Monday, December 22, 2008

Center for American... Progress, Really?

Matt Yglesias is one of my favorite bloggers. Earlier this year he left the Atlantic Monthly for the think tank Center for American Progress. CAP's CEO John Podesta is leading President-elect Obama's transition team so CAP has been in the news a lot this year. Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy at CAP, is one of the most progressive members of Obama's team will direct the White House Domestic Policy Council. On the opposite end from CAP is Third Way, a slightly left of center think tank that became well known through the Clinton's.

On the 19th, Yglesias posted this entry:
I’m getting sort of tired of the endless discussion of whether Barack Obama is a wholesome liberal or an evil centrist, but I have to say something about one aspect of this story:
“Barack Obama has never made any bones about it: He is a moderate,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, a moderate public policy think tank. “People who ignored that did so at their peril.”

Third Way is a neat organization — I used to work across the hall from them. And they do a lot of clever messaging stuff that a lot of candidates find very useful. But their domestic policy agenda is hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit. There are a variety of issues that they have nothing whatsoever to say on, and what policy ideas they do have are laughable in comparison to the scale of the problems they allegedly address. Which is fine, because Third Way isn’t really a “public policy think tank” at all, it’s a messaging and political tactics outfit. But Barack Obama’s policy proposals aren’t like that. At all. Nor do personnel on his policy teams — including the more ideologically moderate members — stand for anything that’s remotely as weak a brew as the stuff Third Way puts out. And yet, Third Way loves Barack Obama and says he’s a moderate just like them. Which is great. But everyone needs to see that these things are moving in two directions simultaneously. At the very same time Obama is disappointing progressive supporters on a number of fronts, he’s also bringing moderates on board for things that are way more ambitious than anything they were endorsing two or three years ago.

The entry was forgetable to most. I mean, it wasn't even as snarky as Yglesias could be, and then this evening, Jennifer Palmieri hijacked Yglesias blog and posted this entry:

This is Jennifer Palmieri, acting CEO of the Center for American Progess Action Fund.

Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects - including a homeland security transition project - and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.

What's interesting here is now that the Dems are in power there is a power struggle for control of the party. Will Clinton's triangulated poll driven Dem policies win out or will a pragmatic formation of a new center be allowed to form? Yglesias was obviously given a spanking to, but it's unclear what steps led to Palmieri's entry. Check out the comments to her entry for more on this battle.

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