Our lazy media: More curious liberal bashing

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36 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Let me make sure I’m getting this: The argument doesn’t seem to be “it wasn’t bad” but “it wasn’t as bad as the worst critics are saying.”

    Is that accurate?

    Because, seriously, the Democrats are having a crappy few years.

    From the article: Obama’s record for losses, at least through the 2014 midterms, is historically bad having overseen two horrible midterm elections for Democrats. Overall, Sabato wrote, Democrats during Obama’s presidency lost 11 governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 913 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers.

    That’s tough to spin.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

      Here’s a Larry Sabato article showing the basically, every President is “bad” for their parties – even Republican Jesus and FDR himself.


      Now, I could point out that it’s pretty impossible to think that a party is going to keep all its gains from massive wave elections (see 2008). I’m not saying the past four to five years have been great for the Democrat’s at the state level at all, but it’s also not the giant disaster some people are painting it as.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        While certainly true, this is from the article that I linked:

        What is notable about losses under Obama is, with two years to go, they are worse than usual.

        And Obama’s record for losses, at least through the 2014 midterms, is historically bad having overseen two horrible midterm elections for Democrats.

        While it’s more than possible to say “this is something that always happens” about the general trend, if you compare these numbers to the general trend, they aren’t “better than what has typically happened” and they aren’t “in line with what has typically happened”.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Dem at the national level & Rep at the state level seems to be an enlargement of my own science of government:
        A Republican for assessor and a for Democrat collector.

        I’m not so sure it works as well in the enlargement scheme.Report

  2. aarondavid says:

    Who ran against him?

    What was the platform?

    KQED has some of the debates from the election here. And imigration was definately a topic, along with jail fights and all the usual buget, communications etc. Hennessy won and while I have no idea weather she specifically campaigned on immigration, in that debate when it came up she pointedly mentioned that it was the wrong thing to do. Ball specifially mentions that the sheriff was scandle ridden, but she isn’t saying that the town is turning republican, but maybe some of the dem social ideas are falling down, that they aren’t the wedge issues the left hopes them to be.

    Someone has pointed out that the dems have lost an increadible amount of seats under Obama, that while he might be personally popular, he isn’t giving candidates legs. Ball seems to be pointing this out and how it is playing way down ticket.

    Oh, its also spelled Mirkarimi.Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    Ball’s argument is that Democrats tried to use certain social issues as “wedge” issues assuming there was sufficient support for them to win elections. Ball’s understanding of the SF sheriff election seems to be that immigration was a wedge issue and that it was insufficient to win Dems the election, though she notes that there were other factors involved.

    So, to answer your question:
    “So please tell me, how is this San Francisco Sheriff election supposed to be a sign of liberals and the Democratic Party losing the culture war?”

    The SF sheriff election is a sign of liberals and the Democratic Party losing the culture war because Mirkarimi’s pro-immigration position was not enough to win him election. Is Ball right about that? Hard to tell. You offer a valid counter argument. And yet… is this not the definition of splitting hairs? Citing one of Ball’s examples — one she notes is not without extenuating circumstances — and saying it doesn’t put the nail in the coffin in favor of her position and, therefore, we can dismiss that position is… well, it’s just wrong.

    Ball’s argument is that liberals are losing the culture war. And she lays out her argument pretty clearly. Do you think she is wrong? If so, why? What is your argument? Picking nits isn’t an argument.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kazzy says:

      Eh, by the same token, are Republican’s in trouble if David Vitter loses the Louisiana Governor’s race, to a moderately conservative Democratic candidate who got endorsed by both of the Republican competitors in the primary?

      Of course not, because Vitter’s a horrible candidate against a good candidate for the area. If the 2nd place in the jungle primary had been a left winger like me from New Orleans, Vitter would’ve won easily, just as if Mirkarimi had faced a hard-right Republican who wanted to start arrest people for pot and help INS with rounding up illegals, that possible candidate would’ve lost as well. Instead, a slightly less liberal Democrat won.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


        One race would not be enough to draw any conclusion. Ball’s argument is that multiple races — including this one — went against the Democrats and that is cause for concern (at least on the left).

        We can probably explain away any individual loss (on either side). But the pattern is what is important. And the pattern, at least last Tuesday, was not a good one for Democrats. I don’t see Saul making any arguments that the pattern as identified by Ball is something other than what she described.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

          What pattern? They lost in Kentucky. Won in PA, I believe.

          It’s an off-off-off year election (no Presidential race, no House races, no Senate races). it’s the very definition of “local concerns” and, at least for the last few decades, pretty much the best turnout margin the GOP ever gets.

          I think forecasting the next election off of any prior election is a fool’s game — best you can do is show significant demographic patterns, which are pretty independent of candidates these days — but I think extrapolating from the most off-year election possible onto a Presidential year is, well….

