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November 12, 2006

Farewell to Feingold

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Feingold aficionados Lindsay and Scott have commented on Russ Feingold's decision not to run for president.  I agree with both of them that Russ is in a better position now as a Senator in the majority, and I hope he has a big role in running Senate investigations.  Feingold's campaign also would have needed base dissatisfaction with the party establishment to really catch fire, and that was less likely after a gigantic midterm victory.  And if Feingold can't win the nomination, it's for the best that he doesn't fragment the left side of the party by running, which would make it easier for Hillary to get a centrist plurality.

As I have before, I'd like to advertise John Edwards to Feingold supporters and other folks who care about civil liberties (thanks for the lukewarm support, Scott!).  Edwards has supported Feingold's drive to censure Bush, and called for broader oversight of the Bush Administration.  Back in 2000, he was one of only two Senators from the old Confederacy to vote against the constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.  He has a 100% rating from NARAL and he circulated petitions encouraging Democrats to block the Alito nomination by any means necessary.  I'm happy enough for people on the right and center to let the southern accent fool them into thinking he's just another centrist, but I just want to make sure my allies on the left know what the deal is. 

November 12, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

I was coming around on Edwards, but post-Carville idiocy, he's just too Southern.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 12, 2006 5:05:20 PM

Uh, Tim, the problem with Carville isn't that he's from the South. It's that he has an unhealthy relationship with Rahm Emanuel and that he thus can't see the impressiveness of Dean's 50 state strategy.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 12, 2006 5:15:57 PM

I agree that Carville's problem is not his birthplace. What's behind his unhealthy relationship with Rahm Emmanuel is the shared desire for continued power within the Democratic party. Emmanuel, Carville and others like them correctly understand that a Democratic party that wins because of a resurgent progressive base has little room for faux-centrists like them.

I would like to see Feingold endorse Edwards at a critical point. I wonder what the chances are of that happening.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 12, 2006 5:21:29 PM

I also believe that Edwards was a floor leader of the McCain-FEINGOLD Campaign Finance bill (JRE takes no PAC money), defended Bill Clinton during the impeachment trial by giving the Closing, Co-Sponsored with McCain and Kennedy the PAtients Bill of Rights, Sponsored a Bill that would make sexual orientation a legally protected category in job discrimination, etc etc.

Posted by: philgoblue | Nov 12, 2006 5:59:27 PM

The problem is that Carville wants to privilege his Democratic sub-network of political workers over any other sub-network. That network runs through the DLC, which was originally set up as an explicitly Southern organization. The rest is probably not a series of conscious decisions, but the DLC seems to really trying to create a Republican-Lite party: appeal to Southern value voters and Northern business interests. I wasn't crazy about the last six years of the original, and I'm not looking for the diet version.

Is Edwards connected to the DLC? I don't know; I doubt his poverty message is very popular with them, but I seem to recall that he was their fair haired child not so long ago. (To be fair, I worry about the poverty message, as well.) I don't know who would staff his Administration, or which networks would gain as a result. But there's enough Red rot to be rooted out of the Executive already without adding to it. I'd be much more comfortable if there was a clear break with the DLC. (I don't really disagree over-much with DLC's ends, but I think it is as pernicious and malevolent a group as exists in the Democratic Party.) In any case, the campaign will tell.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 12, 2006 6:11:21 PM

"It's that he has an unhealthy relationship with Rahm Emanuel and that he thus can't see the impressiveness of Dean's 50 state strategy."

It's sad to see progressives who should know better exiting the reality based community.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 12, 2006 6:23:02 PM

Petey, I'd be a lot more impressed with Emanuel if he hadn't left us unfunded in so many close races in cheap districts. Given a choice between long-term party building and the kind of people who got played for millions by Tammy Duckworth's wastrels, I'm with the Doctor.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 12, 2006 6:28:52 PM

And Edwards, along with Feingold, also supports public financing of campaigns.

Feingold voted for Ashcroft for Attorney General because, he said, he hoped that there would someday be an AG who was as progressive as Ashcroft was conservative. Perhaps he was thinking of himself. I would love--love--to see Feingold as AG. In an Edwards administration, of course.

And SomeCallMeTim, Edwards is Labor's candidate, not the DLC's. You can't be both.

Posted by: david mizner | Nov 12, 2006 6:29:15 PM

Given a choice between long-term party building and the kind of people who got played for millions by Tammy Duckworth's wastrels, I'm with the Doctor.

No sane Democrat--hell, American--ever picks Emanuel over Dean, even at the cost of a few lost elections. What kind of human being roots for Boss Tweed to make a comeback?

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 12, 2006 6:53:12 PM

Didn't Edwards vote for the Iraq war?

Posted by: James B. Shearer | Nov 12, 2006 6:55:01 PM

Edwards has said he regrets his vote on the Iraq war, that it was wrong. Better than many dems.

Anyway, I'm fine admitting that Rahm is a good fundraiser and a good recruiter, but not really that great a strategist. People can have different advantages. But no, neither his policy views, his strategic expertise, or his ability to work with people qualify him for the Speaker's chair. Everyone should agree on that.

