Why Do Mainstream Media Insist on Belittling Progressives?

It's bound to happen, any time progressives have the audacity to demand brave leadership from a Democratic Party that asks for our money, our votes and our volunteer labor. The cry goes up from the self-proclaimed level heads of corporate media: You impractical, self-defeating lefties! Stop whining and let the adults run things! And so, as the leadership debacle that was health reform reaches its climax, it's little surprise that those of us who won't stop fighting for true reform are once again told to shut up.

Time's Joe Klein is perhaps the most apoplectic about the "idiocy" of the "left-wing blogosphere." Klein's selective reading leads him to reduce progressive criticism of the Senate health bill to its lack of a public option, which he dismisses as a "tidbit" in meaningful reform policy. Klein is of course beating up on an ahistorical straw man. What most progressive reformers called for was single-payer; we were adult enough to accept and fight for the compromise Obama proposed -- that "relatively minor provision called the public option."

But Klein's straw man allows him to set up a familiar, false equivalency between left and right, positioning those level-headed "moderates" as the good folks holding our polity together. He writes, with a peevish tone fit for the lefty blogosphere he's conjured:

Hilariously, as we stagger from one awful decade into the next, there has been a coagulation of these extremes -- a united front against the turgid ceremonies of legislative democracy, like compromise, and disdain for the politician most responsible for nudging our snarled checks and balances toward action, Barack Obama.

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