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The "reality based community" fails again
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, March 09, 2006

Far left bloggers from the "reality based community" are again patting themselves on the back for making it "close" in a Democratic primary race in Texas (remember Hackett in Ohio?). As you will see, "close" is apparently in the eye of the beholder.
It looks like Henry Cuellar is going to take the Democratic nomination in Texas 28, but I just want to say how brave, how inspirational the participation of everyone on this site and across the blogosphere has been in the Ciro Rodriguez race.
If you read these blogs you soon discover that Henry Cuellar didn't pass the litmus test of the extreme left. And, apparently, the usual suspects are to blame per the "reality based community":
Cuellar is an example of the latest GOP tactic — run a Republican as a Democrat in a district that will never elect a Republican. He represents a creeping cancer within the party that has to be fought if we're not going sit back and let it be overtaken by the GOP too. We had to draw a line in the sand and actively show them we're willing to challenge them on that front. We did that. It was important. We showed up for the fight.
Yes folks, somehow Rove, Delay and the GOP are running Republicans in Democrat clothing. That's such an easy thing to do after all.

But when one looks at how Cuellar has performed, or at least describes himself he sounds like a typical Democratic congressman:
In a little over 1 year in office, I have personally made over 230 visits to local communities and delivered in excess of $850 million in funding for local projects, including grants, transportation funding and appropriations earmarks. In addition, I have passed 6 out of 6 amendments making our office one of the most successful offices in congress.

Yes, we have worked hard and produced real results for the 28th District. But there is still a lot of work to be done. Through continued teamwork with local officials, we will continue the progress and accomplish even more in the years to come. From bringing more federal dollars to local areas, to providing office hours in every community of this district each month, to getting to the table where decisions are being made — I am proud to say that I have delivered solidly in all these areas.
And when you read over the list of issues on Ceullar's website, you come away understanding the man is, indeed, a Democrat. However, he's a Joe Lieberman Democrat and one who appears to take seriously the job of representing his constituency. A constituency which voted 53% Bush in the last presidential election.

He's a blue guy in a red state. To the extreme left that's an electoral death sentence. Cuellar's "sins" are outlined here. Oh, and, horror of horrors, he hugged that Bush guy at the SOTU.

Enter the extreme left, Ciro Rodriguez and an attempt to energize enough extremists in the district to replace Cuellar with Rodriquez in the Democrat primary.

First Rodriquez. Billing himself as "a real Democrat", Rodriquez features a picture of himself with John Kerry on his campaign website and brags about raising $300,000 on "the internet" for is challenge of Cuellar. A quick perusal of his stand on issues will quickly tell you why. Rodriguez is a the former 28th district representative, unseated by Cuellar in 2004.

All that background is for those unfamiliar with the situation. The Hotline gives us the rundown of the strategy by the extreme left and why this particular primary race was so important to them:
In past Dem primaries, candidates who run afoul of the party's traditional interest groups have suffered (see Martinez v. Solis in '00). Both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Coalition are working to dethrone Cuellar, who has received little money from labor. Cuellar has the advantage of incumbency and claims his centrist voting record fits a district that voted 53% for Bush. This proxy battle pits the party's liberal, activist wing against the centrist pragmatists. If the left wins this fight, activists will be emboldened in challenging other centrist incumbents — a worrisome prospect for Dems as they try to win back the House.
The $300,000 was mostly out of state funding provided by liberal "net roots" bloggers of the "reality based community".

Now, I have no problem with their activism or with their putting their money where their mouth is. Hey, that's what this is all about. But I do seriously question their strategy. Being a libertarian, I can identify with their frustration. But I have to ask, is alienating a significant portion of your party's congressmen by making runs at them during primaries a good idea? Look at the percentage in that district who voted for Bush last election for heaven sake.

While Cuellar may not always vote the way the extreme left wants him to vote, he is, at least by what I read of him, more liberal than any Republican which may come out of that district.

You'd think a "reality based community" would figure out that a blue candidate in a red state probably has to be a bit more purple than blue. Would this crew have been satisfied if Rodruguez had won the primary and then lost to a Republican in November?

I'm coming to the conclusion that they may have found that acceptable indeed. Like the extreme right, they believe that there can be no compromise within a narrow set of extreme issues. If successful, they would split the party and force it to support candidates in districts which have not shown any history of supporting liberal candidates or issues. Instead of electoral victory and the possiblity of regaining the House, it's a sure fire recipe for wide spread electoral disaster.

Putting as good a face on the loss as possible Kos says:
The bottom line: we helped a campaign that was the walking dead and gave it new life, pumped in resources, and made it competitive. We did much to even the playing field even if ultimately we came up tantalizingly short.

And yeah, I know "tantalizingly short", alongside "moral victories", is about as desirable as the Bubonic Plague. We want more. But this is a long-term movement, building from nothing. And we are sending notice to Democrats that they can't be Bush's bitch and expect a pass.

