Stuart and I have decided to open our weekly Saturday show with a discussion of this week in liberalism.
While everyone else was watching (on the web, not US cable news) the BBC or Al Jazeera English to follow developments in Egypt, there were some interesting developments among the ruling factions in the US.
First, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) formally ceased to exist. Appropriately enough, Joe Klein provided an obit, concluding with this howler:
Barack Obama’s success as a moderate-liberal transcended the old party feuds, for the most part. The Republican party became radically immoderate. The Democratic Party’s left seemed a pillar of sanity, by contrast. The DLC had few battles left to fight (ADD: And the Third Way group could fill the DLC’s role in a less obstreperous fashion). But I will remember it fondly for the intellectual stimulation it provided during some stultifying times–and for the humane, creative policy solutions it provided that have made our poorest neighborhoods safer, healthier and more prosperous.
In fact, as Stuart and I will discuss today, Barack Obama’s “success” has been in consolidating DLC staff members (Bruce Reed, Ellen Tauscher, Bill Daley) into the administration. It’s kinda amusingly touching to see Joe haul out the “moderate” modifier to Obama’s “liberal” label. The comments on this post are well worth reading, although you may understand my sense of samizdat in plain view when you contrast them to Joe’s post.
The other interesting ideological outbreak was the newly elected Tea Party House members joining with some of the old line small government conservatives to form a coalition with civil liberties Democrats to vote down the extension of the Patriot Act. Glenn Greenwald, as always, is the goto guy on this.
The establishments of both political parties — whether because of actual conviction or political calculation — are equally devoted to the National Security State, the Surveillance State, and the endless erosions of core liberties they entail. Partisan devotees of each party generally pretend to care about such liberties only when the other party is in power — because screaming about abuses of power confers political advantage and enables demonization of the President — but they quickly ignore or even justify the destruction of those liberties when their own party wields power. Hence, Democratic loyalists spent years screeching that Bush was “shredding the Constitution” for supporting policies which Barack Obama now enthusiastically supports, while right-wing stalwarts — who spent years cheering on every Bush-led assault on basic Constitutional limits in the name of Terrorism — flamboyantly read from the Constitution during the Obama era as though they venerate that document as sacred. The war on civil liberties in the U.S. is a fully bipartisan endeavor, and no effective opposition is possible through fealty to either of the two parties.
One of the heroes on this one was Dennis Kucinich (GG again):
This was the contradiction which Dennis Kucinich smartly exploitedwhen challenging the Tea Party to join him in opposing the Patriot Act’s extension:
The 112th Congress began with a historic reading of the U.S. Constitution. Will anyone subscribe to the First and Fourth Amendments tomorrow when the PATRIOT Act is up for a vote? I am hopeful that members of the Tea Party who came to Congress to defend the Constitution will join me in challenging the reauthorization.
Also this week, the freshman and their allies have been attacking the Republican leadership for not holding with the spending cut promises that the Republican Wave ran on. It will be interesting to see whether the Republican leadership can successfully school the incoming Members on the execution of the Big Lie (“the GOP is the party of smaller government”) on the legislative side. It’s always a bit trickier when you’re in the majority, but it’s always possible to blame the Democrats for the actual outcome.
It’s also interesting to compare the list of New Democrats with the vote tally of Democrats who voted to extend incursions on civil liberties that provide, at best, nothing more than security theater.
Which leads us to this week’s (NEW FEATURE!) Saturday Poll question: