Shut Up, “Neo-Progressives!” You’re more like neo-cons than you think.

_______________blogpost by  Ogenec________________

Despite their fevered protestations, the two are like peas in a pod. And their disease is contagious.

In popular discourse, there is a pitched fight between “progressives” and “conservatives.” On just about every issue, you see signs of the partisan sniping: health care, the economy, foreign policy, etc. But as I’ve watched the spittle fly and the rhetoric spiral ever downward, I’ve reached two conclusions. First, the fight is not between progressives and conservatives; it’s between “neo-progressives” and “neo-conservatives.” Second, neo-progressives and neo-conservatives are much closer in thinking than they care to admit.

The Neo-con lineup

The Neo-con lineup

Right now you’re probably scratching your head in abject puzzlement. So let me try to explain. First up, what is a neo-progressive, anyway ? Well, we all know what a neo-con is, right? A neo-con is a person who wraps himself in the mantle of conservatism to advance policy goals — such as the “pre-emptive” war in Iraq — that are a complete perversion of conservatism. That same reasoning applies to neo-progressives: they wrap themselves in the mantle of the progressive moment to advance policy goals that are anything but. And, to the extent their goals are in fact progressive, the means by which they attempt to secure them are positively Roveian.

Let me illustrate the “similarity” point, which will also shed additional light on the first point. Take the inveighing against Wall Street and its bonus payouts.

Both Sides Against The Middle

Both Sides Against The Middle

I’m not so much focusing on the merits of the issue. But only pointing out that factions on both the left and the right share an extreme distaste for the bailouts. How they get there may be substantively different — the Extreme Left is anti Big Business, and the Extreme Right is anti government meddling in Big Business — but the result is the same. Both sides hate it, and both sides resort to the worst kind of economic populism to make their criticism heard. Both are holding the pitchforks. Or instigating others to do so.

How about foreign policy as another example? It’s a matter of record that neo-cons were instrumental in launching the war in Iraq. Progressives opposed that war, and rightly so. However, a more recent incident — the voting irregularities in Iran — shows just how closely aligned the neo-cons and the neo-progressives can be.

As is their wont, neo-conservatives argued for muscular rhetoric and saber-rattling against the Iranian government. That all-too-familiar drumbeat for “intervention” started up again. See, for example: “Her Name was Neda”. No surprise there, you say. But what was surprising was how closely this rhetoric was mirrored by some on the Left. They argued, just as the neo-conservatives did, that it was time for Obama to toughen his stance.
Neda Protest Sign

Neda Protest Sign

For example: Neda’s Martyrdom and the Pitfalls of Obama’s Chronic Pragmatism
Again, I’m not opining as to whether the Neda incident required greater intervention than the United States government provided. Only that conservatives and progressives found themselves in much the same place on this issue. This op-ed from June by E.J. Dionne makes the point:
The Liberals’ Iran Dilemma.

The last example is the most important one, as it pertains to the process of governing. As such, it pervades every issue.

Click for more information

Click for more information

Neo-conservatives in the Bush era, led by Cheney and David Addington, were fierce advocates of the “Unitary Executive” theory: that every ounce of legislative, political, and policy power should flow from the White House. That position, and the zeal with which Cheney and his underlings acted on it, led directly to such outrages as the doctoring of intelligence for the Iraq war; the shameful outing of Valerie Plame; the Justice Department firings; and the politicization of science education. Given its shameful provenance, you would think that progressives would be the first to disavow such an approach. And, in fact, real progressives do.

But not neo-progressives. They want Obama to act just as high-handedly as Bush-Cheney did. They want all power to flow through the White House, and for Obama to ramrod through their preferred policy prescriptions already. The problem with Bush, it turns out, is not how he implemented policy but the actual policies themselves: if you just changed the policy preferences but kept the Bush method, we’d be golden!!! Oh, they don’t say it quite so blatantly, of course. They hide behind codewords like “spineless” and “gutless,” and they bemoan things like bipartisanship, a word they can barely bring themselves to say without a lip-curling sneer. But that’s what they mean.

So the next time some “progressive” says Obama needs to steamroll the conservatives already, you turn around and say “shut the f**k up, you stupid neo-progressives. We’ve had quite enough of that take-no-prisoners approach, and the adults are back in charge.” And point ’em to this excellent Dkos diary by AZDem, which makes the point that true liberals display “Niebuhrian humility”: “The Myth of Certainty” Certainty, that’s for neo-conservatives. And neo-progressives. Despite their fevered protestations, the two are like peas in a pod. And their disease is contagious, so it’s best to stay away from both types altogether. Especially during flu season.

