Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RAB vs. PO: Now Pitching for ProgressOhio, Pho

Lately I’ve been getting love on Right Angle Blog. Yes, I know. Last week front-pager Matthew complained tongue-in-cheek that I had thrown him a “curveball” by posting a “reasonable” argument about the strip club bill. That’s me, always throwing the Curveball of Reasonableness. It’s my out pitch, set up with the Cut Syllogism Fastball.

So over the weekend, Matthew again posted about me, this time my second post about ProgressOhio and the 9/11 Trooth* group. It’s nice enough but, like so much on RAB, takes the argument way too far.

First, the nice part.

    On every political issue, Pho and I seem to disagree. But I thank him for being dismissive of fringe lefty groups that have no interest in reasonable or rational discourse.
Fine, but before we get all warm and fuzzy, here’s the part where I feel Matthew is overstating the case.
    It is becoming clear that the Democrats set up Progress Ohio specifically to direct fringe elements away from the Ohio Democrat Party and keep them far away from reasonable moderate-to-conservative Democrat voters... such as my entire family. So Progress Ohio ends up being a group full of anti-semitic conspiracy nuts (the core of 9/11 truthies' argument is that America blew up buildings for a Zionist cause), unemployed Green Party coordinators, and other sorts of freaks and degenerates of the liberal movement.
JUUUUuust a bit outside.

First, the founders of ProgressOhio weren’t “Democrats” in the sense of being the Democratic Party or Party activists. They were progressive activists which is a different thing. One of the disadvantages faced by Democrats is that people on left tend to be more suspicious and less likely to align themselves with the party. Contrast that with conservatives where you have to go pretty far out on the right to find people who distance themselves from the Republican party.

Progressives generally work to influence the party from the outside. Conservatives seek to take over the Republican Party from the inside. As a result, the Republican party has a tighter relationship with its right wing than the Democratic Party has with its left.

(At the same time, Republicans have been far more ruthless about keeping the crazies out of the tent. William F. Buckley’s grim determination to keep the Birchers out of the conservative movement in the Sixties is now legendary.)

All of which is to say that Democrats didn’t need to get involved in setting up PO and wouldn’t have gone that way if they were considering how to deal with the left wing of the party and if they had, it wouldn't have worked. Also, since I interviewed for the position with ProgressOhio I can say with some confidence that it is not some sort of front group or diversionary playpen for the left wing of the party.

As to the rest of Matthew’s typification, it’s just not true that the PO community is entirely made up of lefty moonbats. PO itself is less an advocacy group in its own right and more a resource for other groups. That is its strength and, as the tussle over the Troothers shows, a potential liability. But the bulk of PO members are more responsible and rational than the Troothers. What’s more, the PO community runs the gamut of center-left politics.

To move a little on my metaphorical baseball diamond, I'm a call-em-like-I-see-em blogger. If I think progressives are hurting causes I care about, I'll post about it. I'm as likely, if not more likely, to be tough on someone I like who's on my side as someone across the aisle. But I'm also pretty careful about letting someone run away with my critique. That wasn't what it was about.

*You may have noticed the way I misspell "Trooth." Since I almost always look at the truth as a good thing, I dislike calling 9/11 conspiracists "Truthies" or "Truthers" but haven't come up with better nickname. Given that the ravings of 9/11 Truth only vaguely resemble actual truth, I'm going with a spelling that does the same thing. It's kind of how newspapermen distinguish "lede" and "lead," but with more malice.