Of Stollers, Greenwalds and Silvers: Compare and Contrast
By: dogbroth Saturday December 22, 2012 6:25 am
Matt Stoller, in the third piece in his trilogy of stunningly clueless Salon articles, where he could have exhibited some wisdom by simply admitting he was wrong previously for jumping the third party Titanic, triples down on teh stupid by refusing to acknowledge the triumph of an emerging coalition of young, African American, Latino, Asian and gay voters, the very people who form the base for any truly progressive political force that will matter in coming decades. Stoller, much like Glenn Greenwald, instead targets a micro audience that consists primarily of those whose blogging habits have succeeded only in moving them to the outer polarities of political unreality and away from any possibly meaningful coalition with the emerging progressive majority.Yes, it is true that this emerging coalition does not yet control the political and geographic landscape of the US electorate and won’t for another generation as the time-limited white conservatives of wealthy privilege refuse to go gently into that good night, but just as sure as day turns to night, Texas will become a blue state by 2032 and the changeover will be complete in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate and the Oval Office. No, Stoller can’t even bring himself to acknowledge the non-white progressive electoral reality that will one day succeed in turning the House of Representatives blue. He ignores the historical realignment of the electorate and focuses instead on a subjective reading of a so-called narrative in the immediate aftermath, eschewing the long term demographic trend for short term political consequences that have not yet even begun to play out:
Every election is historic because history keeps moving no matter what we do. What truly defines an election as important is not the vote totals but the fight over the narrative that comes immediately after the outcome. These narratives are essentially stories told by various representatives of interest groups on television and in newspapers to justify their preferred policies.Here’s what we do know: Obama won a very close election with lower voter turnout than 2008 and a much more slender margin of victory. Democrats kept the Senate with a slightly more liberal caucus, and Republicans kept the House. Those are the facts……So don’t pay attention to what is being said on TV about why Obama won a second term. All we know is that he did. What that term means has to do with the policy fights ahead.Contrast Stoller’s obstinate refusal to comprehend reality even after the fact with the prescient ability of someone who actually made a name for himself through the achievement well before the fact, Nate Silver, whose science-based analyses (as opposed to the personally biased punditry) were so straightforward and oh-so accurate for the second presidential election in a row. Silver appears to be from a different solar system altogether from the Stollers and the Greenwalds, who turn out to be nothing more than the dismal mirror images of the conservative Krauthammers and the Wills, outmoded and left in the dustbin of history by their own erroneous thought processes. Silver isn’t trying to tell us what we should think, he’s not trying to convince us to follow any ideology, he’s simply providing information so that we can think, and think clearly for ourselves to draw our own conclusions:
In fact, the once-powerful Blue Dog Caucus, a coalition of moderate Democrats, will have only 14 members in the new Congress. The centrist Democrats who once filled its ranks fared very poorly in the 2010 midterm elections, while others retired or were harmed by redistricting or by primary battles. Although Republicans have moved more to the right than Democrats have moved to the left in recent years, according to measures like those developed by Mr. Poole, the attrition in the Democratic Party has nevertheless contributed to moving the two parties even further apart.What that means is that if Mr. Boehner has a significant number of Republican defections, as he did on Thursday night, he will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.Stoller, on the other hand, simply wishes reality were different so that he could remain relevant outside his miniscule sphere of non-influence.
Perhaps cooler heads will prevail in these negotiations. But a majority of the incoming House – 237 of 433 members – will be either Tea Party Republicans or liberal Democrats, leaving only 196 members who are either Establishment Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats and who might form a functional center-right coalition.
Silver is painting a true picture of the present so that we can make up our own minds whether we wish to be relevant or not in a future non-white majority world that is in actual fact trending discernibly back to the left.
34 Responses to Of Stollers, Greenwalds and Silvers: Compare and Contrast
jest December 22nd, 2012 at 7:51 am 1
This should be interesting…
letsgetitdone December 22nd, 2012 at 9:31 am 2
I’m not prepared to debate your main thesis in this post, about Stoller and Greenwald ignoring the strongest long-term trends in American Politics, even though I do find it a bit hard to believe, because I only read occasional articles by both, and they always strike me as presenting interesting and morally relevant progressive perspectives. I also think that Nate Silver’s electoral and polling analyses are very perspicacious, and have read them with some care since way before he joined the New York Times.
However, critiques of some aspects of Silver’s work have begun to appear and I think this one by Cathy O’Neill is very much worth considering.
