For victory-seeking Dems, R-E-S-P-E-C-T Key to Future

May 25, 2006

This from DonkeyRising:

You can’t get it on line, but Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the May 29 New Yorker, “Central Casting: The Democrats Think About Who Can Win in the Midterms — and in 2008” is a good read for victory-seeking Dems. One theme that resonates in Goldberg’s piece is that Dems have to do a better job of communicating respectfully.

Goldberg describes a wince-provoking incident in 2004 in which a well-intentioned Theresa Heinz Kerry urges a gathering of Missouri farmers to consider going organic as emblematic of the sort of comment that gives Dems an elitist image. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri state auditor who is currently in a close race for U.S. Senate explains the problem this way in Goldberg’s article:

I think it’s a tone thing. It’s the ‘We know better’ thing. Some of it is completely unfair, but there’s a critical number of people from the East Coast or West Coast who don’t think that people in the heartland are smart.

The concern pops up several times in Goldberg’s article. He quotes former Virginia Governor and likely ’08 Democratic presidential candidate Mark Warner on the perception of “condescencion” from Dem leaders:

Part of this is just showing respect. Respect for culture, faith, values. You know, not everybody wants to live in a big city…Sometimes the Democrats advocate tolerance, except for the people who don’t agree with them.

Echoes Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in ’08:

We have to respect regional differences…Democrats are losing elections because they’re less likable sometimes. They want to explain the whole book, and voters want the Cliffs Notes.

In a sidebar interview avalable online, Goldberg notes:

…National security and so-called “values” issues like abortion and gay rights are only part of the problem for Democrats. The other part is stylistic. There’s a feeling among Democratic professionals in these red states that Democrats tend to condescend to voters in the heartland…the problem with likability comes from a feeling that Democrats are lecturing voters about what’s best for them.

And Princeton historian Sean Wilentz concludes the article:

The impulse behind the people who run the party is humanitarian, and humanitarians have a problem in American history — they’re always trying to perfect you, make you better…Acceptance of human imperfection would do a lot to help the Democratic Party.

No doubt most Democratic leaders are sensitive to the respect issue. But it only takes one blunder to make a destructive headline. It might not be a bad idea for the party to offer “Respect in Communication” workshops or at least a “Do’s and Don’ts in Communications” guidebook for candidates and their spokespersons. It’s not about being ‘Nascar Man,’ but showing more humility and respect.


Democratic Losses in 1994: The Quarterly Explanation

May 16, 2006

Like many posts on this blog, this one was also a post on a political message board.  Interestingly, the mods of the board actually removed the entire thread.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why.  But regardless, just so you know, I was responding to yet another far lefty claiming everyone caused the massive Democratic losses in 1994 accept the ones who actually did – the far left of the party.

You know, I don’t believe a far lefty can earn his stripes until he tries to make the argument that the Democrat’s losses in 1994 were because of the DLC, Bill Clinton, or in this case “Bill Clinton’s sell-out agenda.” It must be in chapter 1 of their playbook. Some of them have to know it is a complete bogus argument, yet it certainly serves to motivate the two percenters against “the man!”

Every three months, the tired subject gets brought up again. I can just imagine the person who does it smiling, patting themselves on the back, and saying, Gotcha! Problem is, we’ve heard it all before and have debunked it before.

The poster linked to above proudly links to a Wikipedia article to prove that the Congressional losses did, indeed, happen (as thought we’d forgotten.) But If you’re into using Wiki. Check out the entry for “Rubber Gate” to see one of the reasons it did, indeed, happen.

The House banking scandal broke in early 1992 when it was revealed that the United States House of Representatives allowed members to overdraft their House checking accounts, but were not being penalized by the House Bank.

