CENTER-RIGHT PUNDITS ARE NOT A GOVERNING COALITION. Brothers Ben and Ezra say most of what needs to be said about this atrocious, risibly anachronistic op-ed by Thomas Edsall. An argument this silly contains multitudes, however, and there's one point I'd like to add. My question: if we're throwing "organized labor, minority advocacy organizations [and] reproductive- and sexual-rights proponents" out of the Democratic coalition, who's left? Where are the votes coming from? (The irony here is that DLC types, who see the Democrats building a governing Democratic coalition out of wealthy, complacent white males, are the flipside of Ralph Nader, who seems to think that a governing progressive coalition can be built by white college students.)

There are two moves Edsall makes that are crucial to propping up this nonsense. The first is the egregious double standard in evaluating Democratic and Republican-affiliated factions. Supporters of reproductive freedom are a "special interest" dragging down the Democratic Party, while the cultural conservatives are simply "real Americans" or some such (even on issues, like Roe v. Wade, where the pro-choice position is also the majority position.) The second is that the "public interest" adduced by pundits like Edsall to contrast with "special interests" tends to match up not with the priorities of voters but with what Bob Somerby calls "millionaire pundit values." We're about to see this play out again with respect to Social Security, where Democrats will be urged to be "responsible" and endorse some kind of privatization scheme, although the Democrats' position on Social Security involves backing the majority position against "special interests." Such conceptions of the "public interest" are just empty tautologies used to defend whatever position the pundit happens to hold, and has nothing whatsoever to do with coalition-building.

--Scott Lemieux

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