Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Columnists lose their liberal credentials

Dane Milbank and Maureen Dowd: where are their sympathies, which way do they lean? Is this even a question worth asking? Both were all in for Obama throughout the election season, both operate from a demonstrably liberal mindset, both even accept the label (more or less). But at times, both have been willing to be honest, to some degree. Milbank, for instance, actually accepted the idea that the Obama campaign was "going negative," though he still insisted it was a new thing for Democrats. But as I pointed out in the above piece, the hardcore (dishonest) Obama shills in the media wouldn't even admit to the first. Dowd, for her part, is more than capable of criticizing people on her "side" when she honestly thinks they deserve it. I rarely agree with her, but I'm hard pressed to find evidence of intentional dishonesty in her articles.

Both columnists are still staunch defenders of the liberal cause, regardless. Dowd is just a little more honest and a little more knowledgeable than Milbank. I can't imagine either one being shunned by their fellow liberals and progressives, though. That is, until today. Because apparently, the refusal of both to accept Susan Rice as the greatest thing since sliced bread is some sort of total betrayal to the cause and it will not be allowed, at least according to Joan Walsh at Salon.

Dowd's crime was her rather tame analysis of Rice's reasons for hitting the news shows with talking points about Benghazi. Dowd argues that Rice took the job to up her own political capital, to pave the way for her becoming Secretary of State, to improve her visibility. And that goal fell to the wayside because the talking points Rice used turned out to be garbage. Dowd concludes by noting the silliness of Obama's angry (oops, was that racist of me?) defense of Rice:
[Obama's] argument that Rice “had nothing to do with Benghazi,” raises the question: Then why was she the point person?  
The president’s protecting a diplomatic damsel in distress made Rice look more vulnerable, when her reason for doing those shows in the first place was to look more venerable.
Walsh calls Dowd's piece "nasty," then focuses in on the most minor of points: a source who told Dowd that Rice saw an opportunity with the assignment. Somehow--in Walsh's mind--a confirmation of what would seem to be an obvious reality undoes all of what Dowd says.

Similarly, Walsh takes issue with Milbank's piece because it relies entirely on "the testimony of [Rice's] enemies," without "a single named source." In fact, Milbank simply goes back to look at some of Rice's history, from when she was in the Clinton Administration to when she left the Clintons for Obama. The bits that come from "unnamed sources" are fillers and merely flesh out the character traits that are already well known...to everyone but Walsh, it would seem. Milbank concludes by noting that Rice is too much of an Obama "yes-man" for the office of Secretary of State:
True, Rice was following orders from the White House, which she does well. But the nation’s top diplomat needs to show more sensitivity and independence — traits Clinton has demonstrated in abundance. Obama can do better at State than Susan Rice.
It's merely Milbank's opinion, but based on the realities he details. Other might feel differently. But there's no betrayal of any sort here. There's an opinion in an opinion piece, supported by an interpretation of what are most assuredly facts, not dubious claims from mysterious insiders. Walsh still goes after him with both barrels, offering a poorly conceived comparison of Milbank's piece with that of Jeffrey Rosen's critical article on Jusitce Sotomayor--when she was still a nominee--from 2009.

Both writers have clearly irked Walsh, with their apparent willingness to eschew the--as Walsh sees it--Party line:
I know, they’re columnists, they don’t have to – but it’s sad they’re carrying water for Rice’s cowardly rivals and doubters. No doubt Republicans are enjoying having so-called liberals with which to bolster their unfair, sometimes unhinged attacks on Rice – now with the imprimatur “Even those liberals at the New York Times and Washington Post agree.”
Their mere acts of independent thought--offering a less-than flattering analysis of Susan Rice--make them both water carriers for the "cowardly" critics of Rice on the Right. But even more significantly, neither Milbank nor Walsh is a real liberal now; both are "so-called liberals." Joan Walsh--the liberal-in-chief, apparently--has spoken. Because we all know she's the one that's in charge of liberalism, right? She runs the show and has final say on the membership roster.

Sorry Dana. Sorry Maureen. You're both out. Hand over your liberal membership cards and be sure to clean out your lockers before you leave. And no, we won't validate your parking slips.

Cheers, all.

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