No respect

E.J. Dionne wonders why the left gets no respect, no respect he tells us:

>Why can’t the left get any respect?

>Whenever you use the word “left” in American politics, you feel almost compelled to add quotation marks. Today’s left is not talking about nationalizing industry, abolishing capitalism or destroying the rich. What passes for “left” in American politics is quite moderate by historical standards.

Was yesterday’s “left” communist? Whatever are these historical standards? Even Dionne begins the discussion with his own George Will quality liberal communist. And he wonders about respect. One of the reasons for this lack of respect can be found in the media: just ask Bob Somerby, Eric Alterman, Glenn Greenwald, and Media Matters.

But forget about that. Another reason, I think, these lefties get no respect is they never go toe to toe with their conservatives in the discussion of ideas. Dionne, for instance, rarely if ever replies to conservative arguments. And its even rarer that he makes arguments for his own position.

Today, for instance, he ignores the question as to whether the “left” position on any given issue is a better one and focuses instead on whether it is a more popular one. So, as he discusses Democratic candidates (they must be the left), he talks not about their positions or arguments or principles, but rather:

>That’s why every leading Democratic candidate for president chose to appear at this week’s “Take Back America” conference organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, the leading group on the party’s progressive end. This included Hillary Clinton, whose roots in the centrist politics of the Democratic Leadership Council run deep. Clinton not only knows how much political energy there is on the left; she also knows where public opinion has moved, particularly on the Iraq war.

Jeez. Maybe the candidates had reasons for going to the conference that Dionne, in his position as the Post’s official lefty, could at least mention (if not defend). Dionne’s failure to do this, however friendly he might be to the causes or arguments of the left, doesn’t add much to our national conversation.