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Kos Sez
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, December 29, 2005

Parts of an interview with Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos by Susanna Schrobsdorff of Newsweek. I'm not going to deal with Zuniga's political prognistications. His guesses are as good or as bad as anyone else's at this point. I'm more interested in the other issues he addresses. A couple of hits but mostly complete misses:
Q:How will the Abramoff lobbying scandal affect the 2006 races?

A: That’s one of the big questions. If Democrats can nationalize this election, and really work the culture of corruption in as a big theme for the election, I think it could be devastating to the Republican Party. That is what happened to the Democrats in 1994. We were the corrupt party then. It was not pretty being a Democrat. But it took Democrats 30 years to become a totally corrupted party and it took the GOP only 10 years.
If Dems run around yelling "corrupt, corrupt" and try to make Congressional corruption a major issue in what are essentially local elections, well, it's not likely to do much good, because, as Markos should understand people in Idaho don't care if Tom DeLay's in trouble. House elections focus on local issues first and national issues second.

Local voters are likely to address corruption only if it touches their candidate, but they're not likely to punish their incumbent if they think he or she is doing a good job just to take a jab at another district's corrupt pol.
Q: Do you think the Democrats can win back the majority in either the House or the Senate?

A: I think Democrats will make gains, but it’s 2008 we need to think about. I’m hoping that as we build our machine and repair the Democratic brand, people will start voting for Democrats because they want to vote for Democrats and not just because they want to vote against Republicans.
Here Kos hits at the very crux of the Democrat's problem. He nails this one, not that doing so is particularly difficult. Diagnosing the problem is pretty easy but doing the work necessary to "repair the Democratic brand" so people will vote for Democrats hasn't shown much in terms of progress these last 6 years.

Of course what Kos doesn't say is one way to repair that brand is to have something new and fresh to offer in terms of alternatives for issues of importance to the American people. To this point, we've been treated to "we'll do it better" as the Democratic alternative, or even worse, "we'll have a stance on Iraq in 2006". That's the election year he thinks Democrats can win if they'll just nationalize corruption as a theme. That'll go a long way toward his stated intent of "reparing the Democratic brand" and having people vote "for Democrats" instead of against Republicans, won't it?
Q: Is the Iraq war the key campaign issue, or something else?

A: I think as long as Iraq is on the plate it is the issue. You don’t see a lot of talk about the war in the national media. Six people get killed in an IED [improvised explosive device] attack and it’s put on page 37. But every one of those casualties becomes a big media event for local press, and that’s why people are turning against the war. You go to places like Montana and when a local son gets killed, it is an all-week news event—front page on the day he is killed. They talk to his parents, his high-school coach. They cover the funeral. For a long time it was just us bloggers opposing the war, but that’s changing.
This hit me as a very salient point. He's right about how this war has become a local event, mostly when one of an area's young son's or daughters comes home from Iraq in a coffin. I believe he's hit on where the slowly building opposition is coming from. However most of the change took place in a timeframe when the administration had all but given those who opposed the war carte blanch in terms of framing the debate. The administration was AWOL from the debate and it began to tell. Ever since it has begun to push back and to tell its story, lay out its goals and point to its successes, the opposition to the war has lessened.

With that in mind, consider the next question and answer:
Q: How will the Democrats use the war issue?

A: This is a little frustrating for me. Here’s a perfect opportunity for Democrats to have led on an issue, and they haven’t. The problem is that part of the Democratic caucus thinks it’s manly and tough to be for the war. They are afraid to basically state what the reality on the ground is.
Have you ever seen a more assinine answer to a tough question? "Manly" and "tough" to be for the war? That's analysis? The Democrats put themselves in a very tough political corner all by themselves. They've tried a few trial balloons in an attempt to extricate themselves and maintain their political credibility, but have found that their attempts aren't selling to the public. First it was the "Bush lied" meme. That finally petered out when it became apparent that he hadn't at all lied. Then it was the "we were mistaken" meme, with the correlary that Bush had access to better intelligence than they did. Then it came out that they were given the same intelligence Bush had and the vast majority of them never even bothered to read it prior to voting to go to war.

As for reality on the ground in Iraq, Kos apparently has no idea. But it really seems he has no idea of the political reality on the ground in Washington DC with statements like they think it is "manly and tough to be for the war".