This is also sometimes known as Rubbergate (from “rubber” bounced checks and Watergate)… 77 Representatives resigned or did not run for reelection as a result of the scandal… In the early days of the scandal, when the media began reporting on the loose practices, Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, along with 7 freshman Republicans referred to as the Gang of Seven or “The Young Turks,” made the strategic decision to publicize the scandal in an attempt to sweep lawbreaking congressmen, most of them Democrats, out of power…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubbergate

Three things were at play in 1994 that caused the losses:

1. The Democratic party of the 70s and 80s and grown corrupt.
2. Americans were increasingly distrustful of the Government in general, and, most importantly,
3. The Democratic party had moved left out of the mainstream and became the party of special interests.

The House Banking Scandal is a prime example of the corruption that was running rampant in Washington in the 70s and 80s, culminating with the Democrat’s losses in 1994.

An article in the Boston Globe took up the issue of Democratic losses a week before the last presidential election. When a party holds power for too long, Adrian Wooldridge, reporter for The Economist, said in the article, “it grows fat and happy, it also grows corrupt.” The classic example, he pointed out, is the Democratic Party of the 1970s and `80s, which, spoiled by generations of congressional power, “became a party of insiders and deal makers without any sense of the principles they stood for and eventually collapsed” when they were turned out in 1994.

Philip A. Klinkner, author of “Court and Country in American Politics: The Democratic Party and the 1994 Election,” presents a very interesting and expansive theory concerning the major Democratic losses in 1994 that Wooldridge touched on. Klinkner explains the circumstances surrounding the 1992 election provided ample evidence of a radically changed political environment. Several observers have commented on the growing volatility of the electorate since the late 1980s (Greider 1992; Phillips 1990, 1993, and 1994; Germond and Witcover 1993; Greenberg 1995). By most accounts, this phenomenon reached a new high in 1992, as voters expressed growing disgust with the federal government, elected officials, special interests, and politics in general, and a greater willingness to support outsider candidacies, even such diverse figures as Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Ross Perot.

By the early 1990s, distrust of the government, especially the entrenched power (that would be the Democrats) was evident among much of the public. In 1964, over 70 percent of the public said that they could trust Washington to do what was right most or all of the time; by early 1994, only 19 percent expressed similar confidence (Phillips 1994: 7). In 1964, when asked, “Would you say the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all people,” nearly 40 percent more people agreed with the latter than with the former. In 1992 that sentiment had reversed itself, with 60 percent more people believing that the government was run for the benefit of special interests than those who believed it was run for the benefit of all. (Stanley and Niemi: 169).

As the party of governmental activism, the Democrats were bound to suffer from the rise of popular cynicism toward government. At the same time that Bill Clinton was winning the White House, voters preferred having “government cost less in taxes but provide fewer services” to having “government provide more services but cost more in taxes” by 54 to 38 percent (Milkis and Nelson 1994: 395).

The more common explanation for the 1994 Republican Revolution, though, is that liberal Democratic ideals — or at least the way they were presented — no longer resonated with the majority of Americans. According to Ruy Teixeira, a fellow at the Center for American Progress and at the Century Foundation, the danger for the dominant party isn’t ideological bankruptcy but ideological drift. “Certainly you can make the argument that, if a party’s far enough away from the mainstream, if they don’t lose they don’t get enough impetus to correct their behavior.”

This was no better exemplified than by Bill Clinton’s healthcare plan, which support for collapsed, which set back his presidency and figured in the Democrats’ loss of control of the House of Representatives in 1994. They’ve never recovered from the loss.

Soon after Clinton took office in 1993, he promised health insurance for millions of Americans who had no coverage. But before long, the plan was a shambles, derailed by concerns that it would cost too much and create a huge new bureaucracy. “People have not gotten over 1994 yet,” Karen Pollitz, the project director for the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, said of the Clinton plan. “President Clinton tried to fix everything at once. It was not well received. And not only that — the Democrats got turned out at the next election.”

Another example was the assault weapons ban – a piece of legislation passed by the Democrats against the advice of many.  Some in Washington even warned that it could cost the Democrats the House in 1994.

