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Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TAKE IT BACK....Charles Pierce has this to say about James Carville and Paul Begala's new book, Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future

C&B have some very good policy recommendations, as well as some very bad ones....

In a 1,300-word review, though, this is the last we hear about their policy recommendations.

I realize that it's currently fashionable to believe that policy doesn't matter for liberals because liberals aren't in power right now, but it's discouraging that this view seems to have become damn near universal on the left. Pierce's review may be amusing in places though only to people who already get the joke and hate Carville and Begala to begin with but if we don't start caring about policy again, the next Democratic president is going to be precisely the kind of triangulator that Pierce claims to despise. Would it really have killed him to spend a few lousy paragraphs telling us what Take It Back is actually about?

Kevin Drum 5:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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I think Pierce's point is that Begala and CArville are hopelessly compromised and that neither their attitude nor their policy prescriptions have any relationship to democrats or democracy at this point


Posted by: aimai on January 27, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know. Having read the review, I feel I have a pretty good idea what the book is about. Furthermore, who cares what these two guys think about policy?

Posted by: EmmaAnne on January 27, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

EmmaAnne: OK, what's the book about? I sure couldn't figure it out.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 27, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps he doesn't think they have any policy recommendations worth mentioning...

Posted by: AN Other on January 27, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

As to the idea about government budgeting;

Instead of a veto over-ride, any item getting over 66% approval is automatically passed.

Posted by: brodix on January 27, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares now about policy? The Republicans and the media sure don't.

Who cares about an energy policy other than using oil as fast as possible?

Who cares about fiscal policy besides running a "recovery" on borrowed money?

Who cares about an industrial policy other than moving work to our friends in China?

I do love the quote: "Many liberals share the conceit that they are intellectually superior."

It's true that when you think up better policy you think it's because you are smarter - but the media is cynical enough to know it's because we haven't been offered a good enough deal to sell out.

Posted by: pebird on January 27, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, yeah. Pierce is the problem here. He spent plenty of ink on at least one policy recommendationnamely, tossing women's privacy rights aside in a rush to the Vital Centerand that's the one that really shows what Begala and Carville are up to: cozying up to the Conventional Wisdom. You can reject his contention that their position on abortion is a valid synecdoche for their positions on other matters, but that's hardly the same thing as just treating his review as a facile parody.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 27, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

To whomever erased my policy suggestions, you may as well take down the correction as well.

Posted by: brodix on January 27, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Forgot to add that I keep flipping channels when I see either Carville or Begala on the screen. When did they last have anything interesting to say? I don't want to be "entertained" by pundits/talking heads, I want to learn something.

Which maybe explains why I watch so little of any of the "news" channels...

Posted by: A N Other on January 27, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Even though people like you continue to say it, I haven't seen much evidence that liberals think that policy stuff is pase.

Rather, it seems to me that the policy stuff is already understood and agreed upon, in large measure. So that by comparison, the only issue to seek some significant degree of unanimity on is how to actually get power back so that the policies that are largely agreed upon can be enacted.

Posted by: cdj on January 27, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Here is an idea from the hoi polloi

Government budgeting is a mess and the problem with the line item veto is that it would place most of the power of the purse in the hands of the president, but a way around this would be to break the bills into their constituent items and have each legislator assign a percentage value to each one. Then re-assemble them in order of preference and have the president draw the line at what is to be funded. Instead of a veto over-ride, any item getting over 66% approval is automatically passed. Not only would this break up the budgetary log jams which make over spending irresistible, but it would take away a lot of the power this process gives to the legislative leadership and parties and returns it to the level of the individual legislators. While the buck really would stop with the president. Specific proposals would have to appeal to the broad spectrum of legislators, not just a few power brokers. It would require the leadership to lead by inspiration, not just herd them around like so many cattle. Democracy is a bottom up process and the Republic is a top down entity. This would clarify that relationship. It is the congealing of power in the legislative branch which is the source of much current corruption.

Posted by: brodix on January 27, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't think policy didn't matter because we were out of power. I thought policy doesn't matter, period. Remember Delulio? It's all SBV and treason and name-calling. The people in power don't talk policy, we won't get there talking policy until something Earth shattering happens to the political discourse.

