Monday, August 13, 2007

Thoughts on the Kos/Ford Nondebate

Yesterday’s Meet the Press appearance by Democratic Leadership Council Chair and Fox News patsy Harold Ford, Jr. and DailyKos Ego-In-Chief Markos Moulitsos was billed as a throwdown between the moderate and liberal camps within the Democratic Party. As a Democrat with one foot in each camp, I was hoping for better than we got.

Ford ultimately won on the point he wanted to make which is that the liberal wing of the party can’t ignore the center. Kos won on the point he wanted to make which is that certain members of the DLC are not simply centrist but stooges for people on the right with bad intent. Neither did much to take on the other's point. If Ford had anything behind his Fox News statement about the Kos Nation that "I don't like their politics," he certainly didn't bring it Sunday.

I intended to liveblog the thing, but gave up. How do you write up a “debate” in which neither party will engage the other?

Part of the problem is the matchup between the two. The telling exchange occurred when substitute moderator David Gregory asks what three issues they would advise candidates to make central. Kos immediately bails:

    MR. MOULITSAS: Well, you know, you’re starting talking about issues. What I want that candidate to do is to not be afraid to talk about who they are, to be authentic and to tell us who they are so that we can actually make a decision. And not me. I’m not going to make this decision. It’s not my job to decide who the nominee’s going to be. I want these candidates to speak to regular Americans. And for too long they’ve been speaking to the pundits, they’ve been speaking to shows like this one. They haven’t been really communicating to the base because they had to go through this media filter and this political filter, and now we’re destroying those filters. We’re saying go straight to the people, talk to them,
See, talking about issues is so . . . centrist. All you need is to be passionate. Be real. Tell America to wave their hands in the air and vote like they really care.

Ford, on the other hand, is all about talking the issues:
    REP. FORD: I hope we can merge all the factions in our party to organize around a clean energy future, developing not only a plan to win and improve our chances of, of instilling stability in the Middle East, but to find ways to, to attract and—new energy, and for lack of a better word, and new investments to find new energy sources for the future. Two, to fight the growing inequality. I give, I give them credit also for highlighting and bringing attention to the fact that there’s a growing gap between people who have and people who don’t and, more importantly, people who want. And the Democratic Party’s longtime tradition has been to address those issues. And finally, we’ve got to find ways to address the health care and education challenge in this country. The next president of the United States, he or she will have the challenge of uniting the country around a common agenda and then working his or her heart out, not only to build support here, but to hap—to help re-establish a marker about this great country around the globe.
And this illustrates the fundamental differences between the institutions the two represent. The DLC, for all time it spends on the Kos pillory, is at its core a think tank. Its an organization of center-left policy wonks, especially those with some working knowledge of economics. I hardly ascribe to all of their beliefs, but have maintained my subscription to their email newsletters long since I stopped visiting Big Orange. DKos, on the other hand, is a big white wall on which the “regular Americans” of liberal bent can scribble what they want.

The DLC is about ideas, and whether you agree with those ideas or not, they are challenging. DailyKos is about passions. If you don't share the passions you don't hang around long.

So the debate went on from there, with Kos stammering and practically jumping out of his ill-fitting suit, while Ford sat there, a study in placid wonkiness. Kos blasting Ford for DLC treason and Ford bobbing and weaving, but for the most part, not throwing punches of his own. If you desire to experience it yourself, the video is up on Crooks and Liars and MTP has the transcript ready. Reaction on News Hounds and, of course, DailyKos.


Ben said...

wow, Democrats really turn on someone who works for Fox News. not very tolerant.

Scott Piepho said...

If Ford appeared on Fox and forcefully argued positions, I would be OK with that. But since he allows Sean Hannity to bray his extremist positions without response, since he offers the impression of tacit agreement with his silence, since he -- for God's sake -- makes Alan Colmes look assertive, he's just being a stooge.

Ben said...

well i take you at your word.

but most democrats who so hate ford for working for fox would gladly do the same job for the same amount of money ford gets paid.