Home / General / Did Democrats Unfairly “Demonize” Republicans Like John McCain and Mitt Romney? (SPOILER: No.)

Did Democrats Unfairly “Demonize” Republicans Like John McCain and Mitt Romney? (SPOILER: No.)

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trump_n_mitt

For some reason, the thread on Beth’s short recent post is approaching 1,000. Rather than diving back in, and since the views Glenn expressed in the interview that Beth found objectionable aren’t particularly unusual, it’s worth explaining the two key problems with what he was arguing. Let’s go to the relevant quote:

I mean, the tactic of the Democratic Party in the last 25 years—they know that ever since they became the party of sort of corporatism and Wall Street, they don’t inspire anybody, so their tactic is to say the Republican Party is the epitome of evil.

Let’s stop here for a second, since this kind of ahistorical assertion — the Democratic Party used to be good but it’s now the party of evil neoliberalism — is a very common move. It is also a rather absurd fiction. Whatever its faults and limitations the Democratic Party of Obama/Pelosi/Reid is one of the most progressive iterations of the party’s nearly 190 year history. The overall trajectory of the party for the past decade is clearly to the left, not to the right. And this nostalgia for the mythical Golden Age of the Democratic Party is particularly strange coming from someone with Glenn’s priorities. What Democratic Party of the past are we supposed to be pining for — when LBJ and JFK were going to Vietnam and wiretapping Martin Luther King? When FDR was sending people of Japanese descent to concentration camps? When Truman was loading the Supreme Court with First Amendment-eviscerating poker buddies? When Jackson was cleansing Georgia of Native Americans? Help me out here. It’s true that the party has changed — in the New Deal era, the conservative Democrats that worked with Republicans to control Congress between 1938-1964 were more likely to be southern segregationists than Wall-Street influenced northerners. This was…not better.

As I’ve observed before, there is a reason for this imaginary history of the Democratic Party — namely, it allows people to avoid confrontation with the massive structural barriers that stand in the way of even left-liberal national coalitions: numerous veto points in a political system awash with money, electoral systems that privilege conservative rural areas, the preponderance of low-turnout midterm elections, etc. etc. The vast majority of major liberal federal legislation was passed in three brief periods under FDR, LBJ and Obama, and even in those cases it wasn’t so much that liberals controlled Congress as that there were political contexts that compelled moderate and conservative Democrats (and, in the case of LBJ, moderate and liberal Republicans) to go along with an unusually influential liberal minority. At some point, you have to consider the possibility that the Democratic Party isn’t suppressing a natural social democratic and staunchly civil libertarian governing majority.

There’s also another serious problem here. I, personally, find the idea that I should expect to be “inspired” by leaders of major national coalition parties very odd. But I also recognize that many Democratic voters are, in fact, inspired by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. If pundits don’t understand that it’s not a big deal, but the fact that some influential people within the Sanders campaign failed to understand that many Democrats are inspired by Obama and Clinton and why is in fact a potentially serious problem. You can’t build a majority coalition without understanding this.

To return to Glenn’s argument:

Even when they have conventional nominees like Mitt Romney or John McCain, they demonize them and say they’re this unparalleled threat to democracy. In this election, just by coincidence, it happens to be true.

As Glenn says in comments, he is not making the increasingly common and very dumb “crying wolf” argument — that is, that the Democratic Party somehow caused Trump by being unfair to reasonable, moderate, thinking person’s conservatives like McCain and Romney. But he nonetheless is arguing that Democrats “demonized” Romney and McCain. The problem is that this is also wrong. The Democratic argument against McCain and Romney was not that they were an “unparalleled threat to democracy” but that they were Republicans that would therefore enact or seek to enact various terrible policies. The election of Mitt Romney would have meant tens of millions of people stripped of their health insurance and those that retained insurance paying more while receiving less. It would have meant Antonin Scalia being replaced with someone probably to the right of Scalia, and if Romney were to win re-election it would probably mean a Supreme Court in firm Republican control for a generation or more, with countless horrible consequences. It would have meant huge tax cuts and major cuts to federal programs. It would have meant environmental deregulation as the climate change crisis accelerates. And so on and so on and so on. By erroneously claiming that Democrats “demonized” McCain and Romney, Glenn is minimizing the large and increasing differences between the two parties, which fully existed prior to Trump, and would also be true had the Republicans nominated Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

This “demonization” argument reminds me of Doug Henwood’s argument that it’s “blackmail” to point out how bad Republicans are, thus depriving him of his inalienable right to vote for vanity candidates without being criticized or something. Except that Henwood goes Glenn one better, arguing that it’s somehow dirty pool for Democrats to point out that Donald Trump would be a horrible president. I don’t share Henwood’s obsessive hatred of Hillary Clinton, but even if I did the imperative of keeping any contemporary Republican out of the White House — let alone one as unqualified and unconstrained by norms as Trump — is a perfectly good motive to vote for the Democratic candidate, and it’s not “blackmail” for the Democrats to seek the votes of people to the left of the typical congressional Democrat by being much better than the Republicans.

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  • NickFlynn

    Hangs some garlic around this post, draws a big circle of holy water on the floor, in the (vain)hope that the demons might be kept at bay.

    • wjts

      If the Black Thread of the Woods with a Thousand Comments is anything to go by, it looks like they mostly come out at night. Mostly.

      • Rob in CT

        If that happens, we nuke it from orbit.

      • Saskexpat

        It only reached such dangerous proportions because Greenwald came in and dropped a load of napalm on what would have probably have been a pretty typical thread. If Greenwald showed up taking similar positions (especially with a similar tone) on any other thread, it probably would result in the same level of response. I will stop there, because I do not want to say the “G” word thrice, lest he appear.

        • (((Hogan)))

          He Who Must Not Be Named.

          • rea

            Weave a circle ’round him thrice
            And look on him with holy dread
            For he on Wikileaks has fed
            And drunk the kool-aid of paradise.

            • FlipYrWhig

              +1 stately pleasure-dome

    • JR in WV

      Scott:

      When you say

      By erroneously claiming that Democrats “demonized” McCain and Romney, Glenn is minimizing the large and increasing differences between the two parties, which fully existed prior to Trump, and would also be true had the Republicans nominated Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

      Please allow me to make a small correction, thus:

      By erroneously falsely claiming that Democrats “demonized” McCain and Romney, Glenn is minimizing the large and increasing differences between the two parties, which fully existed prior to Trump, and would also be true had the Republicans nominated Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

      There! FTFY! all better now.

    • Ahuitzotl

      I think you need a tincture of Meg Whitman’s blood, to keep the e-demons at eBay

  • D.N. Nation

    I mean, the tactic of the Democratic Party in the last 25 years—they know that ever since they became the party of sort of corporatism and Wall Street, they don’t inspire anybody

    Furthermore, who does Glenn serve up that’s supposedly inspiring? I ask this as someone who voted for Bernie, saw the DNC platform shift leftward (but not enough for the trust fund babies who held fart-ins in Philly), and saw Bernie then use that momentum to, uh, retire quietly to the Vermont woods and let his inner-circle buddies run the grift.

    It’s here where I note that the Intercept’s continual tongue bath for Jill Stein is…Not A Good Look®, given its mission statement, legitimacy, etc. Inspiring this is not.

    I’m voting for HRC. Not particularly inspired by her. But the lesser-of-two-evils-is-still-EEBIL crowd has given me nothing to work with.

    • Pat

      There will be a President of the United States in 2017.

      The President will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

      Clinton is the superior candidate. She’s smarter, better prepared, and shares a lot of values with me. I’m voting for her as well. She’s the better choice, not the lesser of two evils.

      • so-in-so

        I think you are under-rating the need of some people to say “you aren’t the boss of me”. If they want to vote for Hamarabe or, less usefully, Jill Stein, their self-worthiness must not be questioned!

        • D.N. Nation

          Oh sure, but when they’re like that, and then their preferred candidate is a drooling buffoon, then…what’s the point, again?

          • so-in-so

            Morons gotta moron?

        • dicks out for Harambe? but yes, a vote for Harambe is probably more useful than a vote for Jill Stein, since at least Harambe wasn’t, as far as I know, anti-vax-curious.

          • so-in-so

            He was (is?) polling higher than Jill Stein, too.

            “Polls slightly worse than a dead gorilla”. There’s a campaign slogan unlikely to be repeated!

            • efgoldman

              “Polls slightly worse than a dead gorilla”. There’s a campaign slogan unlikely to be repeated!

              We’ve finally supplanted “Vote for the crook – it’s important!” as the best campaign slogan of our time.

              • JR in WV

                Or maybe

                Polls slightly behind the dead gorilla!

                Since it is a horse race, doncha know!

        • If they want to vote for Hamarabe

          Now, there was a law-and-order guy!

          • The Lorax

            Funny.

    • JMV Pyro

      Honestly, I don’t think their will ever be a politician who actually gets into office and has to govern that meets Glenn’s standards. The moment someone accepts the constraints that come with the job is the moment he dismisses them as another wheel in the great machine that he’s made a career out of fighting.

      Man’s a professional gadfly. Which is fine on it’s own. I think we need those to keep people in power honest.

      Now if only this particular gadfly didn’t also have skin so thin that he would come into the thread of a much less famous blogger to defend his e-honor and make ad-hominem attacks.

      • D.N. Nation

        Contra the Putin accusations here and there, I actually think Glenn can be a useful idiot for my side and way of thinking. He’s a gadfly, yep, with shit personal judgment and a mean hypocritical streak, but his opinions on surveillance and war are needed.

        I wish he wouldn’t in turn torpedo those with, you know, everything else that comes with the Glenn Greenwald Experience.

        • Manny Kant

          Right – it’s possible to critique Obama’s policies in a way that doesn’t come across as an attack on the entire Democratic Party and everyone who votes for it.

          I think Obama’s education policies have been absolutely awful, and I think a lot of people who know more about the subject agree with me. I’ve rarely seen a critique along those lines that expands into a general attack on everyone who voted for Obama or generally thinks he’s a better president (even on education!) than the Republicans as being insincere tools of the charter school/testing industry.

    • Phil Perspective

      I ask this as someone who voted for Bernie, saw the DNC platform shift leftward (but not enough for the trust fund babies who held fart-ins in Philly), …

      I’m curious to see the income breakdown between Clinton and Sanders supporters in the primary. I’d be willing to bet you’re way off base.

      • Rob in CT

        The last time I saw data on that, it was even. Like exactly even.

        538 did an article about whether Trump’s support was really “working class” and in the article they put up a chart with many candidates’ voters income data (self-reported, of course), and included the Dems.

        IIRC, the median for both was $62k household income.

        ETA: found it – http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/

        $61k for both Clinton and Sanders.

        • FlipYrWhig

          My experience was that the most ardent Sandernistas were mid-career professionals who saw Bernie as the consummation of their long-deferred dreams of an actual liberal candidate — hence, people of high income, high education, and high socio-economic status. Glad to see the stats backing me up.

          • Rob in CT

            I’d say the stats neither back you up nor contradict you. I mean… “most ardent supporters” is subjective and your experience is your experience.

            Clinton had more support than Sanders in higher income groups (balanced by higher support in the under $30k group).

            We’re talking about ~24 million voters here, right, so generalizing from the data probably isn’t going to work well…

            • FlipYrWhig

              Conceded re: “ardent.” I suppose I should have said not that they back me up, but rather that they certainly don’t contradict my read of the situation, which was that a goodly number of Sanders people weren’t exactly the salt of the earth.

          • Davis X. Machina

            the most ardent Sandernistas were mid-career professionals

            Labour has found out recently that the working man can’t afford socialism any more. A male blue collar worker is 2x more likely to vote Tory.

            “The people’s flag is palest pink,
            It’s not as red as people think.”

      • D.N. Nation

        My crack was more at specifically the people who showed up to the DNC to hot-take protest, not the voting base entirely.

  • so their tactic is to say the Republican Party is the epitome of evil.

    Just calling it like they see it, because the current iteration of the Republican Party, for all intents and purposes, is the epitome of evil.

    • LWA

      I had a Facebook friend ask why I always seemed to use the word evil when describing the right, and I pointed out that if your views on immigration cause to you to surround a buss full of immigrant children and scream obscenities at them, or if your views cause you to cheeer the prospect of letting uninsured people die for lack of care, then yeah, that is objectively evil.

  • Well, ya see, it boils down to this: Glenn Greenwald is a very stupid man with a very big ego. The only difference between him and Jim Hoft is a couple IQ points and better teeth.

    • brad

      That’s a horrible overstatement. GG has thoroughly repulsed and now amused me, but the man has done some good work, too. Jim Hoft is like an animate bowel movement, only not as bright.

      • efgoldman

        Jim Hoft is like an animate bowel movement, only not as bright.

        So Hoft is an unpolished turd, and GG is all polished bright and shiny?

        • brad

          I suppose it depends on whether you think GG’s blind spot to, say, the Pauls’ dances with white supremacists is a sign of something much more toxic below the surface. Jim Hoft is a racist piece of shit who’s so dumb there’s no joke or snark biting enough to express the depths of his capacity for ignorance. GG is just a narcissist with the attendant inability to self-perceive or grow.

          • Manny Kant

            I suppose it depends on whether you think GG’s blind spot to, say, the Pauls’ dances with white supremacists is a sign of something much more toxic below the surface.

            Those immigration comments from, what, 2004? 2005? suggest as much.

    • Rob in CT

      Greenwald is plenty smart. That’s not the problem.

      • Manny Kant

        The problem is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  • LWA

    Like the old saying about how it is only called class war when we fight back, its only dirty pool when we do it.

    Questioning their patriotism? IOKIYAR
    Questioning the masculinity of their candidate and followers? IOKIYAR
    Fanning the flames of conspiracy tales of FEMA camps, death panels, and One World Order? IOKIYAR
    Ginning up countless faux-scandals that end up being nothingburgers? IOKIYAR

    And on and on.

    But yeah, pointing out the very real consequences of voting Republican is unfair, and pointing out the racism and misogyny is beyond the pale.

    • LosGatosCA

      Now that you know the rules I’m sure we can count on you to follow them.

      Also, too, don’t be shrill (or correct) about it.

  • FlipYrWhig

    The “Democrat X doesn’t inspire anyone” argument always reminds me of that HGTV home-buying show staple of realtor-speak, “My buyers won’t like that.” People who say such things mean that THEY don’t like that, and THEY don’t find Democrat X inspiring. But putting it in terms of “buyers,” or “anyone,” makes it seem like something EVERYONE knows.

    • JMP

      The Bernie Bros of the world keep doing this too; I don’t know how many times I’ve heard them explain that Hillary Clinton is a bad candidate because she’s unlikable. Um, no, you don’t like her; I for one like her a lot, she actually very likable, that’s your problem, not hers.

      • The Lorax

        Yep.

      • LosGatosCA

        Hot take – Bernie wasn’t exactly JFK.

        • Ahuitzotl

          neither was JFK, of course

    • JMV Pyro

      Reminds me of that old truism that insults say a lot more about the person using them then the person on the receiving end.

      • keta

        The Aristocrats!

    • Just_Dropping_By

      What’s the political equivalent of, “Oooh, it has crown molding!”

      • JR in WV

        Hmm, maybe:

        “Ooooh, that sounds just like Rand Paul!”