Posted by: Memekiller on January 27, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Once again the prissy Mr. Drum has his Dockers in a snit because someone has some harsh words for a fellow faux-Democrat. Begala and Carville are entertainers, not political figures, and Pierce is right to devote only a glance at their policy views. And props to DJ Moonbat for his mention that Pierce does in fact discuss one of their policy views to great effect.

And I ask again, why does anyone consider Kevin Drum a liberal?

Posted by: Farinata X on January 27, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Good god! Liberal policies have dominated the national discourse for at least over seventy years. Who on earth, except the Tim Russerts and Chris Mathews, does not know what the liberal policies are?

The problem for liberals is primarily one of tactics.

More specifically, the problem of growing some balls, and calling the Republicans on their well organized and equally well orchestrated campaign of dissembly and wholesale abandonment truth.

Posted by: lib on January 27, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

OK, what's the book about? I sure couldn't figure it out.


Posted by: stranger on January 27, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

OK, what's the book about? I sure couldn't figure it out.

Dems, too, love guns and God. In other words, me too!

Posted by: nut on January 27, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

"The path to the White House does not lie through healthcare reform, but Bush's abortion."--Memekiller

Posted by: Memekiller on January 27, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what it's about, but I get a very clear sense of what PIERCE thinks it's about: how f'ing sweet Carville and Begala are.

Posted by: wertle on January 27, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh dear me no, we can't talk specifics.

Talking specifics may alienate some demographic.

It may also give ammunition to our critics.

So please, no specifics on any policy.

(channeling cringing Democratic leadership)

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 27, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, How about covering some of their policy suggestions here one by one? You might need to institute a comment word limit though.

Peirce can't reach the audience he wants if he gets too deep into substance or the thinking arts -- and the likes of Wolf Blitzer are too busy bashing plantation analogies by Democrats and defending statements about aborting black babies by Republicans.

Posted by: B on January 27, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Man we in the Net roots love policy. Give it to us hot and heavy. Breathless even. If the left has a living thriving constituency it is us.

Charlie Pierce must really be out of it not to have seen this for himselof. Who if not us, will be buying this book?

There can never be too much detail on the net.

Posted by: patience on January 27, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if Begala and Carville didn't have good policy ideas, that would be news. Of course they do. Any serious Democrat has many good policy ideas -- great ideas compared to those of the Republicans, who know only cutting taxes and enriching the rich -- this despite the media's conventional wisdom that Democrats have none at.

So, at this point, the nature of their policy ideas must take a back seat to other questions, such as: Are these Democrats enabling the worst administration in history? Are they enabling the Republican/media assault on truth, American principles and freedom? Are they so desperate not to offend Middle America, and do they have so few ties to real people, that they can't grasp the fact that Middle America is not the sappy Norman-Rockwell-knock-off the media portrays it to be?

How long will they be willing to throw principle overboard, and how long will they continue to paint turds like Tucker Carlson as "good guys?" It's time for some spine in this party. Charlie Pierce told it like it is.

Posted by: Walter Crockett on January 27, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. Just as the GOP won the elections by telling us that the centerpiece of their national security policy will be pre-emptive war based on fall pretenses and that their domestic agenda will including warrantless domestic spying and gutting of the FEMA, we have to publish at least one policy paper a week with doctoral dissertation-level in-depth analysis of the issues involved before we can take back the executive or the legislature.

Posted by: lib on January 27, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not surprised at the reaction to this post, but honestly folks, I wasn't asking for a Brookings white paper. Just a "few lousy paragraphs," since it was allegedly a book review, after all.

Take a look at the high traffic liberal blogs. There is virtually no time spent conversing about policy. If you're convinced that policy doesn't matter because media bashing needs 100% of our attention, I guess that's fine. I don't agree. Policy deserves some air time as well.

And anyone who thinks this is because liberals don't have any policy disagreements is smoking dope. One of our biggest problems is that whenever policy does come up, we form a gigantic circular firing squad and start shooting. There are plenty of disagreements out there that we need to air.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 27, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: but if we don't start caring about policy again, the next Democratic president is going to be precisely the kind of triangulator that Pierce claims to despise.

If you don't start acknowledging that the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were blatantly stolen by the Republicans, and start doing something to prevent them from stealing the 2006 and 2008 elections, there will never be another Democratic president.

