Friday, August 25, 2006

Quote of the day: When a pol says something halfway sensible just to save his political hide, can he still get partial credit? And if so, how partial?


"My view is that it may be that the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal, a timeline of when the bulk of heavy lifting is in the hands of the Iraqis."
--Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, in a conference call with reporters from London yesterday

In her Washington Post report, Anushka Asthana has no difficulty finding people prepared to point out the political expediency built into the sudden conversion of Congressman Shays [left] to the onetime heresy of a withdrawal timetable. He is, of course, one of those Connecticut Republicans sweating bullets over the possibility of being swept out of office in November by anti-Republican and anti-Iraq-war tides.

The irony is that Shays now risks alienating potential support from his state's fighting senator, Joe "Joe Lieberman Fighting for Joe Lieberman" Lieberman, who now appears to be extending his fight to embrace bastions of the Republican Congress so dear to his heart--the very Republican Congress that made it possible for him to be . . . er, what he is today. Then again, surely Senator Joe wouldn't shun Chris over just his position on this one little issue, would he?

Shays can also expect withering aspersions on his patriotism from the fighting "centrists" of the Democratic Leadership Council. Oh wait, he doesn't have to worry about them, does he? They only go after non-"centrist" Democrats, right?

It's a tough game, this politics. And sometimes kinda confusing as well.

ALSO TALKING--Matt Taibbi on the DLC approach to "unity"

And speaking of the DLC, I followed a link of Howie's to a terrific new online column by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi [right], "Off With Their Heads: The Democrats march themselves to the gallows," in which he responds to a customarily fatuous but at the same time ever-so-artfully sinister attack by Boss Rahm Emmanuel on the Netroots community.

[It took me awhile to figure out--assuming even now I've got it right--that Taibbi has recently started writing an online-only column, "The Low Post," for, columns that are also being posted on AlterNet. The series began early this month with a brilliant piece taking off from the lameness of NYT lamebrain David Brooks, "The Mansion Family: Yuppie paranoia (and David Brooks) guarantees the Democrats are still--and forever--doomed." In between it and the new column were pieces I haven't had time to read yet, devoted to a couple of pretty juicy targets: "Hill on Fire: Hillary Clinton copulates with the ghost of Richard Nixon" and "Dead Man Coming: Don't hold your breath waiting for Joe Lieberman to go away."]

Taibbi has much else to say in this latest column, and you should definitely read the whole thing. But for now I wanted to call attention to his once-and-for-all response to a favorite image used by Boss Rahm, that of a "firing squad in a circle," which is frequently used against "radicals" and "bloggers" (pretty much the same thing, no?) by corporate whores of the DLC persuasion:

What's amazing about the "firing squad in a circle" line is that it is inevitably used less than five seconds after the DLC speaker has just finished dumping on Michael Moore, peace activists, or whoever the party's talking-points-vermin of the day is (in this case, Sharpton and bloggers). He denounces Michael Moore as a disgrace to the party, then turns around and says that when we attack the party leadership, we're only hurting ourselves. These tactics are so transparent and condescending that one longs for some kind of cosmic referee to just drop down from the heavens and unilaterally disqualify their users on the grounds of their overwhelming general wrongness--but the maddening thing about these DLC creatures is that that referee never arrives, and Al From is back on page one again the next day, shaking his head and grumbling piously about "unity" and "consensus" and "the lost art of bipartisanship."


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