        What do ya think? Close?

      • LosGatosCA

        ‘My non-coordinated Super PAC ran that ad!’

    • Srsly Dad Y

      Nope.

      You can call me names or whatever, but HRC has the worst favorable/unfavorable spread for a Democrat in living memory, and it’s getting worse, not better, as more people start focusing on the election.

      Neither the reason for her sky-high unfavorables, nor the motivation of the people pointing them out, matter at this point. She’ll be a decent president but she’s objectively unpopular.

      • nolo

        I won’t call you names, but I’ll point out that you’re wrong and trying to change the subject.

        The question was, “why doesn’t Hillary inspire anyone?” The answer is 30+ years of slander and ratfckery by the right, which would kill anyone’s favorable ratings.

        Electorally, the whys and wherefores for her unpopularity may not matter in the sense that a vote is a vote. But politically? Yeah, these things do matter. They matter a helluva lot.

        It matters when the professional left indulges their holier-than-thou complex by repeating and elaborating on 30+ years of slander against people who are, objectively, liberals. It matters when the ‘objective’ media eagerly participates in that slander. And it matters because all of the above is how objectively terrible politicians like George W. Bush and objectively terrible men like Donald Trump gain power.

        • Srsly Dad Y

          I don’t know how many times I’ve heard them explain that Hillary Clinton is a bad candidate because she’s unlikable. Um, no, you don’t like her.

          –JMP

          People who say such things mean that THEY don’t like that, and THEY don’t find Democrat X inspiring.

          –FlipYrWhig

          “Why doesn’t Hillary inspire anyone?” was absolutely not the topic of this subthread, and I did not change the subject.

          You may have your pet peeves about Bernie Bros. This is my pet peeve about a lot of HRC supporters. They won’t stay on topic. If you say she’s unpopular, they say, no, YOU don’t like her. But then if you demonstrate she’s unpopular, they say, well OF COURSE she’s unpopular, the right has demonized her, sexism, etc.

          But wait, you just said she’s inspiring and a good candidate.

          • Pat

            No, I’ll agree that a lot of people speak out against her. I had this kind of conversation with a sibling last night.

            Sib: Trump’s unacceptable, but I really hate Hillary Clinton. I can’t imagine voting for her.
            Me: Why do you hate her?
            Sib: I’ve hated her since she was a First Lady, because, she was, well, you know.
            Me: What?
            Sib: I just can’t stand her. Neither can our other sib; they’re voting Trump. I’m looking into Gary Johnson.
            Me: How would you feel if you voted Johnson and Trump became president?
            Sib: Oh, god, I just can’t stand it.

            So it’s a lot of emotion and not a lot of reason there.

          • FlipYrWhig

            There’s a difference between “inspire,” “support,” and “like.” Hillary Clinton may well face a lot of people who have negative views of her. She also may well inspire a lot of people. She also may well get many people whom she doesn’t inspire to vote for her anyway. Greenwald’s contention was that, on account of corporate something something, she and other mainstream Democrats don’t inspire anyone. We know for a fact that she inspires many, many women. We also know that having a great stand on corporate something something is not necessarily a ticket to inspiration: who thinks Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, or Jeff Merkley are inspiring/exciting/energizing? Ideologically they have good views. As personalities, they have little to offer. What then? It’s making a dog’s breakfast of the categories.

            • Manny Kant

              Do they have little to offer as personalities? That seems silly to me. The vast majority of politicians don’t inspire much feeling either way because people don’t actually have any idea what their personalities are.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        And she’s always more popular once in office, because people just don’t like women running for things.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I find the weird thing about “nobody likes Hillary” is how suggestible people are: if they can look at her as she is and what she’s actually done they seem to like her (66% favorable in ’12), but as soon as someone- whether it be Sanders or Trump (or the NY Times)- starts in on her record or her personally then her favorability ratings go to hell

          • Manny Kant

            Yes, this exactly. And Hillary’s negatives going up at the moment isn’t about people paying more attention to the election, it’s about a bunch of negative and misleading stories in the media over the last month or so.

            When Clinton herself is actually visible – after debates, after the convention, and so forth – her numbers always go up. It’s during the periods in between, when people see her mostly through the media’s characterization of her, that her ratings drop.

  • tsam

    I find the idea of being inspired by politicians a little gross, rather than odd. People like Barack Obama have their moments that make me proud, and moments that make me want to smack him in the head. That means he’s (gasp! The hell you say!) human.

    • Yeah.

      Just this morning, I saw where former Senator Herb Kohl used his philanthropic foundation to fund every Donors Choose initiative for Wisconsin’s schools. Some 700 in all, totaling $500,000. There’s a Moment for you…

    • The Lorax

      I find Obama inspiring. Lincoln, too. Eleanor Roosevelt and MLK (though neither politicians) as well. And all for the same reason (though for other reasons, too): they see clearly the promise of America in its founding ideals, care deeply about those ideals, and fight to make it conform more closely to those ideals.

      • tsam

        Can you imagine what those GG bro types would say about Lincoln? Habeus Corpus! Killing American Citizens! It’s not the same thing, but I think they just want to be mad at stuff

    • Musashi

      I’ve always thought citizens of a healthy democracy should by default view politicians with a health dose of skepticism as a way to keep them accountable. Electing someone to represent your interests and punishing them by withholding votes and/or engaging in direct action if they fail to do so is (ideally) how the system should work. Honestly I think coercing a politician into pursuing the greater good through collective action is quite a bit more “inspiring” than fawning over the next messiah who will lead his flock to the promised land

  • Ransom Stoddard

    It’s a small thing, but contra Greenwald the Democrats have become demonstrably less cozy with the financial sector after the 2008 financial crisis, for obvious reasons.

    Also, of course: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodd%E2%80%93Frank_Wall_Street_Reform_and_Consumer_Protection_Act

    • Phil Perspective

      For what ever reason the financial sector in this sense has become a stand-in for the fabulously wealthy. You don’t think someone drops $5 million on your SuperPAC and expects nothing in return, do you?

      • FlipYrWhig

        A guy named “Phil” probably ought to have a passing acquaintance with the concept of “philanthropy.”

        • Phil Perspective

          The person who dropped $5 million, and this was a few months ago now, on her SuperPAC is Haim Saban. I suggest you Google his name.

          • Brien Jackson

            Aside from you hilariously assuming no one knows who Haim Saban is, why exactly are we supposed to be surprised that an Arabic Jew would be donating a ton of money to Donal Trump’s opponent* exactly?

            *And yes I know that Saban is a long running Democratic donor but…how is that working out for him, exactly? He’s basically only concerned about Israeli policy, IIRC, and near as I can tell all of his money has bought him exactly zero influence over elected/appointed officials in that area.

    • Galactus-36215

      Have a look at Shillary’s top donors. Gee, lots of them are Wall St.

      Sounds a lot less cozy huh? NOT.

      https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00000019&cycle=Career

      • FlipYrWhig

        RICH DEMOCRATS IN NEW YORK GAVE MONEY TO A RICH DEMOCRAT FROM NEW YORK AND THIS IS GRAVELY CONCERNING AND CORRUPT

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          I’m also assuming that they only gave to Hillary and no other presidential candidates, didn’t give to people who would undermine Hillary’s agenda, and Hillary has no other donors and certainly no donors with opposing interests to Wall Street’s.

      • brad

        Tell you what, find a way not to dismiss your own views with your opening sentence and get back to us.

      • Shillary

        Nice to know you shouldn’t be paid any more attention to.

        • John not McCain

          As if naming himself after a planet-devouring scumbag wasn’t enough.

          • N__B

            A planet-devouring scumbag with a really stupid hat.

            • John not McCain

              Patti Labelle was NEVER going to let him join, even with the hat.

          • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

            “bring on the meteor!”

            • so-in-so

              “I know SMOD 2016, Galactus-36215 is no SMOD 2016”.

        • (((Hogan)))
        • EliHawk

          Funny how this guy only showed up yesterday. Hey Glenn!

          • so-in-so

            Sock Puppets-R-Us?

            • steve

              are you people used to having just one side of the argument being supported?

              • Warren Terra

                Go read Galactus’s “contributions” to yesterday’s thread and tell me if they’re worthy of any greater respect.

      • Republican Troll says what?

  • libarbarian

    What Democratic Party of the past are we supposed to be pining for…?

    The one that wrote The Port Huron Statement. Well, …. the original Port Huron Statement. Not the compromised second draft.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I thought you were going to cite the pamphlet written by James K. Polk and Martin Van Buren in 1848.

    • rea

      The Port Huron Statement: “God, look at all those idiots in innertubes, headed for Canada!”

    • msdc

      And then was a roadie for Metallica.

  • That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny.

    Funny how it’s only some candidates who attract language like “entitle” and “waltz into.” No, just because Trump is a horrifying prospect to imagine as President doesn’t mean it’s important to make sure Clinton is elected. It’s more important to make sure she learns a lesson, doesn’t get anything without paying full price. It’s more important to make sure she doesn’t think she’s “entitled” to anything.

    eta Oh I read too fast and thought the OP was a response to https://theintercept.com/2016/09/06/the-unrelenting-pundit-led-effort-to-delegitimize-all-negative-reporting-about-hillary-clinton/ which I had just read.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      christ, what a dumbass. It really doesn’t say much for the left that this guy garners all this attention. Bring back H A Goodman

      • Bring back H A Goodman

        You objectively despicable rat! WE WANT FREDDY!!!

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          ack!

          • Schadenboner

            BRING BACK BILL THE CAT!

    • Scott Lemieux

      It should be noted that this is a ridiculous mischaracterization of Krugman’s argument. As Krugman said, “it was right and appropriate to investigate the foundation’s operations to see if there were any improper quid pro quos.” The problem is that many investigations have turned up nothing improper but have been written as if something improper was discovered. Glenn seems to be saying that if you object to any particular story about the Clintons then you’re opposed to investigating them in principle, which is absurd.

      • It’s more than that: he believes “the media” will attack anyone who says anything that even “reflects negatively on Hillary Clinton.” That covers a lot of territory.

      • D.N. Nation

        Glenn seems to be saying that if you object to any particular story about the Clintons then you’re opposed to investigating them in principle, which is absurd.

        But toss off a joke about Trump and Putin, and you’re to the right of McCarthy.

        • Manny Kant

          I still love that. Yes, it’s people critical of Vladimir Putin who are still living in the Cold War, not, you know, the people who think it’s a “red scare” to criticize a right wing authoritarian kleptocrat.

      • Jay B

        I don’t for a second believe that Greenwald would mis-characterize someone’s argument when he’s SO intent on wailing when others correctly characterize his. Because that would make him a total and complete hypocrite. HAHAHAHAHA. Oh man, the thinnest skin in the world.

        • nolo

          Greenwald, Freddie DeB, Bruenig, HA Goodman all have really delicate skin. This must be a common affliction among white male leftists.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Glenn Greenwald’s core belief is that disagreeing with Glenn Greenwald is unconscionable.

      • efgoldman

        Glenn seems to be saying that if you object to any particular story about the Clintons then you’re opposed to investigating them in principle

        Actually (not that GG or you care) I am opposed to investigating them in principle.
        The Republiklowns have been “investigating” the Clintons for almost 25 years. What did they find? Bill got a blowjob from an intern and lied about it – 20+ fucking years ago. Enough is enough. And Krugman clearly took on his own paper, which has been the leader of the band, in his column. And he’s right.

        • Anna in PDX

          Yes, at this point the press owes Hillary and Bill 20 years of grace where they can do whatever the hell they want. Seriously. Not even joking here.

      • politicalfootball

        As Krugman said, “it was right and appropriate to investigate the foundation’s operations to see if there were any improper quid pro quos.”

        It didn’t seem likely to me that Greenwald had overlooked this point. But, following the link, I see that while he acknowledges that Krugman says this, Greenwald makes no effort to actually answer the thrust of Krugman’s column.

        Such an answer would not be: Hillary’s dealings should be closely scrutinized. Greenwald and Krugman agree there. To answer Krugman, you’d have to be willing to defend the scrutiny that Krugman is criticizing – the scrutiny that Hillary has actually received.

        Instead, it’s mostly ad hominem and straw men, as it is here, where he accomplishes the twofer:

        It should be the opposite of surprising, or revealing, that pundits loyally devoted to a particular candidate dislike all reporting that reflects negatively on that candidate.

        Very sad. Contra much of the rest of LGM, I think Greenwald is a person of huge and justified influence who has come in for a lot of baseless criticism at LGM — but this column by him is pretty awful.

        Edit: I see that other commenters have covered this territory already more pithily than I.

      • kped

        Tim on Balloon-Juice had an excellent post about this today, in regards to a WaPo article on Bill’s salary from a for profit school. It’s well researched and written, but there is no impropriety found, and yet…over 2600 words were devoted to it. That kind of length to essentially say “Bill was overpaid” just seems absurd.

        (K Drum also has an post about this…noting that it takes about 25 paragraphs to learn nothing wrong occurred).

        • daves09

          The reporters have worked on it for a couple of weeks, money’s been spent, efforts to find dirt unsuccessful, but hey, put a clickbait headline on it and lets go.
          Understandable, but not admirable.

    • CP

      That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny.

      Y’know, to me, it kind of does.

      I’m being influenced here by the fact that the first election I really paid attention to was France-2002, when the Front National candidate first made it to the run-off election. When that happened, hundreds of thousands of conservatives, liberals, socialists, libertarians and far-leftists all lined up behind an uninspiring, uncharismatic, center-right candidate that most of the country already thought was a crook and who was in fact convicted years later… and gave that guy somewhere in the vicinity of 80% of the vote. Why? Because it was understood that when one of the candidates is a literal Holocaust denier, you don’t pause to consider the deep moral ramifications of whether the other candidate misspent public funds or cheated on his taxes.

      That year and in that country, “vote for the crook not the fascist” was an actual slogan and a widely accepted one. And that, frankly, is how it ought to be. It’s why I have very little patience for the people complaining about “Crooked Hillary.” So what if it’s not true – I don’t fucking care if it is true! Every innuendo implied about the Foundation could be dead-on and it would still be no excuse to hand the country over to Trump.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Yup, pretty much.

        It’s hard to think of anything remotely plausible that would change the calculus of my vote. A very corrupt Democrat is preferable to an extremely corrupt, ignorant, right-wing, narcissistic, sociopath with authoritarian/fascist sympathies.

        And so she waltzes away with my vote before we even get to examining whether those bullshit scandals have anything to them.

      • Manny Kant

        Yes. The right time to investigate Hillary Clinton’s possible improprieties is November 9. Right now, all decent people should be focused on defeating Donald Trump.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Okay fine but Phyllis Schlafly has been dead for hours now and still no post. C’mon people. Let’s kick some dirt.

    • Murc

      Also too, in matters of interest to this blog: ITT just crashed and burned, in large part because the feds cut off their spigot of free money.

      Government regulation works. One of the big squids in the for-profit education sewers is now dead because of it.

      • advocatethis

        An acquaintance of mine lost his job as an ITT campus librarian and although he’s not happy about losing his job, apparently he has acknowledged that the demise of ITT was a just outcome.

        • q-tip

          I feel for your friend even without their losing the job. My hunch is that librarian at an ITT campus is (was) a both important and underappreciated job.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Government regulation works. One of the big squids in the for-profit education sewers is now dead because of it.

