August 8, 2007

A Split On The Left?

The Democratic failures to end the war in Iraq and to move against the Bush administration has opened a split on the Left, according to The Hill. Calling the leftist group MoveOn a shill for the Democratic Party, antiwar and other leftist activists have split from the group. They plan to lead attacks against Democrats in Congress in 2008:

Congress’s failure to secure a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq has split anti-war activists on the tactical question of whether to attack Democrats, who now control Capitol Hill.

The split has also underlined accusations among some activists that MoveOn has abandoned its credentials as an issue-based advocacy group and now instead provides cover for Democratic Party leaders.

Anti-war activists throughout the country are united in spending August pressing lawmakers to bring U.S. troops home. But tensions within the movement have been bubbling for months over tactics and whether their fire should be aimed exclusively at Republicans.

The divisions underscore the tough position Democrats are in — short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass binding restrictions on the war and far shy of the two-thirds majority in both chambers required to override a presidential veto.

The sixty-vote threshold argument may have worked until last weekend. When the Bush administration pushed for its controversial FISA rewrite -- which gave some conservatives pause -- they didn't use the 60-vote threshold to their advantage to block it. Instead, sixteen Democrats crossed the aisle to give Republicans 60 votes to pass it. In effect, a substantial number of Democrats endorsed and legitimized a program that they decried as unconstitutional in the last elections, on the way to a majority that was supposed to end that program.

Now the hard Left feels betrayed, and they should. MoveOn, however, has continued to engage in the kind of enabling one needs to hang onto a majority in Congress. They have revealed themselves to be an annex of the Democratic Party rather than any kind of issues-based political action group. Despite the obvious failures of their majority to deliver on their hysterical and unrealistic election promises, MoveOn keeps prescribing the hair of the dog as the path to those goals.

Quite obviously, the Democrats have decided that they cannot win the next election on the platform of United for Peace and Justice, or Code Pink, or Voices for Creative Non-Violence. They represent the fringe of American political thought, and that path takes the Democrats right back to 1995. That's why they can't vote to defund the troops in Iraq, and why they couldn't stand up to the supposedly-irrelevant George Bush on FISA. In short, they want to take the money from the fringe-Left groups, but they won't deliver on their agendas -- for which we should all be grateful indeed.

That sets up an interesting dynamic for 2008. If the Democrats lose the fringe-Left to Ralph Nader again, with MoveOn losing that edge in financing for its more mainstream veneer, they could find themselves unable to hold the House as these groups target conservative Democrats. It could even endanger what should be an advantage for them in next year's Presidential race. This is what happens when political parties and groups overpromise and underdeliver -- which the Republicans found out in 2006.

UPDATE: From the port side of the blogosphere, Jazz warns about the dangers of ignoring the center at Middle Earth Journal.


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Comments (34)

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 8, 2007 9:01 AM

The question is:

Do the Lefty Lunatics-enablers, who will vote for Nader outnumber the conservatives (like me) who refuse to vote for "conservatives" like Rudy or McCain etc.

Posted by bulbasaur | August 8, 2007 9:12 AM

The history of the democrat party shows them flailing to the right (Humphrey) and to the left (McGovern) and never once reflecting on what the hell they actually believe in, other than slogans.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Posted by Adjoran | August 8, 2007 9:17 AM

This has been the quandary for the Democratic Party ever since the McGovern Commission reforms when they welcomed the radical left into the fold.

The radicals can't be pacified. Either you give them everything they demand, and they cause you to lose general elections, or you resist and they desert you.

Note that in 2006 not a single Democrat who took a Republican seat in the House advocated immediate or "timetabled" withdrawal from Iraq - to a man, they merely suggested they would "do it better." This enabled them to capitalize on national dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the war without endorsing defeat and retreat.

No sooner were they elected, though, than the left began claiming the results were a "mandate" for withdrawal.

The far left hasn't changed at all: they were always radical, totalitarian, and anti-American. Their view of democracy is disdainful, and they participate only in anticipation of "one man, one vote - one time."

Posted by grognard [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 8, 2007 9:30 AM

A good number of Liberals blame Nader for loosing the last election so I don’t know how widespread this desertion will be, but I do think Nader will take full advantage of any split to run again. The Democrats would be smart to let the extremists go their way and move to the middle where the elections are won. A fiscally responsible centrist party would be also appealing to some moderate Republicans who are also dealing with their own extremists. The trouble is that elections are so close that both parties think that you need every frothing at the mouth ranter on your side to win, so you throw out what political scraps you can to keep them in line, and sometimes those scraps aren’t enough.

