The DKOS had reader polls on the performance of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and the results are interesting, to say the least. Apparently they really approve of Dean, approve of Reid less so, and totally disapprove of Pelosi, whose numbers look like a Kos reader poll on Bush.
This is interesting, because of the three, Pelosi is the most ‘left’ (at least according to my perceptions) of the three, and the least popular. All are equally partisan, although the screaming left partisanship is best embodied by Dean. So while he is the least ‘liberal,’ he is the most partisan, and the most popular with the Kos reader.
It would be interesting to look at a Red State poll of Republican leaders. My bet is that the least popular would be Frist.
That’s basically something that not a lot of MSM commentators understand about the Kos Kommunity and the “netroots” — they’re not left-wing at all. What they are is ferociously partisan. So they’ll always take someone who is moderate in his politics but very partisan, like Dean, over someone who is left-wing but conciliatory toward the other side, like Pelosi.
The problem with that in practical terms, as Matt Yglesias has pointed out, is that it’s better to have a liberal candidate who is perceived as moderate than a moderate who is perceived as liberal (because that candidate will scare off the so-called independents while not being liberal enough to attract the liberals). So the Dean/Kos approach — moderate policy positions combined with immoderate rhetoric — may not work well. The proof of this is that the MSM constantly talks of the netroots as hyper-left-wing crazies when they’re mostly middle-of-the-road policy-wise. There’s a perception gap here that needs fixing.
1. A lot of well-known Dems in the blogosphere, including Kos, are centrists. I suspect this represents the less well-known Dems as well.
2. The blogospheric base wants hitters. Pelosi’s seemingly mealy-mouthed response to Feingold, among other things, upset people. People believe she’s soft. I think they are really overreacting, but whatever.
At this point, Dems just want leaders with spines.
(My gripe: “Screaming” partisan is a little bit lazy. Have you anything to point to?)
My guess is the Kossacks like Pelosi the least because she’s the least effective (no fault of her own; the House just doesn’t give minority rights the same way the Senate does). Reid accomplishes small things, whereas Pelosi really has very little choice but to just try to win seats. If she’s the next Speaker that poll will change very quickly.
Dean was no liberal when he was governor. He was a fiscal conservative, balanced the budget, and got top grades from the NRA. Liberals at the time claimed he was too far to the right.
The media spin that Dean is a “screaming lefty” is just the usual binary treatment of Democrats: 1) either they are spineless, wimpy, flip-floppers, or 2) they are “too angry”, “too crazy”, or too leftist.
Kerry gets stuck in bin 1, Dean and Clinton get stuck in bin 2. Gore was a bit of a paradox, he got stuck in both bins (too agro debating Bush, but those wimpy sighs).
I don’t know if I’d characterize Dean as less liberal than Reid. He’s certainly a LOT less liberal than the media makes him out to be, and had a pretty well known record of fiscal conservatism in Vermont, and his NRA endorsements. But on most social issues (e.g. abortion) he’s a lot more liberal than Reid.
I think the biggest reason Reid didn’t do better (up until a few weeks ago, he would have scored much, much higher) is the vapors he got with the whole Feingold thing. If he had least come up with a coherent response instead of going all wobbly, he would have been given some credit. Overall, he’s fared pretty well considering how strongly Kossacks, etc. originally opposed having a conservative Dem as minority leader. And he’s done that because he’s been willing to speak immoderately and put up some fight, even if his record is a conservative one.
Pelosi, on the other hand has seemed completely disorganized and spastic by comparison. She’s had a hard time getting her caucus to agree on anything, and hasn’t managed to stay on message herself. She’s rolled over quite visibly on thinks like the ethics committee. She is part of the old-dead-wood in Washington, mired in consultant hell, whereas someone like Dean is a fresh, aggressive outsider.
I don’t think that the Kos community, etc. are unaware of the fact that Dean is not a liberal – it’s more that they feel his angry, populist voice is useful. After all, it wasn’t voices of moderation from the conservative side that moved the electorate to the right – quite the opposite. In fact, I think I agree with that sentiment.
Also, it’s probably significant that both Feingold and Dean are from the more libertarian branch of the Democratic party.
Every day, mainstream Republicans make the same sorts of comments about liberals that are derided as “screaming partisanship” when Democrats say them about conservatives.
The reason why the activist community overwhelmingly favors fighting spirit over ideological purity is because they are sick and tired of Republicans being able to say all these over-the-top things about them, and Democrats being too gunshy to fight back.
