Saturday, February 05, 2011

Eric Alterman on "Kabuki Democracy" and the Beltway Dogfight

Eric Alterman (excerpted on AlterNet from his new book, "Kabuki Democracy):

To be fair to the Democrats, they are a far more ideologically diverse party than the Republicans and contain many moderates, many of who, in past Congresses, would easily have been conservatives. To further complicate matters, the more conservative or “centrist” representatives are almost always the most vulnerable because they do not represent reliably liberal districts (many were recently recruited for the purposes of winning in “purple” districts). As NPR’s Ron Elving observed following the publication of yet another poll predicting a Republican landslide, House Democrats were divided between their safe “sitting pretty faction” and “the more fragile ‘scaredy cat’ faction that could be carried off by even the gentlest of anti-incumbent breezes.” As a result, the Democratic leadership in both houses is forever forced to compromise with its own side rather than its opposition.

Now add to this the fact that, as Roberts rightly notes, “Congressional Republicans exercise far more party discipline, are far more extreme ideologically, and are far more willing to twist and abuse procedure than are Congressional Democrats.” It’s true, as pundits like to claim, that both sides “do it,” but Republican conservatives do it better, more often, and to far greater effect. As New York congressman Anthony Weiner wryly observes, too often Democrats arrive at “knife fights carrying library books.” MORE...

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