I think Gitlin's critique of Brennan and Lott is dead on. This kind of Marxist posturing plays well in the airless echo chamber of academia, where "out" conservatives are as rare as the spotted owl, but in the larger marketplace of politics it doesn't sell, and not only does it not sell but it poisons the possibilities for more moderate statists who might actually be able to attract enough votes to win. Both Republican and Democrat activists understand very well what is meant by "liberal" these days, and it has everything to do with wild-eyed, impractical radicals such as Brennan and Lott and their fellow wackos in the blocs that make up the current Democratic Party. So long as these people continue to run wild without being sanctioned by the DNC or the elected leadership, it's going to be very hard for the Democrats to get hold of the populist vote and throw out the GOP.
Pat Buchanan was thrown out of the party years ago, and the likes of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage have likewise been relegated to the fringes of the big tent. When the DNC shows Michael Moore and Cynthia McKinney to the exits, we'll know they're serious about winning, but until then, we're going to be seeing a lot of essays like Gitlin's.