Whether that’s smart politics or not, who knows. But I don’t buy the standard pundit line that says it’s fine for Republicans to bring out all sorts of fiery rhetoric against the liberal agenda, but Democrats have to be polite and respectful if they ever hope to win over those oh-so-sensitive swing voters. It strikes me as a little too glib and implausible.
I think a lot of the reason for Pelosi’s low numbers are summed up nicely in this blurb from Kos:
Fighting corruption is not left/right and should be a no-brainer, but she’s not there. Nor is she following the first law of partisan politics, don’t frag your own side.
Party leaders have just a few roles, none of which have anything to do with how liberal/moderate/conservative you are:
1. Keep your folks in line.
2. Defend your side.
3. Attack their side.
Doug, your point is spot on, and reinforced by the fact that the Kossack community picked Feingold in the straw poll.
John, I think you can look at the poll results as reflecting both what Doug said, as well as a desire in the Kos community for more of the Democratic leaders to challenge the status quo. Of all the people in the leadership poll, Pelosi does is the least. On top of that, she is a horrible public spokesperson.
The respect for Dean and Reid is partly (mostly?) due to their “fightin'” personas. Dean also gets big props for his 50 state campaign, which is bold.
It’s too easy to say assume that a “bunch of libs would vote for the libs.” What are they looking for these days? COMPETENCE.
I think a large part of it stems from the old-school/new-school Democrats. People are tired of the Daschalites who just want all the sides to sit down at the table and be friends. The old-school Dems are like the pacifist Native Americans while the fresher faces are more akin to the bloodthirsty Sioux and Apache. And the readers at DKos would rather see a Battle at Wounded Knee than a Trail of Tears.
Doctor Gonzo has it right on. Pelosi seems more concerned with returning us to the status quo of the 80s and 90s, where all the corruption and bipartisan vitrol is kept under the table at Capital Hill. Fiengold and Dean seem more spirited about fixing the political system that the Republicans took such ruthless advantage of.
The bottom line is that Kossacks are tired of Limbaugh and Coulter spewing bullshit and want someone, anyone who has the spin to spit the crap back at them.
I don’t quite understand the ardor for Dean, he’s been totally ineffective as a spokesperson for Democratic values and I’ve seen him get his ass handed to him by tv pundits a few too many times. Not that any of this matters since I doubt he will be running.
Yeah, but, RonB, that’s assuming that Dean’s job is supposed to be as a “spokesperson for Democratic values.” As the head of the party, his job is organization and fundraising first and foremost. At that, he’s been doing a good job.
What is really missing for the Dems is a leader who can articulate the party’s values. Not Dean, but someone who is in elected office or is running for Prez.
I frequent Kos and I had the same (high) opinion of Dean. It’s not whether someone is “leftist” or “partisan” we want someone who isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade and who will stand up and tell the truth.
I think another explanation for the results is how quickly things change for certain bloggers. I read somewhere that Andrew Sullivan uses his blog for snap judgements, gut feelings and responses to e-mails, and his columns for well thought-out, carefully-crafted op-eds. Same for most bloggers – your gut reaction to Cindy Sheehan getting arrested for wearing a t-shirt to the SOTU was disgust at it, until Al Maviva claimed that it’s not unprecedented or unjustified, and the discussion was only half-over at that point.
So while some of the opinions of these leaders is pretty reliable, I think there’s also more fluctuation in this poll than you’d get in the general public or something. Right now, Feingold is probably the most popular Democratic leader of all because he’s the one who made the censure motion. Four months ago or whenever it was, I’ll bet that Reid would have beat him easily because of that time he “shut down the Senate”. Pelosi being close to the bottom is predictable because of her lack of authority, like others have said, but as for the others, I wouldn’t be surprised if Reid and Dean switch places more than once.
I agree, it would be interesting. Especially if Bush and Cheney are included among the choices.
My thoughts are that you didn’t really know much about DKos before this poll, apparently.
DKos is not about being “left” or “right” of Pelosi, or anybody. It’s about grassroots politics.
That’s something that Dean understands, and one of the reasons why he is so popular among Kossacks, and with me.
I’m a Goldwaterite in some ways, and Rooseveltian in others. But “left” and “right” have become totally dysfunctional terms in today’s context. What’s “conservative,” or “right,” about a Daddy government that invades your hospital room or your marital bedroom?
