Leaders Of The Pack? Blue Dogs could point way for the Democrats

November 30, 2006

Steven Goldstein sums it up in a Philadelphia Inquirer piece. The Blue Dog Coalition just may be the most powerful Democratic coalition in Congress. Growing to 44 members in the new House of Representatives, these conservative and moderate Democrats will be pivotal in what legislation is passed in the 110th Congress.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said the Blue Dogs “hold the balance of power” for the Democratic agenda and political analyst Charlie Cook said a prominent Republican told him that if House Republicans want to remain relevant, “they would take their cues not from the White House” but from the Blue Dogs.

The group, known for being fiscal conservatives and strong on national defense while avoiding “bedroom,” or social issues, may have already had an impact.

Shortly after the election, the coalition wrote to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to object to her plans to award the chairmanship of the House intelligence committee to Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, bypassing Californian Jane Harman, the senior Democrat on the panel. Hastings is the only member of Congress ever to have been impeached and removed from office as a federal judge. He was acquitted by a jury of bribery charges in 1983, but an appeals court called for impeachment on different charges and referred the case to Congress, which removed him in 1989. Three years later, he was elected to the body that voted to end his judicial career.

On Tuesday, Pelosi told Hastings that he would not be chairman.

Goldstein writes, the Blue Dog Coalition was formed by 21 House members in 1995 in the wake of the GOP congressional sweep. The name is a reference to “yellow dog Democrat,” an old phrase describing Southerners so loyal to the party that they would sooner vote for a yellow dog than a Republican.

A Blue Dog Democrat is a yellow dog that has almost been choked to death – turned blue – by party extremists. Or one that’s been left standing out in the cold.


FireDogLake: That dog won’t hunt!

November 29, 2006

Here’s one from the “I Missed It!” Department. Michael van der Galien at The Moderate Voice points out the arrogance of “progressive” bloggers in regards to the attitude on centrists and centrism. He quotes Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake, a popular “progressive” blog:

Those “centrists,” the people who can be convinced to swing Democratic in one election and Republican in the next, who don’t make up their minds until the night before an election or just run in the voting booth and pull all the top levers are probably not engaged in the political dialog to the point that they will want to “interact” with those who bring them their news. They might be stupid, apathetic or working three McJobs just to make ends meet but they’re probably not going want to spend their leisure time shootin’ the shit with VandeHei. People who are engaged political junkies tend to have strong opinions and they want to interact online with others who are like minded.

Lots I could say about that. But Michael van der Galien takes her to taks just fine, saving me the trouble:

The parapraph I quoted above portrays an unbelievable amount of arrogance. Seemingly, Hamsher believes that “centrists” are stupid and / or poor and, as such, not interested in politics. She should, for a change, try to read centrist blogs on a daily basis. The articles posted at such blogs and the comments left by readers might, perhaps, teach Hamsher a valuable lesson: centrists are centrists because they realize that the left and right harbor too many extremes and because they realize that ‘[to] compromise’ is not a dirty word.

Of course, that would require Hamsher to do a lot of thinking… we cannot possibly expect her to do that since doing so would be contrary to her nature.

Perhaps her article was a slip of the tongue, or better, fingers. Perhaps she was still so incredibly thrilled that she brought Ned Lamont to great success as the new Senator of… o, wait, she and her buddies failed miserably on that one.

Anyhow, some advice for Jane: please refrain from giving your opinion about centrists. Just do what you always do: repeat the talking points of the far left and demonize everyone who disagrees with you. After all, it’s what you do best.


Presidential Moves: Tom Vilsack, Wes Clark

November 29, 2006

One Democrat makes it official tonight and another provides strong hints as the Democratic presidential nomination sweepstakes kicks off this week.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s presidential run officially starts tonight with a “community pot luck” in his adopted hometown of Mount Pleasant. Yesterday, he picked up some impressive support. According to the Des Moines Register, Gary Hirshberg, an influential activist and donor in the key state of New Hampshire, has thrown his support to Vilsack. Meanwhile, Chicago investment banker Lou Susman, the top fundraiser for John Kerry’s 2004 campaign, is helping the Iowa Democrat with fundraising and will weigh a more formal commitment to Vilsack’s campaign.