Also, in the 2004 Democratic primaries, one and only one Democrat campaigned for the presidential nomination by stating forthrightly that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was an illegal war of unprovoked aggression based on the Bush administration's deliberate lies about nonexistent Iraqi "WMD" -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who was ridiculed and marginalized by all "mainstream Democrats" and "sensible liberals" and candidates like John Kerry who campaigned on their support for Bush's illegal war based on lies. Today, according to a CNN poll, 53% of Americans believe that the Bush administration deliberately lied about Iraqi WMD.

Democrats could try a startling new policy: tell the truth, instead of enabling Republican lies.

And damn it, tell the hardest truths first.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: One of our biggest problems is that whenever policy does come up, we form a gigantic circular firing squad and start shooting.

That sounds like a complaint.

In the next sentence Kevin wrote: There are plenty of disagreements out there that we need to air.

That sounds like you are urging people to do what you just apparently complained about.

Unclear writing, or genuine confusion?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Policy statements aren't needed right now. Statements of principle that unite the party and separate it from the opposition are needed now.

Posted by: matt on January 27, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Policy statements have to set the strategy though don't they? What tactics can be derived from a strategy of anti-republican talking points? Shall we have Reid and Pelosi stand up and hurl invective? That's about all they do now,only with more civility than perhaps they should.
What is the policy for healthcare including the necessary changes to Medicare? Deficits? Foreign Affairs?
I haven't heard any. Maybe I'm not listening.

Posted by: TJM on January 27, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

If you're convinced that policy doesn't matter..

I don't think this follows logically from what the blogs are saying. I think that the blogs that you do not name can speak for themselves, but they are focussing on the media because somehow it has tranformed into a well oiled propaganda machine for the lies of the GOP. They are making all this noise precisely because they are interested in a significant qualitative change in the current policies of the Bush administration.

In a world where members of the opposing parties politely discuss their policies on national tv and the party with the best policies wins, your concerns will be well founded. Alas, as the recent and even not so recent history has shown, that is not the case.

Posted by: lib on January 27, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin. But unless he's stated something like he's the resurrect Christ, the Mets will win the WS this season or that Ronald Reagan is the bestest president we've ever had, I'm pretty sure you shouldn't be questioning anything Pierce writes. He's pretty much always spot on.

Posted by: Jeff II on January 27, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Most "policy" discussions are arguments about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The human species is aggressively, systematically, and rapidly destroying the capacity of the Earth to support life. We may have as little as a few decades before anthropogenic climate change wrecks what we flatter ourselves to call "civilization", not to mention causes the mass extinction of much of the life of the Earth, which may then take hundreds of thousands or millions of years to regenerate anything like the rich, diverse biosphere that has flourished on this planet in recent millennia. In our greed and recklessness and shortsightedness we are courting our own doom.

The central organizing principle of all US domestic and foreign policy must be learn how to live sustainably within our ecological means on this planet. Drastic, far-reaching and rapid changes in energy production and use, agriculture, forestry, transportation systems, building design, population control, and other areas are urgently needed. Who will campaign on this policy platform? How many votes do you think such a candidate would get?

In 1992, George H. W. Bush ridiculed Al Gore as "ozone man". In the 2000 campaign, Gore barely spoke about "environmental" issues, yet the Republicans still made a point of ridiculing him for suggesting (in Earth in the Balance) that within the first couple of decades of the 21st century the internal combustion engine would become obsolete. Now in 2005 every major US automobile manufacturer is struggling to catch up with Toyota's and Honda's lead in producing hybrid vehicles, and the Bush administration is touting hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars.

