Success Breeds Respect


As Atrios says:

I’m not sure if the teabaggers will have much success in purifying their party, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Villagers will react. My guess is they’ll portray them as just folks exercising their patriotic duties, unlike those dirty fucking hippie traitors who ran a primary against the greatest man in America, Joe Lieberman.

Realistically, success buys respect in Washington. When the contemporary conservative movement got rolling in the 1960s and 70s, it didn’t have a track-record of success. But ever since 1980 or so the conservative movement has demonstrated, time and again, an ability to build national majorities around candidates who identify themselves with the conservative movement. The case for progressives is much weaker. But recall that Nancy Pelosi first took over as Democratic leader, the conventional wisdom was that the party was doomed. By winning in 2006 and 2008, she’s gained some respect from the press and if the House Democrats stay in power in 2010 she’ll earn more. But the fact of the matter is that Ned Lamont didn’t win. Howard Dean didn’t win. John Edwards didn’t win. And Barack Obama—despite efforts by fans to make him play the role—only very slightly flirted with the idea of playing the role of left-wing insurgent.

Which is to say that obviously coverage of NY-23 will depend in part on who wins. If the far-right succeeds in putting their man in office, that’s a feather in the cap of the far-right. If the far-right succeeds in shifting a previously GOP-held district to the Democrats, that makes them look silly. If progressive groups run successful primary challengers against Blue Dogs and then go on to win the general election, then they’ll look savvy and effective. If they don’t do those things, they won’t.