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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ford and Markos: Slugfest or Lovefest?

The much-anticipated face-off between DLC chairman Harold Ford, Jr. and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas on Meet the Press happened this morning. And it wasn’t quite the slugfest most people expected. Ford nicely undercut the netroots-demonizing reputation of the DLC by repeatedly praising the importance of the netroots to recent Democratic successes, and pledging to attend next year’s Netroots Nation (nee YearlyKos) gathering. And Markos abandoned his usual DLC-is-dead line by treating Ford’s organization as representing a serious faction in the Democratic Party–and indeed, by agreeing to debate Ford in the first place. Both men made a lot of billing and cooing noises, and ended the session with a handshake.
Each of them did, on the other hand, try to land a low blow.
Ford ill-advisedly (if briefly) referenced allegedly anti-semitic diaries and/or comments at DailyKos, a red herring reflecting a misunderstanding of the site’s open operating method, and misrepresenting its main content. He should not have gone there.
And Markos sought to illustrate the DLC’s alleged Republic Lite nature by tying it to “DLC Chairman” John Breaux’s role as “the architect of the Bush tax cuts.” But (1) Breaux’s DLC chairmanship ended in 1993; (2) the DLC relentlessly and totally opposed Bush’s tax cuts (viz. here), and has argued for repeal of high-income tax cuts ever since; (3) Breaux was not the “architect” of the Bush plan, but simply a senator who unfortunately traded support for the final plan in exchange for concessions that increased the payoff to low-income Americans; and (4) the DLC’s comment on Breaux’s compromise product was to compare it to putting earrings on a warthog: “Sure, it looks better, but it’s still a warthog.” I don’t have any idea why Markos tried this particular tack, but it showed some very shoddy research.
There were a couple of classic “dialogue of the deaf” moments, as when Ford touted Jon Tester and Jim Webb as centrist Democrats who won in 2006, and an incredulous Markos–who has long viewed both candidates as living refutations of the DLC–spluttering a bit. (Tester did beat a primary opponent who was long identified with the DLC, but it was hardly a netroots/DLC referendum, and best I could tell, most DLC-types in VA supported Webb from the beginning).
Over at DailyKos, the general take, unsurprisingly, is that Markos destroyed Ford, mainly because of a short moment when Markos chided the Tennessean for criticizing Harry Reid on Fox News (not being a Fox News viewer, I can’t referee that one). And I’m sure DLCers will react just as positively to Ford’s performance.
In the end, most of the real arguments between Ford and Markos were scrambled in cross-talk, or were conducted in such “code” that most viewers probably had no idea what they were talking about. The residual impression was of two people arguing about who most desparately wants Democrats to win, and who is most open to the other’s point of view–and then that handshake.

7 comments on “Ford and Markos: Slugfest or Lovefest?

  1. Armando on

    I tried to be gracious about Ford, but his perforamnce today with his buddy Sean Hanity makes it an impossible task. He is incorrigible.
    You need to distance yourself from the DLC as quickly as possible. The organization is determined to be a cancer in the Democratic PArty.

  2. Badger on

    Why would people expect to get the truth about the DLC from leftwing websites or blogs?
    FWIW, I believe Cindy Sheehan is running as an Independent so she won’t be running against Nancy Pelosi until the next general election.

  3. clapetina on

    Ed, thanks for truth about Breaux and the DLC. Can I say it? Markos is an ass who has become power crazy. He clearly represents the Cindy Sheehan/code pink wing of the Demcratic party. But that’s all. Jim Webb, Jon Tester won because of Boggers? Really. I am happy to let the Cindy vs. Nancy primary be a test of the “superpower” of bloggers, even in a heavily Democratic district. Care to make it interesting Markos?

  4. RonK Seattle on

    More of a bop-fest, as contestants took turns hitting each other over the head with inflatable toy misperceptions.
    You could let your kids play with those all afternoon and they’d never hurt each other.

  5. Thomas More on

    I would suggest that Mr. Ford had more substance to his argument as he was advocating strategy while Mr. Markos was apparently more enthused about pride and emotion.
    Mr. Fords anaylisis is also correct I believe. We will need a broad coalition ( I hate that word) of interests to defeat these guys in 08.Its not the given most of the small blogger community believes.

  6. edkilgore on

    Assuming this is THE Armando (formerly of DKos, now blogging as Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft: welcome to TDS, my old friend and occasional sparring partner!
    And I’ll overlook the fact that you’re the one who has relentlessly drawn attention to that 2005 quote Markos is suddenly so interested in.
    I hope you read my earlier post explaining that we really don’t disagree about the “Politics of Contrast.”

  7. Armando on

    I agree in part but not completely.
    Ford basically abandoned the tack he took all week at Fox anda s quoted in WSJ.
    In addition, Markos has the better argument on the merits.
    Both men performed well, but Markos was better, on substance.


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