FAINT PRAISE?

Hillary Clinton’s Exploratory Committee links a Daily Kos diary (with a not-so hearty 11 recommenders) that declares:

last night’s debate performance has given me cause to reconsider the depth of my opposition to the likelihood of her nomination,

Time for a raise for Peter Daou?

TASTELESS, GODLESS, ETC.

Amidst heaping scorn on the American people for neither being persuaded by right-wing prescriptions for keeping us safe nor willing to follow them on faith, Jim Geraghty chooses a strange example

Think about it – the Taliban tried to assassinate Cheney yesterday. Could you imagine if that had occurred in 2002? The snarky too-bad-they-missed comments on Huffington Post would be considered too tasteless for public comment.

Funny thing is, they are considered too tasteless for public comment. That’s why our right-wing friends trolling about for examples of lefties wishing death on Dick were stuck settling for anonymous comments on the HuffingtonPost.

Truth is, wishing death on Dick Cheney isn’t the kind of thing you can do and still be praised by people running for president. Not all Republicans are so lucky – just ask John Paul Stevens.

BAYH BAILS

So Evan Bayh has decided he’s “just not the right David” to take on the supposed Goliaths in the race for the Presidency. Apparently, membership in 160 facebook groups just isn’t enough to build the networks of support to win a presidential campaign. Either that, or Bayh got out of the running for fear his campaign would face a steady drumbeat of questions about his facebook membership in both the “Moderate Democrats Caucus” and the “Liberal News” group, or about his supposed simultaneous membership in the College Democrats of Arkansas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Montana, North Carolina, South Caraolina, Massachusetts, Oregon State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Ohio, Minnesota, Hamilton County Indiana, New York, Oregon, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana U, Maryland, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Vermont, California, Tennessee, and “Worchester and Central Massachusetts” (where he’s 25% of the membership). Or maybe it was his claimed affiliation with the Party’s Hispanic Caucus, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, “Young Democrats” chapters across the country, and the North Carolina Association of Teen Democrats that was destined to raise eyebrows under the microscope of a Presidential campaign. Thus the race loses the only candidate who could say he was opposed to the Facebook News Feed from the beginning.

And, on a more serious note, we see another nail in the coffin of the scenario where the primary is dominated by Clinton and someone running well to her right (sorry, Joe Biden).

THE MENDACIOUS MISTER REYNOLDS

Anyone out there concerned about the amount of influence Glenn “Heh” Reynolds holds over what people read out on the internets should be more worried about the links that folks don’t click on but instead assume, understandably, to say something roughly approximating what Professor Reynolds says they do.

Take the new website Save the ACLU, organized by influential members and former members who’ve had a series of increasingly nasty and public disputes with the current leadership over how well the organization is living up to its own values. The major flashpoints have been the extent of compliance expected of board members with the leadership’s public relations approach, and the extent of compliance demonstrated by the leadership with conditions imposed by public and private organizations offering funding.

As the website describes,

Over the past three years, these breaches of principle include the ACLU’s approval of grant agreements that restrict speech and associational rights; efforts by management to impose gag rules on staff and to subject staff to email surveillance; a proposal to bar ACLU board members from publicly criticizing the ACLU; and informal campaigns to purge the ACLU of its internal critics.

You’d have a hard time guessing that those were the sorts of grievances in play if you just read the link on Instapundit, which reads:

A SAVE THE ACLU CAMPAIGN from supporters who feel the organization has become excessively politicized.

Now the generous read here I suppose would be that “politicized” refers to “office politics” – that the ACLU is being accused of being too political in the sense of being too concerned with reputations and status and salaries and the like. But that’s hardly the intuitive read of that sentence. If you didn’t know better, you’d think that even the ACLU’s supporters have come to echo the contention of Reynolds and others that when the ACLU was backing free speech three decades ago it was being heroic, but when it backs privacy rights today it’s being “political” out of hatred for Bush.

The gripe of the critics, arguably, is that the ACLU isn’t being political enough – that is, that the politics of its mission haven’t sufficiently infused its methods of implementation.

STATING THE OBVIOUS

In a banner ad over at Instapundit, right-wing blog outfit Pajamas Media shares the breathless prose of Tammy Bruce:

The core of the American people has manifested itself most purely in blogs because elites for so long controlled all avenues of communication. Those days are over now.

The blogosphere oozes with this kind of petty triumphalism – from Andrew Sullivan’s “The Revolution Will Be Blogged” tagline to Ed Driscoll’s “Year of Blogging Dangerously.” Bruce’s claim is just a shining example because it counterposes “elites” with the “core of the American people.” She’s right that American journalists are a fairly elite group (the shift in journalists’ conception of their job from a trade to a profession is related to this). That’s why coverage of unions, contrary to the claims of most bloggers, tends to be so right-wing and hostile. But if Bruce thinks that blogs – overwhelmingly written and read by the wealthiest sliver of the population – represent the “core of the American people,” that suggests that she has a rather elite conception of the American people herself.

Kos loses it:

Once upon a time, party officials feared NARAL, they feared the unions, they feared the Sierra Club, they feared trial lawyers, they feared NOW, they feared the NAACP, they feared Latino groups, and so on. For the first time, it looks like they’re starting to fear people, not special interest groups. We’re growing up as a party.

Wal-Mart is a special interest because it leverages a tremendous amount of money and power to serve narrow ends which benefit a tiny constituency of plutocrats and wreak havoc on the lives of most Americans.

Unions pool and leverage the power of their members and their willingness to engage in organizing and collective action to secure justice for themselves and for millions of working Americans. There is no comparison.

To say that bevy (however large) of bloggers (folks who are disproportionately whiter, richer, and maler than America, let alone the Democratic party) are real people in a way that organized workers, organized environmentalists, organized women, and organized people of color are none is outrageous.

Something that’s irked me for a while: The New York Times’ “Interactive Features.” This is a label they apply, most recently in the case of the debates, to a movie clip where you get to watch a series of photos while listening to one of their folks talk about it. It’s “interactive” insofar as you, the actor, get to pause the movie or change the volume and, sometimes, at the end of the movie you get to choose among other moviews to watch. And you can choose whether to skip the ad at the beginning or not. And, I guess, in that you can walk away at any time. So it’s more interactive than a forced re-education chamber and less interactive than, well, anything which actually involves interaction. No, seriously. Check it out for yourself.

The Times, unfortunately, isn’t alone in this. Instead, every media institution seems to be going for “interactive features” which are in fact fully unidirectional, top-down encounters. It’s symptomatic of a political culture which has, over the course of the past few decades, steadily closed off the access of regular Americans to the political process.

And Todd Purdum doesn’t have much interesting to say about the debates anyway.