The Louder They Cry, The Farther They Are Falling

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

Ed Kilgore and the DLC again meltdown over people calling out the truth about their operation (For those who aren't interested in the ultra-personal attacks the DLC is unleashing on me and just want to look just at the political implications of the DLC's behavior, skip down to the third paragraph). Before I go into what this all means, let me first acknowledge one addendum (though not exactly a correction) to my earlier post - the Washington Post's report that Ed worked for Zell Miller is 100 percent true, but as the Post did not report and I have since found out, he worked for him way before he went crazy, And though I didn't know how close to the Miller meltdown he worked for him or how close to him he had been in the lead up to the meltdown, I regret not including that fact in my original post. Ed, I do apologize sincerely, and I have made an addendum on the original post.

Now, as for Ed's claim that I supposedly "sought" a job with the DLC (it was in 1998, not 1997) - sure, I went in for an informational interview when I was a senior in college, though for him to claim "I didn't get it" is an eerily similar and dishonest slander to the one peddled by DLCer Joe Lieberman's campaign about me. What actually happened was that immediately after that informational interview I accepted a job with Joe Hoeffel who was running for Congress in the suburban Philadelphia district where I grew up. Joe had lost a very close race against GOP incumbent the election season before, so I had been hoping to get a job on his next campaign (which we won and turned a longtime red district blue), and had applied well before I even talked to the DLC. During the interim between when I applied for the Hoeffel job and when the offer actually came, I also looked around at some other possibilities. And yeah, as a politically inexperienced college student who had previously volunteered in high school on Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, I was naively misled by the DLC's endless labeling of itself as "progressive" and went in for an informational interview. So, sure, I guess I'm guilty on charges of ignorance and inexperience, and I throw myself on the mercy of the court of public opinion where apparently Ed Kilgore wants us to believe the charge of - gasp! - talking to all sorts of different people in politics as a college kid constitutes the capital offense of hypocrisy.

Of course, all of this ultra-personal nastiness coming from Kilgore is a very tired and frankly ineffective distraction technique that insults readers' intelligence. The heart of the matter is that the DLC has been bullying progressives around for years - even, including bullying its own original members like Al Gore when they thought he was straying too far from the corporate line. When this indisputable reality is brought up and factually substantiated, the DLC has no answer. You will notice that Kilgore doesn't factually refute even one thing I wrote in my earlier post, and refuses to even mention the core points about the DLC being funded by corporate cash, and the DLC pushing things like destructive trade pacts and the Iraq War. He doesn't want to talk about that actual substance because he knows he has no response. Instead, he wants to talk about being outraged that I said he lied when he lied, and then go on to make gossipy claims that - oh, what a shocker - some people don't like me, David Sirota, personally.

For instance, he claims that unnamed "bloggers" hold "the same private opinion" of me as the DLC does. Of course, he doesn't say who. But again, that's not the point, and actually, I hope he's right - I hope some of his friends who blog in Washington like former Christian Coalition official Marshall Wittman hold "the same private opinion" of me because I see that as a badge of honor. I make no apologies for exposing the facts, supporting progressives, and going after those who have helped fuel the hostile takeover of our government - and I will put my record of working to support and elect progressives of all stripes up against anyone's.

Some people don't like what I do, and that's totally fine with me and expected - my work is not designed to make everyone happy, especially not the people who defend the status quo. In fact, my work is, at times, deliberately designed to make corrupt people uncomfortable. My critics - like Kilgore in his latest salvo - usually attack my "tone" or style, whining and crying that I call corrupt behavior "corrupt," or lies "lies." That's not shocking: calling things what they are is, after all, a big taboo in Washington. In the Beltway, corporate welfare is called "economic incentives," professional vote buyers are called "business lobbyists," war profiteering is called "necessary reconstruction contracts for Halliburton" and straight-up lies are called "savvy spin."

But these critics like Kilgore usually have little - if anything - to say on the facts I present, because at the end of the day facts are facts and they are unrefutable. For those who have read some of the reviews of Hostile Takeover by Washington establishment writers, for instance, you will notice the thread running through them is that they endlessly criticize my tone, but have little to say about the actual facts.

What really becomes obvious is that in the Washington Beltway, presentation of the actual facts is automatically tarred and feathered as as unacceptably caustic "tone." Present irrefutable facts showing that the Bush administration's WMD justifications for war were deliberate lies and by D.C. standards you are "too strident." Help continue dishonestly justifying the "stay-the-course" policy that has brought death and injury to thousands of American troops and by D.C. standards you are considered "reasonable." Prove that this lawmaker or that organization was marching to orders from its Big Money backers, call that behavior "corrupt," and by D.C. standards you are "too angry." Buy off votes, spread dishonest corporate propaganda, sellout working Americans' economic interests, and by D.C. standards you are a praiseworthy "centrist." Expose the corrupt forces within the Democratic Party that have sent it down to election loss after election loss after election loss, and by the DLC's standards you are someone who needs others to tell you "that there are a few lines in intra-party debate that should not be crossed." Viciously tear apart Democratic icons like Al Gore, Howard Dean and others in national newspapers and television interviews as the DLC made its name doing, and by D.C.'s standards you are supposedly engaging in a "respectful discussion about the Democratic Party's future."

I'm not going to change my tone, because I'm not going to play Washington's rhetorically acrobatic game - a game that more and more Americans know is a scam. As Rolling Stone noted in its recent article, Washington insiders like Ed Kilgore and the DLC get all hot and bothered by passion, outrage and most of all idealism. They are afraid of actual emotion, and the justifiable anger that Americans throughout the heartland feel right now at a government that has sold them out. They are similarly afraid of people who tell the blunt truth. Why? Because insiders in Washington aren't outraged and they don't want the truth out there - they are very comfortably enjoying the status quo. So they throw out superheated red herrings attacking George McGovern, attacking truthtellers, attacking the netroots - and above all else, attacking the very concept that ordinary people should have a say over a political process we are supposed to own. What they want, in short, is for politics to continue on as the exclusive property of the elite, whereby bloodless, money-drenched automatons in Congress obediently carry out the wishes of their corporate puppetmasters.

I see the world in exactly the opposite way - I think a little emotion is needed if we are to create a winning political movement, I think the outrage seething all over America is justified,I think ordinary people having a bigger say in politics is good, I think our country deserves more of the truth not less of it, and I think Democrats are on the verge of greatness if they embrace this reality. That's why I'm going to keep trying to do what I do for as long as I can with the hope that I don't burn out. Because I will admit - even after the victories we've had, some days it's hard to look at institutions like the DLC, like the GOP machine, like Big Money interests and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Then again, as I continue to believe, the louder our opponents cry, the more progress we are making. Ed Kilgore and the DLC are crying because they now realize their days of being able to bully and intimidate courageous progressive Democrats like Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and others are over. It's like that climactic scene at the end of Back to the Future when George McFly finally clocks Biff and Biff collapses. That's what's happened to the Biffs at the DLC - and they don't like it and they are thus freaking out.

To understand just how battered they are, consider for a second that the DLC is a multimilliondollar corporate front group that previously was able to mount like trophies the heads of progressive Democratic lawmakers it had skewered on its wall. Today, this same multimilliondollar corporate front group has been relegated to spending more and more of its time attacking me, one writer out here in Helena, Montana. Somewhere, deep down, I'm sure they realize how ridiculous this is and just what a pathetic confession of their new irrelevance they are making - and in reaction, all they are doing is making themselves look more ridiculous, which is great. Because rest assured - the louder they and the GOP they have enabled cry, the more the progress the progressive movement is making on the issues that really matter.