A couple notes about NY-23

As someone who misses the liberal wing of the Republican party, I am pleased that Scozzafava was vindicated. Michelle Malkin (who I actually went to college with) is doing her best to spin this. I suspect she wrote two articles. If Owens had lost, she would have declared victory. He won, so she is still declaring victory, but over the Republican elite.

The truth, however, is that a Democrat has won in a district that has gone Republican for more than a century. This should have been an easy district for Republicans to win.

But her band of revolutionaries lost it. The anti-tax, flat earth wing of the corporate party didn’t fly with the traditionalist old school voters considering bread and butter issues prior to the confused ideologies of the Armey/Palin wing. They didn’t need a carpet bagger or outsiders wanting to fight the culture war in NY state.

Note that both Republicans who won in VA and NJ are moderates who may govern responsibly. In the end, this election had little to do with Obama. But people do wish things might move a bit faster. Nate analyzes the data.

Michelle Malkin and her supporters seem content to remain in a minority party, having sacrificed practicality with an authoritarian ideology masking as libertarianism. In the end, for her ideology is more important than governance. And I suspect many people know that when conservatives enter government, they would rather wreck it than run it. Which is why sensible voters won’t go the revolutionary, radical route currently masquerading as real conservatism.

“Liberal” Wing of the Republican Party? There were many. They were conservatives in temperament, but willing to move cautiously for human feeling and integrity.

Jacob Javitz.
Fiorello Laguardia.
Millicent Fenwick.
Barber Conable.
Amo Haughton.
Lowell Weicker.

They supported civil rights, good government, and anti-corruption in both parties.

I suspect that when Obama talks about bi-partisanship, he misses them also. I also bet some Republicans miss them as well. But they have been held hostage by those who demand ideological purity before good government. Whether right or left, the Manichean view that elevates purity and perfection above practicality is a mask for the psychology of tyranny.

Old school, patrician, liberal Republicans knew this, which is why they opposed the radical left. And why they now must oppose the radical right.

Obama’s Leadership on Health Care and DADT

Obama seems to have disappointed liberals with his suggestions that progressives should stop hammering senators about health care, and his (lack of) speed at reforming “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” I think they are examples of astute political leadership.

First of all, even though Obama may make these suggestions, it does not mean Progressives should listen to dear leader and stop saying stuff. If anything, Obama is implying organize better. By simply not impeding progress, he is actually enabling forward movement – but the work will revolve around groups organizing popular support.

What ideological progressives forget is that good politics is not a matter of diktat. Political calculus requires constantly negotiating between different competing interests. For this reason, Obama’s comments to progressives should be seen as shoring up as many favors and political capital as he possibly can among conservative Democrats. And it seems to be working. He has an impressive number of victories. Obama is carrying out his agenda with steady, if slow, progress, laying down a solid foundation for future political victories. He understands that politics is not done by shouting ideological platitudes at people. It’s done by building relationships. By showing loyalty to conservative democrats, he builds good will with them – capital he can spend later. It is a smart maneuver on his part.

It does not mean we should obey him.

If Obama presses too hard on DADT at this time, he may force conflict in a fashion that will undermine his tenuous relationship with the military establishment. If he were to push DADT now, he risks both losing that battle and making it impossible in the future to manage other important political issues, such as curtailing defense spending. He has stated his position about DADT clearly already: it will end. But he will do it when he has his ducks lined in a row so that other important policies don’t get sacrificed.

This does not mean we should stop complaining. Not at all. I believe that Obama expects and desires that we organize. In fact, by being temperamentally conservative, he helps progressives avoid political complacency – which is exactly what happened under Clinton. They should not be frustrated that the organizer in chief is as conservative as he seems.

His implicit message: continue organizing. It is enough that we have a president that will listen.