Liberal suicide

Liberal suicide
: More on the hijacking of liberalism and its values (not to mention its pragmatic politics), first from today’s New York Times:

The moderate Democratic group that helped elect Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 warned today that Democrats were headed for defeat if they presented themselves as an angry “far left” party fighting tax cuts and opposing the war in Iraq….

“It is our belief that the Democratic Party has an important choice to make: Do we want to vent or do we want to govern?” said Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, chairman of the organization. “The administration is being run by the far right. The Democratic Party is in danger of being taken over by the far left.”

When a reporter asked a panel of council leaders whether Democratic woes were a result of Republican attacks or Democratic mistakes, Senator Bayh responded with a curt two-word answer that silenced the room.

“Assisted suicide,” he said.

And Andrew Sullivan quotes (Marxist, prowar) blogger Norman Geras on the left’s failure to to support the human rights of the Iraqis just so they can hope to nya-nya the Republican administration:

But what these critics of the war thereby wished for was a spectacular triumph for the regime in Baghdad, since that is what a withdrawal would have been. So much for solidarity with the victims of oppression, for commitment to democratic values and basic human rights….

That is caring more to have been right than for a decent outcome for the people of this long unfortunate country.

How horribly true: In the PC era, it is better to be right than to be moral.

If you want to natter at Bush’s butt, how much better it would be to natter not about the war but about doing a better job at building an economy and democracy in Iraq.

Geras delivers deeper thrusts of the knife regarding the left’s reaction to September 11:

The response on the part of much of it was excuse and apologia.

At best you might get some lip service paid to the events of September 11 having been, well, you know, unfortunate – the preliminary ‘yes’ before the soon-to-follow ‘but’ (or, as Christopher Hitchens has called it, ‘throat-clearing’). And then you’d get all the stuff about root causes, deep grievances, the role of US foreign policy in creating these; and a subtext, or indeed text, whose meaning was America’s comeuppance. This was not a discourse worthy of a democratically-committed or principled left, and the would-be defence of it by its proponents, that they were merely trying to explain and not to excuse what happened, was itself a pathetic excuse….

Why this miserable response? In a nutshell, it was a displacement of the left’s most fundamental values by a misguided strategic choice, namely, opposition to the US, come what may.

What’s most pathetic is that one hears this even from the American left.

But this isn’t the left. This is a crackpot cult that calls itself the left and the real crime is that liberals let them.

That is why I won’t yet give up on the liberal label.

  • Chris Josephson

    It would be great if the ‘Liberal label’ could be reclaimed from those on the left who have made it synonymous with intolerance, hysteria, discrimination and anti-Semitism. I come from a long line of Liberals (classic meaning) and never
    would have believed that those who call themselves Liberal would stand for the exact opposite of what it should mean. For those who still need/want to have a political label it would be good to reclaim the Liberal label and restore its meaning.
    I do wonder why some people feel they need to be labeled. My parents and their parents, etc. felt being a labeled a Liberal was a good thing. To me, it makes no difference. I see Liberal and Conservative as good and bad. All depends on the issue.
    I support views from one end of the political spectrum to the other. One label wouldn’t define me very well politically. There are so many political labels, I really don’t know or care what they mean. Neoconservative, Neoliberal and others I’ve heard. Seems as if I can’t keep up with the labels. Perhaps it’s more important to journalists or political junkies? I’m neither so perhaps that’s why it makes no difference to me.

  • Who pray tell belongs to this club? Please tell me. I’m left of center, progressive, whatever label you want to give me. I didn’t like the way we went to war, I’m happy we won, I have 2 friends who were fighting in Iraq. I don’t think the Bush administration has done a good job in Iraq, on foreign policy, on human rights, on American security. I have friends who protested the war, and I had friends who supported it fully. Are they part of this untouchable phantom ideology that you’ve created, am I? Better yet, just tell me WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Who didn’t fit in this class?

  • I like to recall what my hero General S. George Patton, Jr. had to say about liberals: “Politicians are the lowest form of life on the earth. Liberal Democrats are the lowest form of politician.” HOOAH!
    Jennifer Martinez sends

  • ChipC

    The far left is obsessed about being right because it has never had to admit it was wrong about every political issue of the last 100 years, excluding Vietnam. They are batting like 1 – 50. Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Globalism, PostModernism, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq I, Iraq II, etc., etc.
    I think what we are seeing now is a total crisis of confidence, as the moderate left and center has realized that the far left has no game at all, never had any game and never will have any game.

  • “Who pray tell belongs to this club? Please tell me. ”
    Dozens of blogs, some very popular (Hesiod, DailyKos) their huge comment sections, people I’ve met, people on email lists I am on, people I’ve heard ask questions at political talks, and as some other posts here have pointed out, some politicians.
    You honestly can’t tell me Geras isn’t describing anyone you know.

