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May 08, 2006


No, Russert doesn't care about respectablity. He cares about his home on Nantucket.

I'm not sure what your commenting policy is here, but if I could just change the subject for a moment, I'd like to bring up Kos' piece in the Post over the weekend.

I have a few major problems with it. Don't get me wrong, I love Markos. I think he's one of the greatest things to happen for the progressive cause. But over the weekend he sold out in his column, and he treated his readers like rubes.

I've posted this at the right-winger Toby Petzold's blog, and posted similar thoughts on Atrios, but not gotten much reaction to it yet. Here is a snippet of my views on Kos' piece in the Post:

First, he blames dem losses on the wildly popular, brilliant, and competent Bill Clinton. Amazingly, he disappears the mainstream media’s role in our losses over the years - namely, the manufacturing of fake scandels like Whitewater, filegate, and travelgate, that hung around Bill Clinton’s ankles for all 8 years. I guess when the Washington Post gives you a platform, you’re less likely to admit that the Washington Post is probably more responsible than anything else in the political assassination of democrats.

THEN, it gets worse, because Kos actually PARTICIPATES in one of the old smears!!!!! Markos borrows one of their favorite smear jobs and USES it himself! Namely, that Kerry “voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it.”

Anyone who knows a goddamned thing knows that the statement by Kerry was perfectly true: He DID vote for the 87 billion before he voted against it.

There were TWO versions of the bill. The first version paid for the bill with a tax increase. The second version of the bill did not - it borrowed the money.

He supported the more responsible version - the version which did not pass because REPUBLICANS “voted against it.” And he then voted against the 2nd version of the bill, the more irresponsible version.

Markos INCREDIBLY uses this stupid RNC manufactured SHIT to attack Kerry.

Kerry lost because, among other things, he said some tone-deaf things. The fact that those tone-deaf things were often indisputably true doesn't really alter the point.

"Who cares about that," I hear you say, "I just want a candidate who tells the truth, and if people have a problem with that, the hell with them!" I hear ya, brother. The world would be better if things worked that way.

i despise television "news",

including the "wise-man-in-washington" shows like russert's.

i have never seen a russert show (or chris matthews).

i did watch cnn

until the fakery of the iraq invasion.

reading in the weblog world, however,

i have come to feel like i know commentators liked russert.

my feeling is that you do not need any especially clever insights to make sense of russert's behavior.

- he is proof from criticism or any sense of obligation to the public (a newsman's obligation?).

-- he is part of a television production team.

-- that team decides how it can maximize its listenership for each show.

-- the russert team acts on their maximizing decisions.


there is no mystery about why russert (or matthews, or kurtz, or blitzer, et al) say what they say,

day in and day out,.

their comments and their questions and their guests

are a function of maximizing viewership.

it is a waste of time,


free advertising for russert,

to criticize his show.

better to :

-- refuse to comment on his shows (really, russert and his ilk are the premier trolls -- goading and exploiting)


-- pressure his advertisers and bosses.

in short,

russert is just another "politician",

like, for example, joe Lieberman.

the only thing a politician understands is


force that threatens his position of prestige and power.

so, too, with russert.

were bush to change,

or a new administration to take charge,

russert and his production would change on a dime (well, maybe a few mill of dollars).

I don't think you understood my point. Of course Kerry should have been more careful with his phrasing. Of course Kerry should have known that the republicans would take any opportunity they got to smear, lie about and misrepresent Kerry's words. And of course the majority of the American public is consistantly stupid enough to fall for the lies.

I'm not talking about the public. I'm not talking about Kerry. I'm talking about Markos. I'm wondering why Markos, to support his own thesis, went ahead and REPEATED that stupid criticism.

Quoting from Markos' column he says, "On the war, Clinton's recent "I disagree with those who believe we should pull out, and I disagree with those who believe we should stay without end" seems little different from Kerry's famous "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" line. The last thing we need is yet another Democrat afraid to stand on principle."

Clearly, Markos is leveling an attack against Kerry here in the same way that the RNC leveled the attack. He's ACTUALLY attacking Kerry for that line. He's not asking Kerry to be careful with phrasing. He's criticizing Kerry as IF the criticism did actually have substance. But clearly, anyone who knows a damned thing, knows that Kerry wasn't lying and that his vote stood on principle the whole way through.

