The liberal blogosphere has given conservatives a late Christmas present in the form of some truly delicious squabbling over whether or not Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is being too harsh in his criticisms of past and present Democrat presidential candidates.
Those looking for halftime entertainment much finer than the Michigan marching band performing "Springtime for Hitler" are highly encouraged to check out a diary posted at Daily Kos Tuesday entitled "More Unnecessary Attacks on Obama, This Time from Markos" (emphasis added throughout):
In my last diary, I discussed some of the unreasonable attacks on Barack Obama that came from Jerome Armstrong over at MyDD. Unfortunately, it seems that Markos has decided to take up the banner of irrational behavior and attack Obama.
Stick with this, sports fans...you won't be disappointed:
The source of the displeasure stems from Obama's comment about trial lawyers and his comments about divisive elections. Instead of paying attention to the liberties taken by the journalists who wrote these stories - along with the comments themselves - Markos (along with others in the blogosphere) quickly jumped on Obama for reinforcing right-wing frames.
This is simply false, and I'm quite disappointed that Markos has made a couple of posts in this vein.T
The author, PsiFighter37, then did a marvelous job tearing apart the Great Kos's position on this matter:
The first item I'd like to address is Obama's comment about trial lawyers, which was first reported on the Washington Post blog The Trail.
[T]he claim that Obama is rushing to embrace a right-wing frame is completely ludricrous.
Obama was never alluding to any of the common complaints the right wing has about trial lawyers - namely, that they create a drag on the economy and are to fully blame for problems with the health care system. Instead, he was pointing out that Edwards' career in law - as a trial lawyer - is the one that is most likely to make you rich the quickest. To be fair, the way Obama framed it comes off badly; people don't become trial lawyers solely for the money. But I think what he wanted to emphasize is that he chose a career that didn't pay well and solely contributed to the betterment of society. However, it is far from the right-wing talking points that Markos and the rest of the blogosphere made it out to be.
Dontcha just love a DKos member pointing out the absurdity of the netroots right in their backyard, especially as his complaint is with the attack we see ad nauseum from this ilk, namely, suggesting that any time a Democrat politician, operative, or media member does anything not to their liking, it automatically means said individual is mimicking Republican talking points?
But this wasn't PsiFi's only problem with Markos, for earlier in the day, Kos posted the following:
Psst, Barack, slamming John Kerry and Al Gore is what Republicans do. Not Democrats.
Making an argument for his electability, Obama said, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats -- we've done that in 2004, 2000," according to a person at the event (rush transcript).
Funny, that. Last time I checked, Gore won his election. And really, is Obama going to argue now that the nation was divide because of the Democrats' fault? Is that the latest right-wing talking point he wants to peddle?
Obama's recent embrace of right-wing talking points and wholesale embracing of Broderite "Unite 08" talking points suggests that he's giving up on Iowa and playing to the independent vote in New Hampshire. He has to stay close in Iowa to remain viable in New Hampshire, but I'm not sure why else he would decide to shit on Democrats at such a rapid clip these past few days.
Before handing this back to PsiFighter, I wanted to point out that neither Gore nor Kerry got 50 percent of the votes cast in 2000 and 2004 respectively. As such, Obama mentioning this, despite the protestations of the Great Kos, is hardly a right-wing talking point, unless all inconvenient truths can now be so characterized.
Take it away, PsiFi:
Good God, Markos, read the piece before making assertions like that. The first problem is the title of the blog entry: "Obama: Gore, Kerry alienated 'half the country'". That's patently false; in that tidbit, nowhere does Obama mention either Gore or Kerry by name. What the writer is doing is connecting Obama's comments automatically to the Democratic candidates from those years. Furthermore, who said that Obama is criticizing either Gore or Kerry? A big part of the problem was the campaigns that backed those candidates: they were standard, conventional campaigns that fought for the 'elusive center' and therefore made the candidates at the time seem wishy-washy. No matter how much any of us like Gore or Kerry (and I'm a huge Gore fan), it is hard to call their campaigns during 2000 and 2004, respectively, inspiring. To make a rash implied assumption that Obama was directly criticizing Gore or Kerry is ridiculous and fails to look for any nuance in the statement.
Heck with nuance, PsiFi. It's simply devoid of logic, and well beneath the political acumen of someone so high up in the netroots foodchain. In fact, as PsiFi concluded, it's downright disgraceful:
In short, Markos is way off-base in his criticisms of Obama. I don't understand why, but it seems that the leading bloggers in the netroots have been quick to harp on anything they interpret to be a mistake by Obama. It's partially the fault of the blogosphere as well; it seems that the one initial report on Obama's comments about trial lawyers (from Talking Points Memo) simply filtered out to the rest of the blogosphere. I have no doubt the same will now happen with these misconstrued comments about past elections.
If you're going to make criticisms of a candidate, make sure that they are valid. Don't fall into the trap of making the same slipshod assumptions that reporters are doing.
With all potentially due respect, PsiFi, the validity of criticisms has never been important to members of the netroots, especially its leaders. This is what makes them so pleasurable to watch dissemble, in particular when one of their own does it so adroitly.
Thanks for the gifts regardless of their belated nature. We owe you one.