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Aisle-crossers: the real decision-makers

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday August 7, 2007 11:05 AM

Been exchanging a few e-mails this last day or so with a Pollyanna-ish comrade -- well, Pollyanna-ish compared to me, anyway. A propos the recent Secret Police Enablement Act, passed with the usual indispensable Democratic assistance, my correspondent observed, "Even on this wiretapping bill, Dems voted overwhelmingly against."

This remark reveals, I think, a really substantial error in how people think about parties. It's as if they believed the party could be characterized by taking some sort of arithmetic sum or average of the opinions of the people who comprise it.

But this ignores the fact that the party is an institution with a structure, with mechanisms of operation and levers of power -- levers which are in some hands and not others.

Among Democrats, it's the aisle-crossers who control the party as an institution. They're like the tiller on a boat -- an inch this way or that, and you've tacked. Or gybed, as the case may be.

It's true that if you average up the (expressed) views of Democratic and Republican officeholders you end up with two different-sounding songs. But all the Bernie Sanderses and Dennis Kucinich-es and Ted Kennedys etc ad soporem are in effect lashed to a chariot whose reins are firmly in the hands of the Lantoses and Liebermans. So the ineffectual enlightenment of the former is worse than useless -- it's an actual snare and delusion, like the sweet nectar that draws the poor fly into the flytrap.

I like to think of the two parties as being a lot like McDonald's and Burger King. In practice, they're marketing the same thing, but they're going after slightly different demographics and have slightly different marketing and branding strategies, and slightly different Secret Sauces to mask the rancid flavor of the same low-grade beef.

Comments (5)

In this particular case, both views strike me as wrong. The SPEA could not have passed unless the leadership let it come to the floor for a vote, and they brought forward the Bush version (which they knew would get enough Ds to pass) instead of the marginally saner Demo versions, which might have passed in the House, but not survived a Senate filibuster nor a veto.

The D-leadership decided that the Bush bill was better than no bill at all--which tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Given the chance my 10 year old son would agree to fight to the death anyone who would dare suggest that McDonald's could come close to the deliciousness that is dished out at Burger King.


i'll take him on...

err.... how big is he
i mean is he big for ten ...
i'll kick his bk ass ????


I recently commented on aisle crossers on another thread. I came here through LBO Talk where you made a pretty convincing argument about Aisle crossers controlling the party.
You are right about this. I always suspected how on earth Reptiles like Lieberman and Lantos escape any kind of penalty again and again for crossing the aisle.
They do it with active conniving of leaders.

Save the Oocytes:

I personally hold a deep belief that if the team form the American League beats the team from the National League in the next World Series, they are going to really clean up Major League Baseball.

Also, Pepsi.

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