The Ghost of Emmanuel Goldstein
Joe Klein gets the David Broder treatment.
Congresswoman Jane Harman of California called as the debate was taking place. "Look, I would love to have cast a vote against Bush on this," she told me. "We need a new strategy, and I hope we can force one in September. But I flew into Baghdad [with 150 young soldiers recently]. To vote against this bill was to vote against giving them the equipment... they need. I couldn't do that." I posted what Harman said on Swampland, the political blog at Time.com, along with my opinion that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had changed their positions and voted against the funding for the worst possible reason: presidential politics.
And then Harman changed her position. After we spoke, she voted against the funding. The next day, I was blasted by a number of left-wing bloggers ... This is not the first time this kind of free-range lunacy has been visited upon me. ... But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn't move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable.
This is how the Left maintains cohesion. Once upon a time it was called Party Discipline. Although Party Discipline is no longer formally enforced, those who step away from the Party Line (not a telephonic term but one which denotes the current position of the "progressive" leadership) are still subject to informal reprisals. It is necessary to make examples both of Deviationists, as well as well as Enemies of the People. This is in part why Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby will be crucified. That is why David Broder and Joe Klein will be excoriated for the simple act of disagreement. The Left is not about democracy. It is about power.
None of this argues against being on the Left or holding a Leftist point of view. But those who think they can pick and choose should disabuse themselves of the notion. The bonds may have loosened, but they are still there. To join is to bind yourself.
Party Discipline is the reason the Left fights so well politically. It operates like a Hopline Phalanx against individual barbarian skirmishers.