Thursday :: May 15, 2003

The DLC Memo on Dean: Some Truth, Some Claptrap


by Steve

As you know, I am skittish on Democratic candidates who violate Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment. Some of you have effectively argued that internal disagreements and debates are not only healthy for the party to hone issues and find consensus, but also for the candidates to earn their battle stripes to enhance their survivability in the general election. One can only see the recent examples of this to see the proof. In 1992, Bill Clinton’s team survived attacks from other Democrats (Bob Kerrey, et. al.) and his self-inflicted wounds to become an effective counterpunching team in the general election. Alternately, in 2000, Al Gore didn’t endure a similar experience and paid for it: his team’s flaws didn’t manifest themselves early enough because he dispatched with Bill Bradley relatively quickly, only to find that they weren’t ready for Karl Rove’s attack on Gore’s character. Of course, if they had done their research from Bush and Rove’s Texas days, or looked at how Rove smeared John McCain, it should not have come as a surprise to them.

As a result, it can credibly be argued that whatever battles a Democratic candidate faces now internally within the run-up to the primaries and caucuses can only help them become more effective should they survive and get the nomination. Having said that, I note the issue memo written by the Democratic Leadership Council team of Al From and Bruce Reed, wherein they take aim at Democratic Party activists in general and Howard Dean in particular. After reading the memo, it appears to me that Dean’s supporters shouldn’t take too much offense at the memo, not only because it hardly mentions Dean, but also because it’s real target are Democratic activists. This is a timeworn whine from the DLC, which has done little to attempt to bridge the gap between the base and the moderate/business block the DLC wants to incorporate into the party.

Since the DLC’s existence (under self-disclosure here, I was an early supporter of the DLC), they have made these same arguments. Yet for all the time they have been around and claimed credit for getting one of their own into the White House, they have yet to assemble a moderate network of activists in the party to compete with the left and broaden the base, which would be the true test of the effectiveness of their message and their commitment to the party. Instead, they put out claptrap like this wherein they call Dean an elitist and activist at the same time in a disparaging way, somehow ignoring the fact that he was a successful governor who isn’t necessarily liberal on all issues. Applying this standard to other governors, are other Democratic governors who don’t hold a DLC membership card also elitists and activists?

As you know, I agree with the DLC’s assertion that the party’s candidate needs to be credible on national security and defense issues, and must appeal to Independent voters. Yet to be truly significant in the 2004 process, the DLC would have greater value if they produced a roadmap and agenda for how a Democratic candidate would run on a set of issues that would accomplish that while appealing to the base. In other words, for all that corporate backing you have received over the years, show the activists and the base you seem to abhor an agenda and plan of attack that could grab Independents and the base while taking down Karl Rove.

Really, is pissing on Howard Dean the best you guys can do at this point?

This only makes it look like the DLC wants to damage Dean and stamp a moderate litmus test on the eventual candidate without doing the hard work of showing the party how it can win its base and their membership.

Try again.

Steve :: 5:30 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!