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In defense of Jane Hamsher, Democratic party loyalist

Who could have predicted?

Jane Hamsher has taken a lot of heat lately from the likes of Booman, whoever the hell he is (we never read him).  Apparently, he wrote a post directed at the disillusioned party faithful who are now disappointed in President Barack Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress.  We know he must be talking about Jane and other bloggers like BTD because he sure as heck isn’t talking about us.  We were hep to that step and we didn’t dig it a long, long time ago.  We’ve been calling ourselves Democrats in Exile since about May 31, 2008.  Do we regret the fact that we no longer have a party to call home?  Heck no.  We know all about free milk and a cow.

But this is a painful lesson for people like Jane Hamsher, who has now been told by Booman that if she doesn’t stop voicing her discontent at the bill of goods that Obama failed to deliver, she isn’t a real Democrat.  I beg to differ.  Jane has indeed defended her party credentials quite admirably in a post today.  I advise everyone to go and read it in its entirety as well as the comments.  It seems some of the commenters are still confused about who supported Hillary, PUMA, both, either and why.  I’ll try to clarify that at the end.

It’s not my intention to dump on Jane Hamsher.  She really does mean well.  I will always admire her for what she did in CT for Ned Lamont.  It must feel like a real sucker punch to be sold out by her own party on the issue of reproductive rights too.  I remember that Jane feels very strongly about that issue.  FDL was also doggedly persistent on Plamegate and I sat riveted to my monitor throughout the duration of Scooter Libby’s trial.  Jane was barely out of major surgery when that happened.  But it was the quality of the journalism, not just Jane’s incredible resilience, that merited an award for FDL.

But something went terribly wrong in 2008.  Jane, the party loyalist, took the path most traveled and lost her way.  She documents some of the atrocities in her post today.  Most of it consists of pitiful excuses for why Jane stayed neutral during the worst of the primary abuses.  I’m sure she would like for the primary of 2008 to die an ignominious but quiet death somewhere so we can all let bygones be bygones and get on with it.  It’s not going away, Jane.

Some of Jane’s commenters and perhaps Jane herself think the problem with us “bitter” holdouts is the fact that Hillary lost.  When they notice us, if they notice us at all, they think it is all about Hillary.  But a couple of days before Hillary dropped out, I had a conversation with Peter Daou on the phone.  I was enraged by what the DNC had done and not just because of Hillary.  Of course I was angry with how they had betrayed her but I was more angry at how they had betrayed US, the voters.  I told him that it wasn’t about Hillary anymore.  It was about the Democratic party primary voters.

Let me address some of Jane’s excuses for doing nothing during the primary war of 2008.  Jane says that during primaries, it’s all about personalities.  Maybe.  But I have certainly never seen anything quite like the massacre I witnessed on DailyKos or the emnity between the campaigns that was generated by Obama’s people.  It was like the primary was taken over by the smartest guys in the room from Enron.  That was my first clue that something wasn’t cool about Obama.  His followers seemed too “ends justified the means”.  The campaign was very weak about reining them in, which eventually lead to the “Sarah Palin is a cunt” T-shirts. But the aggression didn’t stay on the blogs.  Nope.  It made its way to TV and print.  It was evident at every televised debate.  It got ugly when the accusations of racism were thrown at the Clintons.  I thought it couldn’t get lower than that.  That’s when Obama lost me for good, Jane.

But your site stayed neutral.

