DAYS OF OLD. So of course everyone hates this Adam Nagourney Week in Review article quoting "leading Dems" who say the party would be better off not taking over either chamber of Congress in November. Actually, two arguments get made in the piece. The argument based on political gaming -- that it'll be better to let the GOP ride out their failures on their own for another two years -- has a real logic to it (Ezra agrees with it, and he's no wanker!), though it bespeaks a rather dubious approach to doing politics. The second argument has to do with the dangers that Democrats could face by conducting a lot of "political," mean-spirited congressional hearings rather than come together with Republicans to get things done. This argument is of course supremely lame.

There's a meta-point to be made about Nagourney's sources in the article though -- they help bolster the argument that, to use the uncouth but expressive language of Atrios, the true age of wanker domination (or at least wanker eminence) in the Democratic Party and the center-left political scene is in the past. Nagourney's quotes come from founding K-Street Democrat Tony Coehlo, late-1990s DNC chair Joe Andrew, and prototypical 1980s-90s "pain caucus" Dem Bob Kerrey. These genuinely are voices of the Democrats' recent past. Their outlook and approach don't predominate among the ranks of current Democratic officials. Overwhelmingly the explanation for the shift is Bush- and GOP-driven partisan polarization (along with the final eclipsing of an actual conservative faction inside the Democratic Party), though it's certainly the case that blogs and other actors in the nascent, new-school vast left-wing conspiracy have played a role as well. This is partly what leads me to want to defend the actions of party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and rebut blanket condemnations of the party made by netroots types -- not that there isn't plenty to complain about, but that there's genuinely less to complain about, in terms of the party remaining roughly loyal to progressive principles and learning to act like an effective opposition, than in any time in the recent past. Of course, what's still left to do is take power.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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