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ARE WE READING THE SAME ARTICLE? (RE: Hildebrand)

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:48 PM
Original message
ARE WE READING THE SAME ARTICLE? (RE: Hildebrand)
http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month...

ARE WE READING THE SAME ARTICLE?


Both Greg Sargent and David Sirota react to a short piece from Obama field operative Steve Hildebrand. Hildebrand's piece struck me as a fairly conventional dog-whistle from the Obama folks to the left, trying to reassure them that Obama still supports liberal policies despite centrist appointments. Hildebrand is still close to the Obama team, and I can't imagine he would write this without their knowledge and consent, so this defense of the president-elect has more juice than my arguments along similar lines.

But Sirota and Sargent seem furious about the piece, with Sirota characterizing it as "firing up the whaaaaaaaambulance to whine and cry and moan about 'the left'" and "explicitly attacking 'the left wing of the Democratic Party' in Fox News-style talking points." Sargent says that "the criticism of Obama from the left has actually been pretty mild, and the notion of a left "angry" about Obama's "centrism" and "pragmatism" is largely a media creation. ... Hildebrand seemed willing to feed that creation by perpetuating the false idea that the "left wing of our party" doesn't want Obama to be "pragmatic" and harbors a set of wild-eyed priorities that are somehow at odds with what Obama views as our major challenges." Sargent even thinks this was an intentional effort from the Obama camp to anger the left -- as if the president-elect thought what he really needed was some good, old-fashioned infighting to get his administration off the ground.

I don't think Hildebrand's piece is an attack on the left at all, or even complaining about them. Obviously, there are people on the left who are somewhat disquieted by Obama's picks, as Sargent and Sirota point out, and they have been quietly pressuring Obama to keep his promises -- as they should! -- but certainly there hasn't been the kind of squabbling that has been seen in the past. I've done my part to criticize these media-created infighting narratives. Hildebrand's piece comes off as fairly sober reassurance in response to fairly sober criticism.

Sirota takes the most issue with a paragraph where Hildebrand seems to draw a distinction between liberal priorities and other pressing issues, writing, "But first let's get our economy moving, bring our troops home safely, fix health care, end climate change and restore our place in the world." It's a somewhat unfortunate construction, but I read this as an attempt to move the center to leftwards. If those four goals -- including climate change and health care reform! -- are identified as centrist, then progressives are freer to advocate for the sensible proposals that are even further out of the supposed "mainstream" -- prison reform! the labor agenda! ending the DOMA and DADT! You get my point. Winning elections shouldn't be where progressives measure victory. A real win for the left is when their ideas become the mainstream and ridiculous conservative ideas become the fringe. Hildebrand seems to be writing to defened that conception, and not to attack liberals.

I'd also note that Hildebrand, from what I hear, is personally further left than either of these writers realizes.

--Tim Fernholz
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wyldwolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's Sirota for ya! LOL
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:52 PM
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2. Oh, those furious liberals! When will they ever learn!
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:54 PM
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3. Guess after 8 years, some progressives don't understand a dog whistle
when they hear one.

But then these would be the same insightful folks who were encouraging Obama to attack John McCain with everything he had or else he would not win.
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ellacott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:54 PM
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4. The criticism has not been a media creation
All he has to do is read this board.

We'd rather fight each other than fight the problems facing us. Pretty pitiful.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:00 PM
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5. "Surprised" Hildebrand Responds To Critics: "I Don't Regret Any Of It"
"Surprised" Hildebrand Responds To Critics: "I Don't Regret Any Of It"
By Greg Sargent - December 8, 2008, 4:36PM


Former Obama adviser Steve Hildebrand, who touched off an explosion with his HuffPo piece arguing that "the left" should hold its fire and let Obama do his thing, says he doesn't regret a word of the piece, though he did make a key concession to critics.

"I don't regret any of it," Hildebrand told me when I asked him a few minutes ago by phone whether he regretted the tone of his piece, which many found condescending and finger-wagging.

"My intent was exactly what I wrote," Hildebrand said, adding that the criticism had "surprised" him.

Hildebrand also confirmed that the Obama team had had no hand in writing or approving the piece. "This was not collaborated with anybody in the Obama camp," he said, and a source close to the transition confirms this.

Hildebrand did appear to concede some turf to critics who are pointing out that his piece seemed to suggest that "the left wing of our party" is somehow at odds with Obama's desire to be "pragmatic" and holds priorities that are somehow at odds with Obama's big-ticket agenda items.

"The one thing I left out, which goes without saying, is that working on health care, getting out of the war in Iraq, fixing the economy ... those are very progressive ideals," Hildebrand clarified.

more...

http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/12...
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ellacott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. There ARE some at odds with his pragmatism
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Hell, Obama admin gets flack for having the gall to talk to netroots?
jeeze!!
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ellacott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. So true
He can't win.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. More community building. And I'm convinced the Obama team
had no hand in this piece.

Now, I'm off to buy an Obama coin!

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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:41 PM
Response to Original message
10. Meanwhile, the likes of Norquist, et al., sit back and chuckle malevolently.
Yeah, keep shooting at each other.

The utter non-logic of proceeding as if the enemey is somehow within our own circle is the dumbest thing I've seen in a long, LONG time, especially given what's happened over the last 10 years. Unbelievable.
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I think some folks are still in primary mode.......
when all of the candidates were running, including Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

I think folks need to catch up to the present, where we have elected a Democratic President.

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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Yep. There are definitely some fucked-up perspectives around here.
But, unfortunately, I think far too many are locked into (and prefer to) do nothing but bash and bash and bash. Pathetic.
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