Then there is the issue of their voting records.  Yes, they were very similar.  So, I can’t understand why Hillary got branded as a “corporatist” and Obama didn’t.  On what basis was that label applied, Jane?  But it was even more illogical than that.  If there voting records were virtually identical, why in God’s name would you choose to go with a guy who had virtually no face time in the Senate and ZERO experience in the Executive branch? Then there was the whole Lieberman Resolution on Iran which Hillary was forced to vote for, because no one with an ounce of common sense would vote against what amounted to an opinion poll on whether Iran should be punished if they used terrorism.  But Obama was conveeeeniently absent that day.  Huh.   But wait, there’s more.  Remember the MoveOn Petraeus Ad motion that Obama voted present on?  How about all of the Illinois Senate votes on reproductive rights and abortion that Obama voted present on?  Or how about the fact that he rode to the WH on a speech he gave on the Iraq War Resolution but never had to vote on?  It was a missing data point.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then there were the caucuses that were overrun by bussed in Obama people and the caucuses in Texas where the fraud was documented and reported on at length by the likes of Pacific John, who witnessed it.  There was the RBC hearing of August 2007 where Florida and Michigan were punished.  Two whole states’ voters disenfranchised for no fault of their own simply because the politicians involved had a dispute over timing.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then there was the RBC hearing of May 31, 2008.  We keep coming back to this but Jane doesn’t get it yet.  The issue was not simply Florida and Michigan, Jane.  The issue was CA, NJ, NY, OH, PA, MA and all of the other big and little primary states where voters did not vote for Barack Obama, sometimes by more than 10 points.  We covered that hearing, Jane.  We had boots on the ground too.  We saw Amy Siskind giving an impassioned speech about what it meant to her to be disenfranchised simply because she voted for Hillary Clinton and didn’t like being called a sweetie.  And then we watched when Donna Brazile had the nerve to call Hillary Clinton a cheater simply because she wanted to keep four of her delegates and leave the rest of the uncommitted delegates at that status.  Clinton’s position, as communicated by her representatives, was extraordinarily fair.  Instead, that same committee gave Michigan’s votes to a man who wasn’t even on the ballot and by doing so, wiped out every other Clinton voter in every other state.  They knew this is what they were doing.  They threw the game to Obama, in front of all of us.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then we went PUMA, which simply meant that we were going to withhold our votes from the Democratic party because we could not reward this outrageous, undemocratic and fraudulent behavior.  Since the convention hadn’t taken place and Hillary hadn’t officially withdrawn her name from the race, we felt there was time for the party and the party faithful to come to its senses.  We hoped that the party loyalists would put principles before party.  We thought they would be alarmed by the amount of money pouring into Obama’s campaign.  Where was it all coming from?  What did the money people see in a less than one term senator who had almost no legislative experience?  Then there was the FISA vote.  We were glad to see Jane as a signatory on a sternly worded letter in The Nation.  But when we got to Denver to protest the shameful way the party was treating Hillary Clinton and her voters, where was Jane?  I swear, Jane, if you had woken up and smelled the coffee and joined us, I would have followed you to the ends of the earth.  What did a full time working person with a new blog and a ferocious out-of-the-blue insurgency know about organizing and making a scene?  I could have used a Jane Hamsher.  If Jane Hamsher had stood up and demanded a real roll call vote for Hillary Clinton, if Jane Hamsher and her followers had insisted upon fairness and against delegate intimidation, Jane would have little to complain about today.  Jane could have said, “Well, at least I tried.  At least I did *something* to keep the party together.  At least I stood up for principle instead of letting a tidal wave of accusations and incrimination destroy the good intentions of the people who voted for Clinton.  At least I could say I stood up for the working class instead of the bonus class who controls us now.”

But Jane can’t say any of those things because Jane’s site flipped from neutral to pro-Obama as soon as the Convention was over.

This in spite of FISA and primary voting improprieties and Obama meeting with evangelicals and promising them God knows what.  In spite of the overt misogynism of the media that Obama never decried or the fact that the candidate barely called himself a Democrat or that he lobbied for the first TARP bailout bill- before the election- Jane was happy to climb aboard the Obama bandwagon and buy into the scare tactics on abortion to whip the rest of us into line.  We were all supposed to come together in unity and support Jane’s Democratic presidential candidate.

And now Jane doesn’t like her guy or the Congress he rode in to town with. Who could have predicted that he’d turn out to be a corporate loving, weak president with an equally craven Congress behind him?   The nation was in such dire straits last year that only a skilled and experienced politician with a quiver full of well developed policies ready for action could have *maybe* put the country and its financial sector straight.  We got Obama and his billion dollar campaign backers instead.  And BTD is still citing the DLC as the reason why he couldn’t get behind Clinton.  Oh, please.  When Bill Clinton was president, the center was where the left is now.  To centrists back then, the Left was a bunch of tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing, Alfie Kohn loving, Noam Chomsky pacifying vegans.  We’re not the new Centrists, the Lieberman types.  We former Clintonistas, Democrats in Exile, last year’s PUMAs are FDR style liberals.  You would think that Jane and us would have a lot in common.  But Jane has some weird mental image in her mind about who we are and who we support.  We are not Palin people.  We’re not birthers.  We’re not tea partiers.  And we sure as hell aren’t racists.

We are Democrats who were set free from the party or set ourselves free to go our own separate ways.  We put principle before party.  That’s all.  We saw what the Obama campaign and the DNC was willing to do in order to get him elected and suspected that big, corporate money had a lot to do with it.  It was the neo-feudalists flexxing their muscle and we wanted no part of it.  So, yeah, we are not Democrats anymore.  For us, the primaries told us everything we needed to know about Obama.

But one thing you can’t say about Jane is that she is not a Democrat or loyal to the party.  She is the most loyal of them all and she is facing an uphill struggle.

My condolences, Jane.