Also, having now read Stoller’s last article, I have to say I find your analysis misleading. Right after the passage from Stoller you quote, he says:
There are two narratives being told about what happened: One, Obama won this with a savvy, data-driven reelection campaign and a bare-bones, if effective, first term of policymaking; two, this election represents the rise of a left-wing, black, brown and young America, an America opposed to rampant inequality and racism.So, how is this ignoring the “reality” of an emerging progressive coalition which will be effective in the long run? It seems to me that all he’s saying is that the President’s second term will be defined by how he copes with some key issues and that how things work out on these issues is quite up in the air and may well not be resolved in a progressive direction.
These two narratives have important differences. The first implies a continuation of the centrist policies and rising inequality of Obama’s first term. The second implies a sharp left turn on policymaking.
So which one will triumph? My bet is that Obama will continue the policy framework he pursued in his first term. But this will play out with a series of struggles over political power. This is a list of some of the possible domestic flash points we could see in the next year as the agenda of term two is defined.
AS for Silver, his claim that “237 of 433 members – will be either Tea Party Republicans or liberal Democrats,” is debatable depending on how you define “blue dog” and “tea party” representatives. For example, my representative is Jim Moran. Since Jim represents a progressive district, he cultivates a vague aura of progressivism. But in my view, he has no commitment to progressive legislation; but instead is committed to remaining uncommitted on pending legislation until the President gets behind something. Then Jim invariably supports it; whether it’s progressive or not. Is this “blue doggy”? Well, Nate certainly wouldn’t put Jim in the “blue dog” camp, and technically he’s right about that. But, nevertheless as long as the President and Nancy Pelosi are going along with a version of Pete Peterson’s deficit hawkism, then Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison have to figure that Jim’s going to be in the camp of those Democrats who will vote with the President to cut New Dealish programs and the social safety net.
In fact, I think most of the Democratic caucus is like that. So, I think the Democratic caucus isn’t progressive right now; and that it won’t be until it’s led by people, including the President, who haven’t been bought and paid for by corporate America. Somehow, I don’t see Nate Silver’s electoral analyses addressing questions like this. On the other hand a lot of Stoller’s writing does.
EdwardTeller December 22nd, 2012 at 9:36 am 3
After reading your essay twice, dogbroth, I can’t quite figure out why you lumped Greenwald into this……?
John Kelly December 22nd, 2012 at 9:52 am 4
Calling Gleeen Greenwaald a mirror image of the conservative gas-bags you cited is as stupid and fact free as you can get. If you have a grudge against a truth-teller of Greenwald’s caliber you best do better than this tripe. G.G. is one of the few excellent media critics, and factually correct American foreign policy critics that we have, and as such is a treasure. Policy instead of politics, truth instead of propaganda, excellence instead of mediocrity, knowledge instead of ignorance. Please do try again.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 10:32 am 5
In response to John Kelly @ 4
You agree with GG. Others agree with Krauthammer and Will.
This doesn’t disqualify GG from gas baggerdom.
I will admit he is not as nonsensical as Stoller.
But his criticism is….criticism and it is all-consuming.
What is Greenwald’s solution?
Ron Paul? Citizen’s United?
letsgetitdone December 22nd, 2012 at 10:39 am 6
In response to dogbroth @ 5
Greenwald’s solution for what? What, exactly are you talking about, other than your dislike of both Greenwald and Stoller.
xanthe December 22nd, 2012 at 10:44 am 7
…young AAs, Latinos, Asian, Gay …will form the base of any truly progressive force that will matter in the coming decades.Do you not think that there are saavy Republican operatives who may capture these segments of the electorate as well?
I am an old lady white progressive, so I do not matter now – actually do any of us who are not in the ruling class, so there is a part of me that finds this vaguely insulting.
Any of these groups may turn to the right in a given atmosphere, especially given the craven posture of the Democratics.
Why do you have a ha** on for these particular writers? Have you examined their work thoroughly.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 10:49 am 8
In response to letsgetitdone @ 2
It might be fair to debate what constitutes your opinion of “tea party” and “Blue dog” versus “liberal/progressive” with respect to House members.
I believe he means “Blue Dogs” to be Democrats who are elected to office in red/purple and swing state districts as opposed to Democratic strongholds.
I find very little in Silver to be debatable since he is using mathematical models that have proven to be correct.
