Monday, July 31, 2006

Does The New Republic have amnesia?

The New Republic on heterodox opinions and tolerance of differing views within the Democratic party, July 30, 2006:
This, of course, is what drives Lieberman's opponents nuts: not his actual views on foreign policy, but his insistence that those views have a logical home in the Democratic Party and his attempts to justify those views on liberal grounds. In other words, it's less about political substance than about raw betrayal. This is the troubling worldview of many left-wing bloggers--who tend to treat liberalism as if it were a team rather than a political philosophy--and it is the worldview that the Times has implicitly backed this weekend. If you consider its Lamont endorsement in conjunction with its previous Shays endorsement, you have to wonder: Was the Times coming out against those who enable Bush or against the concept of liberal heterodoxy?
- Richard Just, 'The Times, Lieberman, and Shays,' The New Republic Online

The New Republic on heterodox opinions and tolerance of differing views within the Democratic party, May 7, 2006:
In the end, though, I can't quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What's holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman's sins. It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them.
- Jonathan Chait, New Republic editor, 'Don't let the left defeat Lieberman,' in The Los Angeles Times

The New Republic on heterodox opinions and tolerance of differing views within the Democratic party, December 2, 2004:
The challenge for Democrats today is... abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.... Today, most liberals naïvely consider Moore a useful ally, a bomb-thrower against a right-wing that deserves to be torched. What they do not understand is that his real casualties are on the decent left. When Moore opposes the war against the Taliban, he casts
doubt upon the sincerity of liberals who say they opposed the Iraq war because they wanted to win in Afghanistan first....Many MoveOn supporters probably disagree with the organization's opposition to the Afghan war, if they are even aware of it, and simply see the group as an effective means to combat Bush. But one of the lessons of the early cold war is scrupulousness about whom liberals let speak in their name....
For liberals to make such arguments effectively, they must first take back their movement from the softs. We will know such an effort has begun when dissension breaks out within America's key liberal institutions....Challenging the "doughface" feminists who opposed the Afghan war and those labor unionists with a knee-jerk suspicion of U.S. power might produce bitter internal conflict.... But, unless liberals stop glossing over fundamental differences in the name of unity, they never will [enact liberal anti-totalitarianism policies].
- Peter Beinart, 'A Fighting Faith,' The New Republic

So, just who is it that wants to 'tear the party apart' these days? I'm tempted to say that what Richard Just and Jonathan Chait do not understand is that Lieberman's real casualties are on the liberal wing of the Democratic party, when he casts doubt upon their patriotism and their ability to mount sensible, fact-based critiques of GOP administrations. But the truth is that they don't really give a damn about maintaining a big tent party. This isn't about fairness - it's just about power.

When the shoe seems to be on their foot, they try to stamp out dovish dissent without mercy. When suddenly, in a Connecticut primary, the anti-war left appears to be wearing the shoe instead, TNR mewls about respect for outsider voices within the party structure, and not letting one wing conduct a "jihad" to "intimidate" the hawks. For a pack of muscular, vigorous, tough liberals with the 'fighting faith' needed to defeat Islamofascist terrorism, they sure seem to be a bunch of wimps. Ultimately, their pleas for comity and respect for ideological dissent are the insincere whining of a bully who calls for Robert's Rules of Order when he's outnumbered: it has nothing to do with principle; it's just a tactic, until they get to be King of the Hill again and can start pushing their hated antiwar Dems down the hill and out of the party.

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