  • Yehundit,
    Great, I think you prove my point. I know people who were against the war, but you point to a couple of bloggers and the people I know. Well, allright, granted they were seriously against the war under almost all conditions, (I’m a relatively new reader to Kos and the others I don’t know). 1.) These people aren’t making any policy, they are expressing opinions in opposition. 2.) None of these people was arguing that Saddam Hussein was a great humanitarian
    3.) Humanitarian intervention is a liberal idea (and will remain so), and was practiced by Democrats, and I have argued that Iraq is not a humanatarian intervention and actually hurts our ability to intervene for humanitarian reasons in the future. 4.) Historically Democrats have been strong for national interests and american security.
    What I really need to know more than who belongs to the group is who doesn’t belong to the group? Is anyone who had serious reservations (Kevin Drum, myself) about the way we went to war part of that group? OR How about people who thought we had other more important security interests? If I don’t buy the Al-Qaeda/Iraq threat am I one of the full on lefties who is apologizing for Hussein? Really, define the group and hell I may agree with you, but this whole liberal thing is bullshit and is part of how some progressives are buying into the right wing line about liberal Democrats. Short of Howard Dean, whom we could argue about, none of the major Democrat candidates is light on national security. So I just don’t buy it, I’d rather be in a party with extreme lefties who always lose out on their wacky views than give Pat Robertson control over my future or country.

  • rds

    I like Drum a lot, and I sympathize with you. But I think you’ve got your fingers in your ears, humming a happy tune. Obvious American examples: Chomsky, Zinn, Vidal/Mailer/Said and public intellectuals and university professors ad nauseum, Michael Moore/Streisand/Glover and artists ad nauseum, and The Nation, Harpers, etc. But here’s the real point: the energy behind the anti-war movement in general, beginning Sept 12, 2001, has been deeply, deeply creepy. It uses all the tropes of classic conspiratorial anti-semitism against America. Coupled with the considerable power of the international left, this politics becomes MUCH scarier than Pat Robertson. And the closer the Democratic party gets to identifying with this energy, the scarier the Democratic party. And the more people become wary of wearing the liberal label.

  • Rds,
    You see a conspiracy where I see dissafection at the way we went to war. I know whom you’re talking about, they were protesting Kosovo, and Afghanistan, but in both cases they were small minorities. My overall point is don’t fight a larger ideology, pick a fight with a specific person or idea. When I see people who consider themselves progressives beating up on the myth that everyone who opposed the war, or had serious problems with how we got there is part of the same group of people who threw bricks through Starbucks when the IMF meets I get pretty pissed off. My actual views are quite different from those people, as are the views of the people I know who opposed the war either by protesting or by just saying this is stupid. We weren’t part of a larger conspiracy but American’s who didn’t like how we turned the world on it’s head going to war. we are at least in part vindicated but the fact that there is no threat. No one wants Saddam to come back, but I’d like this done the right way now that we’re in there and I know from my experience and reading that we’re fucking it up. Why do liberals who should know better become apologists for the Bush Administration? Is it just because they’re afraid of the far far left, a group that’s insignificant in size and influence? And I’m missing how the democratic party is either soft on security, or advocating the line of the far left. Sure there are some with extreme views, maybe Kucinich is extreme but he has no chance of winning, sort of like David Duke on the Republican side. My point is go look at Glenn’s post tonight, he has to post a fake story about how liberal academics are sad about the death of Uday and Qusay. So he creates a shadow ideology and progressive pro-war bloggers (who’s ideology I can agree with most of the time), salute! Why not just send Pat Robertson money since you already know he has influence on the way thing are run the far left has none, and it will stay that way, no matter which of the major candidates win.

  • rds

    Thanks for responding thoughtfully. That’s why Jeff’s site is a good place to be. I’m guessing that even if you preferred a given R to a given D, you wouldn’t consider voting R b/c you perceive that their allies to the right are threatening to all you hold dear. Well, the left I’ve come to know recently is just looking a lot worse, and a lot more powerful, than anything on the far right (get a load of the BBC, which appears to be actively sabotaging the (truly saintly) post-war effort). The problem is, America clearly has real enemies animated by real hatred, and it kills me to see the D side tapping into that reservoir to bolster attacks on GWB. GWB, frankly, seems to understand the nature of the enemy. And if he connected the dots re: Saddam agressively, as he is being criticized for not doing prior to 9/11, good for him. Capabilities follow intentions, not the other way around.

  • RDS,
    Sorry about this being late if you end up reading this but I lost track of the back and forth till today. My overall point is that the demonization of the BBC as well as “far-left” groups has really given them way too much credit and overestimated their overall power. The BBC can’t sabotage the rebuilding effort, only the Bush administration can, you can argue about perceptions, but I don’t think anyone thinks the Bush administration is doing a good job. First, there’s plenty of reasons to not have gone to war, but I think progressives who were for war are giving Bush a pass on the rebuilding process and lumping us majority sane progressives, with a very small group of people who are not sane.
    My point, all the front runner Democrats, even Dean will do a good job at foreign policy and American security interests. Bush on the other hand is destroying the our overall influence in the world because his foreign policy come out of the Pentagon. If you want to buy into Newt’s argument that the State Dept. is a bunch of American haters, then I’d say you drank the kool-aid. If not then you see a lot of our concerns about american foreign policy and security policy are seconded by State and the CIA; where the impacts of policy abroad are felt first.
    I’m also of a mind that everyone’s making way too much of anti-americanism. I think it’s an issue with the Bush Administration, rather than a view of the United States.