Somebody needs to get out in front of these issues and start banging the drum loudly. The presidential election of 2008 will fall in the third post-Katrina hurricane season. How many more Katrina-sized hurricanes will have devastated the southeastern USA and possibly wiped out Houston and Miami, a al New Orleans 2005, by then? When will politicians stop being cowards and tell the American people the truth about what is happening to this planet?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

As an example of inane "policy" discussions by "sensible liberals" I can offer no better example than the article in the current issue of The Washington Monthly by Christina Larson, about how "progressive government" can save the "great American pastime" of killing innocent, helpless animals for fun, by turning wildlife refuges into killing grounds for rich suburban sport hunters. This is nothing more than decadence calling itself "liberalism".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Patton on January 27, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The only answer I see is a collection of populist independant billionaire eccentrics willing to solicit and fund a series of "good government" constitutional ammendments that redefine the way things work in Washington. Gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, bribery, lobbying, sunshine rules, federal jurisdiction more clearly defined, checks and balances clearly defined, executive priviledge clearly defined, certain senate and congressional rules placed in constitution (time to read bill before vote, votes held for short and predefined time period, filibuster defined, etc.)

Posted by: B on January 27, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

There's another issue with policy discussions and the 'Democratic circular firing squad'. It is much more difficult to create good policy than it is to destroy it. Republicans have easily fallen into line behind their policy proposals (such as the drug plan and personal accounts) because they are all aware that they aren't real policy - they're all about destroying the existing successful programs or giving money to either defence or to corporate interests.

I think Democrats would be wise to better understand how some of the existing programs were created ... how they were explained, organized, marketed, even. Then understand what is necessary to accomplish this in the present time. Most importantly, how to mature these proposals in think tanks and other places - and bring the existing set of senators and congressmen on board BEFORE the story hits. Party discipline is critical to this.

Posted by: smoof on January 27, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think the political blowback from the current administration will prove to be far more effective in moving the country in a progressive direction then a straight line direction would have taken us.
Think for a moment if Kerry had won and had to deal with this senate and congress. For one thing, the odds of taking either back this year would likely be less.
A question I'd like to see a reporter ask the president;
"Do you ever worry that your single minded efforts to strengthen the presidency will prove counter-productive and result in a weakened presidency?"

Posted by: brodix on January 27, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Pierce's piece was a quickie simply for poking sharp sticks into the eyes of a couple of people who we'd all be better off with, metaphorically speaking, as blind men.

If you want a substantive review, wait until either the NYRB or the Times Literary Supplement has at it. That is if they deign to waste time on a couple of has beens who really are part of the problem.

Posted by: Jeff II on January 27, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if you want to talk about policy, post about policy. Start whatever discussion you want. This is your blog, not Pierce's blog.

But don't expect policy talk to be popular at the moment. These days, discussions of policy tend to go like this:

  1. X is a big problem!

  2. The existing policy for dealing with Problem X is inadequate.

  3. New policy Y might help us to deal with Problem X more effectively. We should try it!

  4. Unfortunately, no matter what I or anyone else says, the Republican government is determined to avoid New Policy Y, to destroy the effectiveness of all existing policies, and to ignore Problem X until it kills us all.

  5. Let's hope Problem X doesn't kill us before 2008.

  6. Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhh!!!

After the first ten or twenty such essays, they all start to look the same.

Your recent post about child support fits this model pretty well. It certainly didn't make me want to discuss the merits of various child support policies. It made me want to throw rocks at an effigy of Tom Delay.

Posted by: PurpleStater on January 27, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK


Carville and Begala are political consultants--hired gun tacticians. No one ever looked to them for policy, and I don't think either of them would assert any specific expertise in any policy area.

I enjoyed Pierce's review and thought the skewering of these two (Carville and Begala) and the circles in which they operate was on target. (And I don't particularly dislike either of them.)

I am a policy wonk. I love policy discussions (though in the current environment, its seems a bit masturbatory), but I would never read a book by Carville and Begala for its policy proposals.

