Thursday, January 20, 2011

In defending TPM coverage of Palin

Josh Marshall strikes gold explaining what has exasperated me beyond words for years,
This is actually a real blind spot for liberals in general -- the idea that things that are crazy or tawdry or just outrageous are really best ignored. Don't give them more attention. You're just giving them what they want. Or maybe it's not so practical and utilitarian. Maybe, they say, it's just beneath us. Focus on the important stuff.

On so many levels this represents an alienation from the popular political culture which is not only troubling in itself but actually damages progressive and center-left politics in general no end. It's almost the fatal flaw. Democrats often console themselves that even when they don't win elections, usually their individual policies are more popular than those of Republicans. Too bad you can't elect a policy. It's true for instance that Health Care Reform -- which still has more opponents than supporters -- is pretty popular when you ask people about its individual components. But why is that? It's not random, because that pattern crops up again and again. It's another one of the examples where liberals -- or a certain strain of liberalism -- focuses way too much on the libretto of our political life and far too little on the score. It's like you're at a Wagner opera reading the libretto with your ear plugs in and think you've got the whole thing covered.

Politics can never be separated from policy, unless you're in a political science class or getting a Phd in health care economics. The two are inextricably combined. And any attempt to pry them apart in a deep way is not only hopeless but also deeply wrongheaded.
The failure of center-left to always defend the virtue of their causes is exactly why so many people, including large numbers of independent voters, don't trust Democrats to lead. One need look no further than the last Congress.

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