Komments on Kilgore

by Robert Waldmann

Komments on Kilgore

Here are some of my usual comments on Ed Kilgore. Unlike me, he has been very interesting lately. He is clearly trying to reconcile the centrist and populist wings of the Democratic party noting that they agree on the main things (mostly that Republicans are evil nutcases). I think I will call this effort to link the way left and the third way “the fourth way”.

He wrote a very good post January 2nd and an even better one January 3rd.  I have to cut out part of my first comment on his January 2nd post:

Ah but we haven’t achieved a popular front of the legitimate left, because I can’t resist alleging that you fall into a contradiction Your colleagues at the “Progressive Policy Institute … support “centrist” policies because they believe in them, *NOT* just because more liberal policies are politically difficult …” and ” share the left’s … goals, but disagree over … political strategy” So is the disagreement about policy or politics ? You assert both. I note that some people (one associated with the Progressive Policy Institute) are unwilling to debate welfare policy without appealing to politics when the going gets rough (Ed Kilgore and Elaine Kamarck come to mind but you are legion).


And compare it with this from his January 3rd post

“populists” and “centrists” need to more clearly examine their common ground before establishing battlegrounds, and in particularly separate arguments over political strategy from arguments over substantive policy.


I have been writing that in comments for years.

In my 3 comments from Jauary 2nd :  “You seem to be trying to be more irenic even than EJ Dionne.  Oh the Ireny it burns” (or soothes or does whatever ireny would do if “ireny” were a word).

However, it’s hard to keep the peace in the world’s oldest disorganized political party. In particular “Everyone legitimately on the Left” is a call to arms. Your peace proposal includes a shibboleth — no enemies on the left among those who support universal health care. As you note, there are also those illegitimately pretending to agree with ” progressives’—values and policy goals” bur really, say, serve the interests of their rich financier financers (I won’t name names or count the ways in which they have let their masks slip).

OK I will. I think that we can agree that the Progressive Policy Institute is progressive. I think we can agree that The Third Way is ” the kind of “centrism” that represents elites as against popular movements of the left or the right.” I hope we can agree to disagree about the DLC (and AFDC which, like the DLC, doesn’t exist anymore).

[part cut out and posted above]

(Second comment)

Really honestly trying to just move on I clicked “American Service Provision is Extraordinarily Inefficient” and read your comrade at political animal Ryan Cooper “Anyway, this is just to say that the inefficiency of the kludgeocracy shows up in all kinds of ways. As Matt says, it might be time to move away from the “tax credit du jour” policy model and back towards good old direct government service provision.” I think this has clear relevance to the debate between the PPI center-left and the further left about ” program design”. We have evidence on the efficiency of reinvented government. It is clear. It may be impossible to convince swing voters, but we should be able to agree among ourselves on whether the problem with big government is purely a matter of electoral politics or if the argument that progressive goals are better met by means other than direct provision is consistent with the available data. third comment

But really this post is brilliant. You are so right that on the legitimate left there are serious debates which are dwarfed by the clash with Republicrazy.

(My comment on his January 3 post)

Heh indeed. I’d consider pure 200 proof populism to be “soak the rich and spread it out thin” or precisely the proposal to increase taxes on the rich and cut taxes on everyone else.

In 1992 Clinton ran making that proposal. There was a debate with a focus group with the dials and when Clinton said “only the rich got tax cuts” declared Bush supporters dialed in agreement. The pure populism was supported by Clinton supporters, undecided voters and Bush supporters.  Also Clinton won the election.

Similarly Obama ran promising higher taxes for the rich and lower taxes for the middle class.  Differently Obama delivered.  Notably the class warrior populist proposal was made by all Democrats elected president after Reagan.

Of course Clinton was quite different from Edwards (and Obama) because his health care proposal was far to the left of theirs.

Also Al Gore is a hero to the left now because he is still saying what he always said about global warming.

I can’t resist quoting from my comment on your Dionne post from yesterday “So is the disagreement about policy or politics ?  You assert both. ” and now from your current post ““populists” and “centrists” need to more clearly examine their common ground before establishing battlegrounds, and in particularly separate arguments over political strategy from arguments over substantive policy.”

Heh indeeeed