Posted by: Ben Brackley on January 27, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Kevin. I do not "hate" Begala or Carville, but, boy, am I tired of their anemic performances (such as this past Sunday on MTP opposite Mary Matalin) representing an opposition point of view on cable news or Sunday talking head fests. Perhaps it is unfair for Pierce to call his piece a review of the latest "wit and wisdom" from this pair. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a review of them in general. What they have to say rarely resonates with me, and I'm here to tell you that they are not winning over the folks I know who consider themselves "centrists." Pierce also blasphemed Clinton, and as a person who views Clinton's as a presidency of squandered potential, I have to say much of Pierce's rant rang true to me.
You have a signficant platform in this blog, and I think at least one commenter suggested that you give a forum to the "pearls" from these two and prove skeptics such as myself wrong. Until you do, I will be of the opinion that - if their policy offerings are as excellent as their on-screen performances defending and articulating opposition (I cannot bring myself to say Democratic, liberal or progressive - who ARE these guys?), who the fuck cares what they have to say? Do they say, for instance, that they ought put their out-sized egos aside and see if they can find some way to work constructively with Howard Dean? Or are they all about riding another Clinton horse to victory, and to hell with anyone who might like to take a look at other horses?
Finally, why must you describe disgreement in the discussion of policy as a "circular firing squad"? To quote our abysmal failure of a president, "It's hard work" to wring consensus from people who prefer to think for themselves than swallow and parrot the party line. But, every time I think of the alternative - people who can stay "on message" with dishonest party talking points to advance that party - I do not care to have liberals, progressives, or those who simply "lean left" go there.
I don't know, Kevin. Once again I am asking myself what value I get from reading you.

Posted by: TuiMel on January 27, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

There are 2 conditions that have to be met by Dem policy ideas now. They have to be so radical that they can't be coopted by Republicans. And they have to be ideas that can be accepted by the whole party. Single payer on the VA model is one off the top of my head. I think a GI Bill like national service program to pay for higher education is another one. I don't think fiscal restraint is an especially compelling issue for the Dems anyway, they should just spin phony budget numbers and mock Bush's profligacy if people object to costs.

Dems need to stop wasting energy on so many practical considerations with policy ideas. Policy is a way to frame values and only a way to frame values for the powerless Dems right now. If Dems want to waste their time proposing neat policies for the Republicans to pass and take credit for then they aren't up to the job of escaping minority party status.

Posted by: matt on January 27, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

The book is about how smart and wonderful James and Paul are. *They* know how to win - move to the middle! Throw abortion rights overboard! Be extra-Catholic and gun loving! Drop names, like super-cool Gary Bauer and extra-intelligent Tucker Carlson who are their *good* buddies.

I don't have to read this book. I've been swimming in it for a couple of decades now. We've tried it and tried it and tried it, and the results are plain for all to see.

I don't need to know any other of their other policy positions, because they are the exact sort of people who will make sure we're never in power again. And they don't even know it.

We've *watched* an outside group move in and take over first a party and then the country. They did not do it by pretending to be pale copies of Democrats, or blurring the differences, or sucking up to the left side of the media. They did it by unflinching determination, drawing distinctions, taking no prisoners.

We know how this works. We just don't want to do what has to be done, because it means you get tutted at by the Tucker Carlsons and don't get invited to the cool parties for a few years while you are changing attitudes.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on January 27, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

This Charles guy is way cool. As for anyone who wants to know any policy prescriptions those two CNN whores may have, they need a vacation.

Posted by: la on January 27, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

. I don't think fiscal restraint is an especially compelling issue for the Dems anyway, they should just spin phony budget numbers and mock Bush's profligacy if people object to costs.

Dunno. Think fiscal responsiblity should be a big item on the Dem card. But really, here the two big items are military and health expenditures. A sane system where the country wasn't paying 6% of GNP on healthcare paperwork and nobody would feel the pinch from say a 3% increase in general tax levels. And is it really necessary to spend as much as the next ten nations combined to run after rag-tag terrorists? There's a lot of wasted bang for buck here. You could have universal health (with minimal user fees perhaps to discourage abuse of the system) and a balanced budget and still keep a pretty strong military. Oops, I'm getting into policy and that circular firing squad thing...

Re. the firing squad, the problem isn't Dems arguing over details, it's Dems arguing over details when people don't understand the agreement they have on broad aims.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 27, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Of course you could cut costs elsewhere or have better priorities, but once you start having that discussion you have to start talking about the political realities, what can be accomplished with Republican control of Congress, and you wind up being constrained by these realities that Democrats have nothing to gain by discussing right now. The idea is to simply use any discussion of those subjects as a platform for attack attack attack against the Republicans on their profligacy. Don't even engage substantively on that topic, there's no money in it, so to speak.

