More blogosphere fallout from the KOS article on Hillary

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. 


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