Saturday, November 22, 2008

Idiot of the Day: James Kirchick (for arguing that Obama has abandoned the Netroots)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Writing in the New York Daily News, TNR assistant editor James Kirchick, long an obsessively angry critic of (liberal) bloggers, argues that Obama is "already angering some of his most devoted followers on the party's left wing." Yet the only example he gives is Obama's support for Lieberman, hardly a centerpiece of the Obama pre-presidency. While it is true that many liberal bloggers wanted Lieberman to be given the boot, including me, and that some took it personally, as if Obama were directly attacking the netroots, it's just not that important a move on Obama's part, and, as many of us suggested, there were good reasons for it. Obama wants Liberman's vote, and wants to be, and to be perceived to be, inclusive, and if Lieberman proves to be an unrepentant thorn, he'll be dealt with accordingly. To suggest, as Kirchick does, that this one issue an Obama slap of the Netroots' face is simply ridiculous.

But, then, Kirchick's piece is one long smear of the Netroots. For example, he suggests that the Netroots -- and, indeed, everyone who wants to see an end to the Iraq War -- want to "[abandon] Iraq to Iran and Al Qaeda," as if that's the only alternative to the withdrawal of U.S. troops: if you don't support the war, Kirchick implies, you're with America's enemies. You expect to see such a stupid argument in the pages of The Weekly Standard and on Fox News. It is simply embarrassing that Kirchick is an editor at TNR, a magazine I admire a great deal and read frequently. In terms of the war, all he spews is the usual right-wing nonsense.

Kirchick, as bitter as ever, thinks that the Netroots (though he only names three: Kos, Jane Hamsher, and David Sirota "don't matter". America is more conservative than liberal, he remarks, repeating the common post-election refrain, pushed by the right and repeated ad nauseam by the mainstream media, that America is a "center-right" nation. Basically, Obama's "left-wing supporters" are merely "petty, vindictive and small."

If anyone is "petty, vindictive and small," it's Kirchick, and he proves it here -- yet again.

But the question needs to be asked: Has Obama abandoned his liberal supporters?


Consider, for example, his job-creation plan, outlined in his radio address today. It is an aggressive, liberal plan. (Indeed, ss Cernig rightly notes, it is very much based on "the ideas of his progressive base.") Furthermore, with Tom Daschle as his HHS secretary and health-care czar, it is clear that he intends, according to Ezra Klein, one of the more prominent liberal bloggers, "to pursue comprehensive health reform." And since the election, lest we forget (for Kirchick seems not to care) he has repeated his Netroot-friendly commitments to end the Iraq War and to combat global warming in a serious and meaningful way, including through the progressive cultivation of alternative energy sources.

To be sure, Obama will have some non-liberal foreign and military policy hawks around him, including possibly Robert Gates at the Pentagon and James Jones as his NSA, but it's not like his administration will be like Bush's, or that it will be intentionally anti-progressive. If anything, it will be diverse and dynamic, with a great deal for the Netroots to like, including Hillary at State. (Hillary is more hawkish than Obama, yes, but she was supported by many top liberal bloggers, including Taylor Marsh and Melissa McEwan.)

Finally, consider what Obama's likely attorney general, Eric Holder, said in a 2004 speech to the American Constitution Society:

I believe that we have the capacity as a nation to meet all of these challenges. But the answers to these problems are not to be found in the conservative agenda that relies on what are already old proposals and tired rhetoric.

The solutions are contained within a new, dynamic, progressive movement that has the ability to inspire and motivate the people of this nation in the way that progressives have in the past.

So Obama has abandoned the Netroots and will govern from the center-right, eh? Hardly.

The only think Kirchick's piece proves is that he's an idiot.

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  • Thanks. Linked here.

    By Blogger Stephen C. Rose, at 7:27 AM  

  • I don't think one can write off observations that some of the leftist factions of the Democratic party are less than pleased at having a Clinton with a direct line to the president.

    There's a lot of rumbling from Obama aides, as well as grassroots supporters, who thought "change" meant a change away from the old Clinton dynasty: the number of Clinton vets in his administration are making some people uncomfortable.

    I'm not a Democrat, and often disagree with the leftist illuminati, but the fact is that as a conservative, I'm pretty content to have Hillary Clinton as S.of S. - she's strong on national security.

    But the very fact that I'm okay with Hillary makes some Democrats uncertain: if a Republican can support her, then is there a problem?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:43 PM  

  • Interesting - I'm a hell of a lot more comfortable with Clinton vets than with Reagan and Nixon vets. I'm less concerned that Obama will be led around by the palace eunuchs than I believe Bush was because he may hire some strong people rather than yes men selected for their abortion positions alone.

    But perhaps if Obama can find common ground with a majority of us, and you're evidence that it might be possible; if he can get past that crippling, false, paranoid left/right dichotomy, he may be a better President than we customarily elect.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 4:54 PM  

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