Greenwald and Digby Miss The Point About Kucinich

Digby has a post up touting Glenn Greenwald’s paeon to Dennis Kucinich, and adding their own two cents to the mix.

It’s dispiriting, to say the least, that such a stalwart liberal losing his office is celebrated with even more gusto than the defeat of your average Blue Dog, but there it is.

Reading through those posts, you might think that the seat switched to a Republican.   You’d have to look hard and long to figure out that he lost a primary to another Democrat!  Yes, you don’t see Digby mention it at all, and Greenwald mentions it in passing and then proceeds to ignore it.  Instead, they spend a lot of words bemoaning what a great progressive voice Kucinich is, and how it’s awful that “establishment Democrats” are happy that he’s gone.  They attribute it to his “wackiness,” but Angry Black Lady points out the real reason: It’s not his wackiness, it’s his fecklessness.   In terms of “effective” and “reliable,” Kucinich was not a “good progressive.”   But that’s not all they missed.

Here’s the first one:  He lost a primary.  This was not a general election, this was a Democrat versus Democrat ballot.  He was up against another incumbent, having lost his district to redistricting.    So you have two incumbents going against each other for their party’s nomination.  Why is that a key point?  Because primaries are base elections.  You’re not talking about persuading Republicans or Independents.  You’re persuading the people who belong to your party that you will best represent their views in Congress.   The  reality of the matter is that the Democratic voters in that district decided that Marcy Kaptur would do a better job of that than Dennis Kucinich.  No, it wasn’t close, either.

Which is what they are avoiding.   You see, like it or not, and they don’t, it doesn’t matter how popular Dennis Kucinich is with Digby, Greenwald, others of the professional left, and various bloggers and commenters on “purity sites.”  They do not vote in Ohio, and in particular, they don’t vote in the 9’th Congressional District.   All politics are local, and no matter how popular someone is everywhere else, it’s the people who elect him or her that they have to pay attention to.  That’s a lesson that various progressive “heroes” have learned the hard way, including Alan Grayson.  Why are they avoiding that?  Because it goes against their belief that they speak for progressives, that they are the voices of the “true Democratic Party.”  The reality is that they are not the base, and most Democrats – actual voters, mind you – aren’t listening to them.

The final point they’re missing about Kucinich?  The thing they’re complaining about, that many Democrats are rather happy he lost.  There are reasons why they’re happy.  First, they have a very strong candidate who is an effective member of Congress, who is going to hold the seat.  She’s running against Samuel Wurzelbacher, also known as “Joe the Plumber.”  Second,  from a progressive and party standpoint, Kucinich wasn’t that progressive or a particularly good Democrat.  quoting Nate Silver:

The original version of the ratings built in an exception for what I termed “liberal nos”: votes that a Democratic member cast against his party’s agenda, but which he justified by stating that the policy under consideration was not liberal enough. We did not count the liberal no votes as yes votes — we just threw them out, treating them as non-votes instead.

But what if we don’t build in an exception for the so-called “liberal no’s” — that is, simply take every vote at face value? It turns out, then, that Davis is no longer the least valuable Democrat. Instead, it is Dennis Kucinich, who voted against health care, the hate crimes bill, the budget, the cap-and-trade bill, and financial regulation — all ostensibly from the left — in spite of coming from from the strongly Democratic Ohio 10th district near Cleveland.

In other words, regardless of his “reasons,” he voted against a number of key Democratic agenda bills.  He wasn’t from a “red” district, he was from a district with a strong Democratic majority.    While various people in the purity faction are excusing that as “standing for principle,” the harsh truth is that once the bill was done, he stood with the Republicans.   That might have been excused, if he’d been effective at getting progressive legislation enacted.

For all of his advocacy for liberal issues, Kucinich got almost nothing accomplished. He’s one of those legislators who becomes a favorite of the base—this happens on both sides; look at Michele Bachmann—by talking a lot while doing very little. Effective legislators build coalitions, they work to persuade their colleagues, they even compromise, if that’s what’s necessary to get legislation passed (or blocked, if that’s the goal). Not Kucinich.

But that doesn’t matter to Glenn and Digby.  You see, they’re valuing “talking about it” over “doing something,” as long as the talk is what they want to hear.  That’s the big point they miss.  The reason Kucinich isn’t going to be missed is because all he did was talk.  He wasn’t reliable, and he didn’t accomplish anything.  The Democratic voters of the 9’th District decided that wasn’t good enough for them, and it definitely shouldn’t have been enough for progressives.



Filed under Politics

20 responses to “Greenwald and Digby Miss The Point About Kucinich

  1. LAC

    Amen! Digby should just put a sad face on that blog and be done with it. Greenwald? There isn’t a fact in the world that deters him from writing his usual faux progressive drivel. Nice to see his fanboy base being reduced to the same five doofs and their perpetual circle jerk commentary.

    • If you read the two of them, you’d come away with the impression that Kucinich had lost to a far-right Republican, instead of another Democrat. Whining about his “bringing attention to issues” just ignores that he didn’t actually do anything about them.

      • Dr. Squid

        Not just another Democrat, but a Democrat in line to chair Appropriations.

        About 4 years ago, there was criticism of then-candidate Obama giving “process answers” where he’d speak about saying what the Democratic Party should be talking about. The response then was to just get up and do it.