        Or, conversely, free markets work, because it appears that, but for hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies, ITT would have shut down or been forced to change its business model ages ago.

    • (per Bette Davis)

      It is said you should not speak ill of the dead, only good.

      Phyllis Schlafly is dead. Good.

      • liberalrob

        Well said. So’s Scalia. Doesn’t make up for Bowie and Williams and all the others…but it helps a little.

    • D.N. Nation

      In my mind, nothing will top Sadly, No!’s God Kills Falwell, but all remembering that does these days is remind me how far off the deep end the S,N! big 3 have gone.

      • CP Norris

        Who went off the deep end besides HTML Mencken? Brad seems to be doing more or less the same things. I can’t find anything recent from Gavin.

        • D.N. Nation

          Brad’s WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE routine has made him unreadable this election, though perhaps that’s more me than him. And Leonard Pierce, though perhaps not officially one of the Big 3?, went full BernieOrBust.

          • EmmATX

            Lurker here who dug up my ancient login to ask, where is Brad blogging? I was a dedicated lurker on S,N! back in the day and never could figure out where he went after. I always liked his writing.

            Just recently joined Twitter, and followed HTML Mencken. Reading his tweets was a big surprise, though in retrospect maybe it shouldn’t have been.

            (Hi from SVKA, it’s the same D.N. Nation right? :) )

        • brad

          Much as he was fun, in retrospect I’m not sure whether HTML changed or I (we) did. There’s some moments from back then I can recall which I’d have a different view of now.

          And last I heard of Gavin, he was busy being Dad. Great couple, them two. I’m glad they reproduced.

          • djw

            I spent time in online forums in 2001-2003 where HTML M also commented, under a different nym (and occasionally included hilarious off-topic epic flamewars between him and one David M. Nieporent). His politics then are pretty similar to his politics now, IMO.

            • brad

              Sometimes it’s much easier to be united in opposition.

              Also, I’ve learned a bit better. Which isn’t to say there isn’t always more to learn.

              • FlipYrWhig

                I think we’ve learned from Glenn Greenwald that the only legitimate reason why a reader/fan could get tired of a writer/performer’s long-running act is because they’re traitors to the writer/performer’s pet cause and unprincipled hacks.

          • I am friends with Gav on FB, and the story is a bit more involved, and kind of sad. Gavin is now a step-dad…..

      • JMP

        It seems like they’ve gone to only posting new material about once or twice a month now – I couldn’t realize if they’ve gone off the deep end with the place being mostly dead now (as has happened with a lot of the old political blogs – at least they still have [very] occasional updates unlike a lot of them)

    • Gabriel Ratchet

      Huh. 2016 finally got one right.

      • Rob in CT

        Scalia.

        • Bootsie

          Islam Karimov.

          Hopefully Assad as a Christmas present like Kim Jong-il was.

  • The Party of the 1% and racists was caused by Dem’s b/c of lies , lies lies.

    Any lie will do. Hillary is bad b/c we say lie lie lie and Monica’s blue dress. But Trump who brags that he cheated on his ex’s is the Sky Father’s favorite candidate b/c of hypocrisy , lies lies lies.

  • petesh

    Two related points and a conclusion: 1. Obama is fairly popular (especially with African-Americans); I’m not sure where Bill Clinton stands now but when he left office “under a cloud” he was unusually popular (see same link). Elections are won by attracting the most votes for your candidate, and failing to elicit the support of popular figures constitutes electoral malpractice.

    2. Unless your idea is to drive down participation by reducing the popularity of your opponent and her supporters, in the hopes that your fervent admirers will stick with you. This seems to be Trump’s stratamegy, insofar as he has one.

    Why cannot politically engaged idealists, especially ones who devoted considerable energy to backing a craggy old socialist, connect these dots? (Forget GG, he’s a self-centered bloviator.) By believing and repeating the accusations made by Trump and his surrogates, they are risking setting back their own goals substantially. “Clinton is not as bad as she is painted” is an argument that doesn’t cut it; “it’s time for a woman” seems to have been dropped. Well, how about believing her professed program and talking about it? It’s pretty good!

    • Davis

      Yes, it would be nice if everyone actually focused on what she might actually do as president rather than that “optics” bullshit. Do any reporters bother to look at her website?

      • Clinton released a detailed, progressive mental health care program last week, but the media was too busy talking about Anthony Weiner’s dick to care about it.

        • petesh

          See also her proposals about EpiPen & big Pharma in general.

        • She could have mentioned it if she had a press conference.

          Q: Why does everybody hate you?

          HRC: I don’t know. I have a new mental health policy…

          Q: Do they distrust you because you won’t answer the important questions?

      • cleek

        the media isn’t going to talk about policy if one candidate doesn’t really have any. there’s no horse race there.

        • brewmn

          If that’s true, the Republicans haven’t had a policy since at least 2000.

        • SNF

          I think this is a good point.

          Trump has made policy a non-factor in this election. The media can’t report on policy if one candidate just outright refuses to give any policy plans (even plans that are as full of holes as, for example, Romney’s tax plans). And Hillary can’t really attack Trump that hard on policy, because he can always change his position or act vague enough that it won’t stick.

          So the election is almost entirely about personalties.

          As a result I suspect that people would have a more favorable opinion of Clinton if she had a non-Trump opponent. She could’ve spent her time talking up popular policy positions and attacking the Republican for having unpopular positions. Instead, the only thing people care about when it comes to Hillary is stupid stuff about her emails.

    • kayden

      Great point. Secretary Clinton has to do a much better job of informing her potential supporters why they should affirmatively vote for her versus just voting against Trump. That’s what I picked up from the article linked below where some young Black voters aren’t aware that Secretary Clinton’s policies overlap with those they want to see enacted. Her message is not getting out enough.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/us/politics/young-blacks-voice-skepticism-on-hillary-clinton-worrying-democrats.html?_r=0

      • petesh

        So the NYT thinks that informing their readers about policy is not their job? They like “informing their readers” when Trump goes bananas (again) on immigration; but Clinton’s mental health policy, nah, that’s boring. Clinton accurately lays out chapter and verse of Trump’s bigoted but quite public views; so they (also) report on lies and innuendo about her. Truth = lies, war = peace, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

        Mind you, Chomsky did have a point when he said (paraphrased from memory) that the trick with the NYTimes is to read the last few paras of the article, where they shove in the inconvenient facts just to say they reported them.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          at least the Times puts the facts in at the end of the article

          I remember during the lead up to invading Iraq screaming headlines on the front of the regional daily parroting the Bush line and articles on page 13 detailing the objections people had to the whole mess

          • Pat

            Isn’t it interesting how the Times was so breathlessly believing that Bush was honest, even after he was proved to be lying all along. Yet, even after they conclusively show the Clinton Foundation did nothing wrong, they continue to impugn Clinton.

            It’s like they have an agenda that has nothing to do with reporting the news.

            • nolo

              Ditto Colin Powell. I haven’t seen much of a stink over the fact that he objectively lied about his advice to Secretary Clinton (not to mention the WMDs…) As always, IOKIYAR.

      • Phil Perspective
        • ForkyMcSpoon

          What she said was she would sign a $15/hr minimum wage bill if it came to her.

          • Phil Perspective

            Which means she’s not going to pressure Congress or anything. It’s a long way from demanding said bill on her desk within 60 days of her inauguration.

            • Jay B

              But a Sanders presidency would have gotten that bill through the Republican House because he DEMANDED it.

            • SNF

              What would demanding it accomplish, given a Republican House?

              • (((Malaclypse)))

                What would demanding it accomplish,

                It would force Phil to ignore the fact of her demand.

                Any similarity between Phil’s choice of action, and Paul Ryan’s, is not at all coincidental.

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              Yes, and? The point was that she never said she was going to demand it, to my knowledge.

              Ergo she’s not reneging on any pledge.

              • Manny Kant

                If a $15 minimum wage is sensible for New York City, it seems kind of axiomatic that it should be lower in Mississippi, doesn’t it? I’m not sure why a $15 national minimum wage should be a litmus test of any kind.

  • Wapiti

    As I recall, the Republicans nominated a shady* venture capitalist, Romney, to be their standard bearer not four years after the economy had collapsed due to a variety of shady venture capitalists. He should have been demonized worse than he was.

    *what was it – $100 million in an IRA? Congress should have questioned Romney for 12 hours straight about how he managed that.

  • I said it over at my place with regard to Frank Bruni’s stupid and amnesiac column on the subject, but I want to repeat it briefly here: the wolf-crying story depends on previous instances where the boy falsely cried wolf, and doesn’t apply to McCain or Romney, since they didn’t get elected. Our warnings were heeded by the voters in 2008 and 2012, I think fortunately, but you can’t say we were wrong; McCain and Romney may well be “decent” and “honorable” from some points of view, but we just can’t be sure how terrible as presidents they would have been.

    But when we cried wolf over George W. Bush in particular and the villagers ignored our warnings and he became president with Justice Rehnquist’s assistance, thousands of us were killed and tens of thousands deprived of homes and livelihoods. We were right!

    • D.N. Nation

      And for a current example, Brownback’s Kansas.

    • Loofah

      Dude, your numbers are so low-balled as to be pernicious.

      Hundreds of thousands were killed, not thousands.

      Millions were deprived of homes, not tens of thousands.

      • To be fair, Yastreblyansky may have been referring specifically to Americans when he said “thousands of us were killed and tens of thousands deprived of homes and livelihoods”, but yes, if you include Iraqis (and why wouldn’t you?), that’s substantially low-balling it.

        • (and why wouldn’t you?)

          Presumably because Yastreblyansky was referring back to the “we” who supposedly “cried wolf”.

          • I was, but I shouldn’t have been. #UnamericanLivesMatter.

          • Right, that’s why I read it that way too. I wouldn’t have thought to focus specifically on American deaths and losses of houses either, though.

          • Loofah

            Uh, nice attempted save but I’m not buying it. He said, “thousands of us were killed and tens of thousands deprived of homes and livelihoods”.

            So you’re arguing that when s/he pointed to the thousands of “us” who were killed he was talking Americans but then in the same compound sentence (with the same subject grammatically implied) s/he only then switched over in mid-sentence to the “tens of thousands” of Iraqis who lost their homes.

            That would mean that s/he had inexplicably chosen to highlight thousands of lost, ostensibly American, lives but then decided to ignore that far higher number of Iraqi lives and went with thousands of lost homes for the Iraqis instead of lives?

            Sorry, doesn’t compute.

            • (((Hogan)))

              S/he was probably thinking of Katrina as well as Iraq.

              • Thanks Hogan.That’s correct, Katrina and the mortgage crisis.

                • Loofah

                  Oh, I stand corrected.

                  I just always think of the atrocities committed in Iraq when I think of Bush Administration outrages since the harm done to our own is so miniscule by comparison. There is something quite a bit blinkered and tone-deaf, don’t you think, about complaining about the relatively minor harm done to oneself while in the process of doing massive harm to others?

        • Thanks, you’re absolutely right.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Even your version is too low. Hundreds of thousands were killed directly, but the number who lost their lives as a result is at least a million or two.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Right. That’s the amazing bit. Ralph Nader and his supporters — as well as centrist media types like Dowd and Rich — spend 2000 explaining that despite his record and platform George W. Bush was a harmless moderate. They couldn’t have been more wrong. But while many of them learned something there are some that still haven’t, and we’re still getting the same crap even as the Republican Party keeps getting worse.

      • Davis

        I certainly remember the portrayal of Bush as a moderate “compassionate” conservative. I also remember someone from Texas (Molly Ivins?) saying WTF? or something along those lines.

        • Brad Nailer

          Read Shrub. Bush might have been a bumbling fool, but he was a bumbling fool with friends.

  • Docrailgun

    Far from demonizing McCain… for a while there he seemed a sane moderate Republican who would be willing to get back to the idea of compromise in Congress. Too bad it was all a lie.

    • catclub

      But by the time he was campaigning he was McWars McCain.

      He was promising to keep troops in Iraq for a century, and to start about 5 other wars in the meantime.
      Georgia (not the Bulldogs) and Iran for starters.

      • And he’s still working on them.

        • efgoldman

          Not to mention the potential of inflicting Snowbillie Snookie on the whole country/world. What excellent presidential-type decision making THAT was.

          • Halloween Jack

            That’s the part that still gets me. The whole rationale for electing a cranky old man as your chief executive is that he is supposed to have been granted superior judgment by his decades in office, and then he goes and picks a running mate who is not only as dumb as half a box of rocks, but kind of arrogant about it, as well.

            • mds

              and then he goes and picks a running mate who is not only as dumb as half a box of rocks, but kind of arrogant about it, as well.

              Well, since picking a VP who complements the top of the ticket rarely has much political upside, why not pick someone who reinforces your own traits? After all, John McCain is only as dumb as half a box of rocks if you spot him twenty IQ points.

  • Murc

    You can’t demonize actual demons. That’s not a thing that’s possible.

    • +666

    • kayden

      Applause! Exactly.

    • q-tip

      According to lots of fan-art, Cthulhu has been unfairly demonized. He just wants to hold hands/eat your soul!

  • Joe_JP

    The “these days it is so much worse” argument annoys me in various respects (put aside that it can have bite — at certain points in our history, certain things were worse, even if the things were always around … same applies now in certain cases). The reference to FDR/LBJ is but one example.

    The “inspired” point is good too. People were inspired by individuals who were still flawed humans since the day of Washington. It’s human nature and at times the inspiration is well earned. I’m sure even GG himself was inspired by someone. Anyway, it can be a matter of degree anyhow.

    • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

      I’m sure even GG himself was inspired by someone.

      Other than himself, you mean?

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Cassandra.

  • For some reason, the thread on Beth’s short recent post is approaching 1,000

    Trying to reach two TBogg units is a reason… right?

    (the actual reason is probably that Greenwald and his supporters both tend to be tendentious, argumentative, tedious, etc.)

    • Pat

      Beth always draws the eyeballs.

  • Loofah

    “The Democratic argument against McCain and Romney was not that they were an “unparalleled threat to democracy”

    Well, maybe they were a paralleled threat to democracy but a threat to our democracy and well-being they certainly were. The radicalized GOP party is a threat and therefore so are any of its representatives or nominees. They don’t have to be an unparalleled threat to be worthy of demonization legitimately strong criticism.

    • Manny Kant

      A serious threat to our welfare, I think, but not a threat to democracy.

      • Loofah

        Sure they were. They supported Bush and the criminal Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, a decision that caused a gigantic corrupt breach in our democracy. They support Republican attempts to restrict suffrage in the states. They support money as speech and the free flow of money in our political system. They support dishonest political communications that make democratic decisions impossible.

        ALL Republicans in today’s radicalized Republican party are inherently threatening to democracy.

  • What the hell did happen in that other post? I’m not going to wade through all those comments, but can someone give me a brief summary?

    • Rob in CT

      Greenwald showed up to tell bspencer what a LIAR she was. Hijinks ensued.

      • Joe_JP

        A winner in the tl;dr sweepstakes for today.

      • I particularly enjoyed how incessantly GG claimed he was Important and Relevant, and this blog was cruddy and nobody read it and nobody here mattered….by spending hours of his valuable, relevant time making comment after comment at this small irrelevant blog. T

        That he doesn’t care about.