“Screaming left partisan?” Jesus, man, you get more lame by the month. How would you describe yourself? Non partisan? Anti partisan? Above partisanship?
The grotesque trolling and pretense around here has become tiresome. Really, I’m serious.
Here we are in the midst of the most partisan political climate I’ve ever seen, and you think that the chairman of one of the two parties is “partisan.”
What, are you bucking for a Pulitzer Prize? I mean, that’s just deep, and brilliant commentary, John.
Well, you must admit, that Ken Mehlman never gets involved in rabid partisanship. No sirree.
We want to fight back. period. Dean embarrasses me at times, but at least he is in the fight. Reid is too somewhat. So we support those that fight back. I have been called a traitor and unpatriotic for too long. I don’t care that I am to the left of Dean, I am not going to find anyone that I agree with 100%.
Feingold is in the fight, and he has been from the start. Patriot Act, Domestic Spying, Iraq….name the topic, and he has been leading the fight against it. (And, by leading, I mean standing by himself with an unpopular position he believed in).
Isn’t partisanship a prerequisite for the job of party leader?
As Lincoln said about Grant, “I can’t spare this man — he fights.” The Daschles and Liebermans of the Democratic Party are kind of like General McClellan: impressive resumes, well-liked by insiders, but ultimately ineffective because he overly cautious.
I can see why they’d like Dean, but then I’d just be projecting my libertarian inclinations. I find it a little hard to believe the ‘central government’ and ‘regulate the economy’ crowd likes him for the same reasons. Which leads me to conclude that they like him for his personality more than for his policies.
We don’t support people that say, “Oh, well, uh, we need to study this issue more before we start talking about censure. The president may have broken the law, we need to find out.”
He broke the law. That is why the GOP is proposing legislation to make the program legal, because it isn’t today.
There are some things that I believe, and I don’t need to debate any longer:
Unwarrantless spying is unconstitutional
The president led us into a war by lying, or misleading, or something other than being truthful
America isn’t safer because Saddam is out of Power
Tax cuts for the rich and record deficits are not good
George W Bush is not a good man
I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I am going to support politicians that agree with me and have the balls to say so.
I suspect most like him for his courage, honesty and common sense leading up to the war. Before the war began, when every other Democratic candidate was too cowardly to say what many of us thought, Dean laid it all out:
He got vilified for this and other similar statements, by the Democrats and Republicans alike. But he was right. Laying out all the obvious risks and reasons why it was wrong to invade Iraq wasn’t politically smart, but it was more honest than anything we heard from the other Democratic candidates and certainly wiser and more thoughtful than anything we heard from the White House. No matter what he does in the future, I will always think highly of Dean because of this.
Thanks for finding that, Laura.
And, John, the next time all you’re tempted to try to marginalize Dean with some lame reference to “screaming”, you might want to remember that speech. Try to find a speech given at that time by someone on your end of the spectrum, and see if it holds up as well in hindsight.
You guys are falling into the same trap that you accuse right-wingers of. You wonder how conservatives can still defend Bush when he’s such a economic liberal.
At the same time, you appoint a mostly libertarian (Dean) as party chair because you like his personality depite the fact that his actual political actions don’t entirely mesh well with the party platform (whatever that is lately – have you guys agreed on one yet?).
Kinda smells hypocritical to me.
Laura just settled the thread.
Yes she did. Good job.
He’s party chair. His job is to get funding, find candidates, get the grassroots, netroots and any other roots, out there actively pounding pavement. He showed during the presidential campaign how valuable those activities can be, and was quite successful in rallying activists to the cause. His job is now to bring that to the rest of the party, not to determine the direction the country will take after the next election.
Since when have Ken Mehlman’s actual political actions meshed with the party platform? Since when is it Mehlman’s job to set policy?
There are very few things that I disagree with Dean on. In fact, at the moment I cannot think of one.
– He was proven practically psychic on the War.
– He insured the children of his state.
– He allowed civil unions in Vermont. Against his personal opinion, but because he felt it was RIGHT.
– He wants the state out of the marriage business altogether.
From his old campaign website, one of the final statements:
You accuse us of hypocrisy because you assume (wrongly) that we are all socialists on the left. Not true. I am partisan, but I am most of all a realist.
