The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, September 30, 2005

Busy busy

All these posts, and still no comment on a 18 month old book! When will I get with it?

So here's another one, although there's a tangential point about Clinton at the end:

Max Sawicky, over at Maxspeak, You Listen!, explains Why We March.

I personally haven't done any marching against the war, a combination of baby-arrival, laziness, and actual real life. I do participate in local Critical Mass, and it's exhilarating. Some of the objections to anti-war protests apply to Crit Mass as well - you're just annoying people, instead of enlisting them; it's a feel-good for participants, not a route for change - others, like the attacks on ANSWER, certainly don't. But the bottom line for lefties who object to ANSWER's role, I think is just this simple "If you don’t like ANSWER – and who could – then give people somewhere else to go." To be honest, I don't understand enough about the organizing of these events to get why it is that no one else has pulled off a big one. As Max points out, 149,000 people at the rally know or care effectively nothing about ANSWER, but know and care a lot about the war. Would it be so freaking hard for Kos or Drum to provide a non-ANSWER outlet? Maybe. But I think the truth is that they oppose the method - find it unseemly - and so the ANSWER objection is a bit of a red herring. Sure, they provide a rhetorical cudgel for the right, but really only the blog right. Scott McClelland doesn't say, "ignore that protest, it's run by Trotskyites" - that's not a mode of discourse that plays on network TV. And the talk radio creeps would call protesters Commies if they were organized by the VFW.

So, bottom line, if you think ANSWER is such a big deal, then fix it. If you won't fix it, then admit that it's not such a big deal, and talk about other things.

Bonus My Life tie-in: Max comments late in his piece that:
At bottom I think consultants, journalists, and professional politicos tend to be jaded. They see public opinion through the filter of polling data and artificial focus groups, and they forget how normal people feel. Successful politicians and organizers, on the other hand, have a better sense for what happens on the ground. But they can be wrong too.
Emphasis on "successful." A major theme of Clinton's book (at least up 'til the First Inaugural, which is where I am) is the constant threat to modern politicians of losing touch. As we all know, he revels in retail politics - paragraph after paragraph of anecdotes and personalities from his days driving the back woods and hill country of Arkansas - but it's also very clear how closely it connected him to his people. That preference - for people over punditry - is a big part of why the Beltway establishment hated him. And the fear of that hatred, the reluctance to have that preference, is a major reason that the Democratic Party is so weak right now. I doubt 95% of Dems in DC (elected or not) have any clue what's going on in the Democratic Street. They recoil from Kos and Atrios and other prominent bloggers, because they are so clearly not of the Beltway, but I'm not sure they remember that the people they represent are also not of the Beltway. I'm not sure that's a mistake Clinton ever made after he lost the governorship in 1980. It's why he won the impeachment battle, and Sally Quinn and Dave Broder (oh yeah, and Tom Delay) lost it.


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