        No really. It doesn’t matter to him. That’s why he never comments here. Not even one.

        • witlesschum

          I remember defending Greenwald here once upon a time, saying he didn’t mean what LGMers were saying he meant by some unclear statement. Not too long before he showed up in comments and said he did mean the thing I was defending him for not meaning.

        • The Lorax

          Yeah. It was bizarre. I’d seen GG bully people before, but I’d not realized how thin-skinned and obsessed with his own image he is.

        • davidsmcwilliams

          Not to mention that he spent all that time arguing and never once actually used bspencer’s name. Am I the only one who found that pretty damn odd?

          • Anna in PDX

            It was tasteless and classless.

        • liberalrob

          I particularly enjoyed how incessantly GG claimed he was Important and Relevant

          He did not say that.

          and this blog was cruddy and nobody read it and nobody here mattered

          He did not say that, either.

          But keep killing that pig. It’s fun!

    • sibusisodan

      – long discussions of how one might define liberal and leftist. Little mention of priors, unfortunately.
      – coining of the phrase ‘by all relevant metrics’ as a new LGM catchphrase (to the dismay of some on the left)
      – excellent, choice examples of pounding the table in lieu of facts or argument, along with lawyerly openness and straightforwardness with language.
      – Drexciya providing another trademark, masterful and basically unanswerable counterargument.
      – Several people being cruel by quoting someone’s words back at them, in length and in context.
      – a bunch of people at the end going ‘woah, look at the comments. So many! Glad I was out.’

      • You missed the people who actually participated lamenting that they spent so much time actually doing so rather than doing something more productive, such as watching porn.

      • catclub

        I hope that ‘numbers of taco trucks’ is one of the relevant metrics.

      • Murc

        Drexciya providing another trademark, masterful and basically unanswerable counterargument.

        Y’know, credit where it is due; Drex has been on fire lately.

        Bijan was also pretty on fire in that exchange with whatchmacallum, King Goat. (We’ve all learned the hard way that if you come at Bijan you’d better have basic facts straight, but KG both couldn’t manage that and was giving GG way too much benefit of the doubt, and I say that as someone who is more sympathetic to Greenwald than he probably deserves.)

      • Drexciya

        – Drexciya providing another trademark, masterful and basically unanswerable counterargument.

        Y’know, credit where it is due; Drex has been on fire lately.

        Y’all are too kind, I appreciate it.

    • Halloween Jack

      Dude who’s maybe even more full of himself at the imminent prospect of being played on the big screen by Zach Quinto showed up to take some cheap shots at Beth Spencer and everyone else by extension; hilarity ensued.

  • If I might attempt a charitable reading of the sentence in the OP, anyway, I’d guess that it’s meant from the left, and to say that Democrats don’t have (enough of) a positive platform, and that they want to distinguish themselves from Republicans on a moral, or even just “we’re not as awful as that” basis (because they don’t have anything else going for them). So people who want more than that, presumably, should . . . vote Green, I guess. It’s a kind of absolutist, synchronic statement though, and probably no comparison to the past is intended. And I mean, sure, there are some people who seem to be saying, “I grew up with Republicans and I understand how awful they are (on my pet issue)! I should be in charge of the Democratic platform (even though on a bunch of other issues they don’t seem to have given much thought to possible critiques)!” And no one is saying they should be drummed out of the Democratic party, but I don’t see why those people have to LEAD the coalition, or pretend they’re the larger part of it. But I’m also not seeing that people who do that are predominantly pro-Democrat as opposed to leaning more Green.

    Also, I actually don’t think it should be controversial to say that regardless of voter demographics, coalitions, etc., in the 1970s (that is, when most of the books people now 40 and older read as young people were being written–well within living memory) regulation, and a number of other policies that would now be considered unrealistically too far left, were supported by Democrats as a matter of course, with people opposing those policies on the defensive. It seems to be hard to imagine nowadays because people educated later than that seem to have all been taught that everybody sensible supports a Mankiw-type hard line, and always did.

  • jeer9

    Paradox: The Dem caucus has gradually become more progressive over the past forty years while income inequality has soared during the same period.

    The idea that this economic trend has occurred strictly through the political skills of the Right and without any complicity from the corporate stooge element of the Dems (especially given the many veto points in the system) seems somewhat far-fetched.

    • Over that period, control of Congress passed from the Democrats to the Republicans.

      • Scott Lemieux

        The Democrats have had effective unified control of the federal government for — to be generous — 4 years since 1980. Clearly, the Democratic caucus of 2016 is responsible for all of the policy changes during this period, particularly the Reagan and Bush tax cuts that for some mysterious reason don’t get passed when Democrats control the government.

        • jeer9

          Clearly, the Democratic caucus of 2016 is responsible for all of the policy changes during this period, particularly the Reagan and Bush tax cuts that for some mysterious reason don’t get passed when Democrats control the government.

          Non sequitur.

          Dems controlled the House for 18 years from 1976 – 1994 and then from 2006 – 2010.

          Dems controlled the Senate for 22 years during that same 40 year period.

          During Reagan’s administration, the Rs never had unified control of the federal government.

          • Quaino

            Paradox: At some point in the past the Democrats controlled some portion of the government. Therefore, people are incorrect that the 2016 Democratic Party is more liberal than the past Democratic Party.

          • You’re making Lemieux’s point.

          • Scott Lemieux

            I concede the point — there was a minority of conservative Democrats in the 80s who collaborated with Reagan. How this makes the Democratic caucus of 1982 more liberal than the Democratic caucus of 2016 is not entirely obvious to me.

            • efgoldman

              there was a minority of conservative Democrats in the 80s who collaborated with Reagan

              Not to mention the number of not-so-conservative Democrats, including Ted Kennedy and speaker Tip O’Neill, who couldn’t or wouldn’t work with the Carter administration 1976-1980.

            • jeer9

              How this makes the Democratic caucus of 1982 more liberal than the Democratic caucus of 2016 is not entirely obvious to me.

              Not seeing where I argued this.

              Your concession is duly accepted.

              • ColBatGuano

                Right, your argument wasn’t even this coherent.

          • PJ

            So … to put a very fine point on it, is this the set of conditions that allow you to say that Democrats are corporate stooges?

        • Murc

          To be scrupulously fair to jeer9, Scott, he wasn’t calling out the Democratic caucus as a whole; he was calling out the corporate stooge element therein.

          And that’s a part of the caucus that, while not as powerful as it once was, did exist, does still exist, and has been complicit in a lot of the legislative framework that has enabled and exacerbated massive wealth inequality.

          That said his “paradox” statement is… I’m going to be perhaps too kind and say “overstated.” It’s perfectly possible for the Democratic Party to move left at the same time as the Republicans enjoy great policy enactment advantages. jeer9 himself acknowledges that by limiting his second graf to a specific subset of Democrats rather than all Democrats; the two grafs don’t actually work together.

          • Scott Lemieux

            while not as powerful as it once was

            Well, um, that’s the whole ballgame right there.

          • jeer9

            I didn’t think I was really saying anything too controversial.

            In order for Dems to pass legislation, they must control the presidency and both houses of congress. (And even then, filibusters hamper much progress.)

            On the other hand, Republicans often manage to pass legislation (especially the kind favorable to their corporate overlords) even when they don’t have complete control. (Reconciliation seems to be a one-sided strategy.)

            I am very pleased that the Dem platform is so progressive and I hope HRC has the opportunity to act upon these legislative wishes.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yes, in the American system it is easier to pass upper-class tax cuts that it is to pass major progressive legislation. I’m not sure who you’re arguing with.

              • jeer9

                I thought with someone who thinks the democratic party has been moving leftward for forty years.

                On economic issues (taxes, banking regulation, trade, and unions) the Dems turned rightward in the Eighties and Nineties. Only in 2008 did this trend start to reverse itself.

                Perhaps I misunderstood your position and you actually agree.

                • ColBatGuano

                  The Nineties were 20 years ago.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  has been moving leftward for forty years.

                  Uh, no.

                • jeer9

                  Yes, in the American system it is easier to pass upper-class tax cuts that it is to pass major progressive legislation.

                  Uh, it’s a bit more than that.

    • a_paul_in_mtl

      Might it not be possible that the increase in Democratic progressivism is in reaction to increasing inequality?

      I wouldn’t let the Democrats completely off the hook despite what Scott L points out but that actually doesn’t change the fact of increased progressivism.

      • Pat

        Political parties are often responsive to the concerns of their partisans. When they aren’t, the partisans elect candidates like Donald Trump in primary contests.

    • Bruce B.

      Jeet: “The idea that this economic trend has occurred strictly through the political skills of the Right and without any complicity from the corporate stooge element of the Dems (especially given the many veto points in the system) seems somewhat far-fetched.” Yes, it does. So, is anyone here, or anyone like folks here, actually saying anything like that? Anyone who thinks that “More Democrats” is a sufficient slogan without “And Better” wedged in?

  • Happy Jack

    Hillary Clinton is the most inspiring candidate in history*. That is, if you’re not a white male. But everyone else is inspired. That includes white men who aren’t brocialists.

    *I would have included Obama, but I can’t say if people were just as inspired by Harding, who was rumored to be black.

    • Harding, who was rumored to be black.

      “Gamaliel” always did sound kind of … Ebonic to me!

      • rea

        Weren’t Washington and Jefferson black? I saw this show . . .

  • a_paul_in_mtl

    The “crying wolf” argument that Greenwald did make is not that Democrats “caused” Trump but that their previous “demonization” of Republicans undercuts the credibility of attacks on Trump.

    • cleek

      Greenwald thinks “crying wolf” is wrong.

      *irony meter sizzles and smokes*

    • sibusisodan

      Which is kinda daft. It’s possible for something to be horrible, and yet not the horriblest.

      It’s certainly possible for us to look back and think how less-horrible things were in certain aspects compared to now. That doesn’t mean anyone pointing out the degree of horribleness at the time was wrong/silly to do so, nor that there wasn’t a direction of travel which could be noticed.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        Ah, well, now you’re dealing in nuances. Self-righteous people don’t like those.

      • JKTH

        If the GOP continues to outcrazy itself each Presidential election cycle, we’ll be treated to the same thing again in 2020. “Democrats were so mean to Trump saying that he was a nutjob who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes, but he didn’t propose to nuke the East Coast like Curt Schilling.”

    • kayden

      As if Greenwald doesn’t spend all his time demonizing Democrats such as President Obama. Please!

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        Since his shtick is to attack the Democrats from the left, thus being “independently non-partisan”, it makes sense that he would cap an attack on Trump by attacking the Democratic Party for supposedly weakening the case against Trump.

    • JMP

      Whatever his point is supposed to be doesn’t make it any less incredibly stupid.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        Oh, it’s stupid alright. But given what Scott said in the OP I just wanted to make it clear that Greenwald’s argument is, in fact, a “crying wolf” argument. It just isn’t quite as stupid as some of the Republican variants.

    • a_paul_in_mtl

      In the OP Scott states

      he (Greenwald) is not making the increasingly common and very dumb “crying wolf” argument — that is, that the Democratic Party somehow caused Trump by being unfair to reasonable, moderate, thinking person’s conservatives like McCain and Romney.

      My point is that while this is true, Greenwald is making a slightly less stupid argument that is actually more accurately characterized as a “crying wolf argument” than the one Scott is describing.

      • Manny Kant

        As I understand the story, the boy who cried wolf did not cause the wolf to show up.

    • addicted44

      This is the first time I am hearing anyone suggest (well, second time, after GG’s comment yesterday) that the moral of the boy crying wolf story was that the boy was responsible for the wolf.

      The way I have understood is that the boy should not exaggerate things or lie, because when something actually happens, others won’t believe them.

      GG by claiming that people were ignoring claims of Donald’s threat to democracy because the Dems always did this including with Romney and McCain sounds exactly like claiming Dems cried wolf.

      The point bspencer was making as far as I understood it, which is that the criticisms of Romney and McCain were absolutely commensurate with the risks they posed, and so it wasn’t a boy cries wolf situation.

      Of course, I was introduced to the story before I came to the US so it’s possible there is a different cultural understanding of its morals, but I really doubt it.

  • cleek

    they don’t inspire anybody

    in which Greenwald demonstrates that he doesn’t actually know anybody outside of his little internet echo-chamber. he apparently thinks he speaks for hundreds of millions of people in a country where he doesn’t live.

    what a dick

  • manual

    Im sorry. While the democratic party is far more liberal today than it was in the 1990s. On economic issues, it is not more liberal than in previous eras. See Hacker/Pierson. This is part of there phenomenal work on parties, influence, and money. The 1970s-2000s democrats literally removed significant depression era regulations on banks, existing regululation on numerous sectors and significantly changed on the value of Keynesian economics in the 1990s. Larry summers and Brad Delong wrote an economic journal article on this in 2011, I believe (and they were part of the problem.

    I disagree with some of what glenn says, but I dont share your position on the democratic party and economic policy. I dont think you are engaging with the literature.

    • Gregor Sansa

      I see what you’re saying. There is an interesting discussion to be had on these points. However, I agree with Lemieux that “the Democrats these days have sold out so hard that they’re in many ways worse than the Republicans” is a completely asinine and unproductive way to start out that discussion.

      (Obviously, that’s not a criticism of you, but of people like Greenwald.)

      • manual

        Who is arguing they are worse then republicans? Serious question.

        But my point stands (not arguing with you) that it is a bad faith argument – on economic policy – to say that the democratic party is as liberal as it has every been. Lemiuex drags in other issues of war and peace (Vietnam and Japanese internment) to change the subject.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          but Lemieux doesn’t limit himself to economic policy when he says the party is more liberal- he’s taking the party as a whole. having a strict focus on the economic side is kind of blinkered

        • FlipYrWhig

          What do you mean by “economic policy,” though? Social welfare programs? Support for labor? Support for regulation? I don’t remember Sam Nunn, Bennett Johnston, and David Boren being shining lights on any of these.

          • efgoldman

            I don’t remember Sam Nunn, Bennett Johnston, and David Boren being shining lights on any of these.

            When did they pass the ACA? The Lilly Ledbetter Act? Dodd/Frank? Change overtime rules? I pay pretty good attention to politics, and somehow Nunn, etc doing that slipped right by me.

            • manual

              Again, this might be difficult but the Nunn et al era is the bad era. Those are elected officials from the 70s-90s when we entered a post-stagflation, post labor democratic party.

              This is not to say the democratic party has not always had a coalition of bad, southern elements. But the 70-00s was a time in which a lot of democratic policy making was bad on economics. Peoples’ failure to grasp this part of the historical record is troubling.

              I like the turn from 2008 forward. I think this is the emergence of a more liberal, albeit highly imperfect, democratic party.

              I dont know who you people are arguing with. I am pointing out a simple historical note that the democratic party got real shitty on economic issues for a period of time. Barack Obama is both a part of that era and the ending of that era. He was good but not phenomenal – he represents the transition period.

            • FlipYrWhig

              Here’s a list of sitting Senators circa 1983. manual, because you brought it up: look at who’s in those seats, and tell me who the lost Democratic economic-justice warriors, those giants in those times we no longer possess, actually are. I think I see two, Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum.

