The Center: Where The Cool Kids Are

111706road.jpgAnyone remembers that rambling post I did back in August asking if centrism was now fashionable?

Well, in the weeks leading up to this past election, and in the days sinse, centrist politics has been the buzz of Washington while the Tom Delays of the right and the David Sirotas of the left have been reduced to drooling and incoherant has- beens, babbling on about revolutions past and future and other such nonsense.

David Ignatius at the Washington Post leads off this morning with a piece titled Issues Front and Center:

The Democrats now have the opportunity the Republicans spurned, which is to build a broad coalition in the center and become once again the nation’s governing party. But to achieve that, the Democrats must stand for values that connect with those of most Americans. The center is meaningless, after all, except as a platform for enacting legislation the public wants.

Some Democratic initiatives are obvious after the November election: The public wants changes in Iraq policy that reduce the costs and dangers for America; reform of an arrogant and corrupt congressional leadership; and an end to partisan political bickering. The new House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, had a disastrous post-election week in which her first priority seemed to be settling scores rather than solving these big problems. Shame on her! But let’s assume for the moment that the new Democratic majority won’t commit instant suicide with a continuation of Pelosi’s payback politics, and that it will get serious about governing.

Peggy Noonan at Opinion Journal asks “Who Will Claim The Center?” I don’t agree with much Noonan has to say in general but this piece makes for some interesting reading…

Can the Democrats spend the next two years showing a moderate, centrist, mature face to the country? Republicans say–this is the big phrase–“It’s not in their DNA.” But betting on the other guy’s inability to change is not, really, a plan. And these Democrats, or many of them, seem a rising generation of pragmatists. They seem to know what’s at stake. If they scare America, they give Republicans a ready campaign theme for 2008: If you liked the crazy Democratic Congress, you’ll love a crazy Democratic White House.

Can they go down the center, or will radicalism of various sorts erupt and gain sway? No one knows. The Democrats don’t know. The answer is going to help shape America’s future political history. And it will help shape George Bush’s. If the Democrats are radical, he will look more reasonable, not only in the eyes of the public but of history. If the Democrats are moderate, I think he will do something surprising, and yet much in line with his personality and nature.

I am taken aback this week at the level of disenchantment with and dislike of the president and his men–not among Democrats, but among Republicans. On the Hill they no longer see the White House as talented and formidable. They see it as shuttered and second-rate. There are bitter anecdotes about the way the White House has rigged and controlled events, only to blame those who followed them when disaster ensues. There are more anecdotes about the president’s refusal or inability to absorb information he emotionally resists: the senator who kept telling him the past year what trouble the party was in only to be ignored, the former congressman who pressed the point with the president and received a tongue lashing. There is increased criticism too of the habit of high White House staffers to muscle critics, silence dissent, force obedience.

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The Rise of the DLC… Again

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines “denial” as refusal to recognize or acknowledge something. The leftwing of the Democratic party, specifically the netroots, have been in a perpetual state of denial for the last six years in regards to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. They’ve happily declared the organization that propelled Bill Clinton to the presidency “irrelevant” and “dead,” and written volumes of op-eds and numerous pages in books to make their point.

But something seems to have happened on the way to the left’s “McGovern’s Revenge” party. The DLC’s relevance and influence has been severely understated. But most of us paying attention were aware of that.

When they claimed that Bill Clinton didn’t really get elected running on a DLC platform, we chuckled at their petulance. Clinton’s ’92 campaign commercials highlighted his new Democrat policy positions.

When they made multiple absurd claims the DLC are “professional election losers,” we shook our heads and smiled at their naivity. Perhaps they were referring to their own online polls? The last six years have been a time when not many Democrats have been elected at all, so to single out the DLC as election losers is makes no sense.

When they demanded verification that Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and John Kerry and John Edwards were DLC members, we couldn’t help but let them twist in the wind a bit. And, when the proof was shown, we had to laugh when they said things like, “Well, they’re not REAL DLC members” and “I don’t consider them DLC because… well… because I like them!” Honestly, DLC is DLC.

Which brings us to this week, where the House New Democrat Coalition has admitted to possibly four new members to be added to their already announced 15. That total is more than half of all Democratic House seats won in this election cycle and raised their ranks to a total of 68, making them possibly the largest Democratic coalition in the House.

In addition, the DLC-backed Steny Hoyer won a convincing victory over Nancy Pelosi-backed John Murtha for majority leader in a matchup the netroots was billing as some grand statement on how accepted DLC Democrats really are. I guess you got your answer.

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2 Responses to The Center: Where The Cool Kids Are

  1. ollie says:

    I like your using a bicycle in your graphic, but an upright? Come on!

    At least have the donkey on a road bike! 🙂

    By the way, about your comment about Kos backed candidates having a poor “won-loss” record: remember that we tended to back poorly funded underdogs who had few options for support and a slim chance of winning.

    I suppose we could have padded our stats by, say, claiming to back Ted Kennedy but come on.

  2. Joey says:

    the netroots DID back Ted Kennedy.

    The fact remains, though, the KOS crowd likes to crow about “when people have a choice between a progressive and (fill in the blank), they’ll pick the progressive.”

    However, the electoral success record of the netroots doesn’t support the claim.

    But they did try to “pad their stats” by supporting Tester and Webb – two candidates that hardly fit the profile.

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