Thursday, May 15, 2003

Al From and Bruce Reed attack Governor Dean

NDOL: The Real Soul of the Democratic Party by Al From and Bruce Reed

DLC Memo
TO: Leading Democrats
FROM: Al From and Bruce Reed
SUBJECT: The Real Soul of the Democratic Party

Notwithstanding the current glee in Republican circles, we are increasingly confident that President Bush can be beaten next year. If Democrats run the right campaign in 2004, Bush’s high-flying poll numbers since the war will land with a thud on the deck of the U.S.S. Economy.

But that’s a big If. For all the talent in the field of Democratic candidates for president, none of them will succeed without bucking conventional wisdom about the winning path to the Democratic nomination….

Here’s the breakdown of the DLC’s attack on Governor Dean, presented as the five myths about the Democratic nominating process:

Myth #1: Real Democrats turn left.
The DLC memo says that Governor Dean’s platform is “defined principally by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home”. He doesn’t represent the “real” Democratic party, only that of the activists.

What they’re ignoring is his aggressive stance on North Korea, his desire (as expressed at the California convention) to create a world in which Americans don’t have to “watch their backs” when walking down the streets of our Allies, and a more stable world order where we are not at the mercy of global terrorism. How is that weakness abroad?

As for the interest-group liberalism, it’s hard to see how health care, a balanced budget and erasing irresponsible tax cuts make Governor Dean the puppet of the interest groups.

Myth #2: Candidates on the left have the inside track.
Painting Governor Dean as the liberal above, the DLC memo assumes it to be true and moves on, trying to conclude that he will lose the primary fight just like every liberal since McGovern has.

However, the DLC makes no attempt to reconcile the liberal label with his fiscal policies, his stance on gun control, or his foreign policy statements. As such, the follow-on conclusion that he won’t win is empty.

Myth #3: The primary calendar is stacked against the “New Democrats” (i.e., the centrist, progressive wing of the party).
It’s more than a touch ironic that the same memo that accused Governor Dean of being elitist who knows better than everyone else is now flirting with its own delusions of omniscience.

Proclaiming the Iowa caucus a “poor test of potential success” and the trend towards caucuses in general “a cause for alarm”, the DLC concludes that they know which races matter and how people should vote.

Again, they’re trying to equate Governor Dean with being liberal, and being liberal with losing in the more “moderate” primaries.

I don’t have access to Lexis-Nexis, but I’d love to know how many newspapers and magazines were proclaiming Governor Clinton a “moderate” candidate heading into the NH primary. How many were calling him the liberal candidate?

Myth #4: Democrats are a bunch of wimps with nothing to say.
Now is when the DLC goes after Gephardt, accusing him of unleashing the “pander virus” in the primary. Calling him an activist who’s wasting the “rank-and-file’s money”, they accuse him of being wasteful and not truly “bold.”

Let’s go back to Governor Dean for a moment, the real