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Something strange and tangy is happening in the Rocky Mountains. The Democratic Party is being reborn, with a raft of colorful candidates who have won the hearts of independents and moderate Republican voters, or so says an article in Time Magazine by Joe Klein – and convincingly so.
As the 2008 presidential campaign begins, there are lessons to be learned here for both national parties, but especially for Democrats, lessons involving both style and substance. The top-line Democratic candidates for President in 2008–people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards–are a decidedly un-Western crowd. They tend to be coastal, urban, legislative. They tend to talk too formally–and too much about too little. They tiptoe and kowtow when confronted by the gothic array of Democratic interest groups. At a time when political pomp and blab have come to seem prohibitively pompous and bloviational, Rocky Mountain politics is fresh and innovative and fun. It might not be a bad idea for Hillary and Barack and the rest to pause for a moment before the big show starts and take a look at what’s happening just west of Iowa, in an electorally overlooked region of the country that just may hold the key to winning the White House in 2008.
Interestingly, this article paints the Western Democratic agenda in the same colors I’ve tried to apply to all Democrats. Colors of pragmatism and moderation. Take, for example, Buffie McFayden, a local state rep whose district had 12 prisons and a solid Republican majority that voted for her because “the right’s gone so far to the right, you can’t recognize them anymore. When the wingers accuse me of being a liberal, I say, Sure, if you mean that I’m in favor of staying out of people’s private lives and balancing the budget and I’m against stealing.”
Then there’s Barbara O’Brien, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, who says, “I doubt you’d find a Democratic ticket like us anywhere else in the country. Bill Ritter is pro-life, and I’m not even a politician. I ran a children’s advocacy group and took positions that upset Democrats in the past–like, I testified in favor of a limited, targeted school-voucher program. But that’s the way it is out here in the West. People like their politicians independent.”
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (who earned bonus points with me for calling Hugo Chavez a thug,) is often mentioned as a presidential candidate. A cowboy to be sure, has a master’s in soil science from Montana State University and spent seven years building irrigation projects in Saudi Arabia. He speaks fluent Arabic and has a sophisticated grasp of Middle Eastern politics and the history of oil. He has an alternative fuel plan involving coal. Klein asks him how a Democrat could sell an energy pitch in a presidential campaign.
“I can do it in a 60-second spot,” he said. “Put me on the clock.” And he was off to the races: “Folks, we’ve got a problem. We Americans use 6.5 billion bbl. of oil a year. We produce 2.5 billion ourselves. We import 4 billion from the world’s worst dictators. We need to stop doing that. We can save 1 billion bbl. through conservation. Things like more efficient cars, homes and appliances. We can produce another 1 billion bbl. of biofuels with agricultural crops like corn, soybeans and canola. We can produce 2 billion bbl. a year turning our enormous coal reserves to clean-burning gas. We can achieve energy independence in 10 years, create a whole new industry with tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, and you’ll never have to send your grandchildren to war in the Middle East. I’m Brian Schweitzer, and I approved this message.”
For more, click here.
According to the Advocate, National Stonewall Democrats executive director Joanne Wyrick is concerned about the views of the DLC’s apparent new chairman, Harold Ford, Jr., on gay rights.
“His willingness to lightly amend the U.S. Constitution and to exploit gay families for political gain should alarm Democrats across the country,” she said in a press release. “The Democratic Leadership Council is in need of leadership that supports and affirms all American families.”
According to the NSD release, Ford has backed the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.
On Ford’s 2006 campaign Web site, the Senate hopeful stated that he would “continue to be pro-family, including supporting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, without taking away the civil rights of gays and lesbians.”
Writing for the DLC’s magazine, Blueprint, the former congressman stated that the Democrats’ win in Congress was because the election was won on ideas and not ideology. In the article, he calls same-sex marriage a “traditional wedge” issue like abortion and gun control that has “plagued our party in recent elections.”
The problem with this issue is you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. From a political perspective, Ford would have no chance in winning a statewide election in Tenn. if he backed gay marriage. Then again, it is a safe position to take. An amendment to ban gay marriage or even to just define the term as between a man and woman will never make it through Congress. It takes too many votes and too many hoops to jump through to amend the constitution. So the question really becomes a mere litmus test for politicians in regions where the prospect of gay marriage is unpopular.
