Democratic House Where Centrism Will Rule

Quote of the day: History will go down just as I said it would, and everybody goddamn well knows it. Your contrary story will not be believed by anyone – but the Republican-controlled DLC will try to sell it. But no one will buy it. — A Howard Dean groupie who suddenly realizes Democrats might actually win the House because of Rahm Emanuel’s efforts and despite Dean’s November election apathy, and now wants to make sure Dean, and not Rahm Emanuel, is somehow credited with it.

OK! Lots to cover this morning. We’ll start with five quickshots from the NY Times on the topic of how Democrats can win from five Democratic leaders, strategists, and bloggers:

How the Dems Can Win: Dean | Emanuel | Greenberg | Trippi | Drum

Michael Barone at US News and World Report explains how a Democratic House might usher in an era of centrism in the US Congress:

It seems unlikely that Democrats will win more seats than Republicans now have, which means that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would face the tough challenge of holding enough of her caucus together to produce the 218 votes needed for a majority on seriously contested legislation. She and other Democrats have not had much practice at this, but neither did Republicans back in 1994. Pelosi’s task will be complicated by bad blood among the leadership (as Gingrich’s was); she is on bad terms with the current minority whip, Steny Hoyer, and she seems to have encouraged her ally John Murtha to declare he’d challenge Hoyer for the majority leadership. Also, there are more moderates in the Democratic caucus (and likely to be more if they win the 15 seats they need for control) than in Republican ranks today.

Congressman Harold Ford from Tennessee may pull one of the biggest upsets this election cycle in his run for retiring Republican Bill Frist’s Senate seat. Polls show him in a dead heat with his Republican opponent, something unheard of for a Democrat in the South just two years ago. The reason? Well, because he’s a centrist, and the fact that he could win based on that truth disturbs a lot of folks in the far left ‘burbs of the Democratic party who believe that centrism is dead and that if you offer people a far left “progressive” anywhere in the country, voters will beat a path to the polls to vote for it.
From the Birmingham News:

Republican setbacks in Washington, endless bad news from Iraq and Bush’s sagging popularity have given Democrats an unexpected chance to pick up the Senate seat of retiring Republican Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Ford, whose centrist image seems carefully tailored to this Southern state, may be the most gifted campaigner of 2006. Brash, energetic and possessed of Bill Clinton-like charm, he has a chance to win a race that once seemed out of reach and help Democrats gain control of the Senate.

Everywhere he goes, Ford tries to reassure white voters that “I don’t look like you but I share your values.”

At a Camden, Tenn. restaurant, he delights a lunchtime rally of whites by using the national press corps as a foil.

“They came down because they can’t believe you voting for me,” he says, speaking colloquially. To loud squeals of laughter, he makes light of his own skin color: “Some of y’all’bout darker than me.”

An independent statewide poll by Mason-Dixon put Ford ahead by 1 percentage point. But public-opinion surveys are notoriously unreliable when one of the candidates is black.

On the topic of real world politics vs. fringe (left/right) ideology, Hillary Clinton provides a valuable lesson to the “progressives” in the party who believe Democrats should vote the liberal line regardless of geography and the electoral politics at play. The Journal News has a great piece on how she has had to weigh the different needs of her constituents before casting a vote in the Senate. Get it? As a representative of her state, the needs of the people back home trumps those of the “progressive” blogosphere. Everytime.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed caught in a political trap when the Senate voted last year on a new free trade deal with Central America.

New York farmers, a constituency she had been courting, stood to boost their sales by $4 million a year from the trade pact. But labor unions, an old ally, argued that upstate cities could lose more manufacturing jobs to free trade.

Waiting until the last minute to decide, the New York Democrat voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement on the calculation that it would lead to a net loss in jobs for her state.

“It was a tough vote, but it was the right vote,” Clinton recalled last week. “Segments of the New York economy arguably would have benefited from the agreement. But it (CAFTA) was a step backward by failing to include adequate labor and environmental standards” in affected Latin American countries.

Clinton got off the hook with farmers because CAFTA passed without her. But they also hadn’t forgotten that she had assiduously paid attention to all their other needs throughout her first term.

“She has been stepping up for us at every turn,” said New York Farm Bureau spokesman Peter Gregg.

The piece also lays out beautifully Clinton’s politics (liberal on social issues, conservative on foreign policy).


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