Posted by: matt on January 27, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

And, to add a little more, the real point of having these policy disputes is to underline the real core values of the Democratic Party that are distinct from the Republican Party. There's nothing especially principled about the GOP's abandonment of fiscal sanity right now, so they could just as easily tack back and say OK, we changed our minds, we need massive cuts in social spending to balance the budget. Dems need to lay the groundwork for saying uh uh, the American people elected us on our core values and we're going to have to roll back some of these crazy tax cuts that wound up being snake oil economics, we aren't going to accept those cuts. The idea is to articulate positions that will be wildly popular but also irreducibly non-Republican positions in the context of being freed from the constraints of really having to govern, really having to pass laws.

Posted by: matt on January 27, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think PurpleStater nails it, but here is my slightly different take.

Democrats: Problem X is a big problem! Here is our policy on Problem X. Blah, blah, blah....

Media: Today President Bush declared war on France. Ooh, he's so manly and resolute!

....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, furthermore, blah, blah, blah, blah...

Republican partisans: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! You Democrats are disgusting ...raise taxes...weaken America......special interests...Clinton...econuts...weak on defense...kill babies...starve the beast.

....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...

Republican partisans: Those obstructionist Democrats! They never propose anything! Can you believe they don't recognize the seriousness of Problem X! But President Bush (ooh, he's so manly!) has a policy for dealing with Problem X. He will make X four times as bad AND our grandchildren will pay for it. Peace and prosperity. Democracy. Everything will be better in the future.

Democrats: Hmm, maybe we don't talk about policy enough?

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 27, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Am I dreaming or Kevin has actually edited his post by deleting the reference to 'blogs with heavy traffic'? Strange.

Posted by: lib on January 27, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Only one policy necessary, Kevin. Kill the terrors, protect the country. But for some reason, we dems just don't get it. I really wish we would so we can put this national GOP nightmare to bed.

And now, because we are NS weenys, the far right will get to control a women's womb.

And that fuckhead cowboy is gonna be on TV Tuesday with a big shit-eating grin.

We, the dems, are the ones failing the Amer people, not the GOP.

When will the Dems figure out the priorities of the post 911 world? When we do, I predict great success because we can protect this country and fight terrorists much better then the current crops of Repugs.

Posted by: The fake fake al on January 27, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

If all the ideas in that book were like the "taxpayer subsidy for incumbent campaigns" idea Kevin posted about a while back, I'm not surprised nobody's mentioning them.

Kevin, where is that old post where you listed those "Contract With America" type things that Reid was going to introduce into the Senate? Whatever happened to that?

Democrats can't deal with policy right now because they can't see past the blood in their own eyes.

Heck, I could probably come up with a platform that would work, but the Democrats would have to scrape off the war paint, tell the looneys to go jump in the lake, and realize that they aren't going to get everything they want.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 27, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody seen Nancy Pelosi's shot across the policy bow yet?

A blogger comments on it here.

This Pelosi piece might be worth its own thread here.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 27, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

COMPLETELY agree with Kevin on this one.

Posted by: Amur on January 27, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN's take is very accurate - However, may I add one thing:

Hardball with Chrissie -

Chris: Tonight, we have Senator Obama on to discuss Democratic policies - Senator, why don't the Demos have any policies; could you tell us of any?

Senator Obama: Well, Chris, first of all, we, er
(interruption by Chris)
Chris: No, I mean when I was with Tip O'Neill, we, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc.
Well, thanks, that's all we have for this evening - Tomorrow, Ann Coulter will be here for an indepth discussion of why Democrats are traitors and should be shot. Stay tuned for Rita Cosby and more on Aruba and The Dawg.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats need one policy. No more. No eight-point plans, no "move to the ___", no "pivot to __", or else they'll fight over it, get divided, and Bush will steal the policy and credit (DHS, anyone?).

That one policy is: prevent Bush from f***ing things up any worse than he already has. In short, FIGHT.

It comes with one message: Bush and the Republicans are a bunch of f***ing crooks. In short, BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

It also has the added virtue of being true. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Posted by: Chris on January 27, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

"And I ask again, why does anyone consider Kevin Drum a liberal?"

Beats me.

Charlie Pierce has been fighting the good fight since about 30 years before Kevin figured out that the Iraq war was a bad idea. Except Charlie never bought it to begin with.