One can officially back such an amendment and be reasonably sure he/she will never have to vote on it. Afterall, we can’t all be from Massachusetts or San Francisco.
At the same time, I believe the “leave it to the states” approach of Howard Dean and others is a cop out. Better for the government to get out of the “marriage” business all together, officially recognize civil unions, and respect the First Amendment by discontinuing any official church sanctions of marriage.
Many thanks to everyone who commented on my last Cindy Sheehan post – even if you disagreed. It added a little controversy that has been missing on DonkeyDigest for a few months.
Here is what others are saying about the matter.
The Augusta Chronicle: Cindy Sheehan was on no one’s ballot in November. But she seems to think she’s running the country now. Cindy Sheehan thinks she was given a mandate on Nov. 7 to personally see to it that the U.S. presence in Iraq ends immediately. Her arrogance never seemed restrained but certainly wears no bridle today.
Columnist Doug Patton: Fans of the 1980s sitcom, “Family Ties,” will recall the characters of Steven and Elise Keaton, liberal former sixties activists raising their three children, including son Alex, whose “rebellion” against his parents’ liberalism manifested itself in staunch Reagan conservatism.
In one particularly poignant episode, Elise and Steven, who have settled into an idealistic but decidedly middle-class lifestyle, reconnect with a radical former comrade from their college days. Their old friend has not changed a bit, and when he proposes starting an “underground” newspaper like the one on which they worked together in college, Steven, desiring to relive their glory days, readily agrees. However, when he submits to his friend an article about the Democrats’ chances of recapturing the White House in 1984, he is scorned for having “sold out” to the establishment. The friend protests that Steven no longer is calling for the destruction of the entire political system.
“You sound like a member of the PTA,” the friend observes, to which Steven Keaton sheepishly replies: “I am a member of the PTA.”
I thought of that episode when I saw antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan disrupting the press conference of U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill, chairman of the House Democratic caucus and one of the chief architects of the Democrat takeover of Congress. Emanuel was outlining his party’s plans for lobbying reform, but Sheehan and her followers had only one thing on their minds as they chanted, “De-escalate, investigate, troops home now!” Unfortunately for the Democrats, a whole lot of those people comprise the activists of their party.
Cindy Sheehan and her activist followers are likely to be terribly disappointed by the leadership of the 110th Congress. There will be individual members, particularly in the House, who will try to fulfill the heart’s desire of the deeply liberal base of the Democratic Party, but the leadership knows better than to try to do everything at once. And that won’t be enough for the Cindy Sheehans of the world.
Blogger Welshman at ePluribus Media: I am critical of a story that is about to break that I feel certain will get the cheers on our progressive blogs – the stupid, unthinking and politically naive cheers. On this, the day before Pelosi picks up the gavel for the first time, and at a press conference of the Democrats who wanted to unveil their first initiative to meet what was at the very top of the exit poll list of voters’ concerns, it is hijacked by peace protesters.
And the progressives will cheer.
…the quiet majority of Americans are always a bit nervous of protests. A handful shouting in a room does not usually win their approval. But why choose the Democratic press briefing? What have they done – what could they possibly have done yet – to warrant the need for their feet to be held to the fire in this particular way and for a few people to stop them getting out their message?
This is just more of the negativity that will kill the Dems in two years time that underlies my comments about the approach to issues on progressive blogs.
Cindy Sheehan… it is not you that was voted into office. Nor is there evidence that the grassroots got these good people into power alone. It was achieved because a a group in the centre ground got fed up with Bush. They are as skittish as a thorough bred race horse in their affiliations. You do not have the experience to know how not to frighten them off. Frighten them off before the Democrats have even taken their seats.
Based on a few profanity-filled comments I received yesterday concerning my last post on Cindy Sheehan, I thought I would do the proper thing and add fuel to the fire. You really didn’t think I was going to apologize did you? LOL! Onward…!
I was over at Democratic Underground yesterday where the “Sheehan has hit the fan,” so to speak. Many there applaud her for interrupting the Democratic press conference. Others feel as I do. But there has been an interesting question raised there that I will answer here and there: Did Sheehan hijack that press event because it was Democrats holding it or because it was the far leftwing’s most reviled congressman Rahm Emanuel who was conducting it? My answer is both… and more. She did it because it was a United States Congressman from an American political party representing the United States of America. I don’t believe, as some on DU assert, she picked out Emanuel’s press conference because he initially backed the Iraq war. If that were the case, she’s going to be a very busy girl protesting Democrats and heckling them at other events. At times, she may be required to be in two or more places at one time if her goal is to protests Dems who supported the Iraq war. But I don’t think that is the case.
