Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Sit At The Big Table

As should be clear from my commentary on the Halter/Lincoln Thing here and at Glenn's Place, I'm truly gobsmacked at the level of cynicism and the lack of ethical principles involved in Accountability Now's selection of and support of Lt Governor Bill Halter to primary Corporate-Dem Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.

Blanche was primaried as an act of revenge, not to replace her in the Senate with someone better, or even to replace her at all. The purpose of the primary challenge was to "punish" her for her political transgressions against... whom?

The spin from Glenn and Jane and whatnot is that Blanche transgressed against the People of Arkansas. Perhaps so, but in a Democratic primary, the Democratic voters decide that, and they decided otherwise. But worse, the Arkansas electorate as a whole looks to have decided that they are done with Blanche in any case and they want an even worse Republican, John Boozman, to take her place in the Senate next year.

If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign. -- Harry S Truman


But as Glenn's statement about the campaign makes clear (Bowers makes the same points), the primary campaign against Lincoln was an act of revenge for her betrayals. As Bowers put it, "It's payback time."

The fact that it backfired and Halter was the one defeated is completely glossed over with endless rationalizations. The Victory of Lessons Learned and all that.

If the lesson learned is that primary challenges should be based on principle and should offer a genuine progressive challenger to the sitting conserva-Dem incumbent, all well and good. If the recruiters and supporters of primary challengers set aside their desire for revenge and concentrate on the need for genuine -- fighting -- progressives in the August Bodies of the House and Senate, even better.

But are those lessons being learned? There's been no evidence of it. As long as revenge is the operative rationale to primary the ass of an incumbent, it's a fool's game.

But then... maybe that's the point.

It's occurred to me that the real goal -- at least for some of the blogospheric lights involved in primarying Blanche's ass -- was to gain a seat at the Big Table.

To crash the gate, to be Teh Kingmakers, Playahs in the political firmament. And the way to do that in this country is...?

If you aren't part of the Establishment to begin with and you weren't born to the purple, you have to pass an "audition" process, much like Obama had to, during which you demonstrate your ability to "manage the masses."

Show you can make them do things they otherwise wouldn't, show you can tease substantial amounts of money out of them, show you can manipulate and direct their efforts and beliefs, etc., etc.

Demonstrate these and other abilities convincingly and often enough, and more than likely you will be asked to sit at the Big Table, and if you do well there over a period of time, you will become a Fixture, a viable Pundit, the Go-To Guy on the Rabble, Inside the Gate, instead of Outside.

If that's the real goal, then what Jane and Glenn and Arianna and Markos and Aravosis and some of the others are doing makes sense, even when their unprincipled and cynical political ploys don't.

They want more than anything to sit at the Big Table and be taken seriously by People Who Matter.

Ana Marie Cox did it. Jake Tapper went from Salon to ABC to the White House to hosting one of the Big Tables after all.

It could be that's why so many in the blogosphere are prepared to wait, and urge their readers to wait, literally decades and longer for "progressive change" to occur, and why they almost universally applaud incrementalism and baby steps rather than sudden, sharp changes or developments, even when -- as was the case with Bush/Cheney -- sudden change was actually happening, but in the Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal direction opposite the direction "progressives" insisted was incrementally desirable.

They're focused on what "actually matters." Which is... ?

The Big Table.

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