Matt Stoller makes some sharp observations over at TPM Cafe.
I thought this was particularly astute:
One other problem with understanding Moveon is that there is no measurement system in politics for success
This is, in one sentence, the heart of what makes political journalism so difficult and why the field of punditry attracts so many blowhards, cranks and bullshit artists. It is exceedingly difficult to untangle cause and effect in politics. People say all kinds of things about “why so and so won,” some of which is plausible some of which isn’t but almost none of which is cleanly testable. Clearly this applies to MoveOn or any organization working for progressive change. And I take to heart Matt’s point that MoveOn “does stuff,” that is: they’re active and energetic.
On a very personal note, I’m haunted by this all the time when I stop and try to measure my own effectiveness. Did this or that article make the world a better place? Did it advance the cause of just, did it incrementally . Almost always, I fear, the answer is no. But I know that that haunting fear extends beyond writing and journalism to all kinds of progressive work.