Posted by bulbasaur | August 8, 2007 9:33 AM

I can't help seeing this as a psycho-drama, where the aging hippes staging street theater, re-enacting their childhoods, asking the philosophical questions: Were their lives meaningful? Did they accomplish anything? What is the verdict?

Unfortunately, their exercise in nostalgia gives aid and comfort to totalitarians around the world.

Please, hippies. Get off the stage.

Posted by richard mcenroe | August 8, 2007 9:37 AM


Posted by Neo | August 8, 2007 9:39 AM

This only goes to show that neither party is quite as monolithic as their press releases would have you believe.

It also shows that it is a hell of a lot easier to be the opposition. Beside the natural tendency for each member of the majority to want to run policy their own way, sniping is a lot easier than doing. Just ask Newt, Dennis or Nancy.

Meanwhile the Radical Left now enjoys the heartache that the Radical Right has felt these last handful of years.

Posted by JD | August 8, 2007 9:40 AM

If I remember correctly, the surveillance program has always been popular received majority support in polls around the time of the 2006 election.

Even among the large number of Americans unhappy with the war, polling seems to indicate most Americans do not think immediate withdrawal is the right answer.

The anti-war and anti-surveillance left represent the louder "angry left" but many of the voters who put the Democrats in power voted for "blue dog" Dems because of President Bush's poor handling of the war and the corruption in Congress.

Their vote was not a leave Iraq now vote, nor a vote for the ACLU so I don't think it's surprising that so many Dems voted for the surveillance program. I think the surprise has been that it's taken so long for this rift to develop. The blue dog Dems realize that following the far left anti-faction will not get them reelected, especially when Congress' approval ratings are even lower than the President's.

Posted by Mike Lief | August 8, 2007 9:46 AM

Camille Paglia makes a similar point; while she thinks we ought to give up on the Middle East and its 5,000-year-long history of hatred and tribal loyalties -- conceding that the U.S. will have to return at some point and clean house -- the leftist prof. thinks the Dems are guaranteeing a GOP win in the presidential race as a result of their feckless handling of the war and security issues.

Posted by Jazz | August 8, 2007 9:54 AM

While I didn't technically leave the Republican party until Jan. 2005, registering as an Independent ('I've never registered Dem in my life) it had become clear by late 2003 that I was at crossed purposes with the new direction of the GOP, and that put me "in bed" far too often with a lot of Democrats. It's been an eye opening experience in many ways. One of the most clear lessons I learned quickly was that, while Republicans are not nearly cookie cutter clones who all believe the exact same things and have the same one or two issues, they are far more homogenous than the Democrats.

The splits I have experienced among the various single issue coalitions in the Democratic Party run a very wide range. The feminist groups are a big pillar in the Democratic base, but on a variety of issues such as fathers' rights, abortion, and related issues they can often cause their more progressive male colleagues to storm out in disgust. There is a large segment of the liberal / centrist community in this country who definitely want us out of Iraq, but want it done in a safe and responsible manner leaving the least possible damage in our wake. The way they immediately get attacked from within by the "Get Out Today" faction is another symptom of this. Plenty of people want to protect our second amendment rights, but are more than willing to consider sensible controls, restrictions, registration laws, trigger lock laws, etc. Saying such things in certain hard left forums will quickly get you hoisted up on a crucifix.

The Democrats are now (and have been really since mid 2005) in a historical position to sweep the boards in elections. The fact that they can't stop the infighting long enough to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory never ceases to amaze and sadden me.

I alluded to that yesterday at Middle Earth Journal when a piece came out where the majority of the centrists are attacking the DLC for actually being too neocon. (Shameless blogwhoring, which I very rarely do... sorry.) It always leaves me scratching my head. Gawds, we need a serious third party.

Posted by filistro | August 8, 2007 10:06 AM

An amazing new phenomenon to contemplate... has anybdoy noticed how skilfully Hillary Clinton seems to be weaving her way among all these disparate factions?

Contrary to all expectations, she was cheered and feted at Yearly Kos last week. Even more astonishing, I've read several posts praising her at my beloved NR Corner over the past few days. Both Rich and K-Lo have said quite positive things about her.

I have no idea what's going on, but I understand that on August 27th, Mars will be so close to the earth that there will appear to be two moons in the sky. Maybe something like that is what's setting reality on its ear?

Posted by syn | August 8, 2007 10:17 AM

Wasn't created specifically to provide cover for Clinton's Monicagate? As I recall their purpose was to get Americans to Move On over the issue so that we could forget just how deceptive was that adminstration.