So we didn't kill off Cuellar, but we gave him an ass whooping where none was expected and made him sweat. That's the reason why Lieberman is sweating in Connecticut and lining up his dog and pony endorsement shows to flex his muscle. He can't take for granted that a no-name businessman with no political experience and zero connections in his state's political establishment will be a non-factor, not with what we've done for people like Dean and now Ciro.
Yes, look at what they've done for people like Dean and Ciro. As Tully at Centerfield notes, all things being equal, and given the effort to unseat Cuellar, it should have been a slam dunk for the "Angry Left":
Last night, centrist Democrat Henry Cuellar beat up on liberal Democrat Ciro Rodriguez to hold his seat in Congress, a seat he wrestled away from Rodriguez in 2004. Then, it was a tight race. This time, it wasn't even close. Rodriguez had the entire left wing of the Democratic Party, most of the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation, a slough of unions, MoveOn.org, DFA (the Dean PAC), and the overwhelming histrionics of Kos and Atrios on his side. He came into the final week with a massive advantage in money, much of it raised from out of state by the Angry Left.

On his side, Cuellar had....well, not much. Less than a full term of incumbency (vs. Rodriguez's previous four terms in that seat), some minor funding from the DCCC, and the support of the local businesses. And less than a term's worth of defying his party's leadership to support what he thought was best for his district, instead of what his party's leaders wanted him to do.
And the vaunted "ass-whooping" the Kos crew inflicted on Henry Cuellar?
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Cuellar had 53 percent of the ballots tallied. Rodriguez, who narrowly lost to Cuellar in the 2004 primary in the South Texas district, had 41 percent. Victor Morales had 2,534 votes, or 6 percent.
12 points. A larger margin than the last time Cuellar beat Rodriguez. What's that make Kos, 0 for 100 now? Mainstream Dems better hope it stays that way if they want to remain a viable party. Next up, the Lieberman race in CT.
 
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Comments
In fairness, Republicans tried to do the same thing to Arlen Specter. Unsuccessfully. The Club For Growth frequently advocates minor candidates against insufficiently anti-tax Republicans, generally to no avail.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Although I didn’t stress it, I did mention the extreme right’s tendency to have the same sort of litmus test on issues.

My biggest point is questioning the strategy. I understand the desire to have candidates which share your beliefs on issues. But is it smart, given the makeup of the district involved, to attempt to replace a moderate incumbent -who at least shares some of your beliefs- with an extreme candidate and risk losing the the seat to a candidate who shares none of your beliefs?

If that’s "reality based" it seems a bit foggy to me.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
This from the reality-based community:
Cuellar is an example of the latest GOP tactic — run a Republican as a Democrat in a district that will never elect a Republican.
Except that the district went 53% for Bush in the last election. Does that sound like a district incapable of electing a Republican?

I have a knee-jerk reaction to qualifiers like "reality-based" just like I refuse to buy a burger sold as the "delicious mouth-watering McWhopper". If it is so yummy or so grounded in reality, I should be able to discern it without having to be told in print. In the spirit of bipartisanship, "compassionate conservative" is very similar. Except then you can’t be sure whether the snow job is "compassionate" or "conservative" or both.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Well, as with much of the left/liberal/democrats...

It isn’t the results that matter, it’s how they personally feel about doing it that matters...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
McQ,

What makes the "reality-based community" look even sillier (if that’s possible) are some of the comments I read on Kos the day of/after about how the evilrepublicansdieboldmachine finagled the voting machines in Webb county (Cuellar’s home base) to win the election for Cuellar. There’s only one small problem with this particular conspiracy theory: while Texas is a vastly red state, Congressional district 17 is not. There is no Republican party presence worth speaking of in CD 17, and Cuellar will now run unopposed in the general election this November.

So now, not only does the evilrepublicansdieboldmachine steal elections from the Democrats, but [fake, republican-lite] Democrats steal from [real, liberal] Democrats.

Question to the reality-based community: Wouldn’t it just be simpler to run candidates that don’t suck?

Good grief, if Karl Rove didn’t have enemies like this, he’d have to make them up. And as bad as the R’s have been recently, I’ll bet a dollar to a dime that they get nowhere near losing majorities in either the House or the Senate. Because when your opposition is busy eating itself, there’s little reason to fear getting of getting eaten...
 
Written By: Warrior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
Oops, I meant CD 28, not 17...
 
Written By: Warrior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
A 12 point loss is "tantalizingly close"? Huh? I mean, ok, if it was 4 or 5, I’d maybe cut the Kossacks a break on the exaggeration, but 12 points??
 
Written By: jinnmabe
URL: http://
Bruce Bartlett, a Reagan advisor and former treasury official wrote in the Times about his falling out with the Bush administrations. He said that a Bush aide said
... that guys like me were ’’in what we call the reality-based community,’’ which he defined as people who ’’believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ’’That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’’ he continued. ’’We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
reality based?

Its not only on the far left that you find people who have taken leave from reality. Its the ones in the power who have taken leave from reality who are the greatest threat to us. At least the dems are not putting them in power.
 
