They Never Get Tired of Having Egg On Their Face

The past week and half has been an interesting one in politics.    An agreement was reached regarding the budget, and the President made a major speech on his budget priorities, particularly regarding long-term deficit reduction, and highlighting the difference between his administration’s ideas and the Republican House’s ideas.   What made it interesting was not so much the actual budget agreement and the President’s speech, but just how badly the Professional Left and the Frustrati got it wrong.   If you were to read Daily Kos, FireDogLake, or several other “progressive” sites, you’d have seen full-throated ranting about the budget deal, just before and after it was announced.    It was horrible, terrible, a “sell out,” etc.  Turn on the television or open up the newspapers, and you’d have Very Serious People like Paul Krugman telling you it was bad.   There were analyses of how the President was “losing liberals” with it.  Before the speech, you had any number of diaries thundering against the President, as well as people like Adam Green showing up on television, to tell us how awful it was, and how he was “losing the base.”    Yes, if all you saw was that, and you were a liberal, you’d have been seriously disturbed.  The problem is that they weren’t right.  To make it worse, they were lazy.

I’m surprised that there wasn’t a sudden run on various orthopedic clinics for the number of sprained ankles that must have occurred during their leaping to conclusions.  You see, they “knew” what the budget agreement did, they “knew” what the President was going to say in his speech, and were out there attacking.  The problem?  What they “knew” was wrong.  They didn’t know what was in the budget agreement, they hadn’t bothered to sit down, go through it and see what was actually cut.  They just started attacking it based on what they’d “heard,” and of course, the fact that they don’t like this President to begin with just was even more incentive.   It was only after more reasoned people started going through it that it came out that … it was actually not that bad.  Yes, there were a few things that weren’t good, but overall, it wasn’t as bad as the frustrati and the Professional Left had been making it out to be.   The speech the President gave bore no relationship to the speech they “knew” he was going to give, and were busily attacking.   During and shortly after it, the attack diaries appeared, and the fund-raising e-mails from various “progressive” groups were fired out to their mailing lists, begging for money to help in the fight against something that … wasn’t what the President was proposing or bore any relationship to what he said.

This left them with a large amount of egg on their faces.  Not that they’d admit it, though.  The entire performance of the Professional Left and the frustrati who inhabit the sites like FDL and Daily Kos has been intellectually dishonest, sloppy, and just plain lazy.   They’re so locked into an attack mode on the President, they refused to consider anything else.  They had their “canned responses” ready, and regardless of reality and being willing to put the work into modifying them, they went ahead with them.

The sad part is not that they got it wrong and won’t change.  It’s that the frustrati, and the Professional Left, really think that their take on things matters in the Democratic Party.  It comes through in all their statements, that they are “The Base” of the Party, that they represent liberals, they are the influential thinkers that drive the Party’s platform.    You see it not only in their statements and publications, but in some of the news stories.  That “liberals” are upset with Obama, that “Democrats” are drifting away, etc.    Yes, you’d think there was a real problem, except that’s not what the polling shows.  In the real world, where people actually show up at the polls and do all the actual work of the Party, it shows a remarkable solidarity.  The real bases of the Democratic Party are firmly behind the President.

Which just demonstrates that they’re not living in reality, or actually doing much to drive the Party to the left … or anywhere.  They’re a fringe group who exist in a bubble, where they talk only to each other, and mistake their status within that group with actual status outside of it.   They’re the ones who are driven by a fantasy of what candidate Obama ran on, not what he actually ran on; those whose egos were hurt when the President didn’t come to them or follow their policy prescriptions; and those who are motivated by racism.  While the people in the Professional Left’s bubble think that the circle they talk to – other members of the Professional Left – matches “reality,” it doesn’t.   That’s why they’re so often “surprised” by polls.   The Frustrati?  The members of Daily Kos, FDL, etc.?  The ones who spend a great deal of time telling you how critical they are?  The people out in the field, the ones who do the work of the Party, the ones who consider themselves Democrats have never heard of them.   If they have, and it’s a small number, they’re not considered a factor at all.  They’re talking in their own little circle to each other, and thinking that it’s important, but in terms of what’s actually important, they’re not.  When it comes time to work, to deliver on their rhetoric, they’re conspicuously absent.