Vilsack, chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, may be banking on America’s new wave of centrist politics. The last time a chairman of the DLC ran for president, it was Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

Vilsack isn’t the only potential Democratic presidential candidate with ties to Clinton. Retired General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, also from Arkansas, is also expected to throw his hat into the ring soon. Clark, sometimes referred to as “Clinton’s General,” commanded the successful Kosovo mission in the late 90s.

Clark said yesterday he doesn’t have a timeline to decide whether to run for president again, but wants to avoid waiting too late — a mistake he says he made in his failed 2004 bid.

Other Democrats considering a run are U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama, and former Sen. John Edwards.


Democrats Must Adopt A Centrist Course

November 27, 2006

But Will The “Progressives” Repeat The Sins Of Their Fathers?

Al From, head honcho at the Democratic Leadership Council, sent heads spinning in the netroots as only he can do with a piece in the San Diego Tribune admonishing Democrats to resist pandering to “ideologically inflexible and noisy party activists.” In other words, govern for the common good of the people and not for every single issue advocacy group.

Two passages in particular have infuriated the “cult of perpetual outrage” across the blogosphere. The first, paraphrased above, warns Democrats not to systematically bend their knee to ideologically inflexible and noisy party activists to have any prayer of nomination or election in 2008. From states they should pay attention to what happened in Connecticut on Nov. 7, where even in a strongly anti-war blue state, voters rejected a high-profile effort to exclude Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party by “progressives.”

The second point From makes is a request that Democrats exercise self-restraint in promoting new “public-sector activism,” accurately pointing out surveys that continue to show a clear majority of Americans favor a government that is smaller and does less to one that is larger and does more.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why this advice vexes the left so much. Volumes have been written, complete with statistical evidence, that Democrats lost favor among the American public for two reasons – a perceived weakness on national defense and an incessant massaging of special interests groups.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson loved to invoke the image of a quilt when referring to the various special interest groups the Democratic party found itself answering to. The patches on the quilt, Jackson would explain, represented each of these and he would admonish them that their patch was too small, their influence too weak, and that each needed a bigger patch. This was in contrast to a blanket, Jackson would continue, meaning America was not one unified and uniform piece of cloth.

Though the Democratic party had long been accused of pandering to, and indeed answering to, various single issue advocacy groups, Jackson’s meme just may be the closest thing to an admission of the charge. But it certainly isn’t the most blatant example. Just last year, leading up to the confirmation of now Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, it was revealed Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had met with representatives of 40 groups in Washington, and he bowed to their pressure not to vote for Robert’s confirmation. In explaining his opposition to Judge Roberts, Reid told the Senate he had been “very swayed” by the public testimony of, and his private meeting with, those civil rights and women’s groups.

Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, one of the groups with enormous influence in Democratic Party councils and whose organization had called President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts, in measured language, “an outrage and an insult to the women of this country,” … attributed Reid’s move not to internal character, but to outside muscle, telling The New York Times, “He got the message loud and clear, didn’t he?”

Former Vice President and Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, it is said, couldn’t tie his shoes without consulting special interests groups and as his popularity waned leading up the Democratic National Convention in 1984, a Gallup Poll found the number one reason cited by disaffected voters for their dwindling support of him was his “promises and ties to labor and other special interest groups.”

The list of such pandering is endless and is one of the issues I have with my political party. You would think that Democrats would rather take pages from the playbooks of Truman and Clinton, who both believed in common interests over special interests, the “common good” as it has come to be known now. But these single issue groups have never been about the success of the Democratic party or even the “common good” of the American people. Their chief concern is forwarding their agenda and they see the Democratic party as their best vehicle to that end.

The history of this can be traced directly to the Reform Commission of 1968 when George McGovern, the commission’s chairman,  altered the nominating process of the Democratic Party.  The commission mandated quotas for proportional special interest groups delegate representation.  The result was a process whereby the party’s  presidential contenders had a tough time securing the nomination without getting approved by numerous organizations who only had their narrow agenda as a litmus test.  Losses for the Democrats in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 did little to correct the course.

