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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, September 05, 2003


Liberal Joy vs. Liberal Fear

posted by Trammell at Friday, September 05, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Former George Magazine executive editor Richard Blow comments on Howard Dean and Al Franken in the below excerpts from
Most liberals are overjoyed about Al Franken and Howard Dean. After all, both men are finally succeeding where the Democratic Party has failed for years: landing some punches on George W. and his right-wing spear-throwers. [...]

It's next to impossible to find a lefty columnist or talking head from inside the Beltway who's said nice things about the two Democratic firebrands. Instead, they fret that Dean has a "temper." (The New Republic recently ran a cover of Dean which made him look like Hitler circa 1939 -- all it lacked was for someone to pencil in a little mustache on his upper lip.)

"Liberal scriveners may improve their team's political lot by matching the conservative investment in liar-liar stock, but it will come at the expense of their credibility," says Slate's Jack Shafer in an exquisite summation of the punditocracy's conventional wisdom.

It's a curious argument -- especially since, just a couple paragraphs higher, Shafer concedes that Franken "accurately document[s] the right's most egregious lies." So let me rebut it: To attack a lie is not the same as to tell a lie. Would Shafer prefer that Democrats just sit back and get pounded for a few more years, secure in the knowledge that, even though they're getting their asses kicked, at least they're right?

That tactic didn't work so well in 2000. And yet, it's exactly the attitude that many liberal pundits take towards both Dean and Franken. The passion of these men makes them queasy. [...] The pundits wince in distaste and pray for John Kerry to get back on track. Why are they so afraid of liberals who fight back? [...]

Bill Clinton's rare genius, on the other hand, was that he combined both passion and intelligence. It's possible, I suppose, that Democratic candidates could win without the kind of passion that Franken and Dean manifest. (Al Gore did.) But if they're not passionate, what's the point?


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.