Thursday, March 18, 2010

Apparently, Nate Silver No Longer Believes Liberals Are "Batshit Crazy"

Ben Smith's essay which asserts that passage of the healthcare bill will vindicate Rahm Emanuel's dismissal of liberals has triggered responses from numerous bloggers (see mine here).  Nate Silver's reaction interests me because he once described liberals as "batshit crazy" who challenged White House weakness on progressive aspects of the bill.

Now, Silver describes liberal protest as a rational reaction to President Obama's constituents who want him to fight passionately for their interests (I made the same point a long time ago).  Silver still agrees that the Senate bill is better than "nothing," but he has retreated from his heavy-handed comments regarding progressive protest:
Personally, I think the reason for the increase in support is mostly this: the Democratic leadership, and particularly President Obama, are now fighting for this bill tooth and nail. They didn't necessarily have to do this; they could have thrown in the towel, passed off some bipartisan crap that didn't do much to help the uninsured, and called it a day. That's what Rahm Emanuel wanted to do, as Chris Bowers points out. But that isn't what Obama did: instead, he's gone all-in on the thing, potentially staking his Presidency on the outcome. Liberals like the idea of being the scrappy underdog -- being the fighter -- and Obama, after a strangely aloof performance on the health care bill throughout 2009, has been fighting the good fight. . . .

The lesson for the White House, I think, is that liberals (like any other voters) react as much to tone as to substance. A bill might not meet every objective on the liberal checklist, but so long as you're Fighting Like Hell for it, liberals are usually going to be willing to fight for you too.
My Take
Liberals, whom Silver previously described as "batshit crazy," always wanted more "fight" from the White House -- although I believe that Sliver overstates the role of this fight in shifting liberal support. Liberals have also compromised now that all other options have expired. That is an integral part of politics and social movement activity.

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