              • manual

                Just stop it. I have said he party backslid beginning in the 1970s. Ive said it in 3 posts. Its what the academic research also finds.

                You are giving me the 1983 Senate roster, which if I understand correctly falls between the 70s-90s.

                Best of luck with the rest of your blogging time.

                Manual

                • FlipYrWhig

                  I have a hard time believing that Congressional Democrats who were veterans of the segregation battles, which was more than a few of them, are properly considered “to the left” of anybody, no matter how you define “left.” It seems like an analytical error based on misreading the old system of trading votes for public works projects in your home state, perfected by people like Robert Byrd, and treating those as liberal because they involve spending public money fairly generously to put locals to work.

                • a_paul_in_mtl

                  “The Democrats backslid in the 1970’s”

                  And up until the 1960’s the Democrats were the party of white segregationists. The momentum of civil rights legislation and the “war on poverty” faded in the late 1960’s. So the actual liberal golden age (at least in government) possibly spans the years 1964-66.

                • manual

                  I know this is hard for some democrats to grasp with the realities of the New Deal, in which everything is either/or. The New Deal was racially discriminatory and helpful to people of color at the same time, and would be increasingly so over time. There were major exclusions (like the social security carve outs of agriculture and so forth) but some if not most of these were changed and blacks did end up benefiting from social security and other programs. And yes, there were lots of racist democrats, but last I checked, we did pass a series of civil rights acts in the 1960s. Do these stop counting because Robert Byrd was in the KKK, or something. Isnt that, like the Dinesh Dsouza argument against the democratic party.

                  No one – or at least not me – is living in a race free paradigm. But to pooh pooh, or throw out, the major economic restructurings brought forward from the 1930s-1960s on confronting capital is absurd. They had long lasting affects that prevented banking crisis, created the national labor relations act, provided the direct provision of money and housing assistance to the poor, and so forth. All of which had major impacts on the lives of all people – white, black, latino, you name it.

                  Again. This is a point of history: the democratic party became more friendly to capital and less to average working people between the 1970-1990s. See Hacker/Pierson or any other reams of political science.

                  If you want to focus on race, please tell me how ending AFDC, outsourcing manufacturing jobs, deregulating finance and swaps, are not harmful to the people of color. For a particularly pointed piece on the effects of outsourcing on black Americans please see When Work Disappears by William Julius Wilson.

                • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                  I’d argue that the elected Democrats moving away from labor and towards the wealthy probably is mostly a result of the decline of unions. In the 1950s and early 60s, it was my impression (as a child, then) that unions, between their outright money contributions and voter mobilization, managed to do a half-decent job of offsetting the large amount of money that Republican raised.

                  Then the unions started to decline, could give less money, couldn’t mobilize as well, and the elected Democrats had to turn to someone or else lose elections. So part of their changes were out of self-preservation.

                  You can argue with the Faustian bargain, but keeping their ideological purity probably would have resulted in Republicans controlling all branches of government for a couple of decades. Some want to believe that this would have cause “the people” to wake up and all become Progressives. I’m dubious about that theory.

          • manual

            Lets put aside that you selectively chose 3 of the least progressive members who just happened to in office from the 70s-90s – the exact era of Democrats falling away from working peopl. . Not sure what your point is other than to point out members from the South who were a part of the democrats horrible policies against working people, underlying my point.

            Ok. Lets run this down.

            AFDC. Created in 1935(36?) to support families. Ended in 1996 by Bill Clinton. Has increased a $2 poverty.

            Social Security. Bill Clinton (via Doug Elmendorf) did explore privatizing social security.

            Banking- Democratic party put in place a number of depression era rules on banking (not just glass-stegall). They became more favorable to the banking industry starting in the 1980s. By the 90s the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act deregulated these laws and helped spur a major banking crisis that had a contagion effect on the world economy for years.

            Trade – NAFTA and PNTR, the latter of which is the real driver of bad trade policy, trade union losses and outsourcing as a deliberate policy choice.

            I agree the democrats are the much better party. I am a democrat. But I think its pretty obvious during a crucial period 70s-90/00s they backslid on a lot of working class and poor issues. They made a deliberate attempt to court professional class people, make themselves more amenable to capital, in particular the financial services industry, and to – at times – demonize the poor (TANF). I think the historical record reflects this and he academic community supports it as well.

            I dont care about an argument with Greenwald, but I dont much care to white wash this record.

            • manual

              FlipyWing where art thou?

            • FlipYrWhig

              Those aren’t NEARLY “3 of the last progressive members,” manual. Those are squarely mainstream Democrats from that era. I didn’t even mention all the old segregationists who hung around for decades. They weren’t making progressive policy either. I think there’s something to your observation that the Democratic Party got interested in wooing the votes of affluent socially tolerant professionals (bankers, lawyers, high-tech entrepreneurs) and that that affected the policies they advocated. But the status quo ante was no great shakes either.

              You’d have to go back to the late Fulbright/Birch Bayh/Frank Church/Mike Mansfield years to find Senators who were significantly more liberal than their electorates now are.

              • FlipYrWhig

                “Least progressive,” I meant at the start, not “last progressive.”

            • bender

              I agree with Manual. In the 1970s-1990s, the Democratic Party has been much more attentive to legislation and regulation that is in the class interests of people who have salaried jobs and careers than to wage earners. During those decades, the jobs lost to outsourcing and automation disproportionately were working class, paid by the hour jobs. Outsourcing and financial deregulation have been the largest causes for the rapid increase in income inequality and concentration of wealth. Only when those same economic policies began to affect the economic security of salary class people have they gotten the attention of Democratic politicians and the party has begun giving more than lip service to reform.

              The Democratic Party was not the leader in legislation that hurts the working class, but during those decades it frequently cooperated with the GOP on those trade, labor, economic and regulatory policies, and put up a weak fight when not actively cooperating. The fact that private sector union jobs have nearly disappeared was not done singlehandedly by Republicans, nor was it done in the dark.

              Democrats do not bear all the blame, but ignoring the extent to which the party abandoned the working class during the years following LBJ is a denial which does no one any good. To some extent, the shift in priorities within the party may have been a way of adjusting to the loss of Southern Democrats. If so, it may be another example of the complicated way that race and class issues interact in this country, like the history of populism.

              • Brien Jackson

                But the counterpoint here is that you can’t just say all of this without even acknowledging the sharp rightward lurch of the electorate/body politic that began at the end of the 1960’s.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  Hmm… I wonder what else happened at around that time that could have exposed a partially-hidden regressive vein in what had been the Democratic party base?

                  In other words: I think it’s not so much a lurch, as a realignment of already-existing tendencies; one that came at the expense of what had been a somewhat functional solidarity against robber barons.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Well yeah, that’s basically it: Once the liberals in the Democratic Party decided to fully embrace civil rights, the conservative whites weren’t willing to vote in support of the economically liberal agenda anymore and Democrats were basically dead in the water in Presidential elections (with three bona fide blowouts in the 80’s) up until Clinton and the DLC came along.

              • FlipYrWhig

                Perhaps labor leaders immediately before then shouldn’t have been throwing in their lot with Republicans and bigots who hated blacks, browns, and longhairs. Oh well, live and learn.

          • manual

            And yes. Support for labor. The 90s was really bad for labor and labor unions.

            • a_paul_in_mtl

              I think one thing that’s emerging here is that “liberalism” means different things to different people.

              It is true that the 1950’s, for example, was an era when unions were stronger and marginal tax rates were higher (although overall revenues were lower and the government spent less on what we consider to be “liberal” programs), and the economy was more regulated in some areas (not necessarily in terms of safety standards though). So you could argue that for a white working class male that was the time when liberalism was at its peak. On the other hand, advances in racial justice were still to come, and as for gender and sexual identity…or even the environment- they were nowhere on the agenda. Many of the advances in those areas took place in an era when unions were thrown on the defensive, the minimum wage declined in real value, and income inequality increased. So when was the “liberal golden era”?

              • manual

                I have not argued for a liberal golden era. I have argued that the democratic party was more liberal on economic matters from 1934-1960s. This is a point of view shared by Jacob Hacker, Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, and probably Erik Loomis.

                And I completely disagree with the idea that an era of higher tax rates, less income inequality, and larger union representation only helped white people.

                I have a job, so I will get back to it. But I would implore everyone to read the work of William Julius Wilson, and how the change from a good-manufacturing economy led to the dislocation of black males throughout the US. Do people not realize that manufacturing (steel, textiles etc) employed lots of black people, or that when the state shrinks it is black people, who are highly concentrated in public employment, who bear the burden?

                Yes, the era in which the state was stronger was more racist. That doesnt mean the economic policies were worse. Of course race has gotten better and a series of laws and practices have opened up opportunity and lifestyle choices did not. The party – and more importantly the nation – have become better on that score. But have also become worse on employment and economics, which also are important to people of color. On a number of indicators poor blacks are worse off now than in the past. This is the result of economic choices over the last 30 to 40 years that have made it harder for non-college educated people, and in particular, those of color to get jobs. The democratic party was complicit in that, just as they were complicit in trying to exclude blacks from Social Security. But they fixed the social security issue, not the laws and decisions that prevent tight labor markets, unionization, and equitable growth, which all harm people who arent white the most.

                • a_paul_in_mtl

                  “I completely disagree with the idea that an era of higher tax rates, less income inequality, and larger union representation only helped white people.”

                  Well, in fact I did not argue that those things only helped white people. However, the fact remains that due to formal and informal government policies African-Americans were excluded from many of the benefits of the New Deal. De jure and de facto segregation effectively excluded African Americans from the post WWII education and home ownership programs that enabled working class whites to attain a higher standard of living, for example. Also, in the south unionization remained weak and racial politics had a lot to do with keeping things that way – and that was to be the Achilles heel for the union movement.

                  Before “the war on poverty” of the mid-1960’s many of the programs we take for granted were either non-existent or were unavailable to many people. The fact that marginal tax rates and corporate taxes were relatively high doesn’t change the fact that overall, income tax rates were relatively low, and a very high proportion of what was collected went to the military. We didn’t even have the welfare state we have now in the 1950’s.

                  Statistics show that the height of income equality was in the 1970’s. Even those were not easy times for African Americans. Due to the policies I mentioned earlier, despite advances in civil rights and ongoing discrimination, many of them were relegated to decaying cities, working for declining industries, more prone to unemployment.

                • a_paul_in_mtl

                  “I have argued that the democratic party was more liberal on economic matters from 1934-1960s.”

                  If by “liberal” you mean “interventionist”, in some ways, yes. This was part of a world trend. Even right-of-centre governments used to nationalize utilities when such a measure was seen to be in the national interest, just as left-of-centre governments later privatized them.

                  The points I have made do not deny that. They do point to the limitations of such an argument. The interventionist state of old co-existed with greater male and white supremacy, with intolerance toward sexual diversity, and so on. People were excluded from many of the benefits of the New Deal. To some extent, that was the price of getting southern Democrats to support the New Deal in the first place.

                  That said, as I have pointed out, a lot of the welfare state dates back only to the tail end of that period- the 1960’s. The height of income equality dates back to the 1970’s. And that’s before we even deal with issues like the environment (which are surely relevant to economic policy). Until the 1970’s industrial waste was simply seen as the price to pay for prosperity. So it’s not as simple as saying well, economic policy was better then. In some ways it was. But we couldn’t bring that world back now even if we wanted to.

                  The economic crises of the 1970’s and the emergence of offshore capital markets (such as Eurodollar markets in the 1960’s) undermined Keynesianism and welfare liberalism, and the union movement. This resulted in a shift to the right in economic policy across the world from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. That much is true.

                  It is now 2016, not 1996. The Democratic Party is not what it was in 1996, as evidenced by the success of Bernie Sanders and the current Democratic Party platform. We have a long way to go, but there is no golden past to look back to and say “there was the era with the mix of policies we must revert to”. We do need to relearn some of the lessons that brought about some of the financial controls in place after the Great Depression. We need to learn from history. But if only because of climate change, we cannot go back to post WWII economic policy. We need something to address today’s challenges. We need to find modern ways to overcome injustice and inequality, in a way that- this time- does include everyone.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Of course banking/finance policy is one of of liberalism’s many axes, not the entirety of it, and Democratic-politician-championed policies on same have changed markedly since 2008. The Greenwald mistake is to declare that the areas _he_ finds important — usually executive power/surveillance/civil liberties; sometimes, it seems lately, including some of this banking/finance stuff — are the crucial issues. (Matt Taibbi and Thomas Frank were ahead of Greenwald in this tendency, with a different mesh of issues.) In all cases, maintaining this argument requires handwaving away most everything else and giving no credit to Democratic politicians who worked hard to accomplish things in those areas, and giving no scorn to Republican politician who worked to thwart them. It’s profoundly myopic. Scott Lemieux and others have an entirely more reasonable approach: look at a _broad spectrum_ of policy differences and how they map to partisan differences, and it will become quite reasonable in turn to prefer Generic Democrat to Generic Republican, _especially_ considering that the areas about which the gadflies care _are not ones that the other party does better at anyway_.

  • Gregor Sansa

    It’s not “blackmail” for the Democrats to seek the votes of people to the left of the typical congressional Democrat by being much better than the Republicans.

    This is 100% true. But it is hard for some people to swallow. And there have always been and will always be people who don’t want to take this medicine. I think it’s worth pointing out that a better voting system would sugar the pill; heck, even unsuccessfully trying to institute a better voting system would sugar the pill.

    What better voting system? In the past, I’ve answered this question with “approval voting, or, if that’s not good enough for you, Majority Judgment”. I’d like to swap out the “Majority Judgment” with a closely related system I’ve recently devised called Disqualify/Approve or Double Approval (DA, either way). DA’s advantage is that it’s easier to explain. Here it is:

    For each candidate, you may rate them “approved/preferred”, “neutral”, or “disqualify”. If some but not all candidates have a majority (50%+1) of “disqualify” votes, then they are disqualified. The winner is the non-disqualified candidate with the most approvals.

    A simple strategy in this system would be: approve of your favorite candidate. Look at the two candidates you think are most likely to win, and vote to disqualify one of them, as well as anybody who you think would be worse for the job.

    If everyone voted using this simple strategy, and they were all on a left/right axis, then the winner would be the most popular candidate from the most popular side of the axis.

    • cs

      Sounds interesting but I would suggest to change the terms, I think “approved” and “neutral” might confuse people. For example, if I generally agree with two of the candidates but I prefer one over the other, I might not understand how to express that.

      Maybe “preferred”, “acceptable”, and “unacceptable”

      • Gregor Sansa

        I like your words. So the name for the system would be U/P voting (for unacceptable/preferred). Nice branding: just call it “up voting” when speaking. (Upvoting, as a modern verb, mostly refers to what you do on sites like Quora, corresponding to a facebook “like”. This is essentially approval voting, and U/P voting is based on approval, so it seems to me legit to use the word).

        Note that you could have a rule that if a candidate had been deemed unacceptable in a previous election for the same office (even if they’d won, because all other candidates were also unacceptable), then the ballot would have a note saying “voted unacceptable in 20xx” next to their name. This would tend to act as a “term limit” on anybody who won merely due to a divided field.