Also, and ask if you want more details, he's not responsible for most of the independent expenditure decisions made by the DCCC, for weird FEC reasons.

Posted by: Tony v | Nov 12, 2006 7:37:40 PM

James-

Yes. But he has also publically taken responsibility for being on the wrong side, saying that he should not have voted for the war. He has called for hte immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops with an eye toward full withdrawal / redeployment. Edwards is quite credible as the anti-war candidate to me, and he's the best candidate on domestic issues by a wide margin.

Posted by: DivGuy | Nov 12, 2006 7:38:29 PM

SCMT: Edwards' Southernness is a pretty thin thread to use to connect him to the DLC, especially since his policy preferences seem pretty darn far from theirs.

Posted by: Antid Oto | Nov 12, 2006 8:40:27 PM

To those who think that prior association with the DLC should be a disqualifier, or reason for suspiscion, I'll just point out that Vermont Governor Howard Dean was a favorite of the DLC for all of the '90s.

Secondly, saying "The DLC" is a bit like talking in broad strokes about "organized labor," or "organized religion," or "the netroots." It's not a monolithic organization. People within the DLC disagree about stuff. Whenever people criticize the entire group, it seems like you can usually trace most of the problems back to Al From or Marshall Wittman. Ed Kilgore over at newdonky.com is a DLCer, but a good big-tent Democrat who's not trying to purge liberals from the party. Same goes for Simon Rosenberg, a DLCer who teamed up with the Dean campaign.

Edwards spoke at the DLC Convention in '02, but so did every other big-name Democratic presidential contender. He was friendly with them during his Senate term, but not in the sense of being oppositional to the liberal wing of the party. He always struck me as being a big-tent kind of guy.

In the present day, Edwards has moved to the left a bit, but he's still a big-tent guy and not oppositional to the DLC. Given that nobody who's run an anti-DLC campaign has won the Democratic nomination since the group has been in existence, that's probably a sound strategy.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 12, 2006 9:07:52 PM

Wait I'm just totally confused. What meme did I miss? Why on earth would being Southern count as a strike against someone (about whom you have good direct information as to everything that being Southern could otherwise be a proxy for, like fundamentalist sympathies, anti-choiceism, unpleasant racial views, or disinterest in urban poverty)?

Posted by: Christopher M | Nov 12, 2006 9:33:02 PM

SCMT: Edwards' Southernness is a pretty thin thread to use to connect him to the DLC, especially since his policy preferences seem pretty darn far from theirs.

As I said, I think he used to be a favorite of theirs in prior years, but I have no idea what his relationship to them is today. I worry only because policy networks don't spring up overnight, and I wonder how he'll staff his. I'd prefer it not be staffed by people from what looks an awful lot like the new Tammany Hall; this, despite the fact that I agree with them on many policy matters.

Given that nobody who's run an anti-DLC campaign has won the Democratic nomination since the group has been in existence, that's probably a sound strategy.

I don't know that anyone's run an anti-DLC campaign; I wouldn't expect anyone to do so. They didn't get the Southern nominee they'd hoped for in '88, and were, apparently, invigorated by Dukakis's loss. (And then came Clinton.)

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 12, 2006 10:45:06 PM

According to reports, 15 of the incoming class of Democratic congresspeople and senators is expected to join the house New Democratic Coalition.

Maybe we should stop prejudicing against anyone who may know someone who was once affiliated with the dreaded DLC right out of the gate.

Posted by: DRR | Nov 12, 2006 11:19:56 PM

It's sad to see progressives who should know better exiting the reality based community.

Gee, Petey, it's interesting to see our wise grand sage stop trying to bolster his insulting statements with misleading statistics.

Now that the Democrats have taken the House and Senate without following your wise counsel, your true, insulting colors are coming through.

Maybe we should stop prejudicing against anyone who may know someone who was once affiliated with the dreaded DLC right out of the gate.

The NDC is not the DLC. The problem that I have with the DLC is not with their so-called moderate positions. My problem with them is that the DLC seeks only to advance the interests of the DLC. If the interests of the Democratic party as a whole intersect with those of the DLC, then they're happy. But if they don't, then DLC members will use every television and radio show, every print and internet outlet to malign and lie about their colleagues and the grassroots of the Democratic party. The vast majority of "Democrats in disarray" stories for the last couple of decades have found their origin and continued existence in the actions of the DLC.

So the 2008 concern is whether we will have a candidate that represents the Democratic party and seeks to advance the interests of all the millions of its members, or a candidate that only cares for his/her own political legacy and would be willing to jettison everyone who has gotten him/her thus far in service of that legacy.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 13, 2006 12:24:36 AM

I've been watching Edwards. I also heard last night on Russert's show, David Gregory says that Al Gore is concidering getting in.
My brother lives in Wisconsin and is a huge fan of Fiengold's. I really liked him. But, I know he is going to do big things in the Senate and the country hasn't lost is suspicion of the left. We should proceed slowly from the middle and keep ourselves from going to far like the republcans.
Edwards has a great populist appeal and is a genuine and sincere person who wants to do good things and help the country. He is in a great position to be in the top spot of the primaries.

Posted by: vwcat | Nov 13, 2006 1:08:32 AM

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