We return from our regularly scheduled World Cup Blogging to pop off for a bit about a few of the books that we've finished in pursuit of 50 in 52. Today, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitasis Zuniga's "Crashing the Gate".
I had avoided the book for the same reasons I don't visit DailyKos often - I was worried about polemics, high noise-to-signal ratios and the 'preaching to the choir' effect. However, since it came as part of a package with Greenwald's book, I figured what the hell?
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from the introduction, (which seems almost as a catechism of anti-GOP opinion, required of a liberal author before he or she can continue), the work is largerly sober and cooly analytical. Indeed, while obviously disapproving of many of the specific tactics used by the Right, Kos and Armstrong are openly admiring of the infrastructure which allows the tactics to succeed - yes the Swiftboaters were vile and scurrilous, but the manner in which the message was transferred from politicos to bloggers to the media to voters was a thing to behold. The Dems have no such message machine, and in this context, the complaints about the 'Mighty Wurlitzer' or the 'Republican Noise Machine' ring hollow and taste a bit of sour grapes.
By comparison, the authors are openly derisive of many elements of the Democratic electoral 'machine'. From the perverse reward system for Democratic pollsters and consultants (an odd area of agreement between Kos and Joe Klein, though I'd imagine that Kos would say that Klein correctly identifies the symptom while misdiagnosing the disease) to the perverse actions of 'single-issue groups' to the subtitution of 'psychic' income for actual lucre as compensation for the frontline footsoldiers of the liberal movement.
This last point in particular is well made. For all the kvetching done by many progressives about the 'Wingnut Wellfare' which ensures monetary comfort for those such as the Cornerites, this concern is misplaced. Kos and Armstrong argue, quite compellingly, for a more professional approach - not forcing someone to choose between paying student loans or working for 'the cause.' It is probably no mistake that the well-compensated tend to be well-motivated.
All told, a compellingly argued take on the process of politics, from the left side of the aisle.