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Monday, December 21, 2009

I have a very high opinion of Glenn Greenwald.

There is a debate in the left blogosphere over the current version of the Senate Health Care Bill with some people arguing that Senators should vote no. Someone described this as wonks for yes vs activists for no. This is not an exact split. Jon Walker, Gleen Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler are ultra wonks. However, 2 of the three of them are lawyers and their extraordinary expertise and outstanding investigative journalism are in fields other than health care.

Gleen Greenwald just made it very clear that he considers health care reform a narrow issue and the Senate bill "miniscule"
There are many reasons for the progressive division on the health care bill. There are differences over the narrow question of health care policy, with some believing the bill does more harm than good just on that ground alone. Some of it has to do with broader questions of political power: if progressives always announce that they are willing to accept whatever miniscule benefits are tossed at them

I recall "a billion here a billion there and soon you're talking real money" but I never thought I'd live long enough to read $871 billion plus regulatory reform described as "miniscule"

Perhaps Greenwald is not referring to the miniscule benefits for progressives included in the health care bill in his post about the health care bill. That would, of course, mean that his post is completely totally illogical. You can't prove that you are willing to accept miniscule benefits by accepting huge benefits.

I think I am going to think out loud some more about the part of Greenwald's post which I read (I didn't finish it).

he wrote

In addition to health care and Iraq, roughly the same progressive fault lines are seen over the bank bailout, escalation in Afghanistan, Obama's economic team, tolerance for Obama's embrace of Bush/Cheney civil liberties polices, and even the reaction to Matt Taibbi's recent Rolling Stone article on Obama's subservience to Wall Street.

OK so he said roughly, but I think he's still wrong. He has mentioned the claim that most prominent progressives who support the bill also supported the invasion of Iraq. This is true of shockingly many people who have since written reasonably. However, it is absolutely not the same group. Paul Krugman opposed the invasion and supports the bill. Atrios has been silent on the bill *and* warned people not to praise Medicare buy in where Lieberman might read it. Kevin Drum switched to opposing the invasion at the last minute. Brad DeLong opposed the invasion for longer (both supported at least for a while at least under some conditions).

Now down the list. I think the lines on the bank bailout were similar. On escalation in Afghanistan again Krugman plus now Yglesias I have no idea about DeLong or Klein or Kleiman or well I don't know of any progressive supporter of escalation.

On Obama's economic team DeLong is supportive and Krugman is polite (he's polite compared to the average blogger). Aside from that I don't notice any praise from the left of center blogosphere.

"Tolerance" is a weasel word. I don't think that Greenwald can find any progressive blogger who defends the Obama administration on that one -- maybe Mark Kleiman maybe not.

and finally Matt Taibbi. Wrong again. Drum defends Taibbi and supports the bill. I haven't read any defence of, you know, the actual article. I haven't looked (I haven't even read the article) but all I recall is people saying that they generally agree with Taibbi that the banking lobby is too powerful. I haven't read anyone who engages the criticisms of Taibbi except for Felix Salmon who wrote that Taibbi shouldn't be taken literally. That is not what I consider a defence of an article.

OK so obviously Greenwald reads more and different blogs than I do, but based on my hotlist he is totally wrong. The people who argue for voting against the health care bill are a subset of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq etc.

OK I assume no one has read this far so I'm just going to get it off my chest. I think the bill killers are like Joe Lieberman. That is, I think they have reached a stated opinion on a critical matter of public policy using his sort of logic. If DFHs are for it he's against it. If Lieberman is for it, the bill killers are against it. I know that many of them make substantive policy arguments, but I think it is clear (and not just from Greenwald's post) that they consider the bill a battle in a long war for control of the Democratic party.

The bill supporters discuss the actual content of the bill and the way the Senate works and say that the battle for the Democratic party should be fought on less important and more favorable ground. They don't disagree about the need to change the way the senate works and get Lieberman. The blogger closest to Greenwald's stereotype is Mark Kleiman. He just advocated using the nuclear option.

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