          I guess it fills time on cable news, but they’d probably have better spent the time showing that Christmas fire the BBC does every year.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

            Living in an initiative state for a long time now, I’ve gotten to where I pay more attention to those than the Republican or Democratic things. Ohio was a mixed bag this year — the badly-flawed marijuana initiative lost, but the redistricting initiative won overwhelmingly. In my suburban county in Colorado, the initiative picture was pretty rosy for progressives — let the state keep the excess revenue from the marijuana tax*, raise taxes for the public library system and guarantee that the county commissioners have to keep their hands off of that, and a message to people thinking about being on the school board to not mess with the AP students and their parents. The first item for the 2016 ballot cleared the signature hurdle last week — state single-payer health insurance.

            * The initiative passed in every county in the state, which is pretty much unheard of.Report

            • North in reply to Michael Cain says:

              I’m really happy for CO, I’m hoping that Minnesota will follow suit in short order so we can maintain our commanding lead as one of the best states in the country. We have medical pot so the camels nose is working its way into the tent.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

            And THAT is a counter argument. Not, “Ugh, this one data point doesn’t perfectly fit the pattern.”Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:

      Pretty much what Jesse said. If SF somehow got Sheriff Joe as a potential candidate, Ross would have stayed on and the establishment would have backed him. The reason the Democratic Party was able to case Spitzer aside is that they had an acceptable follow-up. If the Lt. Governor was a far-right Republican, I bet the party would have let Spitzer stay on.Report

  4. North says:

    Molly is certainly overwrought in the headline at least. There’s several serious problems with it.

    First off, Molly seems to equate the Democratic Party with liberals in general thus if the Democratic Party is losing contests liberals in general are as well. Now I grant that of the two parties in the US the Democratic Party is the more liberal one but it is a very loose fit. The GOP is much more an avatar of conservatism than the Democratic Party is an avatar of liberalism. The Dems can lose political elections even as liberals in general enjoy policy successes most especially on the culture war front.

    A lot of the examples Ball uses are more like pauses than reversals. An extraordinarily badly put together pot legalization scheme wrapped around a stinking turd of a state mandated monopoly? Loses. The headline is “pot legalization loses” when the accurate headline should have been “not even pot is popular enough to smuggle in state mandated monopolies.” It seems pretty obvious that had the ballot just been a flat out legalization bid it could have had an excellent prospect of winning.

    The picture on the article is dear ol’ Kim Davies from Kentucky. One can certainly grant that the Democratic Party lost the Kentucky Governorship over Obamacare and Gay Marriage but does this mean liberals are losing the culture war? Davies has been functionally neutered; her department issues gay marriage certificates while she sits impotently in her office. What is the prospect of SSM being reversed? Slim to none it seems, at the moment SSM opponents are panicked running around and bumping into each other trying to assemble some kind of rearguard action to safeguard religious liberties (and to try and sneak in some privileges too).

    So yes, some setbacks have occurred, mostly in some pretty conservative strongholds. I’d say the fact that these fights are even cropping up in Kentucky, in Kansas, are signs of cultural liberalism’s strength. The losses are definitely a sign of Democratic Party weakness; hell it’s possible that the strength of liberals in the culture war right now are actively weakening the Democratic Party now that some formerly marginalized groups don’t feel the same urgency to maintain them as a protection but it doesn’t strike me as a sign of a reversal for liberalism in general.

    If Molly was writing in 1945 she’d be saying “Allied paratroopers repelled from attack on Berlin. The Allies are losing World War II!”Report

  5. Will H. says:

    Another look at this:

    If Republicans are winning in Democratic strongholds like SF, then the Left has succeeded in forcing the R’s to moderate their positions enough to make them amenable to the voters of Democratic strongholds.
    I call this a win-win situation: A win for Democrats in moving the midpoint on the scale in their direction, and a win for the Republicans because the party just enlarged enough to accommodate a candidate palatable to voters in Democratic strongholds.


    Now that the Dems are taking a page from the Conservative playbook– the dratted biased media– this is a potential win, and a potential big loss.
    First, it accelerates the decline of the role of gatekeeper from the traditional gatekeepers, which benefits grassroots movements of either side– big loss for the statists.
    Then again, people may be more inclined to watch reality TV, in which case the overall moral and ethical climate has degenerated considerably, and social skills leading to positive outcomes are in significant decline in favor of antisocial behaviors and dysfunction, which may well lead to someone like Donald Trump mounting (quite literally!) a viable candidacy for the highest office in the land.

    Or it could be something else . . .Report

    • North in reply to Will H. says:

      Will, I object to Trump receiving the descriptor “Viable” with regards to his campaign until he’s won at least one primary state.Report

      • Will H. in reply to North says:

        Point taken.
        I dislike hearing about him so much though.
        Being Trump, I have to wonder if his “candidacy” is really a plan to raise rents on his properties.Report

        • North in reply to Will H. says:

          The theories are multitude. Vanity project unexpectly caught fire now making it up as he goes along. Clever gambit to parlay into regulatory concessions from the GOP. Stealth Clinton project chaos manuver and giggles on the phone hysterically with Hillary every Tuesday night in a soundproof panic room.Report

          • Kim in reply to North says:

            Clinton‘s not that smart.
            There’s 5000 dollars that will tell you different.

