These three posts I came across today form a decent triad in explaining the difficulty faced by progressives these days and the overall weakness of the Democratic Party...which, as we know, has spent the better part of the last quarter century or so giving short shrift to its (progressive) base.
First, Jane Hamsher:
It is remarkably frustrating to blog the Alito hearings, feel the righteous indignation of people in the comments sections all over the blogosphere that the supreme court is in danger of making a major lurch to the extreme right with the potential appointment of a bigoted, sexist, entitled, slavering chickenhawk like Alito, and see it reflected nowhere in the traditional media.
Every time it feels like some momentum is being gained, CNN blows it all away with the sweep of a facile headline. Pick up a paper or turn on cable news and on cue they are parroting all the GOP's talking points -- Alito's a moderate, he'll keep an "open mind" on abortion, and oh the poor frumpy sobbing wife.
How does the GOP keep them all in such abject subservience? An article from the Knight-Ridder news service shows the extremely organized pressure they bring to bear on anyone who deviates from their party message...
Hamsher then notes the kneejerk reactions from true assholes like John Cornyn, Jon Kyl, and Jeffrey N. Wasserstein--none of whom I'll bet actually READ the Knight Ritter story, much less the Alito opinions themselves. Hamsher concludes by linking to Peter Daou (also found via Atrios), who offers analysis and conjecture:
Within days of the warrantless domestic spying story breaking, I wrote a cynical piece titled The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade). It seemed clear that the lack of coordination between the netroots and the Democratic leadership, coupled with the media’s equivocation and obfuscation, would lead to another potentially impeachable offense fading and "blending into a long string of administration scandals."
Looking at the contours of previous scandals, I ventured this prediction: "Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on."
And like clockwork, we get this from CNN: Poll finds U.S. split over eavesdropping, not to mention this from Rasmussen. (One of the rare benefits of a second Bush term is that the patterns of media and political behavior that have led us to this point are more easily discerned.)...
Which brings me to the Alito hearings, a perfect instance for the left's triangle to change conventional wisdom, to shape public opinion. But rather than a Democratic triumph, the Alito hearings have thrown the dichotomy between the netroots and the Democratic leadership into even starker relief, illustrating the profound dysfunction of the left’s triangle. As well, the depth and breadth of media complicity and the obliviousness of so many Democrats to it, is alarming. From the choreography of Specter and Alito creating the "open mind on abortion" soundbite that media outlets dutifully ran with, to the Sen. Graham/Mrs. Alito tear-fest that should have prompted Dems to slam the Republicans for bringing the Judge's wife to tears but instead turned into another Dem-bashing occasion, to the complete failure of the Democratic leadership to create the appropriate tone of outrage (in soundbite form), the chronic breakdown of the establishment and media sides of the left's triangle is apparent.
This, then, is the reality: progressive bloggers and online activists -- positioned on the front lines of a cold civil war -- face a thankless and daunting task: battle the Bush administration and its legions of online and offline apologists, battle the so-called “liberal” media and its tireless weaving of pro-GOP narratives, battle the ineffectual Democratic leadership, and battle the demoralization and frustration that comes with a long, steep uphill struggle.
Check out Daou's post for his opinion on how progressives could've worked the Alito nomination--and I'll note that all he's suggestion is opting for strategies routinely used by the GOP itself (anyone who thinks the right isn't constantly playing politics is simply batshit insane).
Digby ties it all together, slamming both the wingnuts for their mendacity AND the Democrats for allowing themselves to be attacked as "chickenshits":
It pays to keep in mind that the 1994 Republicans didn't put out their "Contract On America" until six weeks before the election. They've pretended that it won them the election but that's a joke. (They did use bogus polling to give that impression.) What won that election was relentless criticism over the course of many months leading up to it. They built upon a reserve of discontent about a slow economic recovery by placing the blame for everything squarely on the "liberals" and the Democratic party. Their "positive" agenda was just gilding the lilly...
Here's a rather amusing example of GOP think on this from a commenter, who offered it up apparently without irony:
allow me to explain why the Abramoff scandal, like so many others before it, will prove to be more devestating to the Dems then it could possibly be to the GOP, much less conservatives...
Americans are already starting to realize that if a "loyal opposition" cannot even do its job of defeating the party in powers' corruption and misgovernance (examples of which are legion, apparently), then how can we possibly entrust them with the real job of governing the nation?
Rather, American voters will know they would be wiser to turn to the Republican Party, which has made some partisan, ideological and hubristic missteps, yes - even engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior it would seem. All those sins, yes, but still the GOP is not so grossly incompetent or lacking in power that it would allow what it has done over the past few years to pass, if it had been the Democrats who had done it.
Truly, the Dems attack the Abramoff scandal at their peril.
Well, it takes either remarkable gumption--or true stupidity--to believe a massive GOP corruption scandal will somehow end up hurting the Democrats...BUT, with a compliant press corpse (e.g., Blitzer, Woof), it certainly becomes easier...and easier still when every person in a position of leadership, with the exception of Howard Dean, plays shrinking violet every time a professional asshole like John Cornyn engages in verbal flatulence.
Alas, Dean is undergoing what Jerome Doolittle aptly referred to as "Permafuck" during the 2004 election cycle...but again, I have a feeling that folks like John Murtha are a little more in tune with public opinion than the preening ninnies of wingnuttia--who, these days, are the embodiment of the inside-the-beltway culture they railed about...until they took THEIR seats at the trough.
Payback is a bitch. And I'm still hoping a nice cold dish of revenge is about to get served--perhaps in subpeona or indictment form, or maybe at the polls...I guess we'll see come November.