Monday, November 27, 2006

They Say That Late at Night, the Hippies Still Walk the Halls

One thing that should be noted is that Chait, like many of his DC brethren, has what seems to be temperamental aversion to the dirty hippies of the left. During the Bush years he has gone slightly cuckoo over Deaniacs, anti-war protesters, Lieberman ousters and grassroots troublemakers in general. I don't know the guy, but from reading his stuff it appears to be the result of a reflexive emotional reaction.

This is one of the fault lines that exists in liberalism today --- the knee jerk assumptions by the elites about the grassroots populists and vice versa. The problem for the party, however, is that opinion makers like Chait are taken seriously by policymakers while the grassroots troublemakers are not and the result is that their visceral dislike of our ilk comes into play in important ways. I happen to think that Chait's disgust with the activist left leads him to make incorrect decisions. He's not in the same league as someone like Richard Cohen, but then Richard Cohen has become something of a joke, whose inexplicable sinecure on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post mostly serves as fishwrap. TNR, on the other hand, is listened to by Democratic policymakers and Chait's overheated reactions to the grassroots should be addressed.

He and others -- he's far from alone --- should try to see things with clearer eyes. This is not the early 70's and grassroots progressivism in 2006 isn't a youth or a social movement. It is passionate and it is populist, at least in a stylistic sense but it is not radical or anti-intellectual. The liberal pundit class is making a number of errors in judgments at least in part because they are emotionally recoiling from being associated with what they see as dirty hippies. This is a problem.

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