Why the Mad Biologist Is the Punditiest Pundit EVAH: The Ezra Klein Edition

It only took Ezra Klein about much longer than me to figure this out:

...the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans have staked out before.

Take health-care reform. The individual mandate was developed by a group of conservative economists in the early '90s. Mark Pauly, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of them. "We were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance," he told me recently. The conservative Heritage Foundation soon had an individual-mandate plan of its own, and when President Bill Clinton endorsed an employer mandate in his health-care proposal, both major Republican alternatives centered on an individual mandate. By 1995, more than 20 Senate Republicans -- including Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar and a few others still in office -- had signed one individual mandate bill or another.

Obama is a Rockefeller Republican. That's far better than either the theopolitically unhinged Republicans or the batshitloonitarians such as Rand Paul and Paul Ryan. But Obama's really not even a moderate Democrat.

But unlike Klein, I always knew cartoon villian 'courageous thinker' Paul Ryan was a fraud.

Also, dogs and small children are usually quite fond of me.

On the other hand, I'm not a Very Serious Person. And I curse (not in front of the dogs and small children though). So there's that going for Klein.

By the way, this isn't just some obscure name calling--Obama's Republicanism has real-world consequences (italics mine):

The International Association of Fire Fighters announced today it is freezing donations to federal candidates and party committees and will shift its money to fight anti-union efforts in state legislatures around the country.

The decision could hurt Democrats, who received more than 80% of the money donated by the union's political action committee in 2010's midterm elections for Congress, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. In all, the union said it spent $15 million on federal politics last year.

General President Harold Schaitberger said the union faces legislative fights, ballot measures and recall elections that threaten workers' rights in at least nine states. At the same time, the union's traditional allies in Congress haven't aggressively defended firefighters, he said.

"We are simply shutting down any contributions going to any federal candidates or to any federal PACs or committees until, quite frankly, our friends are willing to stand up and fight on our behalf with the same kind of ferocity that our enemies and those that are literally trying to destroy us are doing on the other side," Schaitberger told USA TODAY.

It would be nice if 'progressives' who attended elite finishing schools really understood that working people are in the fight of their lives, and pundited accordingly. Instead, Bob Somerby is dead on target:

...consider the three (possible) Ezras. Presumably, some combination of the three advanced those extremely strange statements:

The first Ezra is a conniving careerist. He wants to be seen as a Serious Person within Establishment press corps culture.

The second Ezra simply hopes to land an interview with Ryan. He figures that saying such foolish things might help him win that prize.

The third Ezra is just a bit young--a bit under-developed emotionally. He doesn't yet have the internal censors which would have told a sensible person how weird it was to vouch for Ryan that way.

Which of the three possible Ezras produced that ridiculous framework? We have no idea.

Jay Ackroyd provides some evidence for option #1

Sadly, Ezra Klein is misperceived as a liberal....

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I fear the IAFF witholding contributions is going to have a boomerang effect. You can't punish a politician by witholding contributions. They'll just ignore you and listen to the people/PACs who are still donating.

By The Other Lance (not verified) on 27 Apr 2011 #permalink

I fear the IAFF witholding contributions is going to have a boomerang effect. You can't punish a politician by witholding contributions. They'll just ignore you and listen to the people/PACs who are still donating.

well yes, this is true. it is why right-wing republican politicos are not "punished" by organizations such as the IAFF refusing to donate to them, and is part of why such politicos do not listen to left-wing voices. on the other hand, donating however much money to those politicians would be most unlikely to get them to champion left-wing causes.

if we may now say exactly the same thing about politicians who sport a (D) after their names as we may about the (R)'s, this does not constitute reason to give either one of them any more money.

unless, of course, you would propose that all politicians are truly so mercenary and cynical they would champion whoever paid them the most, without concern for the nature of the causes championed. in which case we may as well buy off the republicans, because their tactics and strategies appear most remarkable effective, moreso than the democrats'.

By Nomen Nescio (not verified) on 27 Apr 2011 #permalink