But the netroots, either because they believe having to appeal to over 40 single issue advocacy groups  is a good thing or because they want to rub the GOP’s nose in their midterm losses, see no reason to alter the course.  And they’ll attack anyone who even suggests it.   Want to know the real reason the netroots continue to pound DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer and DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel even after they delivered the Senate and House to the Democratic Party?  Because, in the words of Schumer, “the days are over when a Democratic candidate has to check off 28 boxes on the issues to get our support.”

As From stated in the referenced article, the independent and moderate voters who keyed our victory want real-world results from their government and from both parties, not just a choice between two noise machines. They want to know what each political party is fighting for, not just fighting against. And they will have a lot to say about control of the White House in 2008, and about the fate of the large Democratic freshman class of 2006, many of whom will have tough re-election races in a presidential year.

We simply cannot repeat the sins of our fathers if we want to retain the power we now have.


Thanksgiving Eve…

November 22, 2006

This year, I’m thankful for…

1. My wife and daughter. We’ve struggled. We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been let down. But our babygirl born late last year made it all worthwhile. She was worth the wait.

2. My job. The last six years have been… uneven. Uneven to the point that family members began to think I was an underachiever even as I watched my friends and former coworkers also struggle to find and retain gainful employment. Yes, I did make some bad decisions along the way. I regret them. But most of all, I regret having to make them. But I’m finally, slowly, scratching and clawing my way back to a level I’m comfortable with.

3. My health. I’m lucky the greasy fast food hasn’t wrecked it yet. Perhaps I should make a new years resolution? Or Am I getting ahead of myself?

4. The voters who gave the Democrats another chance earlier this month. I can’t speak for the party or anyone in it. I can say with certainty that we have your best interests at heart much more than the Republicans do.

————–

My family has a Thanksgiving night tradition. We like to go see a movie after the leftovers are put away. One movie I’m looking forward to seeing is “Bobby,” Emilio Estevez’s bio on Bobby Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy, like so many other leaders of his time, has had an elevation in stature among today’s “progressives” even though he wasn’t the liberal he is described as today. Of course, that is what made him so appealing. As a centrist, he attracted a wide swath of both Democrats and Republicans and, if not for an assasin’s bullet, he would have been elected President in 1968.

On page 190 of Bill Clinton’s autobiography “My Life,” Clinton described Kennedy as “the first New Democrat.” Kennedy believed, Clinton tells us, in civil rights for all and special privileges for none, in giving poor people a hand up rather than a hand out: work was better than welfare. Kennedy understood in a visceral way that real progressive politics requires both the advocacy of new policies and fundamental values, both far-reaching change and social stability.

Ruben Navarrette, writing in the Sacramento Bee, believes today’s Democrats could learn a lot from Kennedy, who many of us consider a hero.

On war: By the time he ran for president, Kennedy had become a vocal critic of the conflict in Vietnam, even though it was his older brother — President John F. Kennedy — who stepped up the presence of U.S. military advisers in Southeast Asia. Bobby didn’t make excuses about being misled by bad intelligence or an administration bent on war. He admitted his initial support for the war and called it what it was: a mistake.

On sacrifice: In one oft-cited encounter, Kennedy was challenged by a college student who wanted to know who was going to pay for the growing number of social programs for the poor. Kennedy shouted back, “You are!” It’s hard to imagine that today he’d help torpedo a debate about the future of Social Security out of fear that it might alienate senior citizens.

On risk: In March 1968, Kennedy traveled to Central California to support United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez as the labor leader broke a lengthy fast to draw attention to the plight of farm workers. Kennedy did so despite the conventional wisdom that farm workers didn’t vote, and that growers could be powerful enemies. It’s hard to conceive of Kennedy ducking immigration reform because he was afraid that his party might lose a newfound congressional majority.

Clinton wrote that if Bobby had become President, America’s journey through the rest of the twentieth century would have been very different. No doubt, he would not be the “progressive” hero he is today. He would, however, be a Democratic Party hero. There is a difference.


