Sunday, May 06, 2007

David Broder defends his columns

I used to have a lot of respect for what David Broder wrote in his columns, but either I was unaware of how inaccurate he often was or he has gotten much, much worse in the years that the Republicans dominated the Congress. Here is his on-line question and answer session. See what you think.

Then, here is what TRex at Firedoglake thinks and here is what Think Progress wrote about the same conversation. Then we have Atrios weighing in with his opinion.

I am sad to say that I agree with TRex, Think Progress and Atrios.

Here's what I think Broder has gotten wrong. He assumes that the majority of American people are politically moderate, pragmatic centerists. I'll agree with him this far.

But then he seems to think that the two parties, Republican and Democratic, are the Right and Left sides of the political spectrum. Each has its moderate and its extreme members, and the agendas of each party tend to represent the most extreme members because agendas of this type are the easiest to use to get elected. Broder thinks that voters tend to vote for the more extreme, simplified agendas and not for agendas built on compromise. The logical conclusion that I think Broder has drawn is that if you take the public agendas of each party then you have found the extreme versions of both the Right and the Left politically. Take those extreme agendas together with the assumption above that Americans prefer moderate, centrist solutions to problem, and the logical conclusion is that the majority of the American people want to find a political position that is half-way between the two agendas. This is where he has gone wildly wrong.

The Republican Party is a top-down hierarchical party, with the agenda set by those in overall control. The conservative movement has been a movement of some of the most radical and extreme right-wingers in America. The result has been that the political agenda of the Republican party has been extremely right-wing, with moderate Republicans having little or no say in it. This agenda is not close to what the practical average American voters want, but since this top-down hierarchical Republican Party is dominated by very wealthy right-wing extremists like Richard Mellon-Scaife and Joseph Coors and some powerful right-wing fundamentalist religious leaders who want to take religious control of the government, that is the agenda the Republicans present. Since it is an essentially unpopular agenda with the majority of Americans, it must be forcefully implemented, often by stealth, lies or by the use of raw power.

The Democratic Party is structured very differently. Instead of being a top-down hierarchical party, it is a loose alliance of many groups with a variety of agendas. The agenda of the Democratic Party is the result of a great deal of internal political activity before it ever sees the light of day. If there is an extreme left-wing group in America, it is essentially politically mute. The result is that the basic agenda of the Democratic Party is already very much like what the majority of Americans are looking for, a practical set of solutions to clear problems that are widely recognized.

There is a second part to the Democratic Party agenda, however, and that is the part that actively rejects the extremist agenda items the Republican Party are implementing through stealth, lies and raw power. The tactics of stealth, lies and raw power are designed to run over any logical or rational debate and attempts at compromise. The Democratic reaction to this has been slow to build, because the needed aggressiveness and use of raw power to counter raw power are foreign to the normal nature of the majority of Americans, those who make up the Democratic Party. As the Bush administration has gotten more corrupt and extreme, the reaction in the Democratic Party has built up. The largest cause of this at present is the senseless and incompetently fought war in Iraq. Since Bush refuses any form of compromise, he is going to have to be stopped and, if possible, removed from office.

It is the Democratic activists who loudly proclaim that the only way to stop the Republican extremism is to take aggressive and extreme actions against them. The Democratic activists are the people the Republicans are declaring to be left-wing extremists. They are not. They are mostly moderate centerists who have been pushed too far by the extremist and very radical Republican Party currently led and controlled by the radicals George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the Social Right (Dominionists) and the NeoCons. It is not an extremist action to resist tyranny, and what the Republicans offer is exactly that - tyranny.

David Broder has probably not been outside Washington D.C. and done original reporting of any significance in decades. All he sees is the various political activities in the Capital city, and he is applying a simplistic version of late 50's and early 60's political science as taught in high schools in those days to the actions he sees in Washington. That's my opinion of where he has gone wrong.

Now, because of his age and left-over reputation, he is resistant to change long held beliefs and gets angry when he is called on them. So I don't expect him to change.

Now this is my most likely belief. The alternative is that he has been bought-off somehow by the Republican conservatives to try to make them look good. While this is possible, I don't think that Broder himself would accept this opinion of his motives and performance. That is why I consider the first proposed explanation a lot more likely.

So go read the question-and-answer at the Washington Post and see if you agree with either of my explanations.

Yuk! It's 1:00 AM. I'm going to have to get up at 5:00 AM, and since I am the lead clerk at my location, I can't be late.

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