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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ford Focus

Some readers may recall I had a genial if pointed exchange in the cyber-pages of Salon last November with University of Maryland professor Tom Schaller about his hypothesis, broadcast in his recent book Whistling Past Dixie, that Democrats need to not only write off the South, but maybe spit at it now and then.I’ve now engaged in another exchange at Salon in response to a Schaller post spitting at Harold Ford as the soon-to-be chairman of the DLC. This is a less genial exchange, insofar as I think Schaller is abandoning the rigorous empiricism of his case against Dixie, and indulging himself in a predictable, audience-pleasing, paint-by-the-numbers assault on the DLC. You’d think a guy who’s obsessively worried about Democrats playing into implicit southern racism might be impressed by an organization like the DLC choosing an African-American chairman; but no–Schaller comes pretty close to implying that Harold Ford himself is some sort of reincarnation of the Dixiecrats. And then there’s his whole weird thing about Bill Clinton as the reincarnation of Grover Cleveland…. well, check it out yourself.I have to say at this point that I am exceptionally weary about the amount of time I seem to be spending online defending the DLC, and defending the Clinton tradition in Democratic politics. I don’t think the DLC has any sort of monopoly on political wisdom, and I also understand the misgivings many sincere progressives have about Clinton and his legacy. But so long as people keep attacking the DLC and Clinton for things they did not do, do not say, and don’t stand for today, while wilfully ignoring what they did, what they say, and what they stand for today, then I guess I’ll keep on keeping on, at the expense of whatever little bit I can contribute to a common progressive debate. I’m loyal and stubborn that way. I hope you are too.

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