The credit goes to Glenn Greenwald. He found this and posted it on Crooks and Liars last month. All I did was search the archives. Until then, I hadn’t remembered this exact speech. But I, and probably everybody else who respects Dean, remember how he was the only one who wasn’t afraid to state the obvious (and be painted as unpatriotic by the Rovians). He wasn’t opposed to the war because he’s some peacenik. He simply had his priorities straight (al Qaida), and he was rightly skeptical of the blatant fearmongering, the lack of planning, the pollyanic “candy and flowers” statements, and the risks that Bush never seemed to access. Before the war, I read a statement from Christian leaders opposed to the war that’s very similar to Dean’s (if I can find it, I’ll post it). Dean and these ministers weren’t clairvoyants. The problems of invading Iraq were all very predictable – to everybody except apparently the Bush Adminstration and their supporters. The difference with Dean is that he was the rare politician who had the guts to point them out.
I guess I’ll get back to work then.
I’ve never heard that speech. Wasn’t listening to the left back then.
Laura – hopefully that work includes running for office someday. :)
Here is another guy who had some very smart, and serious, things to say about the Iraq war back in 2002.
It’s worth reading the whole thing.
Ha – never gonna happen.
How’s the real running going? I ran my half marathon on March 12. I finished! But it was the most miserable weather. I don’t expect sympathy from a Canadian, but it was raining, windy and in the 30’s. Not typical weather for Sacramento in March (except the rain part) and certainly not what the planners expected. But it was “fun” in as much as running in freezing cold rain can be fun. And I actually want to do it again, so that’s a good sign.
Laura – getting there. I’ve been doing intervals, which I think is helping me increase my distance, ’cause I don’t poop out as quickly. I did a couple of miles on my sister’s treadmill on Saturday, although it was a tad nerve-wracking. Try running 7 mph with a small kitten lurking next to the treadmill. I had horrible visions of kitten, Krista, and treadmill all going flying in a chaotic tangle. I’m actually off to do my run right now!
Congrats on your half-marathon. That’s absolutely phenomenal! Good stuff. It is too bad the weather was so crappy, but it probably is better than running in sweltering weather, I suppose.
Sara (The Squiggler)
This is the kind of boneheaded retardation, coupled with projection that just about makes debate in 2006 pointless….Economic Liberal?!?!? Hey-soos Vega, you really need to pay more attention.
Here’s your basic misconception metalgrid–just becasue conservatives (in theory) want as little spending as possible doesn’t mean liberals simply want as much as possible. I want to spend as much as it takes to accomplish our goals, no more, no less.
Has this massive flurry of spending by Bush been on the environment, education, actual health care (not just a cash injection to his pals in the pharmaceutical biz) investment in public infrastructure?
Well, has it?
You don’t get off that easy, just becasue Bush blew the family fortune doesn’t mean he didn’t blow it on stuff right-wingers have lusted after for years, namely defense spending and tax cuts.
Marathons? I don’t even like to drive 26 miles.
Run? I run every day. As soon as I get up, I run to the bathroom.
Booze, and drugs?
Don’t ever listen to the “left” or the “right”. That’s a bunch of lame bullshit. Listen to the people. The biggest trap pundits ever set was playing the “Left wing said this” game, as though the Left Wing is some guy in an office in Washington passing out memos to the members of the party. There are no shortage of people in the Democratic party and people who generally align themselves with “the left” that I disagree with entirely. So I listen to human beings. When John Kerry or Howard Dean or Barbera Boxer or Bill Frist or Tom DeLay or Ann Coulter give a speech, listen to them. You know. People, not concepts are the ones in office.
Half-marathon. I used to think running a marathon would be pretty cool, but now that I’ve run half that distance, running 26 miles feels even more intimidating.
Watch out for the fur ball! Doing intervals is a great idea. Building up distance on a treadmill is hard. I want to work on my pace. I also realize I need to do strength training and cross training if I’m going to run another half marathon. My thighs didn’t really like me on that final mile.
It’s been said already, but let me agree — that Kos poll reflects what grassroots Democrats across the spectrum want most, and that’s a politician with a damn spine. Dean clearly has one, Reid has shown several moments of strength, while Pelosi is fairly weak.
This isn’t about left vs. right. It’s about standing up vs. laying down.
I really hope he runs again. Everytime I read something of his or hear him speak, I regret even more that he’s not in the White House (even ignoring the war). At least he’s not ruling it out.