I'm wondering if Markos will be able to continue to be one of the leaders of the progressive movement given the fact that he seems to have such an easy time rewriting history, and at the same time, attacking a fellow democrat (something he always criticizes OTHERS for doing), just to serve HIS OWN PERSONAL THESIS.

It was a selfish thing to write, and for once I'd like to see the pussy-ass liberal web deal with it. Take him head on for the stupidity of that paragraph.

Yes, your point is valid, but Markos could have pointed to literally dozens of examples where Kerry tried to carve out the safe, consultant-friendly middle ground on an issue and have it both ways. That's the real point, and it's about Hillary, not Kerry.

And Hillary, regrettably, suffers from this as well. I don't think either of them is guilty of lacking actual principles - far from it - but I think they both, for some reason, believe in the power of consultantspeak. Hillary will simply need to do better if she wants a promotion. I think both Democrats and the general electorate have gotten tired of this schtick, no matter who it comes from.

It makes me sad, because it's already happening, that the MSM will invite leading bloggers like Markos to be the anti-liberal liberal in their debates & that's all they'll what from them.

Markos is too smart to end up as a Fox News Democrat, though. I think most of the leading liberal bloggers are, as well.

You excuse the fact that Markos rewrote history and say that "Markos could have pointed to literally dozens of examples where Kerry tried to carve out the safe, consultant-friendly middle ground on an issue and have it both ways."

If its true that he could have done that, then why DIDN'T he? Why didn't he use something TRUTHFUL to prove his point, rather than regurgitating RNC garbage?

I'm sorry, but I believe a true progressive politics must BEGIN with TRUTH, and we can't allow our leaders - people like Markos - to get away with the kind of sloppiness and outright fudging that appears in his column.

Later on, you comment that "Markos is too smart to end up as a Fox News Democrat."

If you mean to convince me that Markos will never become the type of liberal who smears democrats from the right, I somewhat agree with you. Based on the evidence from his column, it appears that Markos intends to smear democrats from the LEFT.

A smear is a smear. When we stand for truth we win and progressive values win. And we need to keep an eye on the leaders of our movement to make sure they don't engage in gutter politics.

One more thing: like I said, I only SOMEWHAT agree with your point about Kos not becoming a "Fox News Democrat". But remember, another well-known characteristic of the species we've come to know as "Fox News Democrat" is that they are self-interested whores. The smear for themselves and their own careers. They want to be invited BACK on Fox News after all, and they know what they have to say, while on air, to make that happen.

In Kos' column, I saw a little bit of his self-interested nature coming through. I saw it reveal itself in his attacks on Bill Clinton, who he seems to blame a lot for democratic losses through the 90s and beyond.

And perhaps Clinton does deserve some of the blame for those losses, and I don't mind hearing Kos' opinions articulated on the subject. But the attacks should have SOME proportion. And anyone who paid any attention at all during the 90s knows that the BIGGEST single reason the dems have been getting their asses kicked is because of this filthy anti-Dem corporate media.

As I said above, "he disappear[ed] the mainstream media’s role in our losses over the years - namely, the manufacturing of fake scandels like Whitewater, filegate, and travelgate, that hung around Bill Clinton’s ankles for all 8 years."

Remember: The Washington Post was a MAJOR DRIVER of these pseudo-scandels. You have to wonder if Kos' knows all this stuff, but pretends he doesn't, because, yes, he want's those editors to invite him back sometime.

On the finger in the wind bit:

Molly Ivins laid out the three things Dems should run on, and I see no reason why we should not insist on all three:

(a) Get out of Iraq, asap (and no attack on Iran)

(b) Public financing of campaigns, esp. for congress critters

(c) Single payer national healh insurance (Medicare for All will do nicely for shorthand)

It's not a long agenda and not enough, but it is a good list for this year.

(Other obvious thingie: the hollowing out of the U.S. economy, and the balance of payments deficit, the which is a sword of damocles suspended over the economy.)

reads a bit different today, don't it? But change a couple of words and this could be a fitting eulogy.

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