Believe it or not, we need yet another new derogatory term in the blogosphere.
I think it was Dr. Black who first coined the term “wanker” to mean “ostensibly liberal Democrat who mouths right-wing talking points to undermine his party.”
But what do you call Russ Feingold, who has decided to support a Republican filibuster against the financial reform bill on the grounds that it isn’t strong enough? The chances of a subsequent Congress enacting stronger legislation is exactly zero. So is this bad faith? Stupidity?
Two caveats are in order:
1) Sometimes progressives have to withhold their votes in order to drive a bill leftward, i.e. toward the reality-based world. So the mere fact of opposing a bill on the grounds of it being too conservative does not put a person in this category. Theoretically, Feingold might just be doing some last-minute negotiating. Since the bill has not yet been reported out of Conference (making it unamendable on the Senate floor), perhaps that’s the issue. But I doubt it; Feingold really has been nowhere on this issue. He has not made any serious proposals. He has not been a leader on it. It looks like prima-donnism.
2) But of course this could apply to “wankerdom” also. Simply because a progressive agrees with conservatives on some issues does not make him or her a wanker — or at least I hope not! I agree with conservatives on many issues concerning teachers’ unions, for example, or some church-state issues such as charitable choice laws. I reject wankerdom in these instances!
So I would say that this new term who have to be for a progressive who holds out against a good bill, under circumstances where it is virtually impossible to get something better, and thus undermines his/her own party’s ability to govern, while pretending to uphold the “true” values of the party, movement, coalition etc.
What would you call that? A Hamsher? A Nader?