Written By: cindy bravo
URL: http://
Right on Cindy. The Dems only put into power well-grounded individuals like Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Dean, and Durbin.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
But is it smart, given the makeup of the district involved, to attempt to replace a moderate incumbent -who at least shares some of your beliefs- with an extreme candidate and risk losing the the seat to a candidate who shares none of your beliefs?
Again, I think that’s what many republicans tried to do when they ran Toomey against Specter. I don’t think Toomey is a wild-eyed extremist, but I don’t have much use for the term "extremist" anyway. One person’s extremist is another persons mainstream candidate.

The value in what the netroots tried to do by upsetting a moderate candidate, I think, is in the message it sends to politicians. It reminds them of the values of the base. That can certainly rebound negatively sometimes, but it’s also a useful reminder.

I think it’s premature to discount the poor record the Democratic netroots have with candidates. It seems to me that Dean, the netroots and much of the left is very busy right now building a base. Their efforts are not paying dividends immediately, but I think the development in which they’re engaged is going to be cumulative. So far, and perhaps for the next year or three, they’ll see a lot of losses. Eventually, though — and much like the conservative network developed over much of the 60s-70s-80s — they’re going to see electoral dividends on this investment.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Eventually, though — and much like the conservative network developed over much of the 60s-70s-80s — they’re going to see electoral dividends on this investment.
Perhaps, but I doubt it. The conservative network was grounded in certain constructive principles, such as cutting taxes, that resonated with a wide variety of voters and also had a theoretical basis explaining why they would have positive outcomes. I don’t think the "netroots" is anywhere close to that. Their primary motivation is simply rage, and that’s not constructive.

I’m trying to figure out what blacklisted term is in my comment, so I’ll save the rest for another post.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
OK - let’s try the rest of it.

Apart from healthcare, their issues don’t have any strong resonance outside their fanatical base. The folks running around their demonstrations handing out copies of magazines that advocate outright revolution are not the basis for a long-term constructive political movement.

Maybe someone can channel the energy of this group into something constructive, but I don’t see how. Any one who suggests any semblance of "working with the system" or "gradual change" is shouted out of the movement.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Ah, so the blacklisted term is "so cial ist". I would not have expected that.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
You’re right, it won’t load, but that word isn’t on the blacklist, I just checked.

Oh, Dale ...
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
There’s only one small problem with this particular conspiracy theory: while Texas is a vastly red state, Congressional district 17 is not. There is no Republican party presence worth speaking of in CD 17, and Cuellar will now run unopposed in the general election this November.
I’m not sure the assumption a Republican couldn’t win is necessarily correct (and yes, I know you mean CD 28). Cuellar is definitely a moderate Dem and he unseated an incumbent who was much more liberal. That doesn’t point to a particularly liberal district.

Now whether the Reps have a viable candidate or orgainization in that district is an entirely different point, but if I were the Reps, I wouldn’t necessarily write that district off in the future.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Yeah if the district voted for a moderate over a lefty, and voted 52% bush, maybe there should be a republican presence there.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Ah, so the blacklisted term is "so cial ist". I would not have expected that.
The blacklisted term was "cialis" — a drug often pimped in comment/trackback spam. Unfortunately, it’s also a component of "socialism/t". I’ve unblacklisted it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I can understand the strategy by the leftists if their party was in power and had a comfortable majority in both houses. The "Purging" the party might be benificial to your long term goals. However, doing it from a position of weakness is just stupidity.
 
Written By: Kyle N
URL: http://
The conservative network was grounded in certain constructive principles, such as cutting taxes, that resonated with a wide variety of voters and also had a theoretical basis explaining why they would have positive outcomes. I don’t think the "netroots" is anywhere close to that. Their primary motivation is simply rage, and that’s not constructive.
I think you’re missing a substantial portion of the grassroots, netroots, activism, information and organization networks the Left is setting up. Apart from information streams like those on blogs, they also have media-oriented organizations like Media Matters, Center for American Progress and others.

One of the beefs against Howard Dean has been that he’s not getting enough money, and he’s spending it all rather than holding it for elections. But that beef tends to miss the "why". Democratic cash is going to non-DNC sources — and they’re using it. And the DNC cash that Dean is spending is also being put to use building grassroots networks around the country.

The Democrats are building political capital in a variety of ways. The current lack of cash and netroot ineffectiveness may make them look poorly right now. One doesn’t make long-term capital investments just for the immediate pay-off, though.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The blacklisted term was "cialis" — a drug often pimped in comment/trackback spam. Unfortunately, it’s also a component of "socialism/t". I’ve unblacklisted it.


Man, thanks, I thought I was going nuts the other day. Couldn’t figure what was blocking a post, and just kept cutting it till it passed muster.
The Democrats are building political capital in a variety of ways. The current lack of cash and netroot ineffectiveness may make them look poorly right now. One doesn’t make long-term capital investments just for the immediate pay-off, though.
And you should never bet on the weakness of your opponents to carry you through elections...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
so "cial is" is a sort of root of "socialist"

/silent pondering then back to work
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://

 
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