As opposed to Stoller and Greenwald, who are simply ideologically opinionated (or libertarian in Greenwald’s case) pundits targeting a certain audience with their own biased rhetoric that sometimes is factual and sometimes fantastical.
tomallen December 22nd, 2012 at 10:56 am 9
Silver analyzes polls. Stoller and Greenwald analyze issues. Of course they have different slants.
As you write,
Silver isn’t trying to tell us what we should think, he’s not trying to convince us to follow any ideology…Some of us are interested in discussing both polls and policy. Perhaps you’d care to join us? What does your “progressive majority” of 20 years from now believe in? Aside from not criticizing Team Blue?
wigwam December 22nd, 2012 at 10:58 am 10
Stoller, on the other hand, simply wishes reality were different so that he could remain relevant outside his miniscule sphere of non-influence.Bullshit!
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 10:59 am 11
In response to letsgetitdone @ 6
What are we blogging for, if not solutions? End of corporatism?
End of the surveillance state?
Greenwald lost me with his affirmation for Citizens United.
Then I researched and found he got major funding from the Koch Brother’s Cato Institute. Okay, now I get his support for Citizen’s United.
His agenda, fairly well hidden, like his support for Ron Paul, became much clearer to me.
I have no problem with him. He should just be more clear about his agenda. It is not progressive.
Stoller, I think I already clearly laid out my criticism of his two pre-election and one post election piece.
Let me just state again: not impressed with him.
I like him just fine, OK? At least he’s an actual progressive.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 11:04 am 12
In response to letsgetitdone @ 2
And yes, I agree that Silver doesn’t address the quality of progressivism or the lack thereof. That’s a subject for gas baggerdom, not science.
However, neither Greenwald nor Stoller address how to achieve better quality progressivism, either. Stoller tried and clearly failed, at least recently.
GG doesn’t even try. He is all critique all the time. Usually the same critique, over and over, leading nowhere that I can determine.
wigwam December 22nd, 2012 at 11:10 am 13
Then I researched and found he got major funding from the Koch Brother’s Cato Institute.That research was on drug legalization.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 11:11 am 14 In response to tomallen @ 9
Right. Krauthammer and Will analyze issues, too. “Slant” is a very useful term for the four of them. They are slanted.
Silver’s slant is “data-based” and mathematical. He is not slanted,except towards the facts.
Where will the emerging majority lead in 20 years? Can’t really say, but I’m guessing that they will be leading, and changing, the progressive ideology more to their immediate concerns in the process.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 11:28 am 15
In response to xanthe @ 7
Choose to matter…
John Kelly December 22nd, 2012 at 11:34 am 16
Nice try at sliming Greenwald with lies and his interesting and nuanced opinion on citizens united. A classic divide and conquer technique employed by smear-merchants.
“I’ve never been employed by the CATO Institute. I have no ongoing or regular relationship with them at all and never did. I’ve been writing about politics for 6 years. In all that time, I’ve written a grand total of 2 articles – TWO: one advocating drug decriminalization based on its success in Portugal, the other opposing the growing bipartisan Surveillance State.
To claim – based on 2 freelance articles – that I am “of the CATO Institute” – as a way of discrediting me as some sort of libertarian – is a blatant, deliberate lie (are drug decriminalization and opposition to the Surveillance State now anathema to liberal politics?).”
Greenwald on Citizens United:
“I’m also quite skeptical of the apocalyptic claims about how this decision will radically transform and subvert our democracy by empowering corporate control over the political process. My skepticism is due to one principal fact: I really don’t see how things can get much worse in that regard. The reality is that our political institutions are already completely beholden to and controlled by large corporate interests (Dick Durbin: “banks own” the Congress). Corporations find endless ways to circumvent current restrictions — their armies of PACs, lobbyists, media control, and revolving-door rewards flood Washington and currently ensure their stranglehold — and while this decision will make things marginally worse, I can’t imagine how it could worsen fundamentally. All of the hand-wringing sounds to me like someone expressing serious worry that a new law in North Korea will make the country more tyrannical. There’s not much room for our corporatist political system to get more corporatist. Does anyone believe that the ability of corporations to influence our political process was meaningfully limited before yesterday’s issuance of this ruling?
sevensalts December 22nd, 2012 at 11:35 am 17
What an utterly idiotic diary. Mathematical models are not facts. LOL, anyone who tries to claim that a mathematical model is a fact, really is no different than a hard core true believer religious nut job. If mathematical models were facts, than people would never lose money on the stock market. If mathematical models were facts, the Oakland A’s would win the World Series every year. The world is far too complex and unpredictable, with hidden variables and intangibles that human beings cannot put on any mathematical model. Nate Silver was accurate on one election. Big whoop.
