The Nation, which at this point is probably the chief in-print spokesentity for the left, has settled on a candidate, however, I’m posting the first three paragraphs of the editorial for its description of the situation facing progressives this election. It’s very salient and eloquent.
It’s gotten to that time in the primary contest where lines are drawn, camps are solidified and conversations around dinner tables grow heated. My friend Dan recently put it this way: “You start talking about the candidates, and next thing you know someone’s crying!” The excellent (and uncommitted) blogger Digby recently decided to shut down her comments section because the posts had grown so toxic. The recent uptick in acrimony is largely due to the narrowing of the field. While once the energy was spread over many camps, it is now, with the exits of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards, concentrated on just two, leaving progressives in a fierce debate over whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would make the better nominee, and President.
According to polling data as well as my conversations with friends and colleagues, progressives are evenly split or undecided between the two. This is, to me, somewhat astonishing (about which more in a moment), but it also means that at a time when other subgroups within the Democratic coalition are leaning heavily toward one candidate or the other, progressives are at a moment of maximum leverage.
Insofar as the issues discussed during a presidential campaign are circumscribed by the taboos and pieties of the political and media establishments, they tend to be dispiriting for those of us on the left. Neither front-runner is calling for the nation to renounce its decades-old imperial posture or to end the prison-industrial complex; neither is saying that America’s suburbs and car culture are not sustainable modes of living in an era of expensive oil and global warming or pointing out that the “war on drugs” has been a moral disaster and strategic failure, with casualties borne most violently and destructively by society’s most marginalized and–a word you won’t be hearing from either candidate–oppressed. And yet, this election is far more encouraging (dare I say hopeful?) than any in recent memory. The policy agenda for the Democratic front-runners is significantly further to the left on the war, climate change and healthcare than that of John Kerry in 2004. The ideological implosion of conservatism, the failures of the Bush Administration and, perhaps most important, the shifts in public opinion in a leftward direction on war, the economy, civil liberties and civil rights are all coming together at the same time, providing progressives with the rare and historic opportunity to elect a President with a progressive majority and an actual mandate for progressive change.
The next couple of paragraphs criticize their choice, before the piece moves into a very detailed explanation for the endorsement. One of the better reads on the contest to date.
Second addendum: SEIU is switching its endorsement from Edwards to Obama. Love this line from the article:
But is it too late? Union members have been receiving Edwards endorsement materials for weeks. But really, nobody except media dorks and political groupies pay attention to a campaign until, uh, about now.
Third addendum: By request, the Superfriends. Amusing, but a lot of trouble for very little. Plus, nobody under 40 or over 50 is bound to get what there is to get.
Fourth addendum: I don’t have a link, but on the idiot box our favorite hippie says she’d rather face a Clinton administration then let McCain win.
Update: Here it is.
By the way, the debate tonight was a sleep fest. Both candidates have their ground games going into Tuesday and they didn’t want to screw anything up by offending anybody or pissing each other off. She got one sound byte about it taking one Clinton to clean up the last Bush’s mess, and it’ll take another to clean the second Bush’s mess. Obama earned some sound byte coverage with his “right on day one” line regarding the Iraq war. Clinton probably should have shut up about the war, but instead she tried to explain her vote which led Wolf Blitzer to ask her if she was trying to say she was naive about the President’s intentions back then.
But nobody drew any blood.
Fifth addendum: Geeze, having cable is going to do things to my head. I was switching back and forth for post-game reporting between the cable stations and landed on a Fox News round table with Brit Hume hosting commentary from Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, and Morton Kondracke, only the latter of which is arguably to the left of Genghis Kahn. They were lamenting what seems to be the inevitable coronation of McCain with Krauthammer grimacing as if in pain as he said, “you have Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, and McCain all in a photo-shoot in a solar panel factory talking about global warming, which is bound to give conservative triple heartburn.”
I never thought of solar panels as being an inherently liberal technology, but to hearKrauthammer describe it, things could only have been worse if they met in a Volvo or brie factory. Why can’t the conservatives win this time? The consensus: they need Reagan back.
Funny thing is that immediately following the Democratic candidate debate while CNN and MSNBC were analyzing the highlights, Fox News was covering some crime story. I guess they’re a bit sore that the Democrats refused to accept their invitations to debate, but they’re only reinforcing the reasoning behind the boycott.
Sixth addendum: Al Franken is beating Norm Coleman in a Minnesota Senate race poll.
Seventh addendum: The Times-Standard endorses Obama.
Eighth addendum: In it’s first endorsement of a presidential candidate since 1972 (when it endorsed Nixon) the LA Times is supporting Obama. It’s endorsing McCain for the Republican primary.