I think we are all frustrated with the Democrats’ inability to provide an united front in opposition to the war. Few of us are in the mood for baby steps. But, while the Iraq War goes on undiminished, we are making some rather huge progress in other areas. For those of us that want a more genuinely leftist (in the Canadian/European sense) Democratic Party, our biggest obstacle has been a sort of combination of two factors. The first is the mainstream media as defined by the network news and their cable affiliates, the major ‘left-wing’ newspapers like the The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and L.A. Times. And the major newsweeklies, Time, Newsweek, and the U.S. News & World Report. To these we can add The New Republic, as one of the more influential ‘leftist’ DC insider magazines. Within these media organizations we have seen a complete distortion of leftist thought in this country. Let’s take a brief look at which people they use to represent the left: David Broder, Richard Cohen, David Ignatius, Tom Friedman, Jonathan Chait, Joe Klein, Evan Thomas, Peter Bienert, and Marty Peretz. All of these columnists have berated the anti-war left. All of them consider the Dean/Moveon.org/DFA/anti-war part of the left to be a threat to the country, or the viability of the Democratic Party. Chait put it best.
We can’t surrender to the doves.
Anti-war liberals turned out to be right about Iraq, but they shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as foreign policy sages.
Taken together, they work to define the acceptable parameters of what a Democrat can be, and then define everyone else as ‘fringe’. Anyone that questioned our great imperial adventure in Iraq is considered suspect. Never mind that they turned out to be right. We may need to do some kind of fantastic imperial adventure in the future, like eradicate Iran or take over the Venezuelan oil fields or finally retake Cuba. And we can’t have one of our two major parties filled with people that oppose such things. And free trade? Egads!! What if Dems get it in their heads that the world is not flat, but round?
And this gets us to our second problem in trying to create a more genuinely leftist Democratic Party. And that is the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) that took over the dominant position within the party during the Clinton era. And here we find some of the most ardent dead-ender supporters of the Iraq War…people like Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, Jr., and Hillary Clinton. If they are willing to admit any error in invading Iraq it is primarily in the implementation and strategy. They don’t have any problem with the decision in theory. Unlike our Canadian and Western European cousins, they see nothing inherently wrong with invading Islamic countries and occupying their land based on bizarre domino-theories and hyped threats.
So, our problems have not been restricted to the right-wing bias of corporate news, or to the propaganda spread by Fox News, the Washington Times, the New York Post, the UK Telegraph, the Weekly Standard, the American Enterprise Institute, or William Safire, Charles Krauthammer, Judith Miller, Clifford May, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, the Swift-Boat Veterans, Jimmy/Jeff Guckert, etc. Our problems have been coming from our own side. And that is where bloggers have stepped in and provided a leftist critique of our ostensibly leftist communitariat.
Four years ago I do not believe it would have been possible to see the Deputy Campaign Manager of a major, viable, Democratic contender for the presidency, issue a press release anywhere near as left-wing as the one released by Jonathan Prince of the Edwards campaign. Explaining why Edwards refused to appear in a FOX News run debate in Nevada, Prince explained:
Fox News has already proven they have no intention of providing “fair and balanced” coverage of any Democrat in this election.
In recent weeks they have run blatant lies about Senator Obama’s background. And Fox was only too happy to give Ann Coulter a platform to spew more hate a few days after her bigoted attack on Senator Edwards and the gay community.
Now it’s time for Democrats to stand together and send a clear message to Roger Ailes, Fox News and all the rest of them: bias isn’t balance, but turning tables is fair.
The truth is, Fox News can “report” whatever they want. And when it works for us, we’ll deal with them on our terms. But this campaign is about responsibility and accountability, and we need to send the message to Fox that if they want to be the corporate mouthpiece of the Republican Party more than they want to be an impartial news outlet, they shouldn’t expect Democrats to play along.
Bam!! That’s calling it like it is. FOX News is ‘the corporate mouthpiece of the Republican Party’. Getting a major Democrat to say that is a huge step in the correct direction.
And let’s look at the letter that the chairman of Nevada’s Democratic Party and Senator Harry Reid sent to FOX News:
March 9, 2007
Fox News Political Programs
400 N Capitol Street NW, Suite 550
Washington DC 20001
DELIVERED VIA FAX AND EMAIL
A month ago, the Nevada Democratic Party entered into a good faith agreement with FOX News to co-sponsor a presidential debate in August. This was done because the Nevada Democratic Party is reaching out to new voters and we strongly believe that a Democrat will not win Nevada unless we find new ways to talk to new people.
To say the least, this was not a popular decision. But it is one that the Democratic Party stood by. However, comments made last night by FOX News President Roger Ailes in reference to one of our presidential candidates went too far. We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a position to defend such comments.
In light of his comments, we have concluded that it is not possible to hold a Presidential debate that will focus on our candidates and are therefore canceling our August debate. We take no pleasure in this, but it is the only course of action.
Chairman, Nevada State Democratic Party
U.S. Senator (D-NV)
I am not praising Collins and Reid, here. It was a grassroots/netroots campaign of ‘fringe’ leftists that forced their hands, and it was Roger Ailes bigmouth that gave them the easy out they were looking for. Roger Ailes’ comments were nothing out of the ordinary for FOX News employees and regular guests. In fact, that is precisely why so many ‘fringe’ leftists were outraged by the decision to have FOX do a debate in the first place. But, the question is…when will it ever be acceptable again for a Democratic Party in any state to cut a deal with FOX News?
It simply isn’t worth the pain.
And if we can slice FOX News off the right-fringe of the corporate media, making them look disreputable and biased, we will have done a great deal to move the overall debate back a little to the center.
FOX News is a corporate mouthpiece for the Republican Party. But we still have to contend with the reality that the entire left, as represented on editorial boards and on television, is merely the corporate mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. They are being challenged and delegitimized everyday by the blogosphere. Joe Klein and David Broder and Tom Friedman don’t speak for us. We don’t subscribe to the School of Higher Broderism and we don’t want to spend two more Friedman Units (FU’s) in Iraq.
Viva la blogs. Let’s keep pushing.