After a very noble and worthwhile beginning, her world has become a place where America is the enemy and it really doesn’t matter to her who is running the show here – Republicans or Democrats. Her goal has grown way beyond ending the Iraq war. It has now become altering the very structure of the United States government. Of course, she isn’t the mastermind here. She isn’t that smart. But she has become the willing pawn of a much larger movement.
Now before you accuse me of falling off the rightwing deep end and using that Republican “Cindy hates America” cliche, humor me for a few minutes. World Can’t Wait, a fringe left communist revolutionary organization (FACT), has been whispering in her ear for some time now (FACT). Last October, they published a top 10 list of Why people shouldn’t put their hopes and money into the Democrats, effectively admonishing World Can’t Wait supporters (and that includes Sheehan) not to support the Democratic party. It didn’t name specific Democrats, but it was specific in who not to support – The Democrats! There is a partial answer to the question – Sheehan was targeting the Democratic party and in doing so, she was targeting America. How so? Read on…
World Can’t Wait is truly a snake in the grass organization and it is a shame Sheehan has involved herself with it. One of the group’s leaders, C. Clark Kissinger, is involved with the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist vanguard party, and was the national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which, in 1969, became the Weather Underground, an organization whose purpose was to “carry out a series of militant actions that would achieve the revolutionary overthrow of the Government of the United States (and of capitalism as a whole).” He was a strong supporter of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 and supported Bob Avakian’s work to build a real communist party in the U.S.
In August 2005, Kissinger wrote an article titled Getting Real About The Democrats in which he blasted the Democratic party, naming in particular John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid as Democrats not worthy of the left’s support. He accused the liberal Reverend Jim Wallace of being the Democrat’s “Secretary of Religion” and implied Wallis was being used by Democrats for some ultimate theocratic goal.
Remember – Kissinger works with World Can’t Wait. And so does Sheehan.
But if you’re a logical person, you’re probably thinking this is only guilt by association. What has Cindy personally done that proves she is no friend of the Democratic party and should not be treated as such? For starters, Sheehan threatened to run against Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in California but instead opted to support the Green Party candidate Todd Chretien in that election. Chretien, a leading member of the International Socialist Organization and frequent contributor to CounterPunch wrote an article in July of 2004 praising those who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and declaring that “progressives” shouldn’t squander what they started in 2000 by voting for John Kerry in 2004:
Medea Benjamin… and many other liberal and progressive leaders tell us that a Kerry regime “would be less dangerous” than Bush. This may or may not be true… But, even IF Kerry is “less dangerous,” he will be MORE capable of wreaking havoc on Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, abortion, gay rights, civil rights and unions IF we sacrifice our political movement to getting behind him…. Tragically, rather than building on the great start we made in 2000… many of the very same people who helped that effort are trying to wreck it this time around (by) condoning, if not actually leading, a campaign to vilify (Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo) as “Republican dupes”…
I could go on about her, delving into some particulary unsavory alegations about her personal character, but I won’t. Frankly, one’s personal conduct, as long as it is legal, has never been an issue with me. Sheehan has enough political baggage to warrant writing her off.
UPDATE: See Democratic Underground come unhinged over this piece. Denials, justifications, and personal attacks.
I’m still officially on vacation until January 2nd but thought I would pop in and write a disorganized quickie…
Quick question concerning one of my favorite subjects. Do you think someone should come up with some kind of “Razzie” type award for “progressive” bloggers who just get it wrong? Case in point: Over at OpEd News, Stephen Lendman writes…
… with the president’s approval rating plunging as low as 28% in some independent polls and a growing number of people in the country demanding his impeachment and removal from office.
It’s not likely from the new Democrat-led Congress arriving in January, as their DLC leadership took it off the table…
May I remind Lenderman that Nancy Pelosi, NOT the DLC, uttered the famous line about impeachment being off the table? So you have to wonder if he intentionally lied or if he drinks from the Kos-Sirota-Huffington Kool-aid fountain of “progressive” propoganda.
