washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

What If They Gave a Faction Fight and Nobody Came?

That’s what DR hopes!   And it just might happen, judging from reaction to the DLC’s latest jeremiad against the dread forces of Mondale-McGovernism, delivered at their “National Conversation” (or should it be lecture?) in Philadelphia.   “The DLC has saved the Democratic Party once, and we’re bound to do it again”, thundered Al From, “We can’t afford to do anything less because the stakes are so high”. 
Oh really?  Just remember, Al, you put your pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, so a bit more humility might be in order.  And also remember that the DLC isn’t quite the growth stock it used to be, so rants against liberals don’t get quite the same receptive audience.  As the article by Adam Nagourney in The New York Times pointed out, none of the Democratic Presidential contenders bothered to show up at the conference this year to tout their wares, in contrast to last year, when four of them addressed the conference.  As Nagourney points out, “the council has become increasingly politically radioactive in this primary season”.  Their rants just aren’t playing well with the rest of the party and, even, apparently, with some the attendees to their own conference.  As Laura Ruderman, an attending state representative from Washington put it, referring to the intra-party bickering: “I don’t think we can be successful if we let ourselves go down that rat hole”
Amen, says DR.  Imagine if the DLC had gone to Philadelphia and actually called for party unity against the real enemy, George W. Bush and his hard right GOP.  That would also have been news (Democrats bury the hatchet!) and would actually have done some good.  But no, instead they choose to bash their fellow Democrats and get on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers telling everyone how the Democrats are sinking fast because the public thinks they’re pacifists and big government liberals.  (Did they perhaps read by mistake from Matthew Dowd’s RNC talking points about the declining Democrats?)
Don’t these people read the papers?   Haven’t they been following all Bush’s troubles in the last few weeks and his declining poll numbers—don’t they realize Democratic criticisms of Bush, including on the war and intelligence abuse, are actually having some effect?   It is no longer December, 2002 or even April, 2003—it’s July, 2003 and the incumbent President is in some real difficulty.
Let’s not help him out by fighting.  Let’s make his troubles worse by uniting.