Sunday, November 02, 2008

When Matt Yglesias Contradicts Himself But Doesn't

I was about to take Mr. Yglesias behind the woodshed and show him a fine selection of leather whips for the original part of this post. Fortunately he wised up enough to make a smart addendum. Still, the gist of the post--that Sen. Obama's centrism on health-care policy has left other down ticket progressives in a lurch--is rather unlike Yglesias in putting progressive policy before the reality of politics. He even notes that pushing for a single-payer health reform isn't realistic under current and near-future Congressional conditions. His correction, saying that Democratic challenger Judy Feder isn't actually pushing the single-payer system, does mitigate the functional dismissal of political reality, but there's something deeper here that Yglesias is pointing to.
The original post had a point that Yglesias passes over too quickly; a point that had he expanded upon would have made the addendum secondary and almost not worth mentioning. Said point is the idea that the more progressives (or liberals to everyone else) there are in Congress the better the chances of passing a more progressive agenda. If this were a mid-term election then such considerations should play a heavier role. But, with the possible election of a distinctly liberal senator as president, I find it hard to make the case that the progressive platform as a whole benefits from a presidential candidate who campaigns more to help down ticket candidates than for the presidency itself. In other words, while Yglesias does have a good point about increasing the number of Congressional progressives, that point is blunted by presidential politics at the same time. So Yglesias 1, Yglesias 1. I suppose a black hole has to open up or something now.