        • efgoldman

          Ah Gregor, Gregor, Gregor…..
          My granddaughter, who is three, won’t live to see this kind of change, certainly not on the national level, and probably not more than a couple of states.
          Every place can’t be Cambridge. Thank FSM.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Thank FSM.

            Actually, voting in this system would be easier than in plurality, unlike the Cambridge system (STV). You don’t have to extensively compare candidates, just choose one or two to prefer and mark “unacceptable” next to anybody who’s worse (stupider and/or more evil) than 2 of the 3 latest officeholders.

            Why is that easier than plurality? Two reasons. First, this would allow jungle primaries to narrow the final decision down to the 4 choices that are viable with the greatest portion of the electorate; and most voters could afford to skip the primary, since any candidate strong enough to win will almost certainly be among the top 4, even if turnout is 60% lower in the primary. Second, there would be none of the fooferal about safe states; you could afford to use a calibrated absolute heuristic, not a relative heuristic involving comparing each candidate against all the others.

            • Gregor Sansa

              More importantly, it would be easier because you wouldn’t have to have 1000-comment-long arguments with your supposed allies about whether they should vote strategically. They could “vote their conscience” and still be good allies. Yay.

  • delazeur

    Leaving aside his views for a minute, Greenwald came across as an enormous dick in that other thread. Assuming that wasn’t someone trolling (did he ever bother to prove it was him?), it’s crazy that someone like that would spend so much time slinging shit on a random blog’s comment section.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Yup. Telling a random blog commenter “well, at least I’m more famous than you(r possibly pseudonymous username)” is pathetic.

      • delazeur

        That one really took the cake.

        • liberalrob

          Aimai said nobody took him seriously. He said apparently more than a few do.

          How the fuck is that “well, at least I’m more famous than you”!

          Kill the pig!

      • That I didn’t see. Did anyone at least say “Bieber is more famous than you, Glenn, come back when the Biebs knows your name.”

        • liberalrob

          You didn’t see it because it didn’t happen except in these allegedly intelligent people’s imaginations.

      • Brien Jackson

        It’s kind of weird how “leftists” seem to invariably throw that exact line at me. Greenwald is at least the fourth one to use it (Rensin, Bruenig, and Freddie being the others, on Twitter.

        • FlipYrWhig

          “Y’all just jealous!” #everymaurypovichshow

          • Brien Jackson

            I’ve assumed it’s because I do professional sports blogging as side work, they see it in my Twitter bio, and they think it’s some kind of vicious slam that I would obviously care about. Not so much.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Did Freddie do this immediately after asking why you would ever possibly bother to engage with a mere humble grad student with a WordPress blog?

    • Rob in CT

      He’s always had thin skin, and delighted in feuding with people. I think that really was him.

      • Tzadik

        He mentioned the thread on his twitter account, probably him.

        • It was pretty definite in the tweet that it was him, so yeah.

          • josiah
            • Gregor Sansa

              The responses … ugh. He got exactly the echo chamber he was looking for, and none of the comments I saw pointed out how out-of-context his pull quote was.

              • addicted44

                If you go over that comment thread, you will notice he completely ignores all the substantial threads, but writes tons of comments in those where he can be on the winning side of the argument, no matter how completely irrelevant the argument is (for example, his many comments on the thread discussing his relevance, which frankly, was completely irrelevant to bring up in the first place by the commenter, but that was the one GG focused on. )

                • Rob in CT

                  Just like he did in this thread. He picked one comment to reply to (so he could shout LIAR at someone).

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/773137359147859968

              He took the drones and missiles that were aimed at Muslim countries and aimed them at US.

              Hmmmm…

              Unless he’s talking about al-Awlaki in a very poorly-worded fashion, ummm…

            • JB2

              “Dem Party blog”!!

              What a master troll. Respect

      • Murc

        He’s always had thin skin, and delighted in feuding with people.

        As someone who delights in pointless feuds, you better not have a thin skin if you’re going to instigate.

    • I think it goes to the litigator’s attitude. He writes as if he thinks there’s going to be someone on the other side hitting back as hard. In the new piece: it’s the journalist’s task to rip down everything (like a cross-examination) and not to worry what’s left standing. When he was talking about corporate cooperation with electronic surveillance–it was probably as bad as he said but it was like he’d just picked a much-too-specific villain and argument at random and was pounding on them, and slagging anyone who differed on minor points. Probably in that case it helped produce an atmosphere where something could get done, but it also produced a lot of heat and not much light.

      • sibusisodan

        He writes as if he thinks there’s going to be someone on the other side hitting back as hard.

        I see what you mean with regards to some of his writing, but it doesn’t work for that thread, given that his first comment was a pretty significant escalation of both negative tone and language, and that he also didn’t respond to the times people actually did hit back hard factually.

        • True. That seemed to be about him saying nasty things about the blog and the bloggers, not wanting to have an argument about, like, an actual issue.

          eta: It’s not just him, either. Some male bloggers, especially, seem to periodically decide there’s some woman blogger or twitterer out there who’s just dying to have him come over to where she lives, virtually, and say “let’s you and me fight.” Oddly, they’re always wrong.

          • sibusisodan

            That is a very good point, your eta.

          • DW

            Some male bloggers, especially, seem to periodically decide there’s some woman blogger or twitterer out there who’s just dying to have him come over to where she lives, virtually, and say “let’s you and me fight.”

            Or, alternatively, “let me show you what a real progressive is like.”

            Obligatory Tiger Beatdown BONERS! Link: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/04/09/why-tiger-beatdown-has-jokes-on-it-turns-out-some-motherfucker-had-to-ask-me/

            • I was thinking of the time Friedersdorf wanted to debate her about why she didn’t like Game of Thrones, but that one works too.

              • sharculese

                That was ED Kain, but the two are easy to confuse.

                • Thanks! Indeed it was. Can’t imagine why I remembered it as being CF, but I’m sure he’s grateful to you too for there being one fewer bad thought about him in the world from one more person’s head.

            • Anna in PDX

              I read that at the time. One of the greatest posts on the Internet. It makes me laugh and cry every time I reread it.

      • Saskexpat

        Taking everything personally (which he apparently did) and making that a subject of the discussion is extremely poor advocacy. Making the kind of insulting statements he made hurt his ability to convince someone who is undecided about the issue to agree with him, and makes people who want to agree with him (or already do agree) much less likely to continue doing so. His personal invective completely clouded his substantive positions. If that is the way he litigated as an attorney, I feel sorry for his clients.

        • It might indeed take an utter imbecile to believe the opposing counsel’s arguments. You probably should phrase that differently to the jury, though.

      • PJ

        As someone on Twitter pointed out, going after other bloggers is clearly now part of The Intercept writers’ MO.

        Zaid Jilani apparently decided to go after Jamelle Bouie’s qualifications as a journalist.

        As someone else also pointed out (Kevin Kruse?), it’s not particularly nice to note that they often decide to get into it with women and/or Black people.

        • Pat

          Gotta shut down the opposing viewpoints!

          I don’t think GG convinced anyone here that there’s anything wrong with Beth.

          • liberalrob

            Not his goal. (Either one.)

            It was a mistake for him to post in comments here at all, IMHO. QED.

        • D.N. Nation

          Oh man. These types hate Bouie. The way they treat him, you’d be forgiven for thinking he controlled a vast HRC-supporting media empire instead of being some random Slate writer. Much in the same way Neera Tanden apparently operates a shadow government all by herself.

          • Lord Jesus Perm

            Freddie DeBoer’s comments on Bouie in the past few months are pretty telling in this regard.

            Too add to this, it isn’t just Bouie that those types hate. It’s Jamil Smith, Imani Gandy, and hell, damn near any black journo out who wasn’t completely down with Bernie Sanders during the primaries.

        • Drexciya

          Zaid Jilani apparently decided to go after Jamelle Bouie’s qualifications as a journalist.

          Everything Zaid Jilani says about and to black people he disagrees with is openly racist. Of all the “leftist” writers that hate black people, he’s by far one of the most openly contemptuous of them. His comment about Bouie packed every hoary, racist cliche about affirmative action hires and black workers into 140 characters. The way they address and talk about Bouie among themselves bears no relation to his actual commentary and almost requires the assumption that the black left can present no good faith challenges to leftism to give it any coherence. I noticed that when Bouie finally admitted something as obvious as him voting for Sanders, that whole crowd completely ignored it.

          After a year of whining about Bouie being a careerist neoliberal with a Hillary bias they’ve met his openness about his (to my mind, clear) leftist priorities with not the slightest acknowledgment or introspection. In the span of a week, he’s admitted that he voted for Sanders, supports a federal jobs guarantee, he endorsed M4BL’s platform and he quoted black leftists like Sandy Darity to do both. I think people need to adjust the level of good faith some of these leftists are assumed to have, especially as it relates to how they respond to black thinkers articulating validly different political priorities. There’s a thick, thick subtext to a good bit of their dismissals and it paints an ugly picture when weighed against other pieces of evidence.

          • Brien Jackson

            In fairness, a whole bunch of us have pretty much been saying that the simplest explanation is that they’re racist for the better part of a year now. It’s been pretty obvious at least since the many different ways they said “black people are just too stupid to vote for Bernie.”

            • PJ

              I admit I’ve been giving them a wide berth so as to not have to deal with this isht.

              But goddamn they have gone out of their way to make everyone notice it.

          • D.N. Nation

            Wow. What a jackass.

            Great bunch of people you’ve got, Intercept.

            • Anna in PDX

              I still like Jon Schwarz. He sort of mentored me many (fifteen maybe? Lord) years ago and helped me get an article or two published at Z Magazine.

          • Scott Lemieux

            His comment about Bouie packed every hoary, racist cliche about affirmative action hires and black workers into 140 characters.

            Holy shit. Not that I thought well of him before, but…

            The way this crew has treated Bouie is just appalling, and got a lot worse after his devastating criticisms of Rensin’s terrible Vox article for obvious reasons.

      • Warren Terra

        I think it goes to the litigator’s attitude. He writes as if he thinks there’s going to be someone on the other side hitting back as hard.

        No. What Greenwald’s legal training contributes to his writing style is that he writes as if he’s getting paid for the time spent writing (and every unit of that time should be demonstrated on the page, or rather in the number of pages), rather than for the quality of the writing, and he writes as if his reader were being paid for the time spent reading. Also, any claim that is at all defensible is worth making, and consistency is not prized. Thus you get interminable and disconnected screeds that exhaust the patience of a reader not getting paid for their time.

        If instead he’d trained to satisfy an editor, especially one who strictly imposed space limitations, he would be a very different writer. I’d argue a better one.

    • Saskexpat

      To me, the really funny thing about it was that whomever it was could have been a little more magnanimous, responded to the OP, and made the whole thing into an “agree to disagree” type of dispute on a few key issues. This could probably have been accomplished with just a few relatively short comments.

      • FlipYrWhig

        By the same token, a scorpion _could_ be genial when a frog carries him across the river.

      • addicted44

        I’m guessing you’re new to Greenwald.

        Getting into pointless arguments over minor phrases with others even when they almost completely agreed with him and then spitting out thousands of words over an ambiguous reading of that minor phrase is his thing. It’s been that way at least since his early Salon days.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I guarantee you it was the man himself, and that he is genuinely an enormous dick, as has been proved in many threads on many blogs.

      • rea

        he is genuinely an enormous dick

        Based on the way he acts, I would have thought the opposite

        • liberalrob

          He’s not an enormous dick. He’s defensive. “Thin-skinned” is possibly true but I give him the benefit on that since he’s been dealing with Internet morons for over a decade.

    • NonyNony

      He came across pretty much as his Internet persona comes across in other places.

      I have no idea what he’s like in real life, but Internet Glenn Greenwald is a dick.

      • Pat

        So then he came out for Harambe?

    • brad

      Indeed. I believe that’s the first time I’ve managed to, honestly not really meaning to, effectively troll a Pulitzer winner. It really bothered him that I stopped reading.

      • delazeur

        It’s weird that someone could spend as much time on the internet as he has, and in the public eye no less, and not develop a thicker skin. The things people were saying in that thread weren’t anywhere near high-grade trolling, but he responded in classic trollee fashion.

        • Warren Terra

          Given his association with Snowden you’d imagine he gets some truly vile messages and blog posts from wingers, death threats and the like, and that’s even if he weren’t a gay-married expatriate lawyer, which must push their buttons good and hard. But somehow he’s not desensitized to vastly milder disagreement from the center-left …

          • liberalrob

            I really worry that he’s going to have a nervous breakdown trying to push back on all the garbage he takes from all directions.

      • PJ

        Congrats. That may be a form of winning the internet.

      • liberalrob

        It really bothered him that I stopped reading.

        Heh. Right.

    • djw

      I was 99% sure it was him based on prose style alone, but if more corroboration is needed, his posting came from a Brazilian IP.

      • Warren Terra

        So, what you’re saying, is that if it was a troll imitating him, they showed real dedication.

  • CP

    As Glenn says in comments, he is not making the increasingly common and very dumb “crying wolf” argument — that is, that the Democratic Party somehow caused Trump by being unfair to reasonable, moderate, thinking person’s conservatives like McCain and Romney. But he nonetheless is arguing that Democrats “demonized” Romney and McCain. The problem is that this is also wrong. The Democratic argument against McCain and Romney was not that they were an “unparalleled threat to democracy” but that they were Republicans that would therefore enact or seek to enact various terrible policies. The election of Mitt Romney would have meant tens of millions of people stripped of their health insurance and those that retained insurance paying more while receiving less. It would have meant Antonin Scalia being replaced with someone probably to the right of Scalia, and if Romney were to win re-election it would probably mean a Supreme Court in firm Republican control for a generation or more, with countless horrible consequences. It would have meant huge tax cuts and major cuts to federal programs. It would have meant environmental deregulation as the climate change crisis accelerates. And so on and so on and so on. By erroneously claiming that Democrats “demonized” McCain and Romney, Glenn is minimizing the large and increasing differences between the two parties, which fully existed prior to Trump, and would also be true had the Republicans nominated Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

    Not only is it bullshit, it’s Republican bullshit.

    Obviously, the Democrats are not responsible for Trump, nor was it wrong of them to accurately portray McCain and Romney’s flaws. But even if they were true, Greenwald’s op-ed would still imply that the Democrats somehow owe a ridiculous degree of deference and kid-gloves treatment to the Republican Party to a point where you could forgive me for thinking that he wanted the Dems to throw the election rather than do anything mildly critical of the GOP. Why shouldn’t the Democrats take full advantage of the chaos in the other party to promote their own platform? Why should they have been at all nice to McCain or Romney when those people were not only running against them but slandering the shit out of them as well?

    It’s one thing to argue, as garden-variety far-leftists often do, that Democrats are so bad that they’re basically no different from the GOP. But why so much concern for the GOP?

    • liberalrob

      But even if they were true, Greenwald’s op-ed would still imply that the Democrats somehow owe a ridiculous degree of deference and kid-gloves treatment to the Republican Party to a point where you could forgive me for thinking that he wanted the Dems to throw the election rather than do anything mildly critical of the GOP.

