clap clap blog: we have moved

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Speaking of annoying...let me quote this Atrios post:

I think for once Joe Klein basically gets it right here. For years the media hasn´t been confronted with angry Democrats, to our shame, and so when they find one they think that they are "leftists" or "extreme liberals."

I´always a bit amused when people accuse sites like Media Whores Online , or Move On, or this one as being "leftist." MWO have always been unabashed Clinton Democrats. Move On began to support a censure resolution to get the country past impeachment, hardly the agenda of radical leftists.

Clinton Democrats are not and have never been "leftists," unless you´ve redefined leftist, as Howie "I am not a whore shut up Shut Up SHUT UP SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP" Kurtz has, as anything to the left of Jonah Goldberg.

Sorry Atrios, I respect the power of blogs as much as you do, but Joe's column is about Howard Dean, not Calpundit, and by "angry Democrats" I think he primarily means candidates and policymakers, not pundits and the hoi polloi. So he may or may not be right about Dean, but he's not really concerned about you.

The question here, though, is--as it seems to have been in some of my other posts today--about rhetoric, language, and what power it can or should have. The damage Zacarias Moussaoui would do would be with words, not with weapons; Ari uses rhetoric as a weapon against understanding, weilding language as an offensive and defensive tool instead of as a conduit for communication. What Atrios is saying here is that, although the rhetoric of these writers may seem extremist (and yeah, folks, it kinda is), their actual policies are moderate, and that we should--what--see through all that and realize that they're (grr!) moderates.

But Klein seems to be saying that the leftist rhetoric, instead of being a liability or a shield to see through, is actually a boon for Dean:

The crowd seemed not to notice his shopworn moderation, though. Dean had been bold on the war—and so freshness was assumed on every other issue.

So here we have two models of the power of language. One (Klein's of Dean) says that you can use it as a shifting thing while your actual policies stay constant; presumably Dean will then tone done the rhetoric and focus on the fiscal conserative stuff during the GE, thus winning the primaries by appealing to hardcore Dems and the election by appealing to moderates / independents (or so goes the strategy). The other (Atrios') says that...well, I'm having a hard time parsing it. It says that either the interpreters (media) should look through their language to the actual policies they're pursuing--a hard proposition seeing as how the blogs under discussion are so strongly (and annoyingly) reactive and critical--or that using such rhetoric while pursuing more moderate goals is a good way to let off steam at the evils of the other side and rile up the base and like that.

Obviously I'm not a big fan of the latter model. In politics, after all, presentation is reality--it's all words--and so to judge MWO et al by their words, politics is simplistic, stupid, and debased. They may be moderates underneath, but they sound like Rush on top, and that's what matters. I mean, since when are "Clinton Democrats" all not leftists? I know a lot of Clinton Democrats who were pretty pissed off at some of the more moderate moves he made. Don't be afraid of the leftist tag, guys--just reclaim it.

As for the former model, I guess if it's true, I'm beginning to warm to Dean. Still, he's off-putting in the same way Atrios and krew are, and the gay marriage thing just doesn't sound like a good thing for a Presidential candidate to be embracing right now, to say nothing of his decidedly non-Clintonesque campaigning style. He'd be a good VP, though.