Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Kos vs. Harold Ford, Jr. on Meet The Press

Reported by Ellen - August 13, 2007 -

DailyKos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas and DLC head and FOX News contributor Harold Ford, Jr. debated on Meet The Press yesterday (8/12/07). The segment was billed as a debate about the future of the Democratic Party: liberal or centrist? But as Moulitsas made clear (but which seemed to fly over the head of substitute host David Gregory), it’s not about liberal vs. centrist but, rather, being "strong, unapologetic, muscular Democrats" (as Moulitsas put it) vs. the kind of political "outreach" Ford engaged in on Hannity & Colmes where, when faced with accusations that Democrats have emboldened the enemy and undermined our troops, Ford replied, "I don't associate myself with Harry Reid."

Early in the discussion, Gregory read an excerpt from a recent Washington Post editorial co-authored by Ford which said, “Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.” Ford conveniently forgot that that same kind of centrism lost the White House in 2000 and 2004 (unless Ford thinks the elections were stolen), gave Bush the power to go to war against Iraq, voted in Justices Alito and Roberts, and voted out Habeas Corpus.

Noting that he had promoted “blue dog” Democrats Stephanie Herseth and Ben Chandler, Moulitsas said, “We started pushing Democrats to be proud to be Democrats. This had nothing to do with being centrist or liberal or conservative. It had to do with standing tall for core progressive principles.”

Near the beginning of the discussion, Ford said that in order to win national elections, “You have to cross three hurdles. First, you have to demonstrate your strength and trustworthiness on national security, you have to demonstrate that your values are squarely in the mainstream of America and three, you have to demonstrate that as a Democrat that you can be trusted on taxes and economic and fiscal policy.” Yet later, Ford told Gregory that the top issues facing the country are energy, the growing inequality between haves and have-nots and health care and education. The dichotomy suggests that Ford thinks that Democrats should not run on the issues he thinks are the most important but by pandering to Republican voters.

It was a point not lost on Moulitsas. He demurred from naming three issues, stating, instead, that he wanted the candidates to "not be afraid of who they are, to be authentic." He further pointed out that while Democrats agree on the progressive issues, the DLC supported Bush’s tax cuts and, apparently citing Ford’s recent appearance on Hannity & Colmes, that he refused to say that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Moulitsas later added that DLC-Democrat Bill Clinton, “the most talented politician of our era” was not able to win 50% of the popular vote whereas in 2006, Democrats garnered 56% of the vote.

Ford seemed taken aback at Moulitsas’ implication that he and the DLC were not progressive, even though it was Ford who called himself centrist. “We’re not going to win if you and I are arguing against one another,” Ford said, almost defensively. “I’m (a proud Democrat), too. There’s no need to question my allegiance. I want to do nothing more than ensure that progressive causes and interests are advanced. I want nothing more, and I, I know you do as well, want Democrats to win. We do nothing but help Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani when we argue, essentially, over semantics.”

Moulitsas got him there. Apparently referring to another of Ford's Hannity & Colmes appearances, Moulitsas said, “So will you go on—will you stop going on Fox News and attacking Harry Reid for abandoning...the troops... and betraying the troops?”

Ford had no answer, other than to point a finger back at Moulitsas for posting “awful things about Jewish-Americans.”

It was clear, at least to this viewer, that Moulitsas would welcome Ford into the netroots community. He told Ford, “Clearly, we have a situation where you have an organization that’s been on the wrong side of the issues and has failed to really build a movement, has failed to really draw popular support. And it’s telling that five years ago, when I first came on the scene, I used to attack many organizations—organized labor. I used to attack a lot of the issue groups and—because I saw them all as part of this failed Democratic Party establishment. We were losing elections. At YearlyKos, we had all these organizations at the same table—labor, the issue groups. The one organization that was still missing was the DLC.”

In the end, both sides agreed that their respective factions should merge. But while Moulitsas said he would be willing to go to next year’s DLC conference, Ford said he planned to be at the next YearlyKos (to be called the Netroots Nation).

To me, that proves which side “won.” But to say that it’s liberal vs. centrist is to frame the debate in terms that Sean Hannity would love. Hannity and his ilk have made “liberal” a dirty word that usually, but not always, stops just short of being synonymous with “traitor.” On FOX News, just asking if the Democratic Party might be taken over by liberals (even Gregory talked about a “lurch to the left”) is akin to “just asking” if it has become demonically possessed. Nothing warms Hannity’s heart more than vilifying Democrats and he’s proven that he’ll do it any way he can. He has become no less partisan, no less vicious, no more amenable to Democrats since Ford’s tacit acceptance of the June 21, 2007 accusation that Democrats have emboldened the enemy and betrayed the troops. I doubt he won over any viewers either.

You can watch a video of the debate at Crooks and Liars. You can read a transcript of it at MSNBC.com.

BarbinMD at DailyKos has more.