      That’s not my reading at all. (Op-ed? I thought it was an interview on Democracy Now.) His point was that “demonizing” the GOP candidate is not something new, it’s become the standard line of attack from the Democratic Party because their policy proposals don’t “inspire” people, coming as they do from a more corporate-friendly direction than they have in the past. Which Scott rightly points out isn’t the case in terms of the “corporate-friendly” aspect; but what Scott doesn’t address is the “inspirational” aspect, and he flatly denies the “demonization” charge when it comes to McCain and Romney which I find ridiculously naive on his part. McCain and Romney most definitely WERE “demonized”, and continue to be, and rightly so IMO. Remember when McCain was going to “bomb bomb bomb Iran”? That was taking a quote the candidate made in jest and turning it around on him as an accusation of a character flaw. That’s “McCain is a warmonger.” That’s “demonization”, Scott.

      Nowhere does Glenn Greenwald express “concern for the GOP” or suggest that Democrats should adopt “deference” and “kid-gloves” treatment towards the GOP. Nowhere.

  • Harkov311

    I still don’t understand these people who think the Dukakis-Mondale period was some sort of golden age when the party had nothing but “true liberals” in it.

    Are they just assuming this because the party lost more elections then? Do they really think the reason Bill Clinton won is because the party “abandoned liberalism?” This has always struck me as a very lazy way of thinking, and one that shows a stunning lack of awareness of what the party was really like for most of the 20th century.

    • manual

      No. It is born out in detail from a lot of scholarship. See Hacker/Pierson. The party was more liberal on economic issues from the the 1930s-1970s. The DLC was a qualitative change to the democratic party, for better or worse.

      All Democratic eras have been bad on war and peace.

      • Harkov311

        I guess I judge parties based on more than just economic policy. And they’re still to the left of the Republicans, that you can’t deny.

        • CDT

          To Glenn the benefit of the doubt, as Murc notes since the DLC’s founding the Democratic Party establishment has moved to the right on economic policy, foreign policy and, later, the surveillance state, even as it pursues more liberal social policy. For those disturbed by the destruction of the middle class or civil liberties libertarians (as Glenn appears to be), that’s frustrating. I think he misspoke about the demonizing bit. But it is also true that, as the Democrats have begun approximating Republican economic and foreign policies, their messaging has focused heavily on issues of race, gender, sexual identity, and women’s rights. These are all worthy issues on which the Democrats are far superior, and I don’t minimize their importance. On the flip side, however, the party has essentially ceded the battle field on neocon foreign policy and neoliberal economic policy. The effect of that has been to normalize bad Republican policies.

          • so-in-so

            That’s okay, because the GOP has found worse policies to support…

            Well, it would not be okay if I thought you were correct.

            • Pat

              If you want to do something about the surveillance state, then advocate for an end to the (Republican-enacted) Patriot Act. You can also support Sotomayer’s work on restoring the Fourth Amendment with words and actions.

              And vote for people who are less likely to appoint authoritarians to the bench. The courts are the best avenue for restoring privacy rights.

              • Murc

                If you want to do something about the surveillance state, then advocate for an end to the (Republican-enacted) Patriot Act.

                The Patriot Act has been re-upped by Democratic Congresses and had extensions signed into law by a Democratic President. We don’t own it nearly as much as the Republicans do but there’s rot in the party when it comes to civil liberties and that rot runs deeper than it should.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Not all support for use of military force is “neocon foreign policy.” That’s an absurd contention. The whole internecine struggle on the left throughout the 1990s about humanitarian intervention and genocide… that was so testy PRECISELY BECAUSE there are consistent liberal arguments on both sides. Throwing it all in a box labeled “neocon” is a way to dodge the rather important question of what Democrats ought to believe in, and then _do_, when it comes to war, peace, and foreign policy.

            • djw

              +1

              Not all support for use of military force is “neocon foreign policy.” That’s an absurd contention.

              This really is maddening. To treat “Clinton is more interventionist/hawkish than I would prefer” and “Clinton is a neocon” as synonyms is to take a perverse pride in your ignorance or inattention to detail on an issue where detail is pretty damn important. At a minimum, it’s not consistent with any pretense that military action abroad is an issue one cares deeply about.

              • nolo

                Yeah, that’s the thing that’s always bugged me about the “Clinton is a neocon warhawk!” complaint. Liberalism has a very long history of interventionism. Maybe the differing reasons for intervention from liberals and neocons don’t matter to isolationists on the left or right, but they do exist.

          • PJ

            The issue is that the Democrats didn’t just up an decide that that’s what it wanted to do in the 80s and 90s. They were responding to major electoral losses built on the promised destruction of New Deal/Great Society policy by the Republicans.

            • ColBatGuano

              People’s ability to forget the election outcomes of 1980, 1984 and 1988 always astounds me.

              • Brien Jackson

                And 1968 and 1972 for good measure. Seriously, the only Presidential election Democrats managed to win after the Voting Rights Act passed and prior to Bill Clinton was the one immediately following Watergate and a) Carter as President was markedly to the right of the median Congressional Democrat and b) Ford still got 48% of the popular vote.

                • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                  And Ford got 48% even though many never forgave him for pardoning Nixon.

          • Murc

            as Murc notes since the DLC’s founding the Democratic Party establishment has moved to the right on economic policy, foreign policy and, later, the surveillance state, even as it pursues more liberal social policy.

            This overstates the case a bit. The Democratic Party has been moving left again on economic and foreign policy for at least the last eight years. It’s still not in a good place; we still largely exist in the political environment Reagan created and Obama had to operate under those constraints, kind of how Nixon existed in the political environment FDR had created and had to operate under those constraints. But it hasn’t been a constant rightward movement since the DLC was started.

            • tsam

              It’s hard to move very far left in an environment wherein the media, even the liberal… Is constantly concern trolling deficits and debt, and openly opining about the negative impacts of making billionaires pay their taxes. Electoral politics gets a little difficult when people think a federal budget works like a personal checking account.

            • djw

              As I note upthread, on matters economic the most significant moment in a narrative about a rightward shift for Democrats on economic issues, the first two years of the Carter administration, significantly predates the founding of the DLC. I harp on this because I think the exaggerated influence of the malign influence of the DLC comes at the expense of a much more accurate and important story about that shift; the successful organization and mobilization of business interests in the 1970’s.

              That rightward shift on some areas of economic policy is better understood as a cause, not an effect, of the creation of the DLC.

              • Murc

                Well, the thing is, the DLC gave those business interests a much stronger beachhead within the party and was interested in finding accommodation with them, rather than fighting them.

                That’s going to draw more intra-party heat than exterior forces working on the party and the electorate does, because people have a much stronger reaction to perceived traitors than they do to perceived enemies.

                This isn’t to say that you’re wrong about anything you said above, mind you.

            • Phil Perspective

              It’s still not in a good place; we still largely exist in the political environment Reagan created and Obama had to operate under those constraints, …

              Why does he have to operate under those constraints? It’s obviously hurting the party to do so, if that’s really the case. Take England. Corbyn will overturn those constraints. He’s not letting himself be boxed in by a stupid obsession with Thatcher or any such garbage.

              • Brien Jackson

                You thinking that Corbyn is doing a good job leading a political party very nearly has to be self-parody, right?

              • ColBatGuano

                And Corbyn is also not PM and never will be.

                • wjts

                  That’s just one of the many constraints he’s going to overturn.

              • Murc

                Why does he have to operate under those constraints?

                Because he wanted to get elected a whole bunch of times, and once he was elected President he kind of had to work with the existing makeup of Congress and the political environment?

                I mean… he’s been constrained. That’s what the word means. If he had the choice to not do so, they’re not actually constraints.

                Take England. Corbyn will overturn those constraints.

                Corbyn has to win an election before he can govern. Actually, he has to win two. There’s a colorable argument that he’ll have accomplished a significant realignment in the internal Labour Party way of doing things if he wins election again over the opposition of the PLP, but that’s just the first hurdle. Then he has to assemble a parliamentary majority. That majority will operate under… political constraints!

              • sibusisodan

                Corbyn will overturn those constraints

                Would that he could. Miliband couldn’t, and he was a more effective politician and leader than Corbyn is.

                You can’t overturn political reality – which is a kind of shared belief between millions of people – by ignoring it. And that political reality places limits on the exercise of democratic power.

          • Bruce B.

            Minimum wage increases, NLRB actions, and environmental regulation, among others, want to know what they are if not economic policies.

      • djw

        You’ve got something of a point, but this is classic DLC significance inflation. The short version of Hacker and Pierson’s narrative is that various business and financial interests realized they were getting out-organized in the late 60’s and early 70’s, so they organized (huge growth in CoC and NFIB membership and budget, formation of Business Roundtable, etc), and that organization involved an investment in greater influence in both parties. This is what they call the “unseen revolution of the 70’s” and the greatest sign of its influence was the ineffectiveness of the Democratic Party in the Carter administration window of opportunity. The lack of progressive achievements in the 77-79 window–the somewhat unexpected defeat of tax reform, the consumer protection bureau, common situs picketing (the defeat of which was so surprising and shocking to O’Neill he decided to cancel the plan to bring a partial repeal of Taft-Hartley to the floor), etc–is pretty much the high water mark of this organizing effort (although it has receded pretty slowly).

        (All of which is to say that while you’ve got something approximating a point, it’s bizarre to say as you do upthread that Hacker and Pierson show that Democrats now are to the right of where they were on economic matters in the 1990’s. H & P show nothing of the sort, and in fact concede that something akin to Dodd-Frank (which they regard as pretty weak tea) would have been DOA with the 1990’s Democratic Party.)

        The formation of the DLC, on the other hand, took place well after this shift, borne of a belief in the necessity to sell voters something they might be willing to buy post Mondale’s gruesome defeat. In 1978, Democrats who failed to support popular liberal legislation generally claimed they supported the idea but there was something wrong with this version of bill. The DLC’s big innovation was to own that opposition, because the results of the last few elections showed it would be electorally advantageous to do so. It was more about image management than public policy.

        • FlipYrWhig

          Well said.

    • FlipYrWhig

      It’s mostly a view articulated by people whose early political memories post-date that period and prominently feature Bill Clinton “triangulating.”

    • Murc

      Do they really think the reason Bill Clinton won is because the party “abandoned liberalism?”

      No, but a necessary precondition for Clinton’s win was moving to the right. There were other conditions for it as well, but that was one of’em.

      • Harkov311

        I mean sure, Clinton wasn’t the most liberal liberal that ever liberaled, but he was still to the left of the Republicans.

        I guess this is sort of the point I was trying to make. You can maybe complain that the Democrats aren’t as good on this or that particular issue, but at the end of the day, are they still better than the Republicans? The answer is still yes.

      • efgoldman

        No, but a necessary precondition for Clinton’s win was moving to the right. There were other conditions for it as well, but that was one of’em.

        Right. It’s like people forget that Clinton followed essentially 12 years of Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus, and all that implies, and that he won against, essentially, two conservative candidates.

    • It isn’t necessary to think “true liberals” were the only ones in the party back then to recognize that liberalism wasn’t on the defensive then the way it is now.

      • Harkov311

        I guess I don’t really feel like liberalism is more under attack now than it was in the 80s.

        • It depends who you talk to, I guess.

          • (((Malaclypse)))

            You are aware of just who was President for most of the 80s, right?

            • Among pretty much all the people I’ve ever known, who the president is doesn’t have any effect, hardly, at all, on what your teachers and your relatives and friends believe, and what it’s easy to argue for or against.

              And Tip O’Neill still was Speaker, wasn’t he? I seem to remember something about Congress being able to keep a president from doing what he wanted. It seems like liberals are worse off now in that regard.

              Maybe we’re using different definitions of “on the defensive.” Or “liberal.”

      • FlipYrWhig

        Wait, are you saying that in the “Dukakis-Mondale” period, i.e. the 1980s, liberalism WASN’T on the defensive? I’m pretty confident that’s probably the time when it was MOST on the defensive in modern history.

        • efgoldman

          I’m pretty confident that’s probably the time when it was MOST on the defensive in modern history.

          Absolutely. As above, 12 years of Reganaut white houses and playing defense against the likes of, e.g. James Watt wanting to do away with every environmental protection for national parks and federal lands.

        • ColBatGuano

          Yeah, when HW Bush spent an entire campaign in flag factories and calling Dukakis a “card carrying member of the ACLU”, I think there’s a good case that liberalism was pretty defensive.

        • Well, I was 13 when the 1980s started, but I personally had no reason to believe Reagan was the start of a forty-year Republican hegemony and that “liberalism” was from 1981 on never going to be taken seriously again. I never heard a college leftist say that liberalism was on the defensive and that’s why we should go socialist or Green. I never heard a college right-winger say Hooray we’re in charge now.

          In 1988, when “the L world” and “card-carrying member of the ACLU” became known to the world, maybe we can date liberalism being on the defensive. And yet only four years later, a Democrat was elected, who–if you didn’t know much about the DLC–sure looked like a liberal.

          Apparently people who were in college in the 1990s (“after we won the Cold War”), six or more years after I started, all are very certain that liberalism has always been on the defensive. I don’t think it seemed that way to people in the 1970s and 1980s. Mondale couldn’t win but there was no reason to think the Reagan era would last more than eight years. And probably there are some people even now who still take liberalism seriously and don’t think it’s on the defensive?

          • Warren Terra

            I’m younger than you – I was a kid throughout the 80s – and the degree to which the media cooperated to give you a rosy view of Ronald Reagan, lovable father figure to us all, is not something I’ve seen since then (maybe for a few months after 9/11), and maybe you had to be a smaller child during that time to properly absorb that message and its attendant delegimitization of liberalism.

    • JMP

      Because Mondale and Dukakis lost, and therefore never got around to disappointing “true” fake liberals like Greenwald by actually having to govern in the real world and compromising. Some people really hate winning.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Greenwald claims to have been apolitical that whole time, even while he was, you know, a sentient adult. Maybe if he’d grown up with a passionate hatred for Ronald Reagan like many of the rest of his age-mates and socioeconomic status-mates he wouldn’t be so quick to pule and moan about the insufficiencies of the opposition party.

        • PJ

          I was a liberal before Greenwald. Where’s my goddamn Pulitzer?

          • brad

            You didn’t care enough to fix the world before he started paying attention. Therefore you being consistent across decades while he’s been jumping in and failing to bring himself up to full speed means he’s the one with real values.

          • IM

            a premature liberal, so to speak.

        • JMP

          I’m always surprised to see how old Greenwald is; given that he appears to have no knowledge of any politics before the Bush administration, not to mention his general self-centered and entitled attitude, I tend to assume he’s younger than I and only early-mid 30s, but no.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Exactly. As I said on another thread, it’s kind of like Blink-182 making it their mission to harangue everyone about what real punk should sound like.

        • I’m the same age as Greenwald. I started high school in 1980. My high school history teacher used to like to say, so this was 1983 or 1984–he really liked to say it a lot–there are presidents who are earth soothers (or smoothers, I was never sure) and presidents who are earth shakers. I can still hear him saying it. Reagan was an earth-shaker. Nothing to see here, seemed to be the message, we’ll muddle through a decade or two with presidents like Carter and Ford, and then the Democrats will get an earth-shaker of their own. I’m not sure he was so prescient.

        • liberalrob

          Glenn Greenwald was born two months after I was, in March of 1967. I’m not sure when one becomes “a sentient adult.” Even so, plenty of “sentient adults” seem to have thought Reagan and Bush and Gingrich were the bees’ knees and had a passionate hatred for liberals, and still do, and they were the ones whose candidates were winning all the elections. So maybe some moaning about the insufficiencies of the opposition party is in order.