Agreed. My eyes are open now but they and my mind were very much closed off to anything the left had to say. I was a Rush disciple, I believed the dems were soft on criminals and defense. I thanked God Gore wasn’t in office on 9/11. I’m a recovering right winger. I don’t just make up my opinions on right wing mindsets out of thin air, I was in the club I know the secret handshake. Previous to the Iraq war I’d be with John now railing on protesters. I used to make fun of Michael Moore even though I’d never heard him speak or seen any of his movies (I still haven’t). When the wmds weren’t found and suddenly the story became that we weren’t really at war over those anyway, they lost me completely.
The Other Steve
Uhh, Bush isn’t an economic liberal. He’s classic 19th century Republican. Protection of existing wealth above all else.
Then you haven’t been paying attention. Politics changed with Generation X. We’re very libertarian, and despite the bleating of the psuedo-libertarians, we liked Bill Clinton a lot more than we like GW Bush.
Actually I turned away from George I in college, in large part because of the attacks of Murphy Brown. I just thought it was fucking ridiculous.
No kidding. Right now, it’s a bit tough, ’cause I’m getting over a chest cold, so my lungs hurt quite a bit after the first mile. I think I might treat myself to an mp3 player when I get my income tax back. The tunes definitely help. I have yet to find the perfect pair of running shoes, though. The ones I have now aren’t bad, but I need a lot of cushion and spring. Once the weather gets nicer, I’ll be able to cancel my gym membership and run outdoors, so saving that $35/month will go towards some new shoes in time for the Run for the Cure.
I still don’t know what pace works best for me. My feet and legs feel good at 6 mph, but I tire out too quickly. I can go longer at 5.5, but it makes my gait feel unnatural. I’m not one of those lanky natural runner types with perfect biomechanics, unfortunately.
Krista – once you can run outside, it will be a lot easier to add to your distance. And your pace will definitely increase, without any extra effort. When you run on a treadmill, you naturally shorten your stride. I was really slow when I started running, but I got faster as I got more fit. And as I started doing long training runs, I got slower again, which was depressing, but then as my legs got used to it, my pace increased again. But now I want to actually work on it with some pace training. I also want to lose another 10 pounds, and if I can do that, running should get easier.
I didn’t realize you were doing Run for the Cure. That’s great. My boss walks the Komen Race for the Cure every year. She comes back inspired every time.
The Liberal Avenger
Do you want us to write you in, John?
I’ve done that a few times. Talk about inspiration. Wow.
The nerve of those Democratic politicans, being partisan! How dare they? Only Republicans are allowed to be partisan. Pardon me, but how is a politican to avoid being partisan? Party – partisan. Right?
Helena, it’s Bozeman here. How dare you try and sneak in this blog you hussy!
Party – partisan. Right?
Yeah like Eddy said, “Party all the ti -ahme”.
The Komen race – that’s the 3-day jobbie, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s got to be an incredible experience. It was fun last year — I went with a big gang from my sister’s office. Some of us ran the whole thing, some of us ran a bit and walked a bit (that’s the group I was in), and some just walked the whole thing. Then we went out for a big brunch — it was a lot of fun.
I think the Komen Foundation puts on a lot of different events, but the one my boss does is just a one day thing, with a 5k walk/run and a longer distance. It’s probably similar to what you’re doing.
Laura – probably. I definitely want to be able to run the entire 5K this year. I have to laugh at myself, because I always used to say that the only way I’d ever run would be if someone was chasing me with a knife, and that even then, I’d have to stop and think about it. :)
But, 2 years and 65lbs less, I suppose I’ve changed my mind a bit.
That is so amazing! It’s funny how your attitude changes as you get healthier. I lost about 20 pounds last year. I started running consistently to help me lose the weight. Now, I want to lose another 10 to make my running easier.
Yeah, that was my first thought as well, and funny how often John used to slam DKos when he never understood them at all.
jg, Rush and his friends were counting on you to just listen to them and not research their lies. It is brainwash, and you wanted it to continue simply because “you knew the secret handshake”, you were IN (as Verizon likes to say). Now you realize the mistakes, perhaps it is time to look at both sides and make those decisions yourself? I sense you doing some of that now, since you’re admitting the scales are finally falling off your eyes. You say you’ve never seen a Michael Moore movie or heard anything he said, perhaps you should. I’m not claiming that all heroes of the left are gods and you can take everything they say without research. No, you have to research both sides, but to do that, you have to listen to both sides. That is a mistake that many on the right make, because they believe Rush and his cohorts when they say you can take their word for whatever they’re selling at the time.