Walsh helps define the question: Personally, we were less than thrilled when Rachel Maddow played with her dolls on her cable news program.
It struck us as pathetically silly. But then, we’d had a somewhat similar reaction when we watched Maddow playing with her remote control toy car the night before.
(For background, see this morning’s report. The toy car segment at least made some objective sense.)
Will progressives ever learn how to win friends and influence voters? Or will our avatars line their pockets by sillily playing with their toys on our tribal “news” channel?
Will progressives learn how to influence voters? Or will we just keep entertaining ourselves? Let’s consider this question in light of Joan Walsh’s post about Hillary Clinton.
Walsh discusses Clinton’s recent interview, in which Clinton took a semi-hawkish stand on international questions. In the passage shown below, Walsh offers her general reaction to this matter, one we generally tend to agree.
We tend to agree with what Walsh says. But look at that highlighted fantasy:
WALSH (8/11/13): As someone who supported Clinton in 2008 and who anticipates supporting her again in 2016, assuming she runs, I found the interview sobering. So far, my approach to 2016 is to say that Clinton may not be perfect, but she’s the not-perfect candidate we know, very well. I would rather not see progressives set up someone who seems perfect (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, perhaps?) who will turn out to be not perfect—whether on Israel, Iraq or some crisis that hasn’t emerged yet—as Sen. Obama did. Especially since I don’t see anyone on the horizon with Obama’s politics, charisma, or capacity to unite the party.“While progressives work to change the House and Senate?” Especially in the world of the new Salon, what could possibly make Walsh think that we would know how to do that?
I’d rather progressives start out realistic, elect Clinton, let her appoint two Supreme Court justices, do some good things on economic policy, and continue with at least 98 percent of Obama’s foreign policy—while progressives work to change the House and Senate.
On the whole, we agree with Walsh’s take on the current batch of Democratic candidates. In our view, the Democratic bench is pitifully thin—and no, we don’t see Warren as a potential Obama II, although we tend to agree with her domestic politics.
That said, what could possibly make Walsh think that we progressives would know how to “work to change the House and Senate” during the tenure of the next President Clinton? This question brings us back to Maddow and her dolls.
Maddow was playing with paper dolls of former governor Bob McDonnell and his loathsome wife, Maureen McDonnell. During McDonnell’s term as governor of Virginia, Maddow dubbed him “Governor Ultrasound” because of a ridiculous set of bills he supported—bills requiring ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.
In the end, McDonnell signed Virginia’s ultrasound law on March 7, 2012. In this March 1, 2012 editorial, the Washington Post denounced the law as “a prime example of ideology, nanny-state paternalism and arrogance trumping plain good sense.”
Virginia is a purple state; Obama won it twice, by margins of 6.3 and 3.9 points. It’s an indictment of our competence as progressives that the ultrasound bill passed in Virginia, a state which has specifically said that it is designed for lovers.
In October 2013, late in his term, McDonnell had a 55-32 advantage in favorability, according to the Marist poll. People, we’re just saying!
Alas! When Maddow can’t prevail in such matters, she starts rooting for the politician in question to spend the rest of his life in prison. Also his spouse, where possible.
You don’t see discussions on Maddow’s show about the best way to communicate with purple state voters. Instead, you see prayers that opponents’ lives might be destroyed—and you see her playing with dolls.
The liberal world was asleep in the woods for a good many years. As we began to emerge in the aftermath of Iraq, corporate news orgs gave us leaders like Maddow and the new improved Walsh, cable slave to the thoroughly reinvented Christopher Matthews.
In recent weeks, Maddow has been staging an instructional film on how to avoid influencing voters. Over at Walsh’s Salon, the children trumpet louder and louder, playing similar songs.
Today, Walsh imagines a world in which we progressives will somehow know how to “work to change the House and Senate.” We think Walsh is playing with dolls when she types this dream.
All around our liberal news orgs, we think we see people playing with dolls. Do these people know how to influence voters?
On balance, you can color us skeptical. We’ll explore this matter all week.
Tomorrow: Rick Perlstein’s Nixon doll