    • a_paul_in_mtl

      “I still don’t understand these people who think the Dukakis-Mondale period was some sort of golden age when the party had nothing but “true liberals” in it.”

      It certainly didn’t. It had liberals, moderates, and conservatives in it. At certain times, when the prevailing electoral winds were right, the liberal wing of the party dominated, although those were also the times when Republican “liberals” dominated. But even then there were compromises.

      The times when liberalism prevailed in the Democratic Party but not in the electorate as a whole were the “golden ages” in which Democrats lost presidential elections in landslides (1972, 1984, and to a lesser extent 1988).

      What has changed is that the Democrats are running on a progressive platform and have an excellent chance of winning!

      • ColBatGuano

        Hey, you left out 1980.

      • nemdam

        This is really what I think has the purity liberals upset. Sure they were losing elections in the 80s and not getting anything done, but the purity types were in clear command. The fact that the Democratic party had to take control away from them to actually be relevant is something they have never gotten over. It’s really just complaining about not running the party anymore.

  • Drexciya

    Threats to women’s autonomy apparently don’t rise to the level of threats to democracy, so a candidate who provokes fear by, say, supporting Personhood amendments, promising to defund Planned Parenthood and supporting constitutional amendments which claim that life begins at conception, as Romney did, is at least keeping democracy rolling on, and we all know how much that matters. Contemptuously understating what the right represented even at the time suggests that Greenwald needs to look less at the candidates and more at the coalitions and interests they represented, all of which were extremist and horrifying enough to be worthy of those designations, even if they didn’t get them.

    You can say that there wasn’t a nominee like Trump before Trump became the nominee, and that’s true enough, but it’s also true that Trump is capping off a post-Obama backlash that wasn’t formed in the aether and was fully developed and encouraged by the very same interests/coalitions that both McCain and Romney were willing to be responsive to. What he’s portraying as “fearmongering” is the presence of Democratic politicians, surrogates and voters who reflected an urgency that did something he was famously unwilling to do at the time: let concern for the demographics most vulnerable to a Republican candidacy color who he supported and how best to frame that support. That’s difficult to do when your leanings had you boosting a neoconfederate who was, by that point, already known for accepting donations from Stormfront and taking pictures with its proprietor and his son.

    • kayden

      Well said. I would add that Romney’s anti-same sex marriage stance was also an existential threat to the LGBT community. Had Romney won, he would have placed Judges on the bench to overturn the few gains which the LGBT community has gained during the Obama administration. Ditto repealing the ACA, further eroding voting rights, destroying Unions, etc., and there is no doubt that Romney was a real threat to progressives/liberals just as much as Trump. There is nothing wrong with Democrats calling out Romney for the threat to civil and equal rights that he represented.

    • brad

      GG cares about certain issues, period. Everything else, which by sheer coincidence includes any issue that mainly affects women or minorities of a non sexual orientation based category are simply distractions from what really matters. GG doesn’t care if the Pauls are barely closeted white supremacists; they’re bros.

    • JMP

      But the threats against Planned Parenthood and the right to choose only affect women, not real people; Glenn Greenwald knows the rights of anyone who is not a white man are completely insignificant.

    • Greenwald believes that he cares more about women’s rights than LGM because LGM employs male writers. He’s clearly not a deep thinker on these issues.

      • Glenn Greenwald

        That is a TOTAL LIE. What I *actually* said was:

        I don’t mind asking the questions again: Is there some cogent reason that:

        (a) this blog has only white male writers? and

        (b) in its many discussions of supporters of the Paul filibuster, it has only mentioned white males and ignored and excluded all the prominent women and people of color who did the same?

        Maybe one of the other straight, white male writers here can answer that….

        And whatever else is true, I would never – ever – write at a place that despite having 8 writers, simply does not publish anyone who isn’t a white male, particularly when the all-white-male venue deliberately pretends that voices of women and people of color do not exist.

        • efgoldman

          this blog has only white male writers?

          Wait a minute. He wrote that? About this blog? Recently? It is, of course, a factual lie.

          • Apparently it was true three years ago, for whatever that’s worth.

            • Pseudonym

              Does Campos count as white? Does SEK?

              • SEK says:
                March 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

                this blog has only white male writers?

                Well I’ll be … I’m white now! Awesome! Can I have my privilege, please?

          • It was before bspenser came on.

            He wasn’t wrong about the line up (except that SEK codes as nonwhitebeing Jeeish in the south; I guess his deafness didn’t count?)

            His b is of course rather odd.

            There’s complexity behind the line up issue, but as that’s improved well hurrah.

            • brad

              And Shakezula.

              • Yes!

                But I believe this event was like 3 months before Beth and, IIRC, Shakezula was well after that. I…can’t remember when Katie joined. Oops!

                • Right. I remember that, kind of. I remembered it as his coming here after Beth came on and saying everyone here was objectively despicable. I didn’t think it was that long ago.

              • Warren Terra

                And presumably after Bean and Charli stopped blogging.

        • pzerzan

          So, you can address this comment but not Scott’s argument. Why am I not surprised?

          • a_paul_in_mtl

            Presumably he got tired of saying that all push-back against his attacks- however unwarranted- against the Democratic Party must be the work of partisan hacks who demand unquestioning faith in the Party Leadership, but has not yet tired of lashing out at all who ‘tell lies’ about him.

          • politicalfootball

            So, you can address this comment but not Scott’s argument.

            Yeah, that’s really disappointing. Greenwald’s gift was, at one time, the willingness to confront the strongest opposing arguments and the ability to mop the floor with his interlocutors. In the early days of the LGM-Greenwald debates, I think LGM often came off poorly – particularly the commenters.

            Many – perhaps most – of my old-timey blog heroes have grown into at least occasional boneheads. Were they always? I honestly don’t think so.

            • Brien Jackson

              What the fuck are you talking about? Yes Greenwald has always been a hack whose stock in trade was treating intellectual argument like litigation: obfuscate the holes in your argument, twist facts and words to form the argument you want to make (this is on display again here where “Democrats said Romney would be a terrible President” casually becomes “Democrats said Romney was an unparalleled threat to democracy.”) and burying everyone in a mountain of completely unnecessary words and tangents. The only thing that’s changed is that it’s admittedly more obvious to see when you don’t largely agree with the bigger point, and also that Greenwald went from attacking Bush in terms that he apparently thinks are beyond the pale for people to attack Republicans now to insisting that Republicans weren’t meaningfully worse than Democrats.

              • liberalrob

                Greenwald has always been a hack whose stock in trade was treating intellectual argument like litigation

                Amazing that a lawyer would treat argument like litigation. Shocking!

            • FlipYrWhig

              Uh, Greenwald’s gift was always a mix of loquacity and tenacity. His responses to arguments were always spectacular bullshit that boiled down to “I already explained why I’m right and your unwillingness to acknowledge it proves how wrong you are,” repeated ad nauseam with a variety of insults about reverence for authority.

              • liberalrob

                His responses to arguments were always spectacular bullshit

                Right folks, no need to form your own judgment on what Greenwald’s responses have always been, FlipYrWhig has taken care of that analysis for you! Why would he/she/it lie?

        • brad

          Seeing as they’ve taken effective measures to begin addressing that issue, how about you do the same and start addressing your blind spots like an adult, instead of lashing out at any critics?
          You presume that I and others stopped reading you because you’re principled and I’m not. It makes you feel better, but does you no good as a person or as a public advocate for your cause.
          (I’d say causes, but let’s drop that pretense.)

        • petesh

          Whew. I followed this quote to its source, and Bijan Parsia showed GG how to do the kind of analysis GG thinks he already does. As they say, I need a cigarette.

          • Heh. Thanks!

            • petesh

              That much effort deserves some belated reward!

          • Pseudonym

            That analysis may be correct, but it’s hardly compelling unless it begins with a statement like “That is a TOTAL LIE. What this blog *actually* said was:”

          • a_paul_in_mtl

            Yes, it is very good.

          • Rob in CT

            Classic Bijan, there.

        • Murc

          LGM doesn’t “publish” anyone. In any sense. This isn’t a media outlet. It’s not even a job. This is a hobby for everyone on the masthead… a masthead that includes Beth Spencer, Katie Surrence, and Shakezula. And to which Charli Carpenter may return any time she wishes.

          You have a soupcon of a point about the fact that Paul’s filibuster had more supporters than just white dudes… but I’m not sure that’s relevant. You can find individual black people who support Trump, but that doesn’t mean that Trump’s base of support includes black people as a group in any meaningful way.

          And that’s to the extent that this blog disapproved of Paul’s filibuster rather than this blog disapproving of Paul in general.

          • rea

            Recall, that Paul was, absurdly, filibustering over use of drones inside the US against US citizens, which of course, never happened, no one in the Obama Administration ever dreamed of doing, and virtually no one (well, maybe Trump) would support.

        • Rob in CT

          Everybody’s always lying about you, huh? Amazing.

        • (((Hogan)))

          That is a TOTAL LIE.

          Whereas “Democrats called McCain and Romney unparalleled threats to democracy” is simply the cut and thrust of vigorous debate.

          • ColBatGuano

            We’re still waiting on GG’s response to this question. I am not holding my breath.

        • politicalfootball

          Is there some cogent reason that: (a) this blog has only white male writers?

          Huh?

          • (((Hogan)))

            It’s from a three-year-old comment thread. And it was true at the time.

            • rea

              It was temporarily true–there were women on the masthead before and after

            • brewmn

              It was also a completely naked attempt to change the subject being discussed at the time. It was really one of the more remarkably stupid arguments I’ve seen made on this blog.

          • The Lorax

            Forget it, he’s rolling.

        • Halloween Jack

          Still pretending that you have no way of knowing that you were responding to Beth Spencer the other day, eh?

        • sibusisodan

          You could have ignored LGM entirely. You could have responded to the substance of this OP. You could have engaged in any number of conversations in this thread about how to make things better.

          Instead you intervene here, and only here. I assume because it’s a quick win to smack down an inaccurate blog comment.

          It’s not pretty to watch. You have a Pulitzer, and all you’re willing to do is wrestle with us pigs down here? That’s not a game you’re going to win.

          • (((Hogan)))

            But the pigs like it.

            • “On me, the lipstick looks good.” —A. Sui Generis

            • sibusisodan

              But of course. That was the illusion I was aiming at. And it has been a lot of fun.

        • That is a TOTAL LIE.

          This doesn’t seem to be an overreaction at all.

          • Morbo

            I laughed. All these comments and this is the only one he can generate a response to…

    • PJ

      Greenwald needs to look less at the candidates and more at the coalitions and interests they represented

      That POV is telling of the whole infantile nature of the Brocialist movement and its kinship with the libertarian types, though, right?

      I mean, they don’t know retail politics, they don’t know coalition-building, and they certainly don’t know how things like “civil liberties” and “economic policy” exist in a context of “identity politics” being constantly waged in this country.

  • JMV Pyro

    The mythology that exists around the New Deal Era for many leftists is fascinating to me, because you just know that the same people who constantly pine for “hard, uncompromising” leaders like FDR and Truman would have been staunch critics of them if they were around then.

    I guess Harry was right: you really do become a statesman once you’re dead long enough.

  • Dilan Esper

    If it’s so horrible for Dems to demonize McCain and Romney, why isn’t it also horrible for Republicans to demonize Obama, Kerry, Gore, and Clinton?

    Demonizing the opponent as the worst thing ever is standard politics. I think it is
    important for smart people to draw distinctions- to me Trump is obviously more dangerous than conservatives who at least know how the government works. But you are never going to stop people from saying their current political opponents are the biggest threat ever. That’s just built in.

    • rea

      IOKIYAR

    • Just_Dropping_By

      When did Greenwald say it wasn’t horrible for Republicans to do that?

    • Brien Jackson

      Even this is ceding too much, I think. At least pre-Palin, I don’t recall too many Democrats who were saying McCain was worse than Bush, and suspect most probably would have granted that, in direct comparison, McCain would be preferable to Dubya.

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  • Fundamental problem: both the reactionaries and leftists are are up against intolerable facts. We’re far beyond the point where the reestablishment of a white Christian America with a tiny government is possible so the right is screwed. There is no economic alternative to some form of capitalism or any non-disastrous alternative to some form of oligarchy with some democratic features so the radicals are screwed. Both groups are in the situation of the Indians at the end of the 19th Century. Greenwald and the conservatives are promoting competing versions of the Ghost Dance cult. Unfortunately, their fantasies may lead to a real world catastrophe because the advent of a strong man regime fronting for a particularly cheesy form of crony capitalism is perfectly possible.

    • Gregor Sansa

      or any non-disastrous alternative to some form of oligarchy with some democratic features

      I disagree with this one. There’s no magic bullet alternative to the above. But by combining better voting systems*, better campaign finance, organizational elbow-grease, eternal vigilance, and a bit of luck, we can in fact overcome it.

      *suchasApprovalVotingorU/PVoting

  • libarbarian

    As I’ve observed before, there is a reason for this imaginary history of the Democratic Party — namely, it allows people to avoid confrontation with the massive structural barriers that stand in the way of even left-liberal national coalitions: numerous veto points in a political system awash with money, electoral systems that privilege conservative rural areas, the preponderance of low-turnout midterm elections, etc. etc.

    We can at least agree that this is a very complicated case, Scott. You know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, a lotta strands to keep in my head, man.

  • Donna Gratehouse

    This “demonization” argument reminds me of Doug Henwood’s argument that it’s “blackmail” to point out how bad Republicans are, thus depriving him of his inalienable right to vote for vanity candidates without being criticized or something.

    A reminder that when they sneer at “identity politics” what they’re really doing is projecting like an IMAX theater.

  • nemdam

    I said this in the other thread, but I think it bears repeating. The myth that 25 years ago the Democrats sold out their base and abandoned the white working class and therefore they don’t inspire anyone is laughably absurd. Do these folks know nothing about Bill Clinton? After this supposed betrayal, Bill Clinton went on to win 2 elections in a landslide, did better with the white working class than any Democratic president since LBJ, won Congressional seats for his party in his second midterm for the first time since 1822, and left office with a 66% approval rating. In what universe is that not considered inspiring unless you think the only voters that matter are strong lefties? And in what universe is Barack Obama not considered inspiring? Though smaller in number, I will set aside the many people who are in fact inspired by Hillary Clinton for sake of argument.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      He didn’t win two landslides, but otherwise fairly accurate.

      • nemdam

        Depends on your definition of landslide, but I would say winning by over 200 EVs in both elections and winning by so much in 1996 that by the end the opposing party stopped spending money on their candidate to be quite a thumpin’. Both were larger margins than 08 Obama.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Lower popular vote percentages than 00 Bush, though; that is, under 50%.

          • Warren Terra

            Also, 1996 was a very low-turnout election. Clinton got 6% more of the electorate in ’96 than in ’92, but only got 47.4M million votes, only 2.5 million more than in ’92. Every subsequent losing candidate has beaten that by more than ten million votes.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Can there be an echo TBogg Unit, like there was an echo baby boom?

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      No. At 1,000, it is a Campos BMI Unit.

      • IM

        We haven’t one of those in ages.

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