This is worth a read.

If Markos Moulitsas had his way there’d be no Affordable Care Act, no Dodd-Frank, no economic stimulus package. That’s the price when purity tests are applied to Democrats.

In a remarkable post yesterday, Moulitsas, founder and publisher of the progressive community site DailyKos, celebrates the departure from the Senate of 10 moderate Democrats over the last decade, and makes clear his hope that Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) lose their tough reelection battles this year. He doesn’t name some other moderates in tight races, like Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), but his logic suggests that he’d be only too happy to say goodbye to them as well.

Moulitsas cares passionately about progressive politics, and he is a very savvy political observer—he knows that we must have Democratic majorities in Congress to make real progress, and that to create those majorities we must have Democrats win in red states like Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and North Carolina. Surely he can see that such Democrats must be somewhat different than the full-throated progressives that he name-checks in his essay.


Democrats across the spectrum agree on far more than we disagree—almost all supported President Obama’s key initiatives, including universal health care and fundamental immigration reform. Most support new gun safety laws, marriage for gay couples and a vigorous federal response to climate change. Yet for some, that’s not pure enough.

If we are to make progress in a divided Washington—and if we are to protect the Democratic Senate majority—we simply must embrace a big tent for the Democratic Party. Even in purple states, there are not enough self-identified liberals to elect Democrats without their winning significant pluralities or majorities of moderates. The idea that more liberal candidates could win in places like Arkansas, Indiana or Alaska is pure fantasy. And to write off those states would consign Democrats to long-term congressional minority status.

While my “ideal world” of politics would involve Democratic House and Senate caucuses comprised wholly of progressives, I realize that’s not going to happen in the real world.

If Democrats are going to maintain a majority in the Senate and regain the majority in the House, they’re going to need at least some moderates in order to do so.

UPDATE: Markos Moulitsas has responded to the article I cited above. Here’s a bit from Markos’ response.

But that simple fact check isn’t the point I want to make. The point is this:

Who cares if seven of the 10 were replaced with Republicans? Ten years ago, Democrats had 49 members in the Senate. Today they have 53 plus Bernie Sanders and Angus King. And even if they lose the Senate this year, which they won’t, it won’t be much more than a rental as 2016 is a stellar map for us (up to 10 potential pickups).

So is it better to have Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller in a 49-seat minority, or is it better to replace them with better Democrats in a 55-seat Democratic majority? Only morons would argue for the former, but apparently, that’s what Third Way wants to be.

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14 Responses to Markos Moulitsas wants Democratic purity (UPDATED)

  1. John Casper says:

    Markos probably planted this story, because old guys like me know the truth, he’s a very slick corporate Dem. Liberals/progressives…. have been leaving DKos, because it was Markos and a whole bunch of other slick corporate Dems, who deserted the public option on the ACA. Including a “public option” in the ACA meant there was no need for a “mandate,” which everyone understandably hates.

    It was thanks to Markos and other corporate Dems that Obama got a chance to really damage choice via an Executive Order, in a way that no Republican President would have dared.

    Marion Berry, Sanford Bishop, Joseph Cao, Kathy Dahlkemper, Steve Driehaus, Marcy Kaptur, Dan Lipinski, Alan Mollohan, and Nick Rahall and Stupak, that’s ten votes in the House of Representatives. That’s how desperately Obama/Pelosi needed the votes to pass the ACA.

    That’s how much LEVERAGE the (regressive) Progressive Caucus in the House had and FAILED to use.

    If the Progressive Caucus had 1/10 of Stupak’s blanks, they could have forced Obama/Pelosi to include the “Public Option” in the ACA. Of course the Health Insurance oligopoly was scared blank-less of competition. A public option would have meant they would have had to offer decent coverage. That would have cut into their profits.

    So as a bonus for including the galactically stupid “mandate” (government using the IRS to be the sales force for Blue Cross and the rest of the white collar thugs running the health insurance oligopoly), Obama got to hammer choice (suck up to the right) and another bonus from the ACA, turn Medicare into welfare.

    “Doctors Face A 24% Pay Cut In Both Medicare And Medicaid Reimbursements”

    That’s crucial to the health insurance, because they want to force everyone to pay more their crappy coverage. If physicians can’t make any money on Medicare patients, they force those patients to buy more expensive policies. Thanks to Markos and other corporate Dems the threat of a “public option,” has been greatly reduced.

