"It’s hard to overstate how disgusted many progressive leaders are" with Senate Democrats' decision to end the shutdown, writes Michelle Goldberg, an ally of the disgusted. To support her assessment she quotes the co-founder of Indivisible, the so-called Tea Party of the left: "It’s Senator Schumer’s job as minority leader to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed to do it," said Ezra Levin.
To which I say, it's hard to overstate how disgusted many commentators are with progressive leaders and allied journalists who either don't understand politics or deliberately misrepresent its contours.
You will note, because you can't help but notice, that Mr. Levin's articulated disgust contains an immense contradiction — that Schumer's job is to stand up for singularly progressive values among an ideologically diverse caucus. That's not only contradictory; it is absurd. Would Joe Manchin of West Virginia or Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota agree that their caucus leader's job is to stand up for modern progressivism?
Schumer's job is the same as Mitch McConnell's: to achieve and then sustain, for his party, a Senate majority. What, on the other hand, distinguishes Schumer's job from McConnell's is that the former's is more difficult, in that his party's ideological diversity is far wider than that of Republicans'. And that, of course, is what brought about Schumer's's rather swift termination of the government shutdown; his Joe Manchins, up for reelection this year, were becoming very nervous.
Aside from the shutdown having been a miscalculation of striking stupidity to begin with (just ask red-faced Republicans from 2013, or anyone unsympathetic to emulating reckless legislative tactics), Schumer's caucus of conservatives, centrists and liberals guaranteed that internal dissension would doom its ultimate fate.
And then there was the pitfall of fickle public opinion. As Nate Silver tweeted yesterday, "This" — a PPP poll showing shutdown blame on Democrats had risen to 43 percent — "seems like a not-great poll for Democrats, who had a larger edge on the shutdown-blame question last week." He followed that tweet with another: "Democrats started out with a public opinion edge, but it was deteriorating and their tactics weren't well thought-out." My guess is that Schumer's internal polling showed a similar deterioration; it was time to cut his losses and get the hell out.
Silver concluded his second tweet with what does matter now: "None of this is likely to matter in November." Those progressive leaders cited so mawkishly by Michelle Goldberg forget that 286 days separate us from the midterm elections, which, at the documented rate of five outrageously mendacious distractions a day, give the president 1,430 opportunities to totally bury the shutdown story.