        Why can’t the PL apply the same standards to Kucinich? And why do they get so butthurt when the rest of us do?

  2. nabsentia23

    No wonder a rightwinger and Ron Paul supporter on another site told me that he liked Dennis Kucinich. Despite his higher “progressive” principles, Kucinich ended up siding with the GOP more than the Democrats. His voting record is worse than any blue dog Democrat. Kucinich’s use of “liberal nos” is very similar to Ron Paul’s “no” votes to prove his “small government” credentials while secretly negotiating earmarks for his district. With friends like these; who needs enemies?

    I remember Marcy Kaptur from when I lived in her Ohio district from the late ’80s – mid ’90s. She was and still is an effective Congresswoman. To me, that alone is a good enough reason why she beat Kucinich.

    Yep, once again, we have a situation where the “professional left” is claiming to speak for the Democratic base when, in fact, they are clueless. They really need to give this BS up.

    • Speaking of Ron Paul, of course he procures earmarks for his district. His office is in Galveston. If he had told his constituents after Hurricane Ike that they should do without federal assistance and just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, he would not have been reelected. He might have been tarred and feathered instead.

    • Despite his higher “progressive” principles, Kucinich ended up siding with the GOP more than the Democrats.

      Which was my gripe about Feingold. He was frequently voting with Republicans, but justifying it by saying it “wasn’t liberal enough.” If you looked at his voting record without seeing his “reasons,” you’d have trouble thinking he was a Democrat.

  3. Kucinich is a microcosm of the preoccupation of the ‘left’ with their emphasis on sloganeering and dogma rather than effective legislation and community involvement. The fact that Digby and GG bemoan his long-overdue demise is they, like much of these folks, are in love with failure.

    • I also noticed their rather blithe waving aside of the fact that Ohio ended up with a Republican governor and legislature in 2010, and with it control of redistricting. But remember, Democrats needed to stay home in 2010 to “send a message.” 🙄

  4. Kerry Reid

    Were people like Digby born dumber than dogshit about how elections actually WORK, or did the insanity of the Bush years just cause them to self-lobotomize?

    • Damned if I know. 🙄 About the only people who didn’t see this coming was … them.

      • Kerry Reid

        (Accidentally “liked” my own comment. Please ignore!) But yeah — it’s so fricking basic — if you don’t WIN, you can’t PASS SHIT!!! I expect the right to think “talking tough” is the same as “leadership.” Of course, the far right is smarter than the EmoProgs inasmuch as they actually DO vote and don’t whine and moan and piss about when they don’t their righteousgasms RIGHT AWAY!! Because the Most Important People In the Whole Wide World are White Progressives With Websites and No Discernible Political Achievements, doncha know?

  5. One free visit to the Heaven of your choice for this, Norbrook. Thanks.

  6. It’s amazing that the astounding ineffectiveness of this man’s legislative posturing even needs to be highlighted and explained in this manner, as it seems so obvious. Sound bites over substance won’t get things done. Glad the voters in this primary realized that.

    • It didn’t necessarily bother me that his record of accomplishment didn’t meet up with his rhetoric. What bothers me about Greenwald and company is that they’re busily bemoaning the fact that he lost, and that other Democrats seem to be happy about it. The person who won the primary is a senior (effective and reliable) Democrat who’s in line to chair a major committee if Democrats take back the House. Why wouldn’t Democrats be happy?

      • Agree 100% that Greenwald & co. have approached the Kucinich ouster from the wrong angle entirely, but the incredulous tone they are using isn’t limited to them. As much as you are correct that the “professional left” are not the base, I do have a handful of “real world” friends who took the same stance. I have had a couple of conversations with people who go on about what a “principled” guy Kucinich has been, and how it’s a shame if Democrats lose guys like him by “eating our own”, as the GOP candidates are currently doing. I swear I don’t get it.

        • Which is not uncommon. It’s not “eating our own,” it’s a choice of “we only have one seat: Pick which person gets it.” Comparing the two candidates, which one would you rather have? Personally, I’m much happier that Kaptur won.

    • ” Sound bites over substance won’t get things done. Glad the voters in this primary realized that ”

      These are folks who prefer Malcolm X when he was with the Nation of Islam rather than we he left and gained his own mind. They are keyboard/armchair revolutions who dont know how to count votes.

      These are folks who prefers the panthers to the Naacp. Arrogant hippie wannabies who still think they stopped the Vietnam war by smoking weed and burning the flag.

      For all of the tough talking that the Nation of Islam did the Naacp was the one pushing legistion to bring possitive change.

  7. Arrogant Demon

    Had to be shamed by Barack Obama to vote for Healthcare, voted no on Byrd-Shappard, and Dodd-Frank, but he’s a great progressive?

    Feckless, do nothing, turn in the punchbowl types get thrown out, thats just how it is, deal with it.

    They laud the bomb throwers like Kuchich, but give President Obama all sorts of hell, then wonders why they’re puritopian way dont catch fire.

    • One of the rare times I actually liked Kucinich was after he came on board for the ACA. Yes, the President twisted his arm, but to give him credit, he did do a lot of whipping for the vote. I also remember that the same people who are now bemoaning his loss were the same people who wanted his head back then. Fickle lot, aren’t they? 😆