So when Murtha came up, his answer was almost predictable:
Q: Did Congressman John Murtha’s criticism of the war embolden the Dems?

A: The Democratic caucus should have rallied behind Murtha. That was all the cover they needed to come out on this issue. But they were sill weak. The reason I loved Paul Hackett in the Ohio (2005 House) race is because he didn’t equivocate about war. Hackett is an Iraq war veteran who ran as a Democrat in Ohio’s Second Congressional District outside Cincinnati—one of the most Republican districts in all of Ohio. He was viciously critical of George Bush and how he’s handled the war. Hackett lost, but only by 2 or 3 percent of the vote, which is an incredible margin in that district. [Hackett is now running for the U.S. Senate from Ohio.]
This is his most clueless answer yet. First, there was no way mainstream Democrats could "come out" in the minority and back an immediate withdrawl from Iraq and maintain any semblence of credibility on the issue of national security or Iraq (the issue which Zuniga claims is the issue for the next election).

As for Hackett and Zuniga's apparent belief that he was "viciously critical" of George Bush, I'd suggest he again revisit Hackett's tactics as I outlined them here. Take a look at the ad cited an tell me how that rates in your heirarchy of "vicious attacks". What you'll plainly see is images of George Bush purposely used to give the impression that Hackett and Bush were on the same wavelength as concerns Iraq. Or said another way, Hackett chose to run as a stealth Democrat and still lost to the abominable Jean Schmidt.

We get a whiff of the barely submurged extremist in the last question asked:
Q: It looks like GOP Sen. John McCain is planning another run for the presidency.

A: McCain is definitely running, but I don’t think he’ll get out of the Republican primaries. He’s hated by the GOP. They consider him a traitor on any number of issues. He fought the White House on the torture issue. He’s like the Joe Lieberman of their party. We [Democrats] hate Lieberman. Lieberman is going to get a primary challenger for his Senate seat next year if me and a lot of grass-roots groups have our way.
An awful lot of "hate" in that answer. "We hate Lieberman?" Nice to see the big tent is still up.

To Kos this is war and there is no quarter. His entire focus is on the party and winning (the country? Eh, he'll worry about those petty details when he and his ilk are in power), and maybe it's me, but I'm of the opinion that in his world there are no tactics which are out of bounds if they work. The end definitely justifies the means.

What's frightful about this interview is not how pathetic most of his answers are, but that he is considered to be a mainstream political operative sought out for comment and analysis by the mainstream media.

Phenomenal.
 
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Comments
I was mentally composing my comment as I read your post. But you summed up exactly what the scary part is: this guy is supposedly one of the best minds the Democrats can offer.

Two. Million. Hits. Per Week. And he can’t offer up a single profound insight about Democrat strategies and platforms. But supposedly the right side of the blogosphere is an echo chamber that can’t think for itself.

sigh
 
Written By: nathan
URL: http://chieflymusing.com/
What’s frightful about this interview is not how pathetic most of his answers are, but that he is considered to be a mainstream political operative sought out for comment and analysis by the mainstream media.
Which, on the surface is a fair enough argument as to why less radical Democrats are not being heard from. But then again, here come the numbers which tend to confirm my assertion that there are no sane Democrats left:
Two. Million. Hits. Per. Week.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Book, you do understand that "libertarian" doesn’t mean "contrarian" don’t you? Whenever you comment I begin to feel like that guy in the Monty Python Argument Sketch:
[excerpt]
M: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
A: Yes it is.
M: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.
A: No it isn’t.
M: It is!
A: It is not.
M: Look, you just contradicted me.
A: I did not.
M: Oh you did!!
A: No, no, no.
M: You did just then.
A: Nonsense!
M: Oh, this is futile!
A: No it isn’t.
M: I came here for a good argument.
A: No you didn’t; no, you came here for an argument.
M: An argument isn’t just contradiction.
A: It can be.
M: No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
A: No it isn’t.
M: Yes it is! It’s not just contradiction.
A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
M: Yes, but that’s not just saying ’No it isn’t.’
A: Yes it is!
M: No it isn’t!

[etc.]
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Is there a real Libertarian in the house?

I’m sorry, is there something in the "Libertarian Creed" which prohibits commenting on stupidity?

I mean, look, I’m responding to you aren’t I?