It dosen't seem unsual for to split with the other hard-left progressive organizations which have been operating since 1968 since the only reason exists in the first place is to protect Hillary's political ambitions.

Posted by filistro | August 8, 2007 10:29 AM

Illustrating my point, above:

Clinton Tonight [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

In response to more than a few answers tonight — on Iraq, on China — I've said, "she sounds reasonable." If I were a normal America, I think I'd really think that.

That's really hard to admit. I still have both "Clinton Hater" and "Vast-Right-Wing Conspiracy" cards in my wallet.

08/07 07:42 PM

Too, too weird.

Posted by cv | August 8, 2007 10:36 AM

Hillary was also jeered at the Yearly Kos.

Posted by filistro | August 8, 2007 10:41 AM

CV... that's my point (and the point of the Captain's blog entry.)

There's a vast portion of sensible America who rightly regard being booed at Yearly Kos as a GOOD thing.

Hillary is holding onto that middle while not excessively alienating the semi-nutters. And she's now even winning a bit of praise from the sensible right as well.

Posted by Robert | August 8, 2007 11:32 AM

The only thing worse than a Democrat is a Republican.
And vice versa.

Nice country you had.
Call me when the people rise up and take back power. (i'm thinking another 10-15 years before enough Americans figure it out. In the meantime, maybe you can replace "In God We Trust" with "Slow on the Uptake". )

Posted by Jazz | August 8, 2007 11:36 AM

Just wanted to thank Ed for the link and tolerating my godless commie comments. ;-)

Posted by Steve | August 8, 2007 11:43 AM

I have no problem voting for a Democrat or a Republican. I vote the person, not the party.

However, I will NOT vote for any candidate that showed up at YearlyKos and snubbed the DLC. If they're going to pander to the fringes and ignore a centrist group, that says all I need to know. Doesn't mean I'll automatically vote for the Republican candidate. Depends on who it is. I have no problem going third party or not voting at all.

Posted by syn | August 8, 2007 11:44 AM

Democrat/Republican may be the worst however what does it say about the independent. moderate vote which Dem/Rep will do anything to garner?

Seems to me, the Centrist position has brought about a lot more corruption, confusion, deception than they are willing to admit. They are, after all, the voters who elected both Clinton and Bush II on the platform of low taxation while receiving loads of guvment funded everything.

At least Liberala are open about wanting high taxation to pay for their entitlements...the same cannot be said about the Centrist voter who wants the entitlements paid on someone elses dime.

Posted by Okonkolo | August 8, 2007 12:07 PM

hard left...I guess that makes MoveOn just plain old left.
sort of like Cindy Sheehan making Nancy Pelosi mainstream. And Sheehan has about as much chance of winning an election as the hard left does in influencing an election. Nader is a lesson that most have learned from. There will be some noisemakers who don't get it, but right now it is primary season, so the divisions will be most apparent. Look for the abortion issue to do the same thing to the Republican party if Rudy takes the lead.

Posted by Mark Gisleson | August 8, 2007 12:08 PM

Cap'n Ed, having just gotten back from Yearly Kos, I wish you and your readers could have been there with me. I think you would have found it hard to spot the hippies as I was one of a very, very small minority of male attendees with long hair. In fact when the Teamsters had their BBQ for us on Saturday, it was hard even for a an old labor hand like me to spot the Teamsters among the Kossacks.

If you wish to defeat us, you need to move past your stereotypes and acknowledge that the American left is, for the most part comprised of your coworkers, your neighbors, your relatives. Many of our panels featured Republican speakers, members of the Bush I administration who find it hard to support the Bush II crowd and their decidedly non-conservative agenda.

I was far from the only former Republican at Yearly Kos and if you do not incorporate that knowledge into your strategies, 2008 will be a brutal election for your side.

As for Yearly Kos, YouTube has most of the convention posted. Watch the clips for yourself and make up your own mind based on first-hand observation as to just how looney the American Left is.

Posted by docjim505 | August 8, 2007 12:15 PM

I think that the dems are learning that they can safely tell the real nutjobs as Kos, Code Pink, etc. to get bent.

1. These people don't represent that many votes.

2. More importantly, they don't have that much money. As long as the dems have and access to George Soros' checkbook, they're pretty happy. Who cares if some unwashed hippies and the tinfoil hat brigade start waving signs critical of the Hilldabeast or SanFran Nan? Because...