Tthey’re not progressive, and they’re most definitely not the  – or even a – base of the Party.  They’re the descendants of the coffee house revolutionaries, who sat around talking about revolution, but never actually did anything.  It was meaningless then, and it’s meaningless now.  They rant and rave, and talk enough, but end up with egg on their face more often than not.  They never get tired of it, I guess.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “They Never Get Tired of Having Egg On Their Face

  1. beulahmo

    I often wonder how many of the chronic butthurters at FDL and DKos are actually politically active in a meaningful (i.e. effective) way. Foot soldiers for the Democratic Party? Active in their unions? Members/volunteers of Interfaith groups? I’d be very interested to see empirical data (if there were a way to get truthful info) on this.

    • Honestly? Almost none of the “big wheels,” the ones who make the Recommended List, etc. on a regular basis, or their acolytes. In terms of actual impact, with PAC’s, etc. it’s not very good. I took a look at the Jane Hamsher’s PAC (Accountability Now) FEC statements, and what it mainly seems to do is … pay FDL and Glenn Greenwald. In terms of recruiting candidates, backing issues, being a lobbying force, most of the “progressive” groups that tout themselves there (or are touted) turn out to be not much of anything. Most of the people who actually do something have long since left.

      True story I tell on occasion: A while back, I went to a regional Democratic Party function. There were a couple of state-wide candidates, a candidate for federal office, and lots of local candidates. Party officials from 6 different counties were there. You want to know how many people in that group had heard of Daily Kos or FDL? One, besides myself. The media director for the federal candidate had heard of them, but that was the extent of it. I’ve been hearing the same sort of story over and over again. People who actually are involved with the Party go to events, work the phones, and so on, and they’re often the only ones who have heard of those sites. So in terms of driving the party’s direction, they’re total non-entities.

      • beulahmo

        Norbrook,

        I’ve had the same experience and have heard other volunteers say the same thing. But so far the only thing informing our conclusion is shared anecdotal stuff by word of mouth. I’m genuinely interested to know how many of these people hang around emo-bitchy blogs actually get out and volunteer — and if they do, how much time do they devote to it? I’m also wondering this: is it possible some of the chronic butthurters ARE activists who volunteer for Democratic Party/union/interfaith work; are vocal and outspoken in cyberspace, but cowardly and “closeted” in meatspace? Know what I mean? Which would imply (to me, anyway) that what motivates the *online* behavior is attention-seeking; because if they truly had such strong feelings about such strong convictions, surely they would express them in person at real-life gatherings of activist liberals, no?

        • Well, I can give you some figures. If you look at the total number of people who are registered at one of these sites, it works out to about <1% of the total Democratic Party registration. Then, if you look at the number of active members, it turns out to be just under 10% of the registered members. In other words, 20-40 thousand people, being extremely generous. There’s also a high percentage who are clustered in various “blue” urban areas. What I’ve seen, in both real life, as well as on the other “pragmatic liberal” blogs, is that many of the people registered who are active in terms of actual political work left those sites a while back. It turns out that in real life, real politics, you need a strong pragmatic streak, and being a radical idealist is all great, except that you don’t get anything done. What I do know is that most of the loudest screamers are not involved in their local parties in anything resembling something that has some influence.

          • beulahmo

            Ah! Thanks for explaining! That makes me feel better.

            Of course, I’ll continue standing up to the “professional left” who get on the teevee with their butthurt. Because I think they truly DO have enough influence to depress Democratic voter turnout. (Ed Schultz, Cenk Uyger, Adam Green, Greenwald, Joan Walsh, etc.)

