Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Return of TomaskyYou may remember a few weeks ago that Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect had some scathing words for Green/Nader supporters. (And you may even recall that my love for the man grew that much for doing so.) Unsurpisingly, Greens struck back; TAP runs a few sample letters. But Tomasky responds, and he really knocks it out of the ballpark:
Playing ball is a part of politics, and I realize it's a phrase that reflexively invites pejorative connotations. But to me it's an honorable part of politics, because doing it gets results: Women suffragists played ball, the great labor leaders played ball, Martin Luther King Jr. played ball. (He could very easily have denounced John F. Kennedy as a sellout and a weakling in 1960 and the Democratic Party in general as a hornets' nest of racists, which it in fact was, to a far greater extent than today's Democratic Party is composed of corporate stooges. He could then have marched off to form his own small and quixotic cell, and a civil-rights bill would likely have taken several more years to pass.) The Greens don't play ball. They consider it a point of pride. This is their right. But they shouldn't then take umbrage when the other side doesn't want to play. Indeed, if the Greens had helped elect Al Gore, he likely would have been the greenest president in U.S. history.Yup. And I am always surprised that more podium-pounding Nader supporters didn't see that—Al Gore wrote the book on Green, at least as far as the progressive environmentalist cause goes. It's a bit of a canard to point to Gore and decry DLC centrism.
On a related point, I think Dean is above the criticism floating about on his positions on gay marriage. After all, Vermont was the first place on the continent to legalize homosexual unions, so I doubt that his reticence to speak up now is anything more than playing ball. (If there is a critical position that says Dean takes the conservative position on gays, I'd be curious to hear it.) But I think his strategy is the poorer one—I've said before that I think, no matter what deal Rove has with the Christian Coalition to keep them quiet before an election, an absolute endorsement of gay marriage would drive fundamentalists absolutely bonkers.
And so long as it's not Ralph Nader, bonkers makes the Democrats look good.