Markos Moulitsas Clinton-bashed well into 2008, but is now censoring Clinton critics after March 15th
Bernie supporters, your hands are about to be soundly slapped. After March 15th, according to top liberal, Daily Kos site-lord, and, now, censor-in-chief, Markos Moulitsas, new rules apply over at Kos as to how we level criticism at who he’s decided is the “presumptive presidential nominee,” Hillary Clinton. On March 15th, our official Democratic presidential nominee (who will, according to Markos, be Hillary Clinton) will be born, and we must do all we can to breathe life into it. If you support Bernie Sanders, well, shut up and sit down. Markos has spoken. His site, his rules. March 15th, apparently, is a drop-dead date in primary campaigns. Or, you know, not. At least, it wasn’t in 2008. See, this isn’t Markos’ first rodeo in alienating people within his fiefdom. Same thing happened during the 2008 campaign – except in that instance, his bloggers fled because he permitted the site to be too pro-Obama and anti-Hillary. In 2008, his goals were no more lofty than they are today – it wasn’t about who was more likely to be elected at all. It had shit all to do with party unity. He just didn’t like Hillary Clinton, and didn’t care a whit if she was more electable. In 2008, it was okay for Moulitsas to level sharp attacks at Hillary Clinton, a candidate who had a shot at winning. He didn’t call a halt to his own rhetoric on March 15th. But today, for whatever reason, he’s flip-flopped and has decided that she’s the best thing since sliced bread and Bernie Sanders should slink back to Vermont. Back in the day, on the Daily Kos, Clinton bashing was not only not forbidden, it appeared to be encouraged – didn’t matter what her chances were. Party unity be damned. He was fine with his writers fleeing for greener pastures over his outspoken distaste for Clinton. (But it’s worth a mention that Bernie Sanders supporters are unlike the Clinton supporters of ’08, and are not shy about jumping into social activism and taking social media by storm when their candidate is dissed.)
This is the part where we talk a little bit about that “party unity” theme Markos is trying to ram down our throats today with his site censorship, and his hypocrisy in delivering a kindergarten lecture to progressives on how and when they are permitted to speak, on his “liberal” site, about a candidate who is greatly, greatly flawed, and who may or may not be the “presumptive presidential nominee.” In 2008, neither of the candidates were positioned as the inevitable nominee, but he wasn’t forging “party unity” when his site’s theme was bashing Hillary Clinton, who hadn’t been ruled out as a contender (as Sanders hasn’t been ruled out as a contender today). It was okay for him to pound a theme against a potential nominee, but for us to do it against that same candidate, for the same reasons, at the same time in the election cycle, is today verboten by Markos.
On April 29, 2008 – a period where the campaign between then-candidate Obama and Clinton was anything but foregone – Markos Moulitsas didn’t sit on his lofty perch and plead for party unity. He didn’t halt his own rhetoric to preserve it. He was bashing Clinton:
Clinton going on O’Reilly, at the end of the day, shows she’ll do anything in the pursuit of power . . . It’s an ugly trait.
In a May 2008 story on Slate.com, Moulitsas said of Hillary Clinton,
She’s already ignored and belittled every state and voter demographic that doesn’t support her. So it only follows that since in her world, the only things that are important are things that support her, she’d ignore election results in favor of the one (outdated) poll that confirms her manufactured reality.
On March 15, 2008, Markos Moulitsas, writing for the Washington Post, made the same arguments against Clinton that Bernie supporters are making today:
She is a leader who fails to lead. She does not appear ‘electable’ . . . activists will be demanding the sort of change that can come only from outside the Beltway. Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment . . . And therein lie Hillary Clinton’s biggest problems. She epitomizes the ‘insider’ label of the early crowd of 2008 Democratic contenders. She’s part of the Clinton machine that decimated the national Democratic Party. And she remains surrounded by many of the old consultants who counsel meekness and caution. […] Afraid to offend, she has limited her policy proposals to minor, symbolic issues—such as co-sponsoring legislation to ban flag burning. She doesn’t have a single memorable policy or legislative accomplishment to her name . . . The last thing we need is yet another Democrat afraid to stand on principle . . . her advisers have stripped what personality she has, hiding it from the public . . . what remains is a heartless, passionless machine, surrounded by the very people who ground down the activist base in the 1990s and have continued to hold the party’s grassroots in utter contempt. The operation is rudderless, without any sign of significant leadership. And to top it off, a sizable number of Democrats don’t think she could win a general election, anyway. Can Hillary Clinton overcome those impediments? . . . we have attractive alternatives to back (and fund) . . . Her obstacles are big, and from this vantage point, possibly insurmountable.
In mid-March, Clinton was still a contender, in Moulitsas’ view. He hadn’t ruled her out. Based on his recently unveiled “party unity” rule, in 2008 he should have rolled back his own rhetoric in favor of the hallowed “party unity.” Maybe Obama was the “presumptive nominee” in his eyes, in 2008, but it wasn’t really until June that it all came together. As we’re seeing now, Markos just kind of makes that shit up as he goes.
Here’s the thing that really matters: In April 2008, RealClearPolitics had some polls showing then-candidate Obama and Hillary Clinton only about a point apart. Other polls showed Clinton winning by quite a few points. Today, the RealClearPolitics average shows Clinton up by only 9.6 percentage points over Bernie Sanders, with many states ahead that are far from predictable. Clinton is a very leaky vessel, she doesn’t have the required delegates yet, and anything can happen. And yet, the self-appointed leader of the free liberal world has declared that on March 15, 2016, the election is virtually over; and in honor of that, Markos has tossed out the ability of site users to criticize Clinton in any significant way, save politely worded, gentle chiding in her direction. No, Clinton didn’t end up beating Barack Obama in the 2008 election, but she was far from out of the game in mid-March, either, and Kos felt completely okay with continuing to beat her up and throw any “party unity” theme to the winds. It was okay for him, in 2008, to let barbed arrows fly in Clinton’s direction to shut her out. He hated her then. But he likes her now, so if we’re to continue to participate in his site, we’re reduced to suspending our thought processes and opinions. We can’t talk about the primary; we can’t express pessimism over Clinton’s chances to win against Republicans; we can’t threaten not to vote.
Markos has spoken, and we have heard (of course, he spoke against Clinton in 2008, and we heard that too.) Clinton has not changed since 2008 when Moulitsas trashed her repeatedly; in fact, the negative things he said about her in 2008 are even more pronounced today. His reasons for protecting her now are of no interest to me. I can only assume he’s an establishment hack.
We’re looking for a way out of the establishment, and aren’t interested in joining anyone looking to censor our voices. We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I and many, many Bernie supporters, will steer clear of a site that epitomizes everything we’re looking to slay.