Tuesday, February 28, 2017

updated

Mehdi Hasan tweets Shadi Hamid.
Hamid's piece is contradictory, as if it had been rewritten and someone forgot to remove a paragraph.
As Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum has argued, the very fact that the race had become so charged was “ridiculous,” since Perez and Ellison are “about equally progressive.” Or as his colleague David Corn wrote: “There’s truly not much ideological distance between the two. They are both grassroots-minded progressives.” 
Perez, whatever his positions, was encouraged to run against Ellison by the Obama White House, with Obama’s top aide Valerie Jarrett whipping votes and telling Democratic National Committee members “I’ll let the president know you’re with Tom.” This happened after [accent in original] Ellison had already established himself as the early front-runner, with strong union support and the endorsement of figures like Senator Chuck Schumer. The left flank was looking for evidence that it would be fully accepted and incorporated in a party that was known for neutralizing and ignoring its base. Instead, the Democratic “establishment”—is there anyone more establishment than the president?—worked to undermine the candidate of the party’s left.

After Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, liberal commentators have, by and large, done what makes the most sense for a center-left technocratic party: sought refuge in facts and empirical reality (against someone who clearly values neither). Facts are obviously good and necessary, but they don’t make a strategy. Moreover, focusing on empirical data creates incentives to downplay the role of emotion and feeling in politics. These are, after all, the things that are difficult to measure and fall out outside the scope of “rational” action.

The race for DNC chair took place after eight years, under Obama’s presidency, in which Democrats were decimated on the local and state levels and lost the presidency to arguably the most unqualified presidential candidate in the history of the nation. If you looked hard enough, of course, you could probably find a way to argue that Barack Obama’s ideas or even his style of governing had absolutely nothing to do with the sorry state of the Democratic Party. As Matthew Yglesias of Vox put it rather succinctly: “It’s structural.” You could similarly make an argument that there was simply no lesson to learn from Clinton’s defeat. After all, she “outperformed the econometric models.”

...Keith Ellison may be about as progressive as Tom Perez, but it’s what he represents that matters. It’s what he evokes and inspires, for both better and worse, and that’s not something you can quantify in a chart or plot on a graph. It’s definitely not something you can measure, and you shouldn’t have to.
Zaid Jilani
Perez was widely perceived as being brought into the race by allies of President Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other members of the party establishment. One of the speakers who introduced his nomination, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, also works as a corporate lobbyist for the D.C.-based Podesta Group. After neither candidate reached a majority of votes in the first round of voting, Harrison was on the floor, whipping votes for Perez.

...Haim Saban, the entertainment tycoon who is one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, called Ellison both “anti-Israel” and anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League called on Democrats to reject him. On the eve of the vote, prominent Democrat Alan Dershowitz proclaimed that he would leave the party if Ellison were elected chair; Jack Rosen, who leads the American Jewish Congress, emailed DNC members the day before the vote decrying Ellison’s views on the Middle East, concluding that he threatened the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Perez, on the other hand, courted pro-Israel activists during the course of the contest.
Hasan is the UK equivalent of Jamelle Bouie and the other buppie neoliberals who backed Clinton. Hamid is an idiot. It's interesting that they would follow that logic to the point of being -perhaps in Hamid's case, struggling to be- oblivious to the reasons for the late entrance of Perez.
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