An open letter to Josh Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo
For years I’ve read TPM and enjoyed it immensely. I find your reporting to be interesting, your opinions to be engaging and overall, you post items I’m interested in. But Josh, I’ve always noted in you an apparent desire to be fair, to be reasonable, to be moderate. Sometimes I think this moderation you exhibit has put you in the safe but wrong place. The Iraq war perhaps the most visible example of this.
I’ve noted your position on Joe Lieberman, once again, I see striving to be reasonable. I’m not sure if you intend it but there’s almost a note of regret in what you write about Lieberman, especially in regard to the upcoming primary.
You frequently post letters from readers. I think that’s great. Sometimes you comment on the letters, most of the time, they’re just posted, more or less, to stand on their own. This evening you posted a letter from Reader DO regarding Joe Lieberman that, frankly Josh, is just plain wrong. I don’t know if you agree with it. I don’t know if this is a way for you to express an opinion without taking ownership of it or if you utterly disagree. However, I have to assume there is something that resonates within you. The sad part is, the letter is the biggest pile of shit I think I’ve seen you post on TPM.
Here is the content of that letter:
(July 20, 2006 — 07:42 PM EST // link)
TPM Reader DO chimes in on Lieberman…
Have you ever actually READ the things left-wingers are saying about Lieberman on sites like Democratic Underground? Sure, Kos’s daily rants against Lieberman are bad enough. But look at what the rank-and-filers are saying. You don’t have to look hard to find someone wishing Lieberman an untimely death, or expressing anti-Semitic sentiments. And while this may only represent a fraction of the anti-Lieberman crowd, the majority who ought to know better chooses to remain silent rather than confront the bigotry in their midst. I don’t have a problem with people not liking Lieberman, or even supporting a primary opponent. It’s a free country. But the obsession that the far left has with Lieberman (which actually predates the war in Iraq by several years) borders on the psychopathic. Everything Lieberman says or does is scrutinized far more closely by the left-wing blogosphere than the actions of any other Democrat I can think of, and he’s presumed to exercise an influence over the body politic far out of proportion to reality. And then there are the lies. Sorry, but no rational person would assert that Lieberman is a right-wing Republican, but that’s become gospel among the far left. The fact of the matter is that Lieberman’s voting record puts him well to the left of any Republican in the Senate, with the possible exception of Lincoln Chafee. And with the exception of Lieberman’s enthusiastic support of the Iraq war, it’s hard to see how Lieberman’s policy preferences are markedly different than his Democratic colleagues. But none of this seems to matter to the far left, which regularly brands Lieberman a DINO.
You ought to read today’s post by the Bull Moose, who really hits the nail on the head. The comparison to the New Left’s smearing of Hubert Humphrey, one of the greatest liberals this country has seen is particularly apt, since I’ve always considered the New Left to be the spiritual forerunners of today’s left-wing blogosphere. And no, I don’t mean that as a complement.
I don’t know what Do’s experience is. DO mentions two blogs by name, DU and Kos. I read at Kos very occasionally, usually only when someone else links to a specific entry. I think I’ve visited DU maybe twice in the last year but I do read widely through the left blogosphere and I have say, I think DO is full of shit. And here’s why.
Anti-Semitic comments? I haven’t read a single one. That’s not to say they may not be out there, but where are they? Why aren’t they cited? Why doesn’t DO even say I’ve seen X number of anti-Semitic comments regarding Lieberman. No. All DO is throw the stinkbomb of anti-Semitism and then move on. Josh, that’s a scabrous Rovian tactic and I’m sad to see you post something like that. I think that is, at least, an extremely poor way to characterize what is driving the anti-Lieberman sentiment. At the very worst, it’s playing the “concerned troll” card, something I would think you would be much too sophisticated to enable.
As for other lefties not denouncing this alledged anti-Semitic, anti-Leiberman comments, well, one would have to see and acknowledge them to denounce them. Perhaps that is just in DO’s mind? Again, without seeing a reference to this, it’s so much vague accusation.
Next DO alleges that Joe Lieberman has been the victim of scrutinization that no other Dem could withstand. Perhaps. But I’ve seen posts in this regard on Digby, on Eschaton and several other blogs. Yes, Joe’s stances have put him under the microscope. And, as Duncan pointed out in his letter to the L.A. Times earlier this week, just a cursory survey of what Joe has been up to of late seems to more than merit this tough examination by the left. So if Joe is suffering under this scrutiny, why? Here are some examples from Duncan letter published in the L.A. Times:
Late last year, after President Bush’s job approval ratings hit record lows, Lieberman decided to lash out at the administration’s critics, writing in the ultraconservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages that “we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” In this he echoed the most toxic of Republican talking points — that criticizing the conduct of the war is actually damaging to national security.