Seems pretty even handed to me. Whack-a-Democrat and Whack-an-anti-semite all in one fell swoop.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
What’s frightful about this interview is not how pathetic most of his answers are

Well, something has to explain his 0-fer record on candidates, including his erstwhile employer.

Honestly, if a fool like Kos didn’t exist Karl Rove would have to invent him.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"We were the corrupt party then."

So the wise sage Kos is finally willing to admit the corruption of the Clinton years? Wow.
 
Written By: HH
URL: http://
That is what happened to the Democrats in 1994. We were the corrupt party then.
No. The election of 1994 was about many things, but corruption was one of the minor issues. The bigger issue was that Clinton ran on a moderate-to-right platform ("the era of big government is over") and then as his first major act attempted to nationalize 17% of the economy with HillaryCare.

The Republicans countered with the Contract With America, which set out a host of new ideas. I know they never really followed through, but it’s what set them apart from the Democrats. New ideas oriented around limitations on government, plus a nice contrast with a Clinton administration that was indistinguishable from a socialist during his first two years.

The Democrats have this unwillingness to admit the truth about why they get beaten, so they just keep on getting beaten. I don’t get it.

Of course, the Republicans seem to do best when they run on a limited government platform, as the Reagan years and the 1994 election proved. And then they tend to abandon those limited government positions that were the only reason a big part of their base supports them. The result is that they do well enough to stay in power, but just barely (the 50-50 nation the liberal press likes to talk about). I don’t get that either.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
What’s frightful about this interview is not how pathetic most of his answers are, but that he is considered to be a mainstream political operative sought out for comment and analysis by the mainstream media.
I think the reason he gets interviewed is because he isn’t considered to be a mainstream political operative. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t consider himself that. Kos is trying to force himself and the netroots into the political process in a somewhat new way. At least yet, he hasn’t made peace with the siegnors of the Democratic party and attacks them frequently. Whether Kos and the netroots will actually be an effective political force remains to be seen. In terms of ideas and content, I think Kos is naive and some of his views probably do qualify as pathetic, but that doesn’t distinguish him from many spokespersons and leaders on the Republican side of the blogosphere.
 
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
Seems pretty even handed to me. Whack-a-Democrat and Whack-an-anti-semite all in one fell swoop.
(Chuckle) Yeah, they tend to run together more often than many like to admit.


Joe:

How very ’objective’ of you.

By your lights, is objectivity always picking the middle road and laying blame equally on both sides of it? What a nifty little fantasy.

Out here and the real world, at some point, even objectivity must take sides. At some point in the discussion a choice must be made; Someone is right, and someone is wrong; Someone’s chosen path he is more desirable than that of another someone. Even as an objective matter that can be seen, regardless of the topic.

Billy:
No. The election of 1994 was about many things, but corruption was one of the minor issues. The bigger issue was that Clinton ran on a moderate-to-right platform ("the era of big government is over") and then as his first major act attempted to nationalize 17% of the economy with HillaryCare.
And this isn’t corruption? I can think of two reasons why one would not follow the agenda that they ran on. The first being that they are corrupt. The second that it was politically impossible to get the agenda passed into law, even partially.

The fact of the matter is the democrats went marching off on their own toward Hillarycare. there was not enough public support to even bring it up as an issue, much less drive it home.

The republicans meanwhile certainly did not have the votes in Congress to push their agenda through, particularly given no support in the white house. And again I point to the idea of the number of liberals there are within the republican caucus, which makes a marginal republican majority in either house of Congress nigh on useless. (The republicans, alas, are not nearly as prone to having lockstepers as are the democrats. )

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Of course what Kos doesn’t say is one way to repair that brand is to have something new and fresh to offer in terms of alternatives for issues of importance to the American people.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: The Democrats are the only ones with ideas. Or, stated another way, only Democratic ideas have any currency these days.

Look at Bush - he has succeeded by co-opting Dem style ideas:

1. No Child Left Behind? Federalize local education? Is that a "Republican" idea?

2. Bush was against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (a Dem idea) before he was for it.

3. The new pharmaceutical bill. How in the world is a major new entitlement program a Republican idea?

4. Sugar subsidies? Not a Republican idea. Subsidies to farmers? Not a Republican idea.

5. Nation building? Not a Republican idea.

6. Campaign Reform? Enacted in a Republican Congress - a Dem idea.

7. How about steel tarrifs? Please explain how that is a Republican idea.

8. The energy bill? The highway bill? Throwing money at a problem is a Republican idea? Really?

9. Of course, the ultimate indicator that Bush has co-opted the Dems is the size of the federal government itself and, more importantly, the rate of growth of the federal government.