Glenn Greenwald never supported Ron Paul. He supported Ron Paul’s position on warmongering, which is to the left of Obama. Greenwald is infinite the times a thinker than you are, so you should just apologize in your update, and then sit down.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 11:46 am 18
In response to wigwam @ 13
Drug legalization is a libertarian issue championed by the Cato Institute. He’s also received money from Cato on other occasions.
Ron Paul is a libertarian championed by the Cato Institute.
Citizens United is a pro-corporate money in politics that ensures the two party duopoly that progressives abhor.
Glenn Greenwald takes the same pro-Citizens United line that Cato Institute does.
Glenn Greenwald is a libertarian not a progressive.
And he is not transparent about it either, while at the same time he continually demands transparency from everybody else.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 11:49 am 19
In response to sevensalts @ 17
What would you call mathematical models that predict the eventual results with a stunning degree of accuracy, then?
John Kelly December 22nd, 2012 at 12:02 pm 20
In response to dogbroth @ 18
Please see my previous comment at # 16 with quotes from G.G. on this subject. You are, I’m guessing from what you have said and how you have said it, a DailyKos type “liberal”. Pro-Obama, no matter what atrocities he commits, which in and of itself is fine for the morally corrupt and fan based political observer, but…. it is when you attack a truth-teller with lies and mis-direction that you reveal yourself. Greenwald is quite clear if you read him regularly and no amount of blather from your Dog’s Bottom will change that. Nice try sowing seeds of doubt though. Too bad for you and your propaganda that Bing can be our thing or Google can be our friend.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 pm 21
More on Greenwald’s non-transparent libertarianism:
The disgraceful and frighteningly uniform rallying for Ron Paul among bigshot talking heads on the so-called “left” has made further impressive strides towards cynicism, dishonesty and self-defeating idiocy in recent days. Glenn Greenwald uses his Salon column Dec. 31 to gush over Paul—while denying he “supports” or “endorses” him so many times that it smells strongly of methinks-he-doth-protest-too-much. Effuses Greenwald: “Ron Paul is the only major candidate from either party advocating crucial views on vital issues that need to be heard, and so his candidacy generates important benefits.” He goes on to dismiss principled progressive criticisms of Paul as “fallacies”:More criticism of “progressive” Greenwald
The thing I loathe most about election season is reflected in the central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned. As soon as his candidacy is discussed, progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here—the game that’s being played—is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.
Greenwald gripes (rather obviously): “The candidate supported by progressives—President Obama—himself holds heinous views on a slew of critical issues and himself has done heinous things with the power he has been vested.” He then goes on to list a litany of Obama’s crimes (the drone wars, targeted assassinations, betrayals of habeas corpus, etc.), which “have been vehemently opposed and condemned by Ron Paul.”
What a spineless and weasily argument! Pointing out the double standard among Obama supporters is just changing the subject—it lets Paul off the hook for nothing. Yes, there damn well are some things that are beyond the pale! Greenwald has it exactly backwards. By legitimizing his wacko far-right ideas among the “lefty” crowd, Paul’s candidacy is generating important detriments—which far outweigh any benefits.
Real liberals and progressives quickly pounced on Greenwald’s premises, focusing on his idolic praise for pseudo-liberal pundit Matt Stoller. For example, David Atkins, at Hullabaloo, quoted Greenwald:dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 12:28 pm 22
As Matt Stoller argued in a genuinely brilliant essay on the history of progressivism and the Democratic Party which I cannot recommend highly enough: “the anger [Ron Paul] inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview.” Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception
Atkins went on to say, “As usual, this is all so much hogwash… Liberalism is and has always been about intervention.” Even Gary Weiss, at Greenwald’s home site Salon, said that he “couldn’t disagree more” with the views presented by Stoller and Greenwald.
And let me hasten to add that I regularly read Greenwald and often agree with his criticisms of Obama and the Democrats.
Here, he is more or less right on target.