3. The nutcase left's only real voice comes from blogs (read by a tiny fraction of Americans) and the MSM, which can conveniently decide not to cover them if they are too critical of the dems' candidates.

Oh, and...

4. What will the tinfoil brigade do? Stay home? Vote Republican???? Don't think so.

The dems can treat the tinfoils just as they've treated black voters for decades: bought and paid for.

Posted by Other Ed | August 8, 2007 1:40 PM

And if you close your eyes and clap REAL loud, the Republican will win!

Posted by Angevin13 | August 8, 2007 1:41 PM

Hey Ed, you missed the best part about this article: Matzzie's comparing and the Democrats to a "parent-child relationship." Apparently, it takes a village to surrender, too...

Posted by Angevin13 | August 8, 2007 1:59 PM

Hey Ed, you missed the best part about this article: Matzzie's comparing and the Democrats to a "parent-child relationship." Apparently, it takes a village to surrender, too...

Posted by viking01 | August 8, 2007 2:41 PM

It is easiest to analyze and the DNC in terms of a child-child relationship. Both fight and scream over the prize in the cereal box but want you to pay for it.

I'll agree with the earlier contention that the hippie mindset has cut their hair .... but have kept the body odor. If you walk into a crowded room, suddenly feel whiplash and your eyes start to water you may have walked in on a convention. Ooooooooowheeee!! Patchouli reek can only disguise so much, er, Sheryl-esque toilet paper conservation. For the children...

The Hillary School of Absent Hygiene takes its toll.

Posted by SteveJ | August 8, 2007 2:42 PM

Why is it that web sites like this think it is only the left who realizes the Iraq debacle is the farce that it is?

I realize the lefts rational is not very substative -- they hate Bush.

But real conservatives, who built the Republican Party, never signed onto the neocon drivel. And until the neocons are sent their packing orders, I might have to sit out a few elections.

Posted by filistro | August 8, 2007 3:02 PM

Ah, Steve... a kindred spirit!

You practically bring tears to my eyes.

Posted by viking01 | August 8, 2007 3:16 PM

If you sit out a few elections and a Marxist gets elected then you may not have to worry about legitimate elections again.

It's not so much who votes as who counts the votes to paraphrase Stalin. How quickly some forget how many military ballots were denied in Florida during the 2000 election well before it devolved into Gorebots bickering about dimpled and hanging chads.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 8, 2007 5:14 PM

syn asked

"Wasn't created specifically to provide cover for Clinton's Monicagate? As I recall their purpose was to get Americans to Move On over the issue so that we could forget just how deceptive was that adminstration."

Absolutely correct.

Posted by TheGrandMufti | August 8, 2007 5:53 PM

Forget the loony left. The Democratic Party has problems with its bread and butter base which are increasingly becoming annoyed with the party's pandering to the "blogger community".

When Clinton's DLC is compared to bunch of neocons, there is definitely something rotten in Denmark.

Posted by Tom McDonald | August 8, 2007 7:54 PM

Let me understand this. The Dems think they are going to do well in the '08 election because they declared defeat 6 months before Gaudalcanal, are willing to cheat to protect entitlements for "undocumented" Americans and passed a minimum wage bill. Any you all agree with them because, despite everything you know, you still think the MSM has credibility. By the way, who thinks the GAO report on missing small arms in Iraq is anything more than a blatant attempt to smear Patraeus!

Posted by Adjoran | August 9, 2007 12:40 AM

I think it is a mistake to confuse the "swing voter" with some politically "centrist" ideology.

Most of the so-called "swing voters," those with little party allegiance, simply lack a clearly defined ideology of any sort. They follow the trends and blow with the winds. They are the voters least likely to be knowledgeable about political issues or policy options, and tend not to follow the news too closely.

While many of these folks may behave congruently with a political "center," they do so for non-ideological reasons.

The actual "centrists" are more in tune with current events and political options, but have no firm belief system behind them. They tend to be "split the difference" compromisers who never have any original policy proposals of their own. This approach can enjoy some political success, but it hardly constitutes an ideology.

Oddly enough, though, most of these "centrists" tend to be attached to a political party and to be loyal enough to that party to gain seniority in the caucus and in committee assignments.

Posted by jaeger51 | August 9, 2007 1:09 AM

Adjoran is dead on about "swing voters". The most dangerous factor for American survival is the MSM. As long as they control the narrative for the "swing voter" THEY decide basically who wins. It takes a communicator as skilled as Reagan to overcome their work. Or exceptionally lame Dem candidates like Gore or Kerry. That's why Hillary is so dangerous. She may be a lot of things, but not stupid.

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