            Trump made a surprisingly good stalking horse, that part’s still true.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Kim says:

              Hillary vs. Trump for the presidency sounds depressing. It’s the Springerization of the presidency.

              In my life, there have been three presidential elections that looked more like Good vs. Evil, and the Evil was so horrible that practically anything looked better.
              There were also two elections where it was Good vs. Good. It was really difficult to make a choice in those two.
              There were three others that were Lukewarm Good vs. Lukewarm Evil. Still, there was a clear winner.

              Trump vs. Hillary says to me: Leave that box blank.
              I don’t think I could live with myself otherwise.Report

              • Kim in reply to Will H. says:

                As much as I know someone who has the Clintons on his enemies list, even I wouldn’t go that far.

                The Clintons may hold a grudge with the best of them, but if you get them angry, they cross you off their Christmas Party List. That’s all.

                I kinda like that in a president.

                Nixon was always easier to manage than George W. Bush, because Nixon was smart. (do you have any idea how much headache it was to tell GWB not to attack Iran? We’re talking all the Joint Chiefs getting in on the scrum, plus half of Congress).Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Will H. says:

                We’re still a year out, and I’m already frustrated.

                Don’t think of it as voting for a President who will be faced with two houses of Congress with a large enough majority to prevent progressive legislation from passing but not enough to override the continuing parade of bills defunding PP and the ACA.

                Think of it as voting for the next three Supreme Court justices, including the swing vote. If the Dems can’t win with that message, maybe we all deserve the resulting theocracy.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to El Muneco says:

                Think of it as voting for the next three Supreme Court justices, including the swing vote.


              • North in reply to El Muneco says:

                It’s more than that El Muneco, but only that. You’re also voting to preserve the filibuster. Keep in mind that under the Senate rules it only requires a majority vote to change Senate procedures so the filibusters super majority requirement can, itself, be removed via a simple majority vote. The only backstop for the filibuster is the Presidency; the GOP won’t bother getting rid of it if there’s a hostile President in the white house with a veto pen. But if they get a GOP rubber stamp in the white house I promise you the Senate would throw the filibuster out the window faster than you can say defenestration.Report

            • North in reply to Kim says:

              Correction Kimmie, Hillary is not that lucky. She’d thump Trump in the general like a used tire.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to North says:

            I always just assumed it would be an exercise in narcissistic spotlight grabbing until it looked like it wasn’t winnable. Then he’d get to enjoy the feeling as various candidates kissed his ring when they came seeking his endorsement because he had enough followers to make a difference. Either that or maybe getting a payoff in the form of a respected position in the RNC. Once that’s done, he can check off, “Win at politics” from his bucket list. No need to actually sit in the Oval Office.

            Now I’m not so sure what the plan is.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Will H. says:


      Except Republicans don’t win elections in SF, Republicans are only about 10-13 percent of the SF population and poll accordingly. SF elections are usually a Clintonesque Democrat vs. a more liberal Democrat and the Board of Supervisors goes back and forth between the Centrists and the Progressives.

      In the most recent election, the progressives regained a majority on the Board of Supervisors with the return of Aaron Peskin to the Board. Peskin ran on an affordable housing and anti-eviction/speculation platform.

      In 2014, the joke in one election was that you could vote for the Harvard educated, Democratic lawyer named David (Chiu) and the Harvard-educated Democratic lawyer named David (Campos).Report

      • Will H. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        What occurs to me in reading this is that were someone to take half of the progressive platform and really push it, it could be a winner, but it has to be the right half, and Clinton isn’t it.

        I don’t think I’m the only one on the Right looking at Boehner’s resignation and thinking there are kooks running the party.Report

        • Kim in reply to Will H. says:

          Oh, there are totally kooks running the party.
          But it was trolls that raised you a Trump (to get rid of Walker, naturally).
          I have no earthly idea where Carson came from, but he’s crazy.

          At least the trolls realize that we need two competent parties, even if their preferred strategy is “cause enough of a circus that we can pull the Republicans into complete disarray”.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Will H. says:

          This raises the question of which half and for which part of the country. My guess is that different halves of the country could get behind different halves of the progressive/liberal agenda.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Mr. Degraw,

            I believe this is a very astute observation, and one worthy of exploring.

            If half a platform sells better than the whole thing (even for the whole thing at half off), then why not half a platform?
            In other words, have certain issues ascended to party level politics which are better addressed at the interest group level?
            That is, is it really true that the Democratic party is much too beholden to interest groups, and allow them to dominate the party platform to such an extent that it has become unpalatable to those not already sold on it hook, line, and sinker?Report

  6. Roland Dodds says:

    I second Saul on the way conservative media has tried to spin the ouster of Mirkarimi as some huge indictment of the sanctuary city policy. Most of my coworkers live in San Fran, and none of them voted to keep Mirkarimi in office for the reasons Saul mentioned. Not a single one tried to get rid of the guy because of sanctuary city.

    Many in the conservative media seem to leave out that the mayor and the entire political establishment saw Mirkarimi as an embarrassment and wanted him gone. So unless they all secretly want to undermine their own policy in regards to sanctuary, something else was clear behind the sheriff’s fall.Report