  2. Great post, Norbrook. I bet if they wiped the eggs off their faces, they could have made many extra-large omelets and had a breakfast banquet by now. Indeed, they are truly the fringe and in no way speak for us pragmatic progressives. Their views are meaningless and are not in any way helpful to the advancement of our causes. I will keep ignoring them as long as they keep attacking PBO with hearsay, lacking corroborated facts.

    • Thanks. :) I do hope for their sake that the eggs are organic free-range eggs. :P As I said, what made me laugh at them is that they were so far off, it was pathetic. Sending out the begging e-mails showing that really highlighted that they didn’t even bother to pay attention.

  3. Ah! Thanks for explaining! That makes me feel better.

    I did the math a while back. What’s interesting is when you look at a group like Adam Green’s PCCC. They claim some 700,000 supporters. It’s a bogus figure. What that figure is made up of is various e-mail lists they’ve acquired, along with anyone who ever clicked on one of their surveys or petitions. I know that Darcy Burner turned over her campaign lists to them (and a few other groups), and I got spammed for months by them. Hence, my immediate dislike of any group where I see her name attached. In terms of donors and as group that can mobilize its “supporters” as a group? Not a chance.

  4. Nathan Katungi

    Thanks for another great post, Norbrook. I am thankful that pragmatic voices like yours are pushing back, and exposing the idiocy of the PL.

  5. eyes wide open

    I enjoyed this article norbrook.

    I believe that the jane hamshers and ed schultzs and the despicable cenk uygers and others like them give the other unreognised members of the frustrati professional whiners grouping the idea that all you have to do is shout negative nasty things about President Obama loud enough and then pretty soon you will be rewarded with a tevee show or a gig as an analyst on MSNBC a la Joan walsh etc etc.

    It is all about destroying this President and in the process the party as well, in an attempt to get name recognition and some money.

    Then you have to throw in the members of the african american community who are pure jealous of our President and/or are upset, that he does not come and bow down at their altar – those would include the tavis smileys,jessie jackson,cornell west etc of this world.

    I have noticed that Ed Schultz who is another commentator desperate to always publicly be constantly negative about the president – seems to want to align himself with jesse jackson a lot who of course joins him in his negative rant.

    Notice how Al sharpton stays clear of them.

    Boy oh boy these people are really sickening.

    • That’s why I divided them up into three categories. :) There’s a group that heard the Right’s characterization of him as a black liberationist radical marxist socialist, believed it, and wanted it. That it wasn’t even close to what he actually ran on, and that all the evidence in his past writings and speeches said he wasn’t, didn’t register with them. When he went and did exactly what he said he was going to do, they were horrified. Their fantasy wasn’t reality. The second group is the people like Jesse Jackson, Cornell West, Paul Krugman, and so on. With them, it’s ego. They expected to be regularly consulted, bowed to, and major players in the policy sectors. When they weren’t, well, that’s just unacceptable. Their egos couldn’t take it. How dare he ignore them! The final group are the “closet racists.” Reading them, you can’t help see the thinly-veiled racism running through their attacks. I put Hamsher in that group, although there’s also a sizeable cross-over with the other groups.

      I should add, there’s another group who are just in it for the money. Arianna and Markos spring to mind. They’re going to ride the outrage horse for as long as the money rolls in. Then they’ll move on to something else.

  6. kittypat

    They have no credibility and yet they seem to be the last ones to find that out. My mother used to tell us bedtime stories and one of our favorites was Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” wonder if any of them ever heard of it.

  7. I “wrote” about this very subject last night: Where’s my pony?

    The Frustrati make themselves look pretty silly. We have plenty to go after with the Ryan budget and the other crazy stuff from the right … we don’t need to invent things about the left to go after.

  8. Chris Andersen

    It is sad really. There was a time when The DailyKOS was the place to go to (1) get reliable, immediate information on what was happening, (2) share with the other 10% who never approved of George W. Bush and (3) plan for the action to push the Democratic Part away from the abyss of DLC style appeasement (dKOS was a hub of the campaign to get Dean in as DNC chair).

