Well, as long as James Kirchick has a weeklyish column in Politico, I'll have a weeklyish blog post where I point out all the errors, or as many as I find. 

For someone who often claims that liberals don't take conservative ideas seriously, how little respect Kirchick has for liberal ones. Take his riff on Obama's FISA vote, which we all know has hurt his standing with the netroots. Kirchick says that "this is an issue about which the vast majority of the American people
couldn’t care less, but it’s of monumental importance to the Netroots,
who see it as confirmation of their deepest and darkest fears that Vice
President Cheney is out to get them."

Kirchick ignores (maybe he doesn't know?) that there are good reasons to be unhappy with the bill, chief among them that people and corporations may have broken the law by spying on citizens, and now we'll never know if they did and they'll never be punished. It's OK with me that we have to let this civil liberties violation go in order to be pragmatic and increase our protection in the future, but to pretend this issue is unimportant is just, well, how about morally unserious?

Then there's the Iraq graf. I would urge Kirchick to do something crazy and read Obama's speech on Iraq, or his recent op-ed. The deadline is still there, and he hasn't flip-flopped. I'm also willing to bet him cash money dollars (ten of them, I'm just a writer) that Robert Gates will not be Secretary of Defense in an Obama administration.

The other issues Kirchick mentions are, well, minor. The Supreme Court's gun rights decision is going to have little effect. The death penalty? Tim Kaine is popular among the netroots, and he enforces the death penalty. As for NAFTA and welfare reform, the "angry left" can rest relatively easy with all the progressive members of Congress that will be elected in 2008.

The best part, though, is Kirchick's claim that, because Joe Lieberman votes with Democrats on most issues, their desire to get him kicked out of the Democratic caucus is "irrational." Kirchick mentions Lieberman's position on the war, but doesn't mention that he is actively campaigning for the Republican nominee. It's not just the netroots that doesn't like Lieberman, it's the Democratic leadership!

As for the netroots' accomplishments; like most groups, they exaggerate their influence, but their fund raising and punditry give them as much influence as any other liberal interest group. The netroots are holding Obama's feet to the fire on progressive issues, just as any constituency in a party should. You could easily write an honest column about the issue. Or you could write this.

--Tim Fernholz

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