Sorry, McQ. We are living in a Dem world. And we are so far in that you don’t even notice it anymore. 1994 is about as far away as 1894.

Of course, Bush differs from Dems in that he is concerned only with the top 1 or 2% of the country. A true elitist. And more fundamentally, he is incompetent and so is his administration. Patronage, not competence, is the guiding principle. You are doing a heckuva job, Brownie.

But feel free to go on believing that the Rethugs have any additional ideas of their own. After all, a boy can still dream, can’t he?


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
1. No Child Left Behind? Federalize local education? Is that a "Republican" idea?

2. Bush was against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (a Dem idea) before he was for it.

3. The new pharmaceutical bill. How in the world is a major new entitlement program a Republican idea?

4. Sugar subsidies? Not a Republican idea. Subsidies to farmers? Not a Republican idea.

5. Nation building? Not a Republican idea.

6. Campaign Reform? Enacted in a Republican Congress - a Dem idea.

7. How about steel tarrifs? Please explain how that is a Republican idea.

8. The energy bill? The highway bill? Throwing money at a problem is a Republican idea? Really?

9. Of course, the ultimate indicator that Bush has co-opted the Dems is the size of the federal government itself and, more importantly, the rate of growth of the federal government.
And you’re proud of these "ideas?"

Seems you missed a couple of key words though MK ... "new" and "fresh".

Tax and spend aren’t new and fresh, are they?
But feel free to go on believing that the Rethugs have any additional ideas of their own. After all, a boy can still dream, can’t he?
Well, you see, you have a basic problem MK ... the "Rethugs" (how very original) are in power, so they don’t have to come up with any new and fresh ideas, do they?

Back to you.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
MK left # 10 and 11 off his list.....

10. Appeasing our enemies and being totally absent on national security issues

11. Hanging Israel out to dry as the price to pay for cozying up to our moral superiors in Europe

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
....I should clarify, those are DEM ideas...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Sorry, McQ. We are living in a Dem world.

And more fundamentally, he [Bush] is incompetent and so is his administration.
You don’t see any contradiction there?

You can’t have it both ways. If those are Dem-style ideas, and therefore presumably by your philosophy good for the country, and Bush is responsible for implementing them, you should consider the Bush administration a resounding success. No?



 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
But feel free to go on believing that the Rethugs have any additional ideas of their own. After all, a boy can still dream, can’t he?
MK, you are operating under two illusions.
The first one is the less obvious. That being you’re still thinking Bush is a conservative. He is not. He is a centrist, at best.

The second one is the more obvious; you’re starting at the conclusion that being that you don’t like Mr. Bush, and working backwards in your logic from there in an attempt to cover your ass. I’ve got athe newsflash for you: It ain’t workin’.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
You don’t see any contradiction there?

LOL!

You are speaking to MK, aren’t you Billy?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I support KOS daily. KOS has the insight and thought that the DEMs need to listen to. He speaks for the majority of Americans who truly believe what he believes. Without his progressive way (Internet) the DEMs would be lost in the FDR funk. He has the guts to stand up to you "Centrist" fools that cloak yourself in libertarianism. Libertarianism is just a fad for backdoor republicans, Less government this, lower taxes that, do you realize people are sufffering, america is rudderless. Do you realize the white house is listening to this post right now. I know because I am a lawur and I spent alot of time working real hard in skool. respect me now because I knoo. (By the way the CSS stuff is a great addition)
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
What in the world do I do with this fishy smell?


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I find the echo chamber on both sides disgusting, and this seems to be representative of the blogosphere in general. QandO is better than most, but even here the Republican cheerleading gets a little old at times (and this seems to be more from the commenters than the writers, anyways). Still, though, infinitely better than most of the other blogs I have come across and since stopped reading.

Coaster: I was about to call you a fool and refute your points, but by the end the egregious spelling errors and mocking tone made it obvious that this was meant satirically.