    So thanks to Markos and plenty of others, Dems could easily lose the Senate in November.

    Has Markos been arrested protesting the Koch brothers Canadian tar sands? Has anyone ever seen him on a picket line for any union?

  2. Aaron Camp says:

    Markos Moulitsas doesn’t want Democratic purity. Let’s not forget that Markos supported a Republican candidate for Congress in New York several years ago (Dede Scozzafava in a 2009 special election which was won by centrist Democrat Bill Owens), and he’s said that he’d support Hillary Clinton (who is a Democrat, but not a progressive one) if he were to run for president. You can’t want purity in the Democratic Party and vocally support someone like Hillary Clinton.

  3. John Casper says:

    Just to add some context, over the last decade, at least, Google has basically captured all the ad revenue in newspapers.

    Some of that was legitimate, they deserved credit for building the first search engine. A lot of it was just them flexing monopoly powers in the absence of any anti-trust enforcement. ssdd

    As their revenue dried up, to retain a shrinking subscriber base, the big-city dailies moved increasingly to the right. That opened up space for Daily Kos, firedoglake, HuffPo, other lefty blogs.

    Now FLM and Pando are coming in and afaik each as billionaire behind them.

    So it’s those two that are probably scaring everyone. A Journal Sentinel subscription now gets all the content in Jeff Bezos’ (Amazon/CIA/NSA billionaire) Washington Post, aka WaPu.

    Politico, where Markos got this published are a neocon-leaning bunch of old WaPu guys who left because the WaPu wasn’t wing nutty enough for them. Pretty sure they get a lot of money from Koch brothers, Bradley Foundation, rest of the oligarchs.

    Ezra Klein’s starting his own place, Vox, as is Nate Silver 538. My guess is both those places will try to compete directly with Politico and WaPu.

    HuffPoAOL is more left leaning, but more accessible than DKos.

    I’m guessing Markos hasn’t had success lining up his own billionaire which means he’s got to compete with , Al-Jazeera, The Nation, Salon, RT, FLM, Pando,…. With their deep pockets, the best reporters and editors will probably head to FLM and Pando. Since the best reporters always have the best sources, ….

    Above is just my incomplete and inadequate speculation about the rapidly evolving media landscape.

    There are still plenty of great reporters at all these places. While I don’t have much respect for the WaPu, Rosalind Helderman scooped the JS and the Wisconsin media with this reporting.

    AFAIK, she’s the one who broke all the initial stories that got VA Governor Bob Sullivan indicted.

  4. John Casper says:

    IIRC, Ezra Klein just hired a gay who made his reputation writing about orientation being a choice.

    IIRC, Nate Silver just hired a guy who denies climate change.

    At times, both those guys have done some great work. Klein’s a smart and savvy with excellent sources. That doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because he tells the story the way the sources want it told.

    Silver’s a genius wonk/quant/pollster who beat everyone with his predictions about the margin of Obama’s 2012 victory. He held to his numbers and didn’t cave to Karl Rove’s spin machine.

    My gut is that neither of those guys have what it takes to manage a successful media operation, but I’ve been wrong before, plenty.

  5. nonquixote says:

    John C, thanks for all the background, your cataloging skills of supporting information are becoming legendary and I agree with your position.

    Thank for the piece Zach, was following the WisEye live coverage our reprehensible and pathetic legislative majority last night.

    In the quoted link above, after the snip,

    almost all supported President Obama’s key initiatives, including universal health care and fundamental immigration reform. Most support new gun safety laws, marriage for gay couples and a vigorous federal response to climate change.

    are outright lies. BHO NEVER initiated universal health care, and has done nothing about fundamental immigration reform (except single-highhandedly deporting more immigrants than any other administration) has merely talked a good game on gun safety, but has done nothing, has continually pandered to the LGBT crowd about actually rights and refused to completely deliver, and his major concern about climate change is only how popular demand for proactive or even remedial action might be stymied. Look to BP being allowed back into the Gulf of Mexico.