After the Senate acquitted President Clinton on all impeachment charges, Lieberman called for his censure. More recently, he rejected a call by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) to censure Bush over the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, calling the attempt “divisive.”
New Orleans could have been spared the hacktastic performance of Michael Brown, the unqualified former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had Lieberman not shooed him through the confirmation process in a breezy 42-minute hearing.
And from another source, this time Jane and Christie at FireDogLake have documented Lieberman’s stance on women’s issues. I don’t question that Lieberman is voicing opinions he personally holds, the problem, they’re out of step with the Democrats of Connecticut, the mainstream Democratic party and, I would contend, most of the US. The idea that rape victims should shop hospitals for emergency contraception is repugnant. And, again I would point out; it’s hardly a mainstream or centrist Democratic position. And this isn’t the only thing Lieberman is out of step in.
What’s more, this doesn’t come from an embattled red state Dem. It comes from an 18-year senate veteran in a blue state. Joe isn’t moving to the right to keep his job, he’s voting his own conscience in direct conflict with that of the voters of his state and the Democratic party (well, at least we’ll see about next month).
Which brings me to Lieberman’s “loyalties”. He’s already announced and taken action to undermine the primary in Connecticut. He’ll run as an independent if he loses the Democratic primary. Is that a mainstream position? Does Lieberman has any evidence, other than that of his inflated ego, that the people of Connecticut overwhelmingly desire Joe in the senate no matter what party he affiliates himself with?
And with that, I come to the final part and possibly the most repellant part of DO’s letter, the lauding of the Bull Moose. I realize Whitman is a contributor to TPM. I also think that the Democratic party is big enough for a diversity of opinions. That said, there are some things that only serve to undermine the party and some positions that just aren’t Democratic ones.
Aside from Whitman’s highly questionable past as an operative for the Christian Coalition, his postings, always in the “more sorrow than anger” vein, echo that of the “concerned troll”. He’s always lamenting the fact that Democrats are liberal. He’s only happy when someone such as Joe Lieberman is the topic.
But I digress…
The Whitman post that reader DO cites is a disgusting, incorrect and frankly, I feel it’s borderline libelous post. For instance, he says that lefty bloggers were inappropriately trying to tar Lieberman as possibly going to the Republican party. Well, let’s look at that. That I know two sources contacted the Lieberman campaign for a definitive statement that Joe would not possibly run in the Republican slot for senator in Connecticut. The question itself is hardly outrageous, this is the man who cagily refused to respond about running as an Independent if he lost the Democratic primary and then, at the eleventh, did just that. So why not again?
For Whitman to paint people who asked Lieberman this question as “swift boaters” is reprehensible and I think it’s another example of how far out of touch Whitman is with the Democratic party. The DLC may think the Bull Moose is a good idea but I think most Democrats would disagree with the majority of his stances. And given the success of the DLC, this isn’t another outrageous, far-left thought.
Whitman, in best Lieberman fashion, slaps flaccidly and Ned Lamont calling him a “limousine liberal”. As if Joe Lieberman drove a 78 Chevette. And, frankly, I bristle at any self-described Democrat would who use a Republican insult to describe another member of the party.
Whitman closes his Rovian hit piece with yet another Whitmanesque pronouncement, if Lieberman isn’t retained by the Democratic, then it is the Democratic party that is lost. This is classic cult of the politician and exactly what I would expect from a Christian Coalition operative. It isn’t about the person; it’s about their positions. It’s about being a Democrat, something that is clearly chafing Joe Lieberman. The Democrats of Connecticut have noticed. Democrats all around the country have seen it. Why is it that this eludes the Moose?
How many times do we need to climb this mountain Josh? How many times does Joe Lieberman have to act against the interests of the Democratic party, against basic liberal ideals, before we can move on past him and not be “ideological purists”?
Josh, don’t give people such as Whitman more space on your blog than you already do. And if you post something such as you did from reader DO, please, take a moment to say where you stand on the issue and why you feel the letter merits publication.
For now, I’m left with the unshakable thought that this was some kind of passive-aggressive demagoguery that I would normally never associate with you or your site.
Be well and thank you for TPM.
Very best regards,