Still though, the point I was going to make would still stand on its own, because there do seem to be Democrats who seem to beleive that the answer to their electoral failures is to shift further to the partisan left. I will leave this point...

If shifting too far to the right and engaging in extremist politics is what is what is currently eroding away at the strength of the Republican party, what makes them think adopting this same strategy would work for them? Why would you want to emulate failure? The only reason why it worked so well for Republicans, at least temporarily, is because the country rallied behind the leader and his party after 9/11. Does noone else recall the relatively lackluster Presidency that existed before the attacks?
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Bithead:
At some point in the discussion a choice must be made; Someone is right, and someone is wrong;
Actually I would say that you divisive and partisan bastards on both sides of the aisle are wrong. Sorry to burst your bubble. Party above country is apparently the creed of the day.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
You make that comment as if I was a Republican loyalist.
I am not. I simply see them as the best tool with which to defeat the Democrats, which from a libertarian perspective, are the biggest enemy.

If being divisive is identifying the biggest problem and going after it with both barrels, you caught me, your honor... guilty as charged. But I would suggest your definition of the word divisive to be a little wanting.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
We are living in a Dem world.
MKUltra is exactly right. On this point, there really ought to be very little argument. At almost every important step of the way, the Democrats have won -- generally by appealing to factions willing to trade individual rights for individual benefits.

MK is correct, and this is exactly why:

1) libertarians are so unhappy with the state of affairs, and...

2) libertarians have generally been driven into the arms of the Republican Party, dissatisfied as we generally are with them.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Kos is an idiot and does NOT speak for the Democrats. He speaks for his band of frustrated Deaniacs and dead-ender Naderites.

Joe Lieberman is a fine Democrat who happens to be quite conservative. He agrees with the Bush administration a bit too much for my taste, but he is still right on 90 percent of the issues. We don’t have a saliva test in the Democratic Party, much to Markos’ apparent chagrin.

Democrats don’t hate Lieberman, but as they get to know Markos they are beginning to hate him. We are weary of his bleatings that the Dem party was "completely corrupt" in 1994.

Where were you in 1994, Markos?

 
Written By: politus
URL: http://www.politus.blogspot.com
People like Kos and MK don’t seem so strange if you spend a little time in the Liberal Alternate Universe. Just dropped into the liberal cocoon to see what is happening in their alternate universe. Be glad that we don’t live there because things are not going well for America in that universe:
“2005 was the year the Bush administration curled up and laid down to die. [Bush’s] … ambition to dismantle Social Security as we know it — going nowhere. His continuing itch to extend tax cuts for the wealthy — denied by the realities of out-of-control deficit spending. His Iraq policy — ever more floundering and tragic, and now, thanks to Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania and the investigations of Patrick Fitzgerald, condemned to incoherence in the public relations arena, too.

His war on terror — exposed as both incompetent and morally bankrupt in the wake of the scandals concerning torture and the unauthorized wiretapping of American citizens. His general credibility in the domestic arena — shot to pieces by the scandalously lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina, and by the numerous corruption scandals now lapping at the heels of the entire Republican establishment.

It’s hard to know, in fact, what the administration still hopes to achieve. The president talks a lot about staying the course, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of course left to stay…”
Contrast that to the article posted here on Kos. That is why MK and other liberals taking a brief leave from the cocoon and dropping by for a comment seem like fugitives from “The Invasion of The Body Snatchers”. In their universe Bush’s poll numbers have not increased, there is no good news from Iraq and the nation teeters on the edge of collapse.
 
Written By: notherbob2
URL: http://
Kos is an idiot and does NOT speak for the Democrats. He speaks for his band of frustrated Deaniacs and dead-ender Naderites.
An example of "mainstream democrats" denouncing the fool is desirable, if you wanna be taken seriously here. CLUE: You don’t qualify.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
gee, and mkultra happened to pick just about every single item that people on this site see as problems with the Bush administration. How insightfull.

I would however say that #5 isn’t quite the adjective I’d use for what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nation Building with Balls would be more apt...

And the 2 issues I care about most are no where to be seen.

National Security and...

oh wait, that’s all I really want the Federal Government doing at the moment.

Everything else should be scrapped for free-market reforms and replacements for stodgy old beauracratic programs...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://

 
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