Related article: Obama and the Left’s Old Schism


Filed under Bailout, Banking, Civil Protest, Elections, Middle East, Partisan Politics, Republicans, Uncategorized, War

19 responses to “Shut Up, “Neo-Progressives!” You’re more like neo-cons than you think.

  1. ogenec

    Mad Props to GeoT for the whiz bang graphics and careful editing. You’re the best, man!!!

    • tanks mahn.

      I came across this article which closely aligns with what you’ve written here… and it’s worth a read:

      Obama and the Left’s Old Schism

      I’ve come to believe that Obama is in it for the long haul and alienating the conservatives (the clear thinking non crazy ones) will not move the process forward. While health care churns to a hopefully successful conclusion one by one other issues are being addressed and dealt with: Iran nukes, medical marijuana, GITMO etc.

      Another article that ties in with this is one that states the “adults” in the Republican party have a growing concern about the extremists in their party (I’m writing a post on this as we speak)

      (from Politico)
      “Conservatives roar; GOP trembles”

      • ogenec

        GeoT, I agree with you, and I can’t wait for your post. I think both extreme factions go too far to tar everyone who doesn’t believe what they do with the same brush. I’m not saying that all conservatives are genuine non-obstructionists; only that some are. And it behooves us to work with them. Similarly, some on the Left — the “neo-progressives” for want of a better word — also are obstructionists. These are the purists identified in the article you linked to, and we should pay them about as much attention as we do the neo-cons. Which is to say, none.

      • audiegrl

        Great job Geo!

        BTW, you can use that Neo-con lineup graphic to scare kids off your porch on Halloween 😉

    • We’ve got to coin “Neo-progs” if it hasn’t already been done 😉

  2. audiegrl


    Thank you for this thought-provoking piece. 🙂

    “We’ve had quite enough of that take-no-prisoners approach, and the adults are back in charge.”

    I couldn’t have been more stunned when Bill Maher suggested on Real Time that Obama needed to be more like Bush. Really? Seriously?…

    Maybe he does, but I sure as hell don’t want any president to act like Bush or his vice-lord Cheney ever again.

  3. SouthernGirl2

    ” but I sure as hell don’t want any president to act like Bush or his vice-lord Cheney ever again”.

    I’ll help you to say it. Can you believe the arrogance of Cheney? For 8 years he didn’t want to be anywhere near the Media but now he can’t stay from in front of a camera to disrespect our President!

    When will he get his due for what he did to this country? I want to see him in handcuffs

  4. betsmeier

    Right on SouthernGirl2, he an all his cronies need to be put in handcuffs. The gall of Frank Gaffney giving all the idiots awards. But of course Gaffney is one of “them”.

    • audiegrl

      hey Bets

      I saw Frank Gaffney almost get his butt kicked on Hardball today. Ron Regan was ready to take his mic off and get up in Gaffney’s face.

      Gaffney made some parting shot at the end of the interview that President Regan would be ashamed of Ron. Ron told him “you better watch your mouth about that, Frank.” 😉

  5. audiegrl


    I thought Ron was going to rip off his mic, reach through that box and kick Gaffney’s a$$. Now that would have been hardball 😉

  6. SouthernGirl2

    “If I may borrow some French from Ogenec’s post, F**K YOU Frank Gaffney. Maybe Poppa Reagan would be ashamed of YOU”.

    Thank You! I couldn’t have said it any better!

  7. betsmeier

    For Gaffney to use Ron’s father was a disgrace and below the belt. But then again I’m not so sure that President R would have agreed with Bush/Cheney/Gaffney either. After all, he had Nancy standing behind him, and she is really supportive of some of the things Obama has done.

  8. PissedOffAmerican

    Chuckling here. No wonder you people broke off from the Marshmellow pit.

    Glad to see it.

  9. PissedOffAmerican

    Obama’s Bad Influence

    By Naomi Klein – October 15th, 2009

    Published in The Nation

    Of all the explanations for Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, the one that rang truest came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “It sets the seal on America’s return to the heart of all the world’s peoples.” In other words, this was Europe’s way of saying to America, “We love you again”—sort of like those weird “renewal of vows” ceremonies that couples have after surviving a rough patch.

    Now that Europe and the United States are officially reunited, it seems worth asking: is this necessarily a good thing? The Nobel Committee, which awarded the prize specifically for Obama’s embrace of “multilateral diplomacy,” is evidently convinced that US engagement on the world stage is a triumph for peace and justice. I’m not so sure. After nine months in office, Obama has a clear track record as a global player. Again and again, US negotiators have chosen not to strengthen international laws and protocols but rather to weaken them, often leading other rich countries in a race to the bottom.


  10. Max

    For newest information you have to pay a quick visit world wide web and on web I found this web site as a finest web site for hottest updates.

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