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Posted by on Feb 23, 2007 in Politics | 8 comments

Enduring Moderation


What do you get when you throw Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a moderate Democrat from northern California, into a pit with a few ultra-liberal activists, online and off?

The answer, apparently, is political road kill.

As recounted in the WaPo earlier this week, that situation is neither a work of fiction nor a twisted childhood riddle. It’s very real and remarkably sad, and it’s precisely why I have such distaste for partisan politics and extremists on both the right and left.

Note, in particular, this dizzy trip on the merry-go-round …

Progressive blogs – including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher – were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its “Worst Offender.” And in Tauscher’s East Bay district office that day in January, eight activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.

Helping? Jennifer Barton, the lawmaker’s district director, played them a DVD of Tauscher blasting the increase as an awful idea in a floor speech eight days earlier.

“The words are fine and good, but we are looking for leadership,” scoffed Susan Schaller, one of the activists.

Leadership? Barton showed them the eight golden shovels Tauscher had received for bringing transportation projects to her suburban district, along with numerous awards she had won for her work protecting children, wetlands, affordable housing and abortion rights.

“That’s fine and good,” Schaller repeated, “but this is about Iraq.”

[Continued at Central Sanity.]

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • domajot

    This is political activism at its worst.
    On another thread, CSTANLEY brought up a point about how difficult it was to speak up against extremists when they’re on your side, and that’s a good observation. However, the difficulty should not be used as an excuse for tolerating bad behavior.
    I hope Democrats and Republicans start to push back against those at the far poles, drunk on their blogging power.

    I’m still waiting for a progressive to show concern about the students who stormed the stage to prevent the Minutemen from speaking. Is Free Speech no longer an issue for progressives?

    I tend to sympathize with many of the observations brought up by progressives, but when they turn into attack dogs, it’s too much for me to stomach.

  • kritter

    I happen to disagree strongly with this war, but I also oppose extremists at both ends of the political spectrum who try to drum opposing views out of office. The GOP is doing the same thing with Club for Growth and Hugh Hewitt’s Victory caucus. It may strengthen the parties, but it will greatly weaken our democracy, as we need more than political hacks mouthing talking points in Congress. This is a very depressing trend, Pete.

  • I thought extremist Republicans were foolish for their attitudes towards more moderate Republicans and I feel the same way about these excuses for progressives.

  • jjc

    Here’s the Wikipedia article about Tauscher: LINK

    It should be noted here that WaPo is no friend to Left Blogostan, and it would be a mistake to assume they’ve exercised journalistic scruples to be fair to both sides of this dispute.

    I think it is fair to compare Working for Us to Club for Growth in their political tactics, but to fixate on that is to lose sight of what’s more important, which is that Club for Growth wants to continue and intensify the policies and ideas of this Administration, while Working for Us is opposed. To claim they’re really equivalent is to claim that Working for Us supports equally reckless and radical policies and ideas, and I think there’s little evidence of that.

    It may be that the opponents of Tauscher are playing a bad game of politics, but what are opponents of corporatism and military adventurism supposed to do? As a leftie myself, it’s actually Tauscher’s corporatism that bothers me more, because Democrats are a significantly corporate party themselves.

  • jjc

    Went back and read the whole article, and I think it’s fair overall, except that the inflammatory stuff is up front while at the end it says

    Kos can imagine a day when Tauscher still holds her seat but is no longer distasteful to the left. “That’s what victory would look like — a more responsive representative,” he said. So when Tauscher praises Pelosi as “perfect on substance, perfect on optics,” it’s hard to know if that’s a result of personal evolution, political trends, or blogospheric pressure, but it’s music to Kos’s ears. It’s helpful to Democratic leaders, too.

    So Pete, while I understand you don’t like hardball political tactics, I have to say you’ve over-reacted here. I think you’ve succumbed to the inclination many moderates have of equating style with substance when it comes to political criticism.

  • Paul Silver

    I look forward to the emergence of a new Political movement to defend and promote centrist candidates. Perhaps Gov Schwarzenegger and Mayor Bloomberg will pick up on that wide open political opportunity.

  • domajot

    ‘inclination many moderates have of equating style with substance when it comes to political criticism”
    Don’t underestimate style, however.
    Some of us old fogeys still value civilized debate over verbal brawling and a sense of fair play over scoring points at any price.

    In the spirit of fair play, then, I admit that I get turned off as much by the vicious comments that follow some articles and blogs as by the contents of the original piece. And that’s not fair to the author.

  • jjc

    In the spirit of fair play, then, I admit that I get turned off as much by the vicious comments that follow some articles and blogs as by the contents of the original piece. And that’s not fair to the author.

    Since my comment addressed Pete, I’m thinking you refer to me/it here. Are you really saying my comment was ‘vicious’?

    I was attempting to disagree without being disagreeable. Please indicate how you think I failed.

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