Now, just for the record, I’m a supporter of both universal healthcare of some type and keeping assault weapons off the streets.  But just as a matter of fact, those are two issues thought by the public to be left/liberal issues

So, technically speaking, Clinton’s attempt to enact a left-liberal policy, along with the already existing dustrust and corruption, partially contributed to the Democrat’s downfall in 1994. A two decade long move to the left by the Democratic party – capped off by the failed healthcare plan – brought us down, not your assumption that “Democrats were so disallusioned by Clintons sell-out agenda that they didn’t bother to campaign or get out and vote.” What you call Clinton’s “sell out agenda” did not occur until AFTER 1994.  But it was Clinton’s centrist/moderate policies, what you call his “sell out agenda” that got him re-elected in 1996 and gave the Democrats gains in the House in 1998.

But I’ll show you how easy it is to use simpleton reasoning to arrive at the conclusion you want.

In 1938, Republicans gained 81 House seats running against Franklin Roosevelt. Again In the mid-term election of 1942, the Democrats lost 44 seats in the House of Representatives.

To use your exact words, I’d argue it was because Democrats were so disallusioned by (FDR’s) sell-out agenda that they didn’t bother to campaign or get out and vote.

George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis suffered huge defeats in their 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 presidential runs.

To use your exact words, I’d argue it was because Democrats were so disallusioned by (their) sell-out agendas that they didn’t bother to campaign or get out and vote.

The Republicans won control of the Senate in 1981 and retained it for six years.

To use your exact words, I’d argue it was because Democrats were so disallusioned by (their) sell-out agendas that they didn’t bother to campaign or get out and vote.
 


My reviews of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”

May 16, 2006

It wasn’t quite a Hollywood opening, but last night’s Atlanta sneak peak of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” attracted a fair share of dignitaries and celebrities. Among the crowd of state and county Democratic party members and officials were local politicians as well as former Senator Sam Nunn, Ted Turner, and Sean Penn.If you’ve followed the issue of Global Warming, the statistics and facts presented in the film will be nothing new to you. In fact, if you take only all the science and multiple graphs into consideration, “An Inconvenient Truth” plays pretty much like a better than average Discovery Channel documentary. Where “An Inconvenient Truth” ultimately succeeds is Al Gore. Mainly filmed before a live audience, Mr. Gore prowls the stage, explaining the reasons for and dangers of global warming.

Funny at times (the Simpsons-like cartoon) and tragic at times (the near death of his son), the former Vice President and winner of the popular vote in 2000 has a command of facts and articulation that our current President sadly lacks. Beyond just the issue at hand, we see through photographs and archived film how Gore was inspired by environmental issues in college, how he tried in vain to alert Congress in the 70s, and how the current presidential administration has edited and censored scientific data on global warming.

Mr. Gore leaves us with a plea: Tell everyone to see this movie. Drag your friends and family kicking and screaming. And get involved.

After the movie, I realized just how much I really missed the reality-based administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And I secretly hoped Sean Penn would jump up and yell, “Awesome! Totally awesome! Alright, Gore!”

There was a live Q&A with Gore after the movie ended and I know the burning question on everyone’s mind. And it was asked first.

“Mr. Gore, will you be running for president again?”

Gore’s response: “I’m a recovering politician on about level 9. But thank you for your sentiment.”

He didn’t say no….


I knew it would happen on Democratic Underground eventually

May 16, 2006

The Leftwing Finally Cracks Up. Calls Every Democrat Since FDR a “Republican.”

The question was asked – and it is a good one:

I’ve seen that statement, and variants on it, for quite some time now. The logic(?) of the statement is that Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton were either conservative/centrist Democrats or did something so egregious as to be thought of as AntiDemocrats… Generally, this notion comes from the leftmost edge of the Democratic party, or from lefties who are not Democrats because they see the Democratic Party as not being leftward enough to suit them… I’m interested in people’s take on the notion that the country has been under Republican control since, essentially, the end of the FDR era, with Truman being a transitional president.

Anyone who actually believes this is suffering from severe delusions. They’re deluded about Democratic party history, traditional Democratic policies and principles, and politics in general.

