Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Monday, March 20, 2006
I actually quite often agree with Kevin Drum. But when it comes to Democratic strategy, I think he's so 1990's.

He's been critical of the Feingold censure since the beginning. Mind you, not because of substance, Drum agrees with Feingold. Rather, Drum sees Feingold as using bad strategy. I find his arguments (and those made by other's criticizing Feingold) to be circular:
I'm sure someone can point to an exception somewhere, but so far every single column or news story I've read on the subject has been about (a) Feingold the maverick and whether this helps his presidential chances, (b) the disarray his motion has caused in the Democratic party, (c) whether the censure motion was politically smart, or (d) Republican glee that Feingold has shifted attention away from all the things that were hurting them.
Feingold's not wrong. He's just diverting attention away from Bush. But isn't the censure about Bush? Well, not if you're a liberal party leader or a liberal pundit.

Let's take them one at a time.

a) "Feingold the maverick and whether this helps his presidential chances."

Isn't this type of analysis true of any politician who takes a stand on any issue? The media, particularly the punditry, loves a good dust-up and is always trying to find reasons why politicians do what they do. If Feingold's strategy was considered to be "perfect", this analysis would occur.

b) "the disarray his motion has caused in the Democratic party"

Interestingly, most of the punditry cited by Drum for his assertion are folks considered to be "liberal". Some call this a circular firing squad. Instead of the party leadership/punditry either 1) disagreeing with their mouths shut, or 2) openly supporting Feingold, they've been quite public in their disagreement. And by the way, the argument that they "have to" respond is nonsense. The Republicans have perfected the art of not taking a stance in opposition of the party position while making a statement.

c) "whether the censure motion was politically smart"

Again, the Democratic establishment run-amok. This analysis paralysis is a hallmark of establishment liberal thinking and a key reason we keep losing. Make the politics a lower priority for a change. Stand up and be counted for a change. What have we got to lose?

d) Republican glee that Feingold has shifted attention away from all the things that were hurting them

Another self-inflicted wound. If a, b, and c, were not true, d wouldn't be happening. Rather, Republicans would have to be countering the buzz about Bush's wrongdoing, not sitting back and relaxing while liberals self-immolate.

Suppose I'm a Democrat who disagrees with Feingold. Further, let's suppose I'm asked about the censure resolution. Here's my answer:
"I think Senator Feingold is a proud and courageous Democrat who has rightly pointed out a series of problems, possibly including illegal wiretapping, by the Bush administration. There have been a number of revelations that I find quite disturbing for which I think the administration should answer".
Period. Lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over again. Reporters get tired of asking the same question and have little choice but to report on the illegal taps. And the punditry? Focus with laser-like beams of the facts of the wire-taps. If that really is the story, why waste ink on other nonsense, particularly opines that have no basis in any facts?

But alas. Liberals don't sing from the same choir sheet and the meme of Democratic disarray continues, creating the self-fulfilling prophecy that Drum identifies.

And so it goes .......

UPDATE: This is so hilarious. Right after posting this, I ran up against this post on Needlenose where Dick Durbin performs beautifully. Then there's this post saying the same thing. I guess I was on a bandwagon and didn't know it.

UPDATE II: Go read Digby:
One can call it a political ploy (although Fiengold is one of the few guys in the congress with a real reputation for integrity) but to the base it's a political ploy in service of bedrock principle. Democrats cannot pass legislation. They cannot force the president to change his Iraq policy. They don't have the power to call hearings or subpeona witnesses. Even when they have hearings, the Republican chairmen refuse to put the witnesses under oath.

Political ploys are the only way the minority can make its voice heard. I have the cable blathering on in the backround most days, much of the time tuned to C-Span. There are dozens of press conferences held each week on both sides of the aisle. It's is a very rare one that anybody sees or hears. This is no way to get your message out.