Dionne’s email says:
Greetings. You recently posted a critique of a column I wrote this week and I chose to reply to it on the Post’s blog because I thought your writer misconstrued what I had written and also because I disagreed with a subsequent point he made. I’d appreciate it if you could share this with your readers — and obviously your writer may want to offer a spirited rejoinder, which is fine with me.
Thanks and best wishes,
E. J. Dionne
I do appreciate the spirit in which E.J. suggests a spirited reply, and well, you know, I could not resist:
I will give Dionne his assertion that I misinterpreted what he wrote — I certainly have written things that have, er, been misinterpreted. For convenience, so RS readers will not have to go to the Washington Post link above, here is part of what Dionne wrote, about what I wrote:
Over at Red State, Dan Perrin writes that I am “dismissing the NPR poll as preposterous.” He is referring to the survey I cited at length showing Democrats in big trouble in swing districts. That is not what I said at all, as most readers know. What I argued — as the very quotation of mine that Perrin used showed — was that “the administration and congressional Democrats have lost every major public argument that they should be winning.” I used the NPR Poll as a piece of reliable evidence to call attention to the problems Democrats face.
(The NPR Poll found that the Dems were on the verge of their majority in the House being wiped out in the mid-term elections, but that the Republicans would be re-elected. OK, so maybe being on the verge of wiped out is an overstatement, maybe, depending on your definition of wiped out.)
But Dionne still wants his fellow Dems to embrace the toxic ObamaCare, as he says in his clarification in the Washington Post:
Perrin makes another point: that Democrats should abandon a defense of the health-care bill. He argues that I “picked the head in the sand option” and “continued to encourage Dems to embrace and defend ObamaCare.” In fact, the head-in-sand option is to pass an important piece of health-care legislation that gentlemen such as Perrin are attacking regularly and then leave it undefended. Politicians can stand for nothing, or they can stand for something. Something beats nothing every time. But I don’t blame Perrin and other conservatives for encouraging moderates and liberals to stand for nothing. They know perfectly well that’s a recipe for conservative victories.
Dionne says my motives are suspect. He supposes that I want Dems to abandon their defense of ObamaCare so that I and others can continue to attack it unopposed. What fun would that be?
Really, it is a motivation that I had not thought of, nor is it ever my intent to have the Dems act in a way that is not in their interest. (A big part of predicting the outcomes of political battles is the assumption that Dems will, in fact, act in their own political interest. As my readers know, but Dionne likely does not, I think it is a sign of delusional behavior when people do not act in their own interest.) This is what Dionne obviously believes I want. It is not.
Clearly, Dionne and I have a different view of what is in the Dems interest.
He believes that tying themselves to the ObamaCare train tracks or throwing themselves on the ObamaCare grenade is in their best interest. I do not.
I know that the Dems must now, and should have, listened to the American public about their views of ObamaCare. But the Dems did not. Perhaps Dionne is worried that they will now listen, but regardless, the Dems are now reaping the (highly predictable) political whirlwind for passing ObamaCare.
Virtually every pollster who has worked on ObamaCare and written and published their views say the same thing: independent voters don’t like it, never have, and their views are not changing.
It is in the Dems interest to walk away, no, run away from ObamaCare.
Dionne wants Dems to embrace the equivalent of political anthrax, for his friends and allies to breathe in deeply, infect themselves, their colleagues and their loved ones.
I think it is a crazy prescription, and is in fact, suicidal. But Dionne and the elites are too convinced that they have a message problem and not a policy problem.
They have a policy problem that has driven their voters away, and now it is a big political problem.
Embracing and defending the policy problem to solve the political problem caused by the policy problem, is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Politically speaking, defending ObamaCare is like eating cancer.
Perhaps, as I believe, Dionne is confusing the left’s ability to flimflam and force weak Dem Senators and Congressmen to vote for ObamaCare (and they succeeded in passing it with the Stupak double-cross) and are applying that exercise of 16 months of crawling over glass, as a success with feeble members of Congress, and are somehow imbuing their abilities with Dem Members of Congress, to expect similar success with how the American voter will vote in November.
The voters are not cowardly captives who vote the way Speaker Pelosi and the White House want.
The voters are angry beyond belief. Just because Dionne-like-talking-heads and the White House and the Speaker got Stupak at the 11th hour to double cross the unborn, does not predict swing-district voter behavior.
Every poll known to man (just about) says the same thing: ObamaCare has, is and will continue to be a source of a big part of the NO vote against the Dems in the fall.
I really believe Dionne lives in an insulated world, one that cannot comprehend the anger that ObamaCare has wrought, mainly because those in Congress whose actions was supposed to reflect and act on that anger and opposition to ObamaCare, instead voted for ObamaCare.
And now liberals are reflecting on the passage of ObamaCare, and confusing it with a political positive, and therefore, urge their pals to defend it.
With all due respect to Dionne, his prescription for political resuscitation is the same as drinking hemlock.
And as I said — more or less — at the end of my first post Dionne is responding to above: go ahead, drink deeply.