    These “Third Way,” authors (and stink tanks) are closet tea-partiers at worst and rabid neoliberals at best, but dedicated to furthering the interest$ the one-percent with their every attempt to re-write facts and influence common sense electors who don’t have the time to understand who they really are.

    OT And to my dismay I see Joy (third way) Cardin is giving credibility again to a tea-party has been, Kevin Binversie this morning. Almost as funny as WPR’s new program Central Time’s (third way host), Rob Ferret, interviewing Sen Ron Johnson yesterday and delivering the ultimate in oxymoronic inquiry in an extended interview. “Sen Johnson, what did you LEARN…(visiting the Ukraine last week)? Spoiler alert, Rojo learned Barry is a weak POTUS, Benghazi you know. Taypayers could have saved the travel expenses and got the same reply.

  6. Duane12 says:

    Certainly, I preferred single payer and Hillary, but I believe you work with what you’ve got; i.e., ACA and BHO. At an advanced age, I’ve learned “sumtin is better than nutten” or a one point win beats a one point loss.

  7. blue cheddar says:

    Dear John Casper: That Rosalind Helderman story was not a “scoop”. It was an obsequious puff piece masquerading as journalism.

    • John Casper says:


      If Helderman’s byline contains evidence of plagiarism, please by all means share a link with whose reporting she copied without attribution. If not, I think my characterization as a “scoop,” is accurate.

      I make mistakes all the time. Maybe this is another time to learn from one of them.

      Just like Charlie Sykes and other wingnut radio folks pound the JS Newsroom from the right, Politico likewise from the right, tries to take eyeballs away from the WaPo’s news division. Helderman broke the story, but she had at least one and probably several editors breathing down her neck about the “straddle.” As you know, that’s the business, trying to provide a decent ROI/article to as many readers as possible. When a big city daily does a news story that doesn’t try/can’t appeal to both sides, they will just write up another story to placate an important source. Last two-weeks saw the JS (Marley and Stein) eviscerated Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and his little brother (Jeff). Scott’s an important source. He can leak a lot important stories to Marley and Stein’s competitors. So to placate the Senate Majority leader, and keep the information pipeline open to them, at the same time they were crushing him over chemo, the JS published “Scott Fitzgerald throws support to balanced budget amendment”

      I didn’t like the WaPu long before Bezos bought it. Bob Woodward had become the essence of the corporate stenographers that he and Bernstein scooped. See “All the President’s Men.

      IIRC, even digby , who I still respect a lot, caved on the public option for ACA. Markos wasn’t alone. My trinity of accuracy on national issues is Marcy Wheeler @emptywheel , David Dayen @ddayen , and @janehamsher . Doesn’t mean they’re always right, it just means I’ve never seen any of the three give me anything less than their level best. That’s why all three have great difficulty getting sources to give them scoops. Without that, it’s hard to stay in the “news” business. Ezra Klein, Arianna Huffington, the guys at Politico, and many, many other professional reporters and editors are much, much better at cultivating the government/corporate contacts that keep a news organization in the black. They deliver the spin their sources demand.

      Marcy, DDay, Jane and many others like them, have to dig for their stories. They have to file FOIA requests and wait. That’s a lot tougher and more expensive than sitting by the phone waiting for a “senior administration official” to give you and your editor the next big scoop. If one of those three isn’t covering an issue in detail, I usually feel as though I’m flying blind. I’m sure there are plenty of other good reporters and editors out there trying to do good work, I just have a history with those three.

      AFAIK, what matters to high level sources and editors is the “drip, drip, drip.” Over the last 30 years, one dominant theme has been anti-collective bargaining, and anti-public sector worker rights. It’s not one-story that moves the public, or destroys a once-powerful brand. It’s the “drip, drip, drip.” That’s where you and a lot of others have done such a fine job of fighting Scott Walker and the oligarchs.

  8. John Casper says:


    “One simple chart shows just how big Daily Kos’ tent actually is (and it’s very big)” is from Daily Kos

  9. smith says:

    very informative : ACA and public option. wow now I get it. thanks!

  10. smith says:

    Daily Kos is big? really? ithink he is shrinking after this last fiasco where he will not allow any one to cross him. No discussion. he pretends it has to do with civility but in reality he wants progressives, real progressive to shut up.
    His charts is a joke

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