Well, it’s now out in the open, after an announcement by Joe Liebeman’s office: my colleague The Moose, a.k.a. Marshall Wittmann, is shutting down his blog and leaving the DLC to become Communications Director for the Independent-Democrat from CT.I was travelling last week when The Moose suddenly did a post saying he was going into “hibernation.” I guessed pretty quickly where he was headed next, but couldn’t say anything until Lieberman made it public.It’s obviously the perfect gig for Marshall, and he’s the perfect spokesman for Lieberman. When he first came to the DLC in 2004, he had just changed his registration from R to Independent, endorsed John Kerry for president, and burned a lot of bridges to the Right–bridges he had already undermined in his work for John McCain in 2000. And although he wrote some of the most withering critiques of Bush, Rove, DeLay, the K Street Strategy, and the whole culture of the GOP appearing in the English language, he could not bring himself to join Our Team in the polarized politics of 2005-06, and was increasingly uncomfortable working in an unambiguous Democratic environment, even at the very tolerant DLC.The Moose became a passionate advocate for Lieberman’s primary and general-election campaigns in no small part because he sincerely believes both parties are in danger of abandoning the political center, and quite frankly because he is happiest free of either party’s yoke. This is obviously where Joe Lieberman is today. After voting for Harry Reid as Majority Leader, Joe will likely view himself as a completely free agent, much like The Moose.For regular readers of this blog, it’s been no secret that I disagree with Marshall on many issues, including Iraq, how Democrats should deal with polarization, the nature and significance of the progressive blogosphere, and the general political landscape.. I cannot count the number of times we’ve disagreed in internal DLC discussions, or around the office water cooler.But as I indicated a while back in a post defending The Moose against his blogospheric detractors, he has been a boon companion and good friend through thick and thin, not to mention one of the smartest and funniest people I’ve ever met, which counts a lot with me. And I still think his exceptionally well-informed attacks on the whole rotten culture of the latter-day GOP contributed far more to the Democratic Cause than he took away in his occasional ripostes against what he called the “nutroots,” especially among the media types who came to him so often to diagnose the conservative meltdown. It’s about as much as any Democrat could expect from a guy who, after all, was a self-proclaimed independent.I sincerely wish The Moose well in his new gig, and hope that his transition from a Democratic organization to an Independent-Democratic Senator will not slake his thirst for attacking the continuing ideological extremism of a GOP that’s half-convinced it lost on November 7 by being insufficiently right-wing.So let me say Hasta La Vista to the Moose. I don’t know if we will meet down the road as allies or friendly adversaries–hell, we both may be in assisted living before long–but I do know the blogosphere will suffer from the absence of his antlered presence.
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
This year’s big media narrative has been the confirmation saga of Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget. At New York I wrote about how over-heated the talk surrounding Tanden has become.
Okay, folks, this is getting ridiculous. When a vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the nomination of Neera Tanden was postponed earlier this week, you would have thought it presented an existential threat to the Biden presidency. “Scrutiny over Tanden’s selection has continued to build as the story over her uneven reception on Capitol Hill stretched through the week,” said one Washington Post story. Politico Playbook suggested that if Tanden didn’t recover, the brouhaha “has the potential to be what Biden might call a BFD.” There’s been all sorts of unintentionally funny speculation about whether the White House is playing some sort of “three-dimensional chess” in its handling of the confirmation, disguising a nefarious plan B or C.
Perhaps it reflects the law of supply and demand, which requires the inflation of any bit of trouble for Biden into a crisis. After all, his Cabinet nominees have been approved by the Senate with a minimum of 56 votes; the second-lowest level of support was 64 votes. One nominee who was the subject of all sorts of initial shrieking, Tom Vilsack, was confirmed with 92 Senate votes. Meanwhile, Congress is on track to approve the largest package of legislation moved by any president since at least the Reagan budget of 1981, with a lot of the work on it being conducted quietly in both chambers. Maybe if the bill hits some sort of roadblock, or if Republican fury at HHS nominee Xavier Becerra (whose confirmation has predictably become the big fundraising and mobilization vehicle for the GOP’s very loud anti-abortion constituency) reaches a certain decibel level, Tanden can get out of the spotlight for a bit.
But what’s really unfair — and beyond that, surreal — is the extent to which this confirmation is being treated as more important than all the others combined, or indeed, as a make-or-break moment for a presidency that has barely begun. It’s not. If Tanden cannot get confirmed, the Biden administration won’t miss a beat, and I am reasonably sure she will still have a distinguished future in public affairs (though perhaps one without much of a social-media presence). And if she is confirmed, we’ll all forget about the brouhaha and begin focusing on how she does the job, which she is, by all accounts, qualified to perform.