They must actually believe that FDR and the Democrats who came before him were shining examples of public servants, including Woodrow Wilson, who created the doctrine of “liberal internationalism” that the left hates so much. And that every Democrat since FDR is some stealth Republican or (apparently worse) a centrist Democrat!

One has to wonder why the left would even want to associate with such a vile group of opportunists!

Roosevelt
Truman
Kennedy
Johnson
Carter
Clinton.

The New Faces of the Republican Party!

For sake of this blog, I have to quote The Magistrate. He sums it up much better than I, and without the biting sarcasm I unleash on such rubbish:

Another is the perennial brouha here about what constitutes a “real Democrat”, most of which is conducted along lines that bear very little relation with the actual states and history of the Democratic Party. The idea that figures like Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were not “real Democrats” is nothing but the punch-line to a very poor joke, although it is certainly true that they embraced many policies and ideas that some of our radicals today detest. But that latter is hardly an indication they were not “real Democrats”; rather, it is an indication that such radicals are somewhat out of step with the Democratic Party as a real institution and political force, as opposed to an ideal item they imagine not only to be fact, but to be wholly agreeable to them. The fact is that the Cold War was fought by Democrats as well as Republicans, and was a solid item of Democratic Party identity and policy in those days. The faction of the Democratic Party that opposed the Cold War had its politiocal trial with the campaign for President of Sec. Wallace in 1948, and failed utterly, gaining the votes of only a handful of people. What is repudiated at the polls by the overwhelming preponderance of Democratic voters cannot be the real face of the Democratic Party. It really is that simple.


What is the radical/far/new left?

May 15, 2006
I use the terms radical left, far left, and new left often.  Yet, many are confused as to what exactly I mean by those terms and often ask me to define them.  I’ll use several sources to flesh out who, exactly, I mean when I say “radical left…”

The New Left is a term used in political discourse to refer to radical left-wing movements from the 1960s onwards… In the United States, the “New Left” was the name loosely associated with a radical political movement that took place during the 1960s, primarily among college students… The New Left opposed the prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed “The Establishment…” Wikipedia

In American politics, the “establishment” opposed by the New Left was, among other things, the Government and party structure. The Democrats and Republicans. The The new left ultimately got a presidential nominee in George McGovern.

The New Left’s goal, as it is today, is to correct perceived errors of what many on DU call “the old guard,” or Democrats like Wilson, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and even Clinton (based on his association with the DLC.)

In my experience, the New Left today (as described by Marshall Whittman) are merely “McGovernites with modems.”

Many of the ideological heirs to the New Left movement today are a paranoid bunch more concerned with ideological heresy within the ranks of the left than actually defeating the enemy – the GOP. They have their counterparts on the right, as well.

I’ve also noticed historical revisionism among them, with many believing the politics of Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson are in line with their thinking, although their movement was born to oppose the politics of the just mentioned Presidents.

I’ve seen other moderates on DU jokingly say that the “progressives” (New Left) here believe McGovern created the Democratic party. Actually, the extent of knowledge of the party, policies, and such, is limited to the anti-war movement of the 60s. They can speak with reverence about FDR’s New Deal, but for the most part they have little knowledge of FDR’s policies beyond that.

The skewed thinking of the new, or radical, left has given rise to the popular mantra among them that they “have to take their party back.” In reality, though, they never gained more than a foot hole in the party, yet believe they have some grand power over it.


More blogosphere fallout from the KOS article on Hillary

May 15, 2006

Markos Moulitsas just may be becoming the polarizing type he accuses Hillary Clinton of being. Of course, when your mission is to rally idealogical troops without concern for ever having to appear on the national stage as a candidate, being polarizing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The latest KOS brouhaha is his op-ed from the Washington Post where he contends Hillary Clinton is too much like Bill Clinton to win a national election. I covered it in another post as well. He also implies Bill Clinton is to blame for our electoral failures in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Knowing KOS the way I do, he probably would have rather used the term “DLC” instead of Bill Clinton. He extends his implication into the last several election cycles as well, saying “Bill Clinton” is to blame for our electoral failures in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Joe Gandelman over at The Moderate Voice chimes in:

Our view? Putting aside Hillary Clinton, here’s how we see it. 

