So What Have We Learned from William Beutler?
by Matt Stoller, Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 11:37:38 AM EST
Here are some initial lessons I'm taking away from our exchange. My initial post is here, and focused on Beutler's conflation of facts and conventional wisdom. His post is here, and rehashes his basic attitude that power flows in a certain reactionary fashion.
I've enjoyed this exchange, and hopefully we'll keep this discussion going. I know Beutler has learned that Kos been a part of several winning special elections, and backed candidates like Obama that are bright new stars of the party. And this is what I learned about the assumptions undergirding Beutler's work.
- Primaries are bad for a party.
- Primaries have little effect on name ID or party organization.
- Money is the only determining factor in politics.
- There is a fixed pot of money to be had by all candidates.
- Candidate positions as described in their press releases are the only meaningful way of evaluating someone's ideology or fitness for office.
- Left-wing candidates are 'created' by blogs, while moderate candidates are 'created' by the establishment.
- It is impossible to understand the netroots; we are unpredictable and unreliable.
- The netroots opposes the establishment out of misplaced anger and strategic naivete.
Now, these aren't necessarily wrong or right, they are simply his assumptions. And it's hard to say they are wacky. Money is critically important. Primaries can be destructive. ButI would observe that these assumptions are deeply undemocratic in terms of their impulse, and paint politics as a deterministic chess game of money raised, primaries cleared, and poll-tested press releases gamed to appeal to constituency groups.
Everyone in positions of power in Democratic DC reads the Hotline. To the extent that one can characterize the whole of insider DC, this is how the Beltway thinks.