Sunday, January 28, 2007

TNR Editor 's Odd Appraisal of Ohio '04

Lately I’ve been reading The Spine, a newish blog by New Republic co-owner Marty Peretz. TNR has drifted noticeably to the left in recent years, but Peretz has done his level best to rein it back. Peretz is the embodiment of the cold-war era, crabby liberal TNR I grew up with; as Mickey Kaus puts it, right on warfare, left on welfare. Also fiercely Zionist and allergic to the cultural left. This Peretz description of Joe Lieberman could as easily be about himself:

    [M]uscular on defense, assertive in foreign policy, genuinely liberal on social and economic matters, but not doctrinaire on regulatory issues . . . He has qualms about affirmative action. But who, in his hearts of hearts, does not? He is appalled by the abysmal standards of our popular culture and our public discourse. Who really loves our popular culture--or, at least, which parent? He is thoroughly a Democrat.
Peretz through and through. While he has his opinions and enforces them with, at times, Stalinist efficiency, he’s a smart guy with mostly thought-provoking things to say.


Today he presumes to explain why Ohio voted for Bush in 2004. It was Michael Moore. And George Soros. Seriously, in a post about Democrats lining up Hollywood supporters he makes both claims.

The Michael Moore claim is the sort of simple-minded shibboleth we expect coasters to say about flyover country. Granted, since Kerry’s lost by a fine-edge margin any number of factors could have made the difference. But there were so many big ones, singling out the little ones just seems silly. Saying Kerry lost Ohio because of Michael Moore is like saying he lost because of his “Lambert Field” fumble.

The Soros claim, on the other hand, is just bizarre. All Soros did was poor millions into a canvass and GOTV effort that helped turn out record numbers of voters. He was vilified as a result, but it’s hard to imagine that people who watched the dire reports on Fox Noise were going to vote for Kerry in any event. He didn’t personally appear in Ohio, he didn’t make a documentary featuring debunked conspiracy theories, and he certainly didn’t waddle around after Wesley Clark like a homesick gosling.

What makes me sick about this is that the right loves to play the game called "You Are Who Supports You." This despite right wing candidates being supported by plenty of unsavory candidates themselves. It's enough of a challenge staying out of that game when baited by the right. We really don't need people on the left signing up to play.

Ironically, if there was one factor outside of John Kerry being a stiff that tipped the balance in Ohio, it was arrogant East Coasters presuming to know what does or doesn’t play here. Peretz’s post indicates we still have plenty of that.