The Left Ascendant
Rod writes, of the Taibbi discussion:
To be clear, I don't believe that we're going to see a left-right fusion of any sort. The value I see in Taibbi's essay is his sense that the left doesn't have a lot to offer now -- that it's populated by a bunch of cranks and juveniles who are great at whining and complaining, but who don't offer much practical help. Ross has said that it's ridiculous for a leftie like Taibbi to complain about the worthlessness of the left when everything's coming up roses for them in advance of the 2008 election.
I just don't see this. If Ross is right, would he have instructed the disillusioned rightists of The American Conservative to quit complaining about conservatives in 2004, because the GOP was doing well at the polls?
I should have been clearer in my earlier comments. I don't just think that the left is doing well politically; I think that they may get the chance to enact a pretty substantial and wide-ranging policy agenda if things go well for them in '08. Taibbi (and Rod) think liberals don't have anything substantive to offer; I think that's plain wrong, and it's a dangerous delusion for conservatives, in particular, to entertain. True, what the left has to offer now is roughly the same thing it offered in the 1970s and '80s, which is to say a dramatic expansion of the welfare state - but the ideas for how to go about this are much sharper than they used to be, thanks to years in the wilderness and a greater appreciation for free markets, and the political climate is a lot more favorable to a renewed push for social democracy than it was in, say, 1979. If Taibbi disagrees with this agenda, fine, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't, and that's what makes his whinging so irritating: He's trotting out warmed-over Thomas Frank, kvetching about how the DLC made the Democrats "sell out on financial issues in exchange for support from Wall Street" and how "no one has stepped up to talk to the 30 million working poor who struggle to get by on low-wage, part-time jobs" in a year when (as Matt points out) the Dems have moved so far toward the "progressive" wing of the party that Hillary Clinton, the rightward-most of the leading candidates, is running well to the left of John Kerry in 2004.