Thursday, April 27, 2006

Liberalism and Authenticity

Over at the Huffington Post, Thomas Frank reviews Joe Klein's new book and rips him a new one:
Liberalism sucks, authenticity rocks: All else in Politics Lost (and, indeed, in all the Klein works I have read) can be extrapolated from these two fixed points. So: If someone strikes Mr. Klein as authentic, you can be fairly sure he's not a liberal. And conversely: If someone is the "New" kind of Democrat who pooh-poohs economic liberalism, you can be similarly confident that within a few paragraphs ol' Joe will pronounce him to be a one-of-a-kind Turnip-Day American, brimming with leadership and humanity.

This makes for a truly bizarre series of conclusions, the first and most important of which is the courageousness of centrism. Up until now you have probably thought that when you saw Democrats dumping their traditional principles in order to run pallid, market-tested campaigns appealing to swing voters with rhetoric borrowed from the G.O.P., they were doing so because they had been listening to consultants, pollsters, focus groups, and so on. Well--according to Mr. Klein, you have it precisely backwards. In Joe's world, the consultants and the pollsters and even the money are all on the other side, forever driving the cowardly politicians to the partisan extremes. Consultants on the Democratic side seem always to turn out to be liberals in Mr. Klein's telling, and liberalism itself is usually the sad result of a candidate listening to consultants. What the Democratic party is in need of is what Mr. Klein calls a "radical middle" that talks truth rather than liberal platitude.
The whole piece is brilliant and certainly worth a read -- if for no other reason than to understand the Turnip Day reference. Go!

Update: Through Atrios, I see that the piece over at the Huffington Post is just an excerpt of a longer, better piece. Read the full thing here.


Pooh said...

That's going to leave a the whole thing...

Thrillhous said...

Yeah, that was some good wordin'. I really liked the bit at the end about Truman.