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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Jim Webb on "our society's steady drift toward a class-based system"

Harold Meyerson explains why Clinton's arguments for seating FL and MI are BS, concluding:

Clinton's supporters have every right to demonstrate on Saturday, of course. But their larger cause is neither democracy nor feminism; it's situational ethics. To insist otherwise is to degrade democracy and turn feminism into the last refuge of scoundrels.

TPM provides political concentrate (vid- advertisement compilation)

This video about torture (10 min) is pretty grisly, but still important. In 2004 this was an issue I was really preoccupied with, but after the election it seemed the American people had essentially "signed off" on this behavior and not much could be done. Since then I've honestly just tried not to think about it. But, hey, maybe we'll soon be a country that acts its values again?

A spate of books by Republican strategists have come out recently which offer advice to the party to rebuild their brand. Two liberal writers have used these books as an opportunity to assess the Republicans situation themselves. George Packer offers his thoughts in the New Yorker, and Mark Schmitt for The American Prospect. The latter concludes Republicans will likely spend this election season dwelling on their own brand of identity politics:

Traditionally, the phrase "identity politics" has referred to the Democratic coalition's caucuses, interest groups, and competitive claims of wrongs to be righted and rights to be granted. Identity politics on the left, according to this very conventional wisdom, opened the door to an alternative politics of national identity on the right. And yet in 2008, the Democratic presidential nomination battle between an African American and a woman has not exacerbated left identity politics but brought it to a peaceful close. Obama is not Jesse Jackson; Hillary Clinton is not former Rep. Pat Schroeder. He chose to campaign on national reconciliation, she on bread-and-butter economics and her expertise on military affairs. Whereas McCain--a man whose known positions on the war and on the economy are deeply unpopular, whose other positions are endlessly shifting, whose party and ideology are rejected--is recast entirely in terms of his biography, his honor, his character, his American-ness.

This year the Republican argument is reduced to its barest essence: Americans versus "pluribus," unprotected by the politeness of issues or safer symbolism. Hence McCain's slogan, the politics of the flag pin, the e-mails charging that Obama doesn't salute the flag, and the attempt to associate him with the anti-American politics of 1968, when he was 7 years old. This, then, may be the ultimate high-stakes gamble for the party of confident risk-takers: Accept that everything else--ideas, competence, governance--is gone, and instead of trying to reconstruct it, as the books recommend, bet everything on the bare essentials of Republican identity politics, "The American President Americans Are Waiting For."

If it works, it will be in part because we--by which I mean the media and many Democrats--believe it will. We are easily spooked by the confident swagger of the Republicans, who not so long ago were plotting permanent world domination. But then, so was Bear Stearns.

If it fails, the Republican Party will be left with nothing. It will be a regional party, with no hold on government, no up-and-coming generation of politicians, no noble ideas which might have their day again. For Republicans, that may be the better result. It might take a decade, but like the British Conservatives, one day a new leader will emerge, read the books about reforming conservatism, embrace a new vision, and rebuild a party that can compete for power without trying to monopolize it.

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