    That has all been destroyed in the last couple of years. I now have to question *everything* I read on DailyKOS because it has become so unreliable. There’s just so many times you can sound the alarms on a false or misleading story before you begin to question the reliability of anything you see there. Also, it is no longer a safe haven for like minded people (unless you are a habitual grumbler) considering that there are so many other viable communities out their. And, finally, I can’t think of a single major progressive campaign of the last two years that owed any of its organizing might to The Daily KOS.

    There was a time I wished I could attend Netroots Nation. Now I wonder whether it wouldn’t be a waste of time.

  9. Great article, Norbrook. The comments above about local party activism are consistent with my personal experience as well. The dialogue on the ‘big’ blogs has little in common with the topics we discuss in my local party meetings, or the work we do as local party activists.

    That’s not surprising. You wouldn’t expect a national blog to discuss recruiting and training local precinct leaders. The specific information too local for general interest, and you can summarize the general information in one or two articles. Articles like that occasionally appear on blogs, but translating that general information into an effective local party structure involves months of tedious grunt work. That grunt work wins or loses close elections, but it doesn’t capture audience attention so you don’t hear much about it in the media, including the blogs.

    That leaves two almost mutually exclusive event tracks: the news cycles, and the grunt work. If the media mention the grunt work at all, it’s a brief nod to which side a reporter or pundit thinks will have a stronger “ground game.” Then it’s back to which side won the last news cycle.

    Crissie

    • When I got involved in local electoral politics I started by phone banking. I mentioned to some of the other folks in our working group that I blogged about politics on the Internet. They had no idea what I was talking about.

      Electoral politics is won in the trenches of our local precincts and county and state Democratic party not on a computer screen. The blogging can help us find other people to help in the trenches (I was talked into putting down my keyboard and picking up a phone by the call to offline activism at BPI Campus) but GOTV is done by connecting to voters in person.

    • I’d agree that the topic of local activism isn’t necessarily one that makes for riveting reading on a national blog. But what I’ve noticed in that group over there is an absolute ignorance of, and dismissal of the need for it. Which is why they continually end up being ignored as a “power” in the party. One of the best examples I can think of is their inability to recruit candidates to challenge the Blue Dogs in the House. My congressional district is bordered by two districts that had Blue Dogs who attracted their ire back in 2009. I remember the numerous rumbles from them about primarying them. Neither one of them had a primary challenger, which was the case in most of the country.

      What I’ve seen is that they have no idea of how to translate their “fervor” into effective action, or willingness to do so. They’re “nothing but net.” :roll: That they can’t even be bothered to get their facts straight or wait a day to get them just means they’re eminently ignorable.

      • I agree with this, Jan:

        Electoral politics is won in the trenches of our local precincts and county and state Democratic party not on a computer screen.

        And with this, Norbrook:

        But what I’ve noticed in that group over there is an absolute ignorance of, and dismissal of the need for [local activism].

        And yes, too many have No Little League, High School, College, Minors, Or Regular Season But I Expect To Start In The World Series Syndrome. (NLLHSCMORSBIETSITWSS, for short.) Forget local or state grunt work. They want to set the president’s agenda. And good luck with that….

        Crissie

        • Exactly. They don’t have a grasp of the fundamentals. Where it shows up is in their “calls to action” and their attempts to “lobby” the administration or Congress. There’s a lot of hysteria, but in terms of actually getting listened to, or persuasion, they suck. I used to get a lot of e-mails screaming that I needed to call Congressman so-and-so, and yell at him about something. Which I didn’t. First off, he was not my representative, so he didn’t have to listen to me – and wouldn’t. Second, he was not on the relevant committee, so it’s a wasted call. Third, I’m not a major party donor or official, so I can’t even go that route with him. So screaming that we needed to flood his office with calls and e-mails didn’t serve any productive purpose, but would likely piss him off.

          It’s the simple, straightforward stuff like that that, that they can’t get. I still snicker over Jane Hamsher’s threat to primary Bernie Sanders. Yeah, that was a real threat right there! :lol: