Folks that watched Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate between former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tennessee) and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas might have witnessed the final transformation of the Kossack leader from Netroots chief to Democrat Party operative.
In fact, you could almost hear Emperor Palpatine cackling in the background.
Ignoring the actual lack of substance in the discussion, one thing was made impeccably clear: Markos is now fully ensconced in today's Democrat Party, while Ford and his centrist DLC are persona non grata.
By no means does that validate Moulitsas' absurd claims that Kossacks and Netroots members represent the center of American politics as reported here and here. However, the inanities and hypocrisies uttered by Moulitsas Sunday could easily have been stated with a straight face by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
For instance, read the following nonsensical assertion made by Markos if you have the stomach for it, and ask yourself how many of the current Democrat leaders and presidential candidates could have said the exact same thing (video available here):
The problem we have though is we've had an organization that, one, has been on the wrong side of a lot of ideas. We're talking John Breaux, Sen. John Breaux who's an architect of George Bush's tax cuts, which have led our nation to record deficits, record debt, and a crumbling infrastructure as we've seen in Katrina and as we've seen in Minnesota...What do you think, you're going to cut taxes and not pay for the priorities in our nation? I mean, obviously, there has to be a way to pay for these things. And, to come out and say, "Oh, we're going to cut taxes, and we're going to let these deficits run up, and we're going to let our infrastructure crumble" clearly is the wrong way to go...
Extraordinary. Sounds exactly like Reid, Pelosi and virtually every Democrat presidential candidate, right?
In reality, instead of crashing the gate of the Democrat Party establishment, Moulitsas is now speaking all its talking points, so much so that his op-ed in Saturday's Washington Post shouldn't have been entitled "How We Won The Mainstream," but "How I Sold My Soul To Become Part Of It."
Such was immediately evident as like virtually all of today's Democrats, Markos unashamedly displayed their same specious command of the budget process, and just as cynically as the worst of them, relied on viewers being similarly uneducated when it comes to fiscal matters.
Of course, this has been a mainstay of Democrats for decades: misleading the citizens about the federal budget.
Sadly, as the owner of a website who should understand just how easy it is in the year 2007 for folks to get the facts, it really is disgraceful how loosely Moulitsas played with them. And, as someone who claims to want politicians to be honest with Americans, it is deplorable that Moulitsas is so comfortable disseminating the same fallacies that have become commonplace in the Democrat Party establishment he professes an interest in changing.
In fact, the Emperor must have been in full cackle when Markos disingenuously connected tax cuts to levees in New Orleans and a bridge in Minneapolis regardless of projections for federal tax receipts to be $515 billion more this year than in fiscal 2000 before the first Bush tax cuts were implemented, a 25 percent increase.
Beyond this, Congress will spend almost $1 trillion more this year than in fiscal 2000, a 56 percent increase. As such, claiming that there isn't money available for anything is a despicable lie that one would only expect from a seasoned politician, the type Markos used to claim to his followers he was fighting to unseat.
As a result, rather than presenting a new idea created by himself and the Netroots on Sunday, Moulitsas was singing the same tune about tax cuts and spending the Democrat Party has been sadly singing for years.
But that was just the beginning, for Markos' conversion also impacted his view on the war:
On the Iraq issue, this is semantics whether we get out in three months, six months, or a year. There is a strong consensus, almost universally in our Party, and vast majorities amongst the American public, that people want out. People want this war to end, they want to bring our troops home...
Even guest host David Gregory recognized that hypocrisy:
But how you get out is not just semantics. It's a very important point.
Markos responded with the perfect Democrat talking point:
Of course it's semantics. Well, when you ask a poll question though when they say, "Do you want to get out immediately, or do you want to get out in six months, or a year?" It's, we're talking semantics. The bottom line is...
Gregory: Doesn't that speak to the issue of how you form an exit strategy?
Moulitsas: No. Not at all, because we're not going to get out while we have George Bush as president. I mean, so, if we say we want to be out in three months, clearly, if we could be out yesterday, I'd want to be out yesterday. I also understand as a veteran who worked in logistics that you can't pull out 160,000 troops overnight, or even in three months. So, yeah, there's an ideal situation which is "Let's get them out as quickly as possible." So, the poll questions in that regard are very much moving in semantics.
Amazing hypocrisies and rationalizations much like what consistently emanates from today's Democrat leadership, and used to be offensive to Markos and his followers.
After all, the Netroots' modus operandi in 2006 - most notably represented by their support of Ned Lamont in Connecticut - was to get troops out of Iraq immediately. The term "immediately" certainly wasn't semantics last year. It was a rallying cry.
These same folks have been pushing for Congress to stop funding the war, and were very disappointed when this didn't immediately occur after the Democrats took over in January.
Yet, almost seven months later, this staunchly anti-war liberal is claiming that the difference between three months, six months, and a year is irrelevant, and that it really doesn't matter what Congress does because as long as Bush is in the White House, the troops aren't going anywhere.
I thought this was all about saving lives, and the sooner we got out, the fewer Americans would be lost. Suddenly, time is no longer of the essence, and Markos is okay with the idea that troops will remain in Iraq until at least another president is inaugurated seventeen plus months from now.
Sound like the same rationalizations and inanities coming from the Democrat leadership and presidential candidates? Sound like Moulitsas is now firmly a part of the Democrat establishment, carrying water for them at every turn, rather than looking to sway them towards his and his followers' point of view?
Yet, maybe the most delicious hypocrisy - and finest example of how Moulitsas is now a fully converted Democrat pol - came during this exchange:
Moulitsas: Will you stop going on Fox News and attacking Harry Reid for abandoning the troops, betraying the troops. Because you just did that a couple of days ago.
Ford: But, Markos, in all fairness, your site has posted awful things about Jewish Americans...
Moulitsas: Oh, that's not true...
Ford: You now have something up about Cindy Sheehan, she uses it as a, she has a heavy presence there and talking about her run against...
Moulitsas: It's called democracy. If you don't like regular people, hundreds of thousands...
Ford: No, I love it, but you can't be critical of us...
Moulitsas: ...you're going to have...of course. Because I don't control hundreds of thousands of voices. You're an organization of a few dozen people. You can control that message, and you don't need to attack Democrats.
In reality, this exchange was filled with so much hypocrisy it's tough to know where to begin.
First, Moulitsas made it clear that in a democracy, people should be entitled to free speech. That's what he claims happens on his website, and he doesn't believe he should control it.
Yet, in Moulitsas' view, Ford shouldn't go on Fox News to speak his mind, and should control the message being spoken by his organization. Amazing.
Moreover, Moulitsas admonished Ford: "you don't need to attack Democrats."
Excuse me, Markos, but isn't that what you meant by crashing the gate? Aren't you tired of the Democrat Party establishment, and looking to change it? Isn't that what the Netroots is about?
Furthermore, next to George W. Bush, one of your biggest targets for years has been Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut). Isn't he a Democrat? Haven't you spent years attacking him?
In reality, this exchange perfectly demonstrated how Moulitsas has now adopted the convenient mantra of all liberal Democrats - "Do As I Say, Not As I Do!" - and has now been totally transformed from a leader in the liberal blogosphere, to just another Democrat operative.
And, to make it clear to those who still didn't understand that Anakin Skywalker ceases to exist, Gregory read for Moulitsas a previous Washington Post column of his wherein the Kossack leader had very negative things to say about Hillary Clinton (emphasis added):
Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment -- led by her husband -- that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad.
She epitomizes the "insider" label of the early crowd of 2008 Democratic contenders. She's part of the Clinton machine that decimated the national Democratic Party. And she remains surrounded by many of the old consultants who counsel meekness and caution. James Carville, the famed longtime adviser to the Clintons, told Newsweek last week, "The American people are going to be ready for an era of realism. They've seen the consequences of having too many 'big ideas.' "
Yet staying away from big ideas seems to come naturally to Hillary Clinton. Perhaps first lady Clinton was so scarred by her failed health-care reform in the early 1990s that now Sen. Clinton shows no proclivity for real leadership as a lawmaker.
She doesn't have a single memorable policy or legislative accomplishment to her name. Meanwhile, she remains behind the curve or downright incoherent on pressing issues such as the war in Iraq.
But what remains is a heartless, passionless machine, surrounded by the very people who ground down the activist base in the 1990s and have continued to hold the party's grassroots in utter contempt. The operation is rudderless, without any sign of significant leadership. And to top it off, a sizable number of Democrats don't think she could win a general election, anyway.
Can Hillary Clinton overcome those impediments? Money and star power go a long way, but the netroots is now many times larger than it was only three years ago, and we have attractive alternatives to back (and fund), such as former governor Mark W. Warner and Sen. Russell Feingold.
Just as we crazy political junkies glimpsed the viability of the candidacy of an obscure governor from a small New England state three years ago, today we regard Hillary Clinton's candidacy as anything but inevitable. Her obstacles are big, and from this vantage point, possibly insurmountable.
Such were Moulitsas' views of Hillary Clinton in May 2006. Apparently, he's changed his mind, as he now appears to be on his knees asking, "What is thy bidding, my master?"
She's an incredible human being. Very accomplished. They're making strides. Yes, absolutely. I think they're realizing that this isn't a movement, we're talking hundreds of thousands of millions of people. This isn't something you just toss aside, or dismiss. And, uh, she's making great strides in giving this community proper respect.
Quite different from "part of a failed Democratic Party establishment...surrounded by many of the old consultants who counsel meekness and caution" who "shows no proclivity for real leadership as a lawmaker" and "doesn't have a single memorable policy or legislative accomplishment to her name" leaving her "behind the curve or downright incoherent on pressing issues such as the war in Iraq."
Can't you hear Emperor Palpatine cackling in the background again?
In the end, this transformation was as easy to predict as Anakin's, for at some point, becoming part of the establishment - with all the pomp, circumstance, and financial rewards that come with it - was going to be impossible for Markos to pass up.
In fact, we probably should have known the conversion was complete when Moulitsas showed up on the set wearing a tie rather than his trademark collarless shirt.
All he needs now is a black mask and James Earl Jones' voice, and even his followers will understand what's happened.
*****Update: Michelle Malkin has more.