Lately “OpEd News,” a contradiction in terms if there ever was one, has become obsessed with the Democratic Leadership Council. But if there really is so much negative to say about the DLC, as “progressive” bloggers believe, why do they have to make stuff up?
But just in case someone from OpEd News is reading this, I’ll take you and my 10 readers on a trip down memory lane…
Back when OpEd News ran an article titled “The DLC Sucks,” the DLC ran an article titled “Fulfilling The American Dream.”
While OpEd News was admonishing their readers to “Shun the DLC Shills,” the DLC was advising the world to “Divest From Sudan to Help Darfur.”
OpEd News provided us with a wonderfulling inspiring article called “DLC Golden Boy Casey French Kisses Alito” and the DLC presented us with a piece called “Break the Stalemate on Stem-Cell Research.”
Now any serious person with a political mindset would prefer the DLC’s articles over the juvenile “DLC sucks” ramblings of OpEd News. But, of course, you have to understand the target audience of OpEd News…
Quotes! We Got Quotes!
Deep Denial… Rob Kall at OpEd News warns Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid about “centrist bullshit.” He believes they’re just acting “strategically,” perhaps just waiting for the right time to usher in the glorious “progressive” revolution.
Make Up Your Mind… “The preferred candidate (for President) of Al From and the DLC is Hillary Clinton…” “Al From, famously from the DLC group of insiders has, been urging (Michael) Bloomberg to run (for President) as an indie.”
I wanna Raq! “While America’s Iraq War will soon eclipse the length of World War II, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the issue that dominated the 2004 and 2006 elections may well also be the one on which the 2008 presidential campaign turns…” “The Iraq war will certainly be a greatly diminished issue by (2008), and the other war – the Culture War – will return to prominence.”
I’m not a leftwinger (I don’t even play one on TV!), but I do know enough of them to know how they think. I’ve always found it amusing and and sometimes even interesting how they can take two or more seemingly coincidental components and piece them together into one nice and tidy conspiracy theory. Hey, I’m not knocking the thought process! It does take some creative juice to develop these theories as quickly as they do.
It isn’t often I drink from that well but something hit me like a ton of bricks recently while reading Arianna Huffington’s latest hit piece (one of many) on Hillary Clinton. It seems Ms. Huffington has some personal issue with Mrs. Clinton that extends beyond mere political differences. Perhaps they both showed up in the same $10,000 dress at some black tie function. Who knows? But Huffington seems to be obsessed with Clinton (actually, both Clintons) and spends grand amounts of energy tearing them down in op-ed after op-ed. And she’s supposed to be on their side. Supposed to be…
But it occurs to me that before Arianna supposedly “saw the light” and became a liberal, she was a hardcore conservative. Her late husband, Republican Michael Huffington, was a former candidate for the US Senate in the early 90s and Arianna worked tirelessly on his campaign as dutiful political spouses are prone to do. But from there, she was employed by Newt Gingrich during the Clinton witch hunts, becoming senior fellow at his conservative think tank the Progress and Freedom Foundation. She once even held a $50,000 a plate fundraiser for Newt! Do you think she was involved in any way with digging up dirt on the Clintons for Gingrich?
Then, and here comes the ribbon to neatly tie up the loose ends on my conspiracy theory, Huffington became quite enamoured with John McCain in the 2000 presidential race and wrote of her affections often. Who do you think she supported during the primaries that year? My money isn’t on Al Gore!
Now, stay with me, we have a politically opportunistic social climber in Arianna Huffington with a record of actually raising money for those who tried to depose a sitting Democratic president (showing a history of disdain for the Clintons), who supported John McCain in 2000 (the likely 2008 Republican nominee for President), and who now seems obsessed with taking down McCain’s likely Democratic opponent. You guessed it – Hillary Clinton!
And Arianna is the stereotypical cold war double agent – a sexy female with a thick Eastern European accent! Not too bad for my first conspiracy theory, eh? But I would probably hit “delete” on this blog post if what I’ve written didn’t ring so damn true.
In closing, some will say that Arianna Huffington had a transformation from rightwinger to leftwinger. To that I say there is no one as zealous as a convert. She had already shown the propensity for changing her political mind seemingly on a whim. How long before she grows tired of the current offerings from the left and leaps across the aisle into the open arms of the GOP once again?