisms to maintain credibility with the Democratic establishment (who you need to convince that a more liberal path will work politically) and with the 80% or so of liberals who approve of Obama’s job performance. For example, a criticism that Obama hasn’t done a great job explaining why we should spend money during a recession is a fair point. By contrast, demanding, as Westen does, that inaugural speeches slam “conservative extremists” is unrealistic.Report

            • I agree. I think as is inevitable to a degree I’ve been arguing against the abstraction of Unfair Obama Defenders and you’ve been arguing against Unreasonable Obama Critics. I said from the start that I thought Westen’s ghost-written speech was preposterous, fwiw, and I certainly don’t consider Obama a closet conservative or whatever. My main point isn’t especially broader or more interesting, really, than that people who more align themselves with the Dem mainstream should look upon the left-wing critics as necessary (if often annoying) players in a process that both sides hope will result in goals that they largely share.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    For the life of me, I don’t know what fantasy world Democratic party apologists and Obama defenders are living in when they tell unhappy leftists that the best way to forward their agenda is to clap louder for the President. Somehow the griping, kvetching, moaning, and teeth-gnashing* hurts Obama. Like shell-shocked veterans forever reliving some horrific, doomed battle, they intone that we must always remember Nader; never forget.

    And the fact that, most of the time, the very same people who are ranting on the myriad evils of “Firebaggers” and the like are the selfsame folks who derisively mock Glenn Greenwald’s (or whomever) pretensions towards wielding influence…?

    These are some pretty decent strawmen you’ve built up here, Elias. Which is not to say that these things have never been said? But who? Everyone who is willing to try to voice why they (say, for example) on balance think the the president has done better than not is not telling you to clap louder. I know you don’t say that they are, but you also don’t say who is saying what among all of these things. And you’re willing to say, “Well these people are probably those people…” etc., so one has to be a bit wary of how much you are keeping track of different positions among those you suggest you have interacted with, and how much you simply are attributing the assertions and injunctions that some have made to everyone who voices any version of the view you want to challenge/engage with.

    If you want to have a discussion with others on the Left about whether or why they defend Obama, you need to actually let them say those things without hearing “Clap louder!”, unless they actually say that (if you are going to define, as i would, that injunction as something that there isn’t any point in engaging with. This requires actually keeping track of who’s said such things and who hasn’t but has instead simply offered their views in response to what seems like a request for engagement. Again, I don’t know if you’re doing that or not; I’m not saying you aren’t. There’s just no evidence of it here one way or the other, since your representations of what people have said are neither quotations nor paraphrases with citations to the statements of any actual people.Report

    • I’m confused — are you asking whether or not people actually say such things; or are you asking if anyone of public note or anyone here at the League has said such things?

      Because if it’s the former, I would direct you towards basically every thread on Balloon Juice or Daily Kos of the past year or two.

      And I didn’t mean to imply the latter; I don’t think I did, really.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I’m asking if you’re sure you’re letting people actually have the discussion with you that I understand you to be inviting without pronouncing that, once they express any view of Obama of the species you differ with, they have then instructed you to clap louder for him. I’m not saying you’re not; I’m just wondering if you’re sure you are.

        I would be interested to see you, though, since you insinuate that you could, link to anyone anywhere every literally, in earnest telling someone to “clap louder” for Obama in so many words.Report