The roots of the Democratic party’s present tensions actually go back before the McGovernites. Many people don’t remember, but in 1968 when Senator Eugene McCarthy essentially forced LBJ out of the race and Senator Robert Kennedy jumped in McCarthy and his followers were extremely bitter. They considered Kennedy a usurper: he wasn’t the REAL Democratic liberal, because he was a Bobby-Come-Lately to being anti-war, and got into the race right at the time when McCarthy seemed to be catching on.

RFK was murdered, McCarthy fizzled (in 1968 and as a national candidate in the future), Vice President Hubert Humphrey ran — and Richard Nixon won. Twice.

The McGovernites were passionate anti-war activists… They were dedicated, progressive political activists in a time before “netroots.” They took over the Democratic party. And lost. But their influence within the party remained dominant. If history proved them correct in their views on the Vietnam war (and some still dispute that), their sometimes politically toe-stubbing, take-no-prisoners rhetoric turned many Americans off. There WAS what Richard Nixon called “the great, silent majority” — and TGSM wasn’t with the McGovernites and the way they pitched their ideas. The McGovernites were a Godsend to many Republicans for years.

What did Clinton do? If you go back and re-read the news accounts, he did indeed look for a “third way” and as he campaigned he seemed like a salesman trying to overcome a skeptical prospect’s objections. On many issues on which the McGovernite/left-wing of the party seemed to alienate the majority of Americans, Clinton came up with a different plan. Or, at least, a more conciliatory, inclusive tone.

Yes. In a way he “stole the thunder” of the Republicans, moving his party (kicking and screaming in some instances) to the center of the American political spectrum, scrapping some positions that lost in the past and moving closer to positions that would incorporate a Democratic approach with a Republican approach.

YES: Clinton was NOT a leftist Democratic president. But he was one who knew how to look at the panorama of America and build coalitions that went beyond just appealing to his party’s own base.

Today, we see George Bush’s government by the base, for the base and of the base.

The cautionary note for the “netroots” is that they are in danger of becoming a mirror image of just that: insisting on an ideological purity that will eventually only reflect a segment of the Democratic party’s base (so just where will the other Democrats GO?).

But Bill Clinton? He knew how to win elections.

Which is slightly important — and admirable — in politics.

It’s always nice to get a refresher course in recent party history. I particularly like the warning Gandelman gives the netroots about becoming a mirror image of George Bush’s government by the base, for the base and of the base. 

Taylor Marsh adds this:

Hillary, according to Moulitsas, may also be too much like Bill Clinton, which leads him to this premise: Bill Clinton is to blame for our electoral failures in 2000, 2002 and 2004. I couldn’t disagree with him more strongly… 

Bill Clinton was by no means a perfect president. However, in the end he won two terms in office, had effective policies and is still one of the only people who can go anywhere in this country and fit in, be welcomed and cheered. People are currently pining for the days of Bill. Consider me one of those people. Clinton’s appeal and wins are because he started out as the “original average Joe,” who could sell strip club stock to born again Christians. His failings come in the same package, but the man knows how to win. At least Moulitsas adds that “eight years of peace and prosperity is nothing to sneeze at.” If not a sneeze, then Moulitsas delivers a hacking cough.

Senator Hillary Clinton has many challenges going forward towards 2008, but one of them isn’t because she’s “too much of a Clinton Democrat…” Hillary’s biggest problem is that she isn’t Bill. It’s not that she’s “too much of a Clinton Democrat,” but that she’s not enough of what Bill Clinton remains.

Bill Clinton didn’t cause our losses in 2000, 2002 and 2004. But if you believe he did get ready to lose some more. 


KOS Post article revisted: Hillary too much of a Clinton Democrat?