And he also admits that he isn’t for candidates being transparent about their ideology…stating that liberal candidates would do better not labeling themselves as liberals…mmm….
john in sacramento December 22nd, 2012 at 12:30 pm 23
I’m really debating whether or not to comment, because in commenting, I’m legitimizing the diary. Ok, against my better judgment, and after reading the first two paragraphs, I can only think of one word to describe this:
blueokie December 22nd, 2012 at 12:41 pm 24
This diary reflects the success of Dim branding, as opposed to Dim policy, on the weak minded.
John Kelly December 22nd, 2012 at 12:44 pm 25
In response to dogbroth @ 22
And let me hasten to add…since you cannot bring yourself to reply to the gutting of your preposterous hit piece, it is transparent to anyone with critical thinking skills that you are a troll not worth engaging. My mistake. Goodbye Dog’s Bottom, better luck next time.
sevensalts December 22nd, 2012 at 12:50 pm 26
In response to dogbroth @ 19
LOL, another dumb response. That’s not evidence of anything. It only means he got the election fairly right ONCE. There was a guy who predicted the Kennedy election down to the popular vote by pure guesswork. By your logic, that guy’s method is a fact. Let’s see if Silver can predict the next twenty elections using the same mathematical model. Also, I see that you have no response to Silver’s assertions that the financial crisis was caused by “poor models”. He doesn’t even account for human biases like greed. LOL! Technocrats, like you and Nate Silver, believe that everyone is perfectly rational, that everyone’s behavior can be predicted by mathematical models, and that so-called experts are infallible. Sounds like religion to me.
xanthe December 22nd, 2012 at 12:57 pm 27
In response to dogbroth @ 15
I like this saying, dogbroth – almost as much as the Obama hope stuff.
Unfortunately, it is not my choice anymore. Yes – certainly in my own day to day life but not in the political mix. Obama in his machinations in SS and Medicare has written my working class demographic off.
Though frankly, after the departure of DeMint – will we see more of this until the Congress will not matter much either. That is why I seldom contact pols.
The only demographic that seems to matter to DC is the monied demographic.
RFShunt December 22nd, 2012 at 1:31 pm 28
A couple of questions:
Do you believe it is possible to identify a subset of policy positions of a candidate that you find correct and still not be advocating for that candidates electoral victory? Or does agreeing on positions A, B and C, while simultaneously disagreeing on other policies automatically mean you are calling for that candidate’s ascent into office?
Do you believe that a freelance writer can sell an article or two to a publication and still not be in agreement with that publication’s general philosophy? Or does a couple of sales automatically mean you take on every philosophical position of that publication?
jest December 22nd, 2012 at 1:51 pm 29
*continues to be entertained by the exploding comments section*
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 2:21 pm 30
In response to sevensalts @ 26
He got one election fairly right?
Silver predicted all 50 states and every single Senate race, as I recall. So, yes, he was fairly right.
Silver also predicted 49 of 50 states in 2008 (Indiana he missed by a single percentage point).
So that’s actually two elections he got fairly right.
he didn’t do as well in the 2010 midterm. He only predicted a 52 seat net gain for the GOP not the 63 he got. However, that could still be considered fairly right.
And Silver’s use of mathematical models, which he adjusts and discloses and his stated preference for rationalism over clearly biased punditry sounds like religion to you?
timesthree December 22nd, 2012 at 2:27 pm 31
donkeytale returns from the dead.
RFShunt December 22nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm 32
In response to dogbroth @ 22
stating that liberal candidates would do better not labeling themselves as liberalsThank you – It’s not often that you get a textbook example of what “taken out of context” means.
For those who what to see what I’m talking about, go to the video at about 5:00 min in. The quote that’s being taken out of context occurs at about 5:13, but watch the whole 2:00 min segment and decide for yourself if Greenwald’s meaning and message is what dogbroth is claiming it is.
dogbroth December 22nd, 2012 at 2:34 pm 33
In response to RFShunt @ 28
I think it quite clear that Greenwald is libertarian. Frankly, I think it quite clear that most of what passes for “progressivism” in the blogosphere is closer to a mixture of libertarianism and isolationist conservatism.
This all OK with me, but it would be more ethical if he were as transparent as he wishes others to be.
Greenwald has done quite a bit more than simply write two articles for Cato. Again, he is not being transparent. His drug “article” is in fact more like a book length research paper that took a year to produce. It is for sale in the Cato Bookstore.
timesthree December 22nd, 2012 at 2:37 pm 34
Hey donkeytale, ready to fetch that tennis ball again?