Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Two stories that a lot of people see as linked: "Rahm Emanuel Likely to Leave White House This Week" and "Vice President Biden to Democratic Base: 'Stop Whining.'" My take? I know a lot of people on the left regard Emanuel as History's Greatest Monster, but if we're getting this from the White House at a time when Emanuel has nine toes out the door...

At a fundraiser in Manchester, NH, today, Vice President Biden urged Democrats to "remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He's kept his promises."

The remarks, made to roughly 200 top Democratic activists and donors, recall comments President Obama made last week to "griping and groaning Democrats…Folks: wake up. This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, Don't compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative." ...

... then, um, maybe Emanuel hasn't been the guy responsible for this sort of positioning by the White House all along.

At this point I don't care. I'm very disappointed in the Obama administration; I'm certain that what disappoints me emanates straight from the top and won't change no matter who gets Rahm's job. But the mind-boggling extremism of the Republicans is still the biggest menace we face politically. (I'm sorry, but no matter how far Democrats tack to the right, they never manage to even make up the distance between themselves and the GOP -- the GOP starts further right and then tacks right even faster.)

So, yes, I resent what seems to be the "hippie-punching" of the White House and Blue Dogs in Congress -- and then I turn to the left blogosphere and I see we're fighting among ourselves over whether a lefty blogger should have uttered the phrase "hippie-punching" to a White House official. Susie Madrak is snapping at the White House, the White House is snapping back, and we're snapping at one another over the snapping.

That's exactly where the right and the Republican Party want us, isn't it?

But that's what happens when a sense of helplessness kicks in. Lock two rats in a cage, give them random electric shocks they can't escape, and they'll wind up fighting each other. Infighting is a sure sign that you don't think you can fight your real enemy.

I blame the White House and the party for not understanding the fight earlier (even if you tack to the center or center-right, they're still going to come at you and attack you as a commie). The Democrats shouldn't have been helpless. But I talk about Democratic incompetence all the time, and I don't want to devote all my energy to fighting people on my own side. The real enemy is elsewhere.


YES, I KNOW: I'm saying that the infighting on our side is a sign that we feel defeated, but if so, what about the infighting on the other side? Well, to me that looks less like rats in a cage being shocked into a sense of helplessness and more like a herd in a game preserve in which the young have grown crazy-aggressive and have taken on the elders, soundly defeating most of them and asserting their alpha status; except for a few holdouts, they've either vanquished or coopted their elders, and now they're about to bust out of the preserve and kill and eat the naturalists.

Where is there still serious fighting? Not in Nevada or Kentucky. Not, as of yesterday, in New York, where Rick Lazio gave up a minor-party ballot line to clear the right-wing field for the racist head case Carl Paladino. Not in Delaware anymore, really. Lisa Murkowski is still fighting in Alaska, and Charlie Crist is still on the ballot in Florida, but they're both likely to lose, and neither is likely to prevent a Republican victory. It's all very different.

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