Posted by: Newton Minnow on January 28, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

I saw the two twits on MTP on Sunday. Apart from the fact that their spine analogy was ripped off from Dean - the same Dean they disparaged - I figured out what this piece of shit book was about - just another book to make money off off Dem rubes. Exactly what have carville and begala contributed? Anybody seriously think Clinton wouldn't have won without these two. This is like giving Obama's campaign manager credit. Hello candidates like these come around once in a generation and even Carville and Begala couldn't fuck it up. BTW Charlie's last name is very appropriate with his work - its very sharp.

Posted by: arrow on January 28, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

> And anyone who thinks this is because liberals
> don't have any policy disagreements is smoking dope.

But Kevin, you say that as if it were a bad thing :)

I read the piece. Charles Pierce is quite a wit (Urban Galacius
Begala, LOL !) and a most snazzy rhetorician. I share the views
of all my progressive brethren here. Fuck those flaccid whores.

Not literally, of course. Or at least
not without a steel-reinforced condom.

This being said, I think we *do* need a policy discussion. We're
not going to win by tactically emulating the right if our positions
aren't based, as the right's are, on resentment and selfishness.

The big problem with our values is that they're humane. It's
hard to sell humane without coming across like a pushover.

That's why we need a solid policy platform before all else.

Sadly enough, the docker-wearing aleurophile here is correct.


Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

"...but if we don't start caring about policy again, the next Democratic president is going to be precisely the kind of triangulator that Pierce claims to despise."

Kevin Drum

This is the single dumbest thing I have read on a blog in years.

Posted by: EconoBuzz on January 28, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

--- Fake Q & A ---

Q: Russert, what are the Democratic party's policy issues?

Russert: Oh, let me see. How about health care reform?

Q: Yep, what else?

Russert: An energy policy for independence from oil.

Q: Yep, what else?

Russert: End the war in Iraq.

Q: See, you know all the policies. So, the question becomes, why are those the issues Democrats are interested in?

Russert: Because those are problems facing America.

Q: But, what makes those Democratic or Liberal issues?

Russert: Uh, I see, hmmm, not sure.

Q: What would those policies do?

Russert: Solve some problems?

Q: Right. And, what's more they'd solve problems for ordinary Americans and each & everyone of those solutions oppose the narrow special interests of the Republican party.

Russert: So, you're saying Liberal is simply solving problems for Americans?

Q: Simple, isn't it? Why do Republicans hate America?

Posted by: MarkH on January 28, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Who exactly are they going to have these policy discussions with? The media doesn't want to hear them, unless they involve missing white women. Anyone have a policy on that?

Posted by: KathyF on January 28, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin --
First of all, thanks for the link. I think that's what I'm supposed to say, right? I'm still walking through the dark docks of Blogistan, with one hand on my wallet, afraid that someone will hit me over the head, stuff me in a sack, and I'll wake up researching Herbert Spencer for Jonah Goldberg.
That said, the piece wasn't really supposed to be a book review, per se. I do the occaisonal column for the AP online and I'd just happened to read the C&B book on the way home from Milwaukee last week. I agree that the D's need a series of sharp policy prescriptions, and quickly, but it wasn't the purpose of my piece. The purpose, actually, was to point out that C&B and a lot of other smart people have to disenthrall themselves from the courtier press in order to save the country (Thanks, Abe.) It doesn't do the D's any good to have C&B as performing monkeys on a stick, They ought to be out there, organizing congressional campaigns, doing what they do best.
Oh, and I was trying to be kind of funny, too.

Posted by: Charles Pierce on January 28, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

The politics and policy should come from the same source, Kevin: liberal political philosophy.

Unfortunately, whenever someone dares to actually identify themselves as a liberal, say what liberalism is supposed to mean, and start working from there, they inevitably get castigated by "triangulators" whose policy prescriptions are (by design) thinly veiled political ploys, and the talking heads in all their GOP blastfax reading glory.

That's the problem, and that's what Pierce did an excellent job of castigating.

Posted by: Demosthenes on January 29, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: 343 on January 29, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

The R's' meme is that the D's have no ideas or proposed policies (they do). When a D starts talking about ideas or policies, the knives come out. Can't talk about something you're not supposed to have.

This country isn't worth defending anymore.

Posted by: a_retrogrouch on January 29, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

check this out

Posted by: Nick on January 30, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK



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