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November 22, 2006

This is a test post.  Pretty nifty, huh?

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Don’t Be A Comedian!

November 21, 2006

Typical netroots-style article at Op-ed news. Following their tried and true formula, the writer submits factually inaccurate bits of information before arriving at his conclusion, which he naturally presents as fact.

if you’re a progressive, the kiss of death acronym is the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), since dead enders like James Carville (with his D- record in election success) is already criticizing a meta politician like Howard Dean (who gets an A+ in election success).

Sounds good to the uneducated. But the fact is James Carville, in spite of his big mouth (or maybe because of it), was instrumental in putting the Democratic party’s only twice elected President in 60 years in office. On the national level, Howard Dean has yet to win anything. His presidential campaign was a washout, and the only people who give him an ounce of credit for our recent House and Senate wins are people like those that wrote the piece in question for Op-ed News.

Millions of liberal and moderate Americans have suddenly realized that we have TWO enemies here:

(l.) fascist Bush Republicans, and

(2.) fascist DLC type Democrats

I seriously doubt “millions of Americans” think Bush Republicans are the enemy. But that isn’t the most dubious claim here. The BIG lie is the “fascist DLC type Democrats” line.

For starters, it is doubtful millions of Americans know who or what the DLC is. But they sure know names attached to them. So let’s imagine you, dear reader, go to any Democratic party meeting and spout the trash “fascist DLC type Democrats” are our enemy. THEN you start rattling off the list of those in that organization that we are supposed to deplore.

Naturally, you start with Bill and Hillary Clinton. You might move on to John Kerry. You could mention former senators Max Cleland, John Edwards, and Sam Nunn.

By now, the crowd at the meeting is staring at you like you have a few screws loose. So you continue.

You rattle off all 16 new House members just elected. All new DLC members. All the enemy.

And you suddenly realize the room is laughing at you hysterically. You thrust your fist in the air and say something revolutionary. They laugh harder. You unzip your jacket, revealing your black Che shirt, as though that will bolster your “progressive” credentials. Then you see the party chair approaching to usher you off the stage, all the while explaining to the crowd that he did not mean to hire a comedian as a speaker.

So off you go, back to your blog, where you immediately declare the Democrats at that meeting the enemy, also.

Get the picture? I don’t really want to shift through the rest of the piece with you. The Marxist-like memme gets tedious after you’ve read it a hundred times.

In reality, 2006 saw an embrace of DLC-style centrism, as indicated by the Senate results in Montana and Virginia, as well as the above mentioned 16 new House New Democrat Coalition members. In a recent speech, Bill Clinton stated the voters didn’t give the Democrats a mandate, they gave us a chance. And as Newsweek said this week, all that is clear so far is “the chance” will inevitably take centrist form. Just as every Republican candidate has for decades been required to describe himself as a conservative, every Democratic candidate in 2008 will don the Clintonesque cloak of moderation. It’s a vindication of Clinton’s “Third Way” presidency.

—————

Here’s an op-ed from the Denver Post by Fred Brown that is actually worth your valuable time:

After the 2004 election, a number of hard-line Democrats complained they’d never win again unless the party “returned to its base.”

Go left, in other words. Democrats should stop trying to act like Republicans, the argument went. To heck with the Clintonesque “third way”; forget moderation and accommodation.

Now we’re hearing similar noise from the right. The Republicans have taken “a thumpin’,” as the president articulated it, in the 2006 elections. And so now there’s a clamor, offstage right, to take a harder line.

Colorado’s own James Dobson says Republicans have betrayed “values voters,” and those voters “are not going to carry the water for the Republican Party if it ignores their deeply held convictions and beliefs.”

The message is virtually the same. Beware bipartisanship! Moderation is abomination!

… In its post-election analysis, the centrist Democratic Leadership Council said Democrats should exercise self-restraint and avoid the temptation to gloat. They won’t hold their majority, the DLC said, “by insisting on ideological unity and ignoring parts of the country or parts of the party – e.g., “red states” – that call for a more diverse and inclusive message.”

In short, stick to the middle of the road or risk driving into a ditch. more