Jonathan Chait

Beltway Apparatchik Very Serious Person Wankery

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My blog post last week describing the liberal tendency to imagine that obstacles like, oh, a lack of votes for a bill in the Senate can be overcome by presidential willpower, a stirring speech, or even an executive order. Glenn Greenwald replies:

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait -- vocal Iraq War cheerleader (from a safe distance) who works for a magazine whose declared editorial mission is to have Joe Lieberman's worldview "once again guide the Democratic Party" -- has written yet another lecture chiding liberals for unfair and irrational discontent with his beloved leader. 

This is, of course, the entirety of Greenwald's rebuttal to my argument. So, he thinks I'm wrong to doubt that Obama could pass a climate bill through reconciliation or by executive order? He does not say. Greenwald is obsessed with the idea that moderates like me dismiss all left-wing criticism of the administration with buzzwords like "unserious and "shrill," but he is the one who dismisses critics with personal insults rather than make an argument.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to lose track of all the leaders to whom I have an undying loyalty. A couple years ago, Greenwald called me a "long time Beltway McCain worshiper." At the time, I replied by pointing out that I have written numerous hostile things about McCain, including, just days before Greenwald described me as a McCain worshiper:

This is a man who, in his quest to make himself an acceptable GOP nominee, reversed his political philosophy (crusading anti-business progressive in the Teddy Roosevelt mode); his political orientation (frequently siding with, and nearly joining, Senate Democrats); and almost every particular undergirding it (taxes, the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, his own immigration bill, etc.). But if you actually think that flip-flopping is a sign of flawed character, and not just a handy partisan cudgel, then, sure, Obama might be slightly cynical, but McCain must be a dangerous sociopath.

I would maintain that calling a politician a "dangerous sociopath" is inconsistent with worshiping him. Presented with this reply, Greenwald, characteristically, refused to back down.

Anyway, today he describes me as being both eternally loyal to Joe Lieberman -- for the record, I didn't support Lieberman in 2004, and neither did most staffers at TNR -- and a mindless sycophant of Obama. Rather than dig up examples of criticism I've made of those two politicians, which clearly has zero impact on Greenwald, I'm just wondering how I can simultaneously be a worshiper of McCain, Lieberman and Obama. How exactly does this religion work? What do you do when two politicians to whom you are slavishly loyal attack each other in public, or even run for president against each other?

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