May 13, 2006

When a thread on this article stretched through General Discussion: Politics last week, I had only a small amount of time to debate a few points in it, mainly, if the sales numbers for KOS’s book reflect the power from the left KOS is believed to have. I’d started a new job Monday and the learning curve was a bit steep. But with my first week there behind me, I thought I’d give the KOS article the attention it deserves from me – a die hard Bill Clinton supporter and a luke warm Hillary Clinton supporter. I’m sure KOS would expect no less if he knew me.

I’ll begin by quoting the blog at Real Clear Politics on this very subject:

Is Markos Moulitsas a mole for the Hillary Clinton primary campaign? I have to ask on account of this piece on the Washington Post op-ed page today. Because, you see, the surest way to guarantee a candidate’s election is to put them on the side opposite the Kos Krowd.

Kos waxes poetic about “Howard Dean’s transformational campaign,” where:

Even as the establishment mocked Dean and his supporters (“like a scene out of the ‘Star Wars’ cantina,” laughed a rival campaign aide), his army of hyper-motivated supporters organized across all 50 states. This movement exploded onto the national scene when Dean began reporting dramatically higher fundraising numbers than his opponents.

Of course, we all remember Dean sweeping the primaries and triumphantly taking the oath of office as national health care rained down upon … oh, wait. He came in third in Iowa, let out the yearrrrrrrrgh heard around the world and went onto a Mondale-esque defeat…

Let me go out on a limb here: There is nothing Hillary Clinton worries less about in life than whether the folks over at Daily Kos think she’s liberal enough.

In fact, in true Clintonian fashion, she could likely not be more delighted at being the target of the far-left’s rage. The more they hate her, the more the rest of America will get the impression: maybe she’s not that bad.

Kos suffers from the typical ideologue’s delusion: My party loses when it doesn’t do enough of what I want. It’s a tempting delusion, found on both the Left and the Right, for sure. And it’s not entirely without truth. Parties and candidates have to stand for something. If you look like you’re just sticking your finger in the wind, the voters notice, and they don’t like it. It doesn’t mean they won’t elect you — it certainly doesn’t mean that — but they won’t respect you.

The fact is, however, elections are typically won in the center. If Hillary gets knocked out in the primaries, it will be in favor of someone even closer to the center — not someone out in Kosland.

Greg’s Opinion chimes in on the above by saying, “Yeah … ditto that. If Markos’ op-ed was a dare, I think it’s a game of chicken he ultimately loses. At least wait until the outcome of Joe v Ned before you go picking fights with Hillary, dude.”

KOS’s op-ed does, indeed, appear to be another “I’m going to make the DLC radioactive” type leftwing call to arms. Jonathon Chait explores this phenomenon as well in his peace dealing with the left’s attempt to defeat Joe Lieberman:

WATCHING the left wing of the Democratic Party trying to take down Joe Lieberman has been a deeply confusing experience for me. The lefties say the Democratic senator from Connecticut is a self-righteous suck-up who lends President Bush undeserved credibility. Lieberman’s allies say the lefties are a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals.

They’re both basically right. So how am I supposed to deal with this?

In the end, though, I can’t quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What’s holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman’s sins. It’s a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them. (like Hillary Clinton)

But back to KOS’s op-ed, ironically titled “Hillary Clinton: Too Much of a Clinton Democrat?” One passage sticks out more than the rest of the piece, and it is the ironic part:

Despite all his successes — and eight years of peace and prosperity is nothing to sneeze at — he never broke the 50-percent mark in his two elections. Regardless of the president’s personal popularity, Democrats held fewer congressional seats at the end of his presidency than before it. The Democratic Party atrophied during his two terms, partly because of his fealty to his “third way” of politics, which neglected key parts of the progressive movement and reserved its outreach efforts for corporate and moneyed interests.”

The much-hated DLC blogger Bull Moose chimes in. Remember, being a former Republican operative, he has a perspective of Clinton you and I don’t:

Damn That Success! What is it about peace and prosperity and a two term Democratic Presidency that (KOS) doesn’t like? … Shock and horror – Clinton did not exceed the 50 percent mark in his two Presidential victories. Odds are that Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry could have lived with that!

Well, first of all, the reason that the Democrats lost so many seats back in ’94 was that the Clinton Administration betrayed its New Democrat roots in the first two years and veered to the left. And of course, the left (despite his protestations) is exactly where Mr. Kos would take the donkey. By the way, how did that work for Kos’ candidate of choice, President (sic) Dean? Those netroots were crazy about Dean, but the real, live voters were not.

In 1996 and 1998 when President Clinton returned to his New Democratic roots, Democrats prospered reversing the “six-year itch” setback that incumbent parties generally suffer. And of course, a Democrat was re-elected President for only the third time in the century. Small potatoes, Mr. Kos?

Not only did Clinton offer a new vision of opportunity, responsibility, and community, he also put flesh on the bones, with concrete proposals of welfare reform, national service, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. He offered an optimistic, pro-growth, free-trade approach to the economy. He ran against type as a hard-headed progressive and eventually became the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term.

And yet, the ever astute and erudite Mr. Kos suggests, “Clinton’s third way failed miserably.” And what, Mr. Kos, would you consider success?

The Moose can attest, that back in ’96-’97 before impeachment, the conservatives thought that Bill Clinton had their number. The Moose distinctly recalls attending countless meetings on the right in 1996 and 1997, where Republicans fretted that Clinton had gotten their number and their ascendancy was being threatened. Clinton had successfully co-opted Republican wedge issues and advanced a political agenda that was at once fiscally responsible and progressive.

The right wingers had no strategy to combat the Third Way. That is why they pursued impeachment with wild abandon. The transformation of the party unfortunately was aborted by impeachment… Now, Kos is kvetching about Hillary’s centrism and that she isn’t leading with big ideas. Well, here’s a big idea that Hillary is taking the lead on that deeply rankles Kos and his buddies – she’s tough on national security… Hillary is by no means an inevitable nominee. But it is a smear against her and her husband to suggest that they don’t have ideas which have translated into political success for Democrats.

So, moving to the meat of the KOS op-ed…

Moving into 2008, Republicans will be fighting to shake off the legacy of the Bush years: the jobless recovery, the foreign misadventures, the nightmarish fiscal mismanagement, the Katrina mess, unimaginable corruption and an imperial presidency with little regard for the Constitution or the rule of law. Every Democratic contender will be offering change, but activists will be demanding the sort of change that can come only from outside the Beltway.

I used to be surprised when “activists” demanded anything. I’m not anymore. Afterall, they’ve achieved so many electoral victories.  (LOL!)

Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment — led by her husband — that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad.

Earth to KOS. As asked above, what “failed Democratic Party establishment” are you referring to? The only twice-elected Democratic President since FDR? The biggest economic expansion, if not ever, in our lifetime? So, in using the term “failure,” I must take a page from the Clinton playbook and state, “The depends on what the meaning of ‘failure’ is.” To KOS, it surely must mean Clinton didn’t turn the nation into a near socialist paradise. But I doubt the 22 million people that went to work in Clinton’s economy would call it a failure.

And the charge that Clinton enabled the George W. Bush presidency? Are you on crack, KOS? In 2000, people like you listened to people like you and voted for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore. You’re probably hoping Democrats will forget that. We won’t.

And there lies the weakness of your entire premise, KOS. You try to build a case of a failed Democratic establishment to bolster the need for leftwing netroots saviors, but there was no failed Democratic establishment in the 90s. The failed establishment came from the 70s and 80s – remnants of the “McGovern revolution” – and, when the country had had enough, they were swept from power in ’94.

I don’t always agree with what Clinton did, or the policies and writings of the DLC, but I don’t always agree with my wife, either. But I’m committed to her.

So I’ll quote the Bull Moose blog one more time:

These netroots types think they are something cutting edge when they are merely McGovernites with modems. One only wonders why the much maligned “Main Stream Media”, much less elected officials, pay so much attention to them. And their complaints about the political establishment just echo those of the New Politics folks who culturally marginalized the party until Bill Clinton came along.