Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rationalizing Grievous Mistakes

Big Tent Democrat at Talkleft, Tue May 22, 2007

In March of this year, I had many a battle with Netroots leaders on the Iraq Supplemental. Today, I think any fair person would say that I was right and they were wrong.

But the Netroots leaders won't admit their mistakes or even try to learn from their mistakes. Here is an example of the disingenuous rationalizing we are sure to see from them:

For some progressives, there seems to be a desire to pounce on anything negative, compromising, or seemingly right-wing the Democratic Party might do as a means of justifying their wish to keep a distance from the Democratic Party, or even from contemporary electoral politics altogether. This perspective seems to me to be based on having higher expectations for the Democratic Party in the short term than I do, and a general unwillingness to associate with the Democratic Party until it reaches those expectations, rather than working within the party to help it reach those expectations.
What a crock. No one wants to distance themselves from the Democratic Party. But we understand that politicians understand PRESSURE, and very little else. Indeed, the writer and his web site was pressuring the Out of Iraq caucus members in the House to vote for the horrible Iraq supplemental bill. His expectations were not the problem, rather his poor judgment on the matter. One could read this type of sophistry from the DLC. I repeat, what a crock.

But there is more:
By way of contrast, from my perspective, the negative, right-wing compromises people point out in the Democratic Party are simply a given, as they are reflective of long-standing power imbalances that have gone unchecked by those who wish to withdrawal from the Democratic Party and electoral politics.
More rationalizing nonsense. Instead of just admitting his and his web site's mistakes, this writer chooses to be a mindreader, and a bad one at that. Those who wish to withdrawal from Iraq DO NOT want to withdraw from the Democratic Party. They want to shape it up. The writer screwed up in his approach and now those who got it right are subject to false smears from him. How low will he go? Lower:
From this vantage point, anything the Democratic Party accomplishes beyond negative, right-wing compromises is a positive sign of the improving situation within the Democratic Party caused by increasing and more effective progressive involvement within the party.
Nonsense. The writer and his web site were part of the sit down and shut up shouting that the progressive elements got from him, and Meyerson and Move On and many, many others. He and his web site said their way was the best way to end the war. Well, it wasn't. And now he writes this? What a crock.

And listen to the self congratulation for prior successes:
I never thought we would, for example, manage to kick Joe Lieberman out of the party, force Democrats to run against the Iraq war, and then send a bill with a withdrawal timeline to Bush's desk. Just eighteen months before Bush vetoed the Iraq Accountability Act, Rahm Emanuel refused to even mention Iraq in televised interviews, Joe Lieberman was penning Iraq op-eds in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of Democrats, and fewer than a dozen Senators supported a timeline for withdrawal. When placed in the broad context of the American political struggle over war in Iraq, starting in early 2002 with the drumbeat and continuing straight through to the fight over the Iraq supplemental, progressives clearly have the momentum, and the Democratic Party is moving in a progressive direction.
And how did that happen? By not letting hometeamism overcome our judgment. The writer and his web site failed miserably in March of this year precisely because they FORGOT how all those things were accomplished. I have made that point many times and precisely what I feared about Netroots cooptation happened on the most important issue of the day.

Finally, the congitive dissonance takes over:
It is important to have regular discussion between progressives whose first inclination is to defend the Democratic Party on the grounds of pragmatic, long-term progress, and those progressive whose first inclination is to attack it for failure to reach lofty expectations in the short-term. Without perspective both on what lefty progressives are aiming for, and on how that can be achieved, both the Realpolitk and Sturm und Dang groups can quickly lose their way.
There are no such groupings. See, this writer simply will not take accountability for HIS and his web site's mistakes. He tries to make it some broader question. It is not a broader question. He and many others screwed up. Those of us who opposed his approach did so because we thought the situation through, not because of kneejerk anti-Dem Partyism. This outrageous apologia show us what is wrong with the Netroots - selfish, self absorbed, unthinking and unwilling to admit mistakes.
If things end up going badly in the Iraq supplemental fight this week . . I hope this is something everyone in the progressive movement remembers.
If? Will the writer remember what he and his web site did in March to help lead to this failure? Will he admit their mistakes and remember not to repeat them?

And the final self-congratulation:
While a watered down bill that funds the war through September . . . we have still made tremendous progress by working within the party these past few years. At the same time, it would be wrong to declare total victory and reserve any criticism of our performance to date.
Don't worry, I'll remember to criticize. And I'll do it in earnest, not this little disingenuous piece that this writer delivered.