Monday, December 13, 2004

Even some liberals know they have to purge Moore/MoveOn from Dems

If the Democrats are going to electorally rebound, they're going to have to remove Michael Moore and from their party. At least, this is the sentiment from liberal publications The American Prospect and The New Republic. George Will observes the following in his column:

Some liberals simply cannot control their insuppressible reflex to look down their upturned noses at the American electorate. Writing in The American Prospect, a liberal monthly of which he is co-editor, Robert Kuttner, in a thoughtful analysis of Democrats' difficulties developing a distinctive values vocabulary, argues that "when Democrats fail to articulate pocketbook issues as values, class resentments become cultural ones," and Republicans prosper. Then, in his penultimate paragraph, his own cultural resentments against the American majority, as he imagines it, drive him into a ditch:

"Bill Clinton won election by declaring, as a matter of values, that people who work hard and play by the rules should not be poor. Middle America forgave him for treating gays as people."

Ponder that second sentence. Kuttner could not resist a spasm of moral vanity. He had to disparage "middle America," which means most of America, as so bigoted it denies the humanity of gays. If liberals like Kuttner keep thinking like that, in December 2008 they will be analyzing their eighth loss in 11 elections at the hands of voters weary of liberal disdain.

A better analysis of the Democrats' difficulties comes from Peter Beinart, writing in The New Republic, which he edits. His "An Argument for a New Liberalism" actually argues for an old liberalism, that of 1947. Beinart focuses on foreign policy, to which Kuttnerism -- the belief that most Americans are viciously ignorant -- is pertinent.

In 1947, Americans for Democratic Action was founded by anticommunist liberals who, galvanized by the onset of the Cold War, were contesting with anti-anticommunists for control of the Democratic Party. The ADA, said one of its founders, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., believed that liberalism had been "fundamentally reshaped" by a "historical re-education" about the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.


When Moore sat in Jimmy Carter's box at the 2004 Democratic convention, voters drew conclusions about the party's sobriety. Liberalism's problem with the Moore/MoveOn faction is similar to conservatism's 1960s embarrassment from the claimed kinship of the John Birch Society, whose leader called President Eisenhower a Kremlin agent.

The reason Moore is hostile to U.S. power is that he despises the American people from which the power arises. Moore's assertion that America "is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe" is a corollary of Kuttnerism, the doctrine that "middle America" is viciously ignorant.


The (snip) means that excerpts were cut in order to get to the relevant points. They don't alter the points therein.

There's more to read, and I encourage you to read it, since it's not very long. But the overall point is that the less reactionary liberals know their problem is in part "guilt by association", and they fear that they can't stop the problem from continuing.