Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glenn Greenwald smackdown

Glenn Greenwald, the fiery civil rights and constitutional law attorney who blogs at has been a force to be reckoned with these past few years. His impassioned posts on torture policies, warrantless wiretapping and illicit hiring practices at the DOJ have won him a large audience in the liberal blogsphere and his books such as “Great American Hypocrites” have helped rally liberals together to oppose the radical authoritarian regime currently in charge of our government.
But recently, Greenwald’s passion for his causes have led him to become increasingly critical of the Democratic leadership in Congress (as well as anyone else who gets crossways to his views such as Barack Obama and Keith Olbermann).
Sounding more and more like Ralph Nader, Greenwald has recently taken to lambasting the Democratic leadership and declaring that things are no different now than when Republicans still had control of the Congress.
And now, with his most recent salvo, Greenwald has thrown down the gauntlet and is demanding that the Democrats be punished for failing to heed what he believes are the core principles of the party and our country. He wants to see the “Blue Dogs” in Congress defeated in the next election, even if it means replacing them with Republicans. Blue Dogs are Congress Critters who he deems to be too closely aligned to Republicans in general and the Bush administration in particular. He dismisses the implications of such actions by claiming that Democratic gains in the next election will be large enough to make up for any Blue Dog defeats, but if enough people get on board with his scheme then those big Democratic gains may never materialize in the first place.
Fortunately, Ed Kilgore has stepped up to the challenge of putting Greenwald in his place. He effectively smacks down Greenwald’s arguments and justifications and notes that Democratic unity in the Congress is already at a high point compared to previous eras.
Consider that Democrats recently celebrated the election of “Blue Dog” Democrats in special elections in Mississippi and Louisiana, and then reconsider Greenwald’s plan to have these same politicos defeated in the next election as a slap at the party for its supposed failure to toe the line on every liberal issue. Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot!
There are sometimes “Blue Dogs” who aren’t worth supporting, like Ralph Hall who represents Texas’ 4th District. It made little difference when Hall switched from Democrat to Republican a few years ago because he never voted with the Democrats anyway, even on the key issue of electing a Speaker of the House. But most “Blue Dogs” are not like that. Many tend to be more bipartisan and specialize in coalition building between parties. I really miss Charlie Stenholm, the former Congressman from the Texas Panhandle who lost his seat as a result of Tom DeLay’s re-redistricting shenanigans. Now, instead of a crusty, conservative Democrat and fiscal conservative representing that part of the state, we have a hard-core, rightwing, movement conservative Randy Neugebauer who takes his cues from folks like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and Pat Robertson. And Greenwald wants to repeat that same scenario all across the country with this “Moneybomb” campaign that he and some folks at Firedoglake are promoting.
Phooey on that! Greenwald needs to go stick his head in a bucket of cold water until he returns to his senses. I was especially disappointed in his sulking, disingenous response to Kilgore in which he throws up a long list of strawmen arguments that were never raised in Kilgore’s article.
I don’t have a problem with having impassioned debates during the primary contests, but this idea of punishing the party during the general election is self-defeating and contrary to the things that Greenwald hopes to accomplish. I don’t want to see Greenwald lose his passion for the topics he holds dear. I agree with him on most, if not all, of his issues. But he needs to rethink this latest strategy he is pushing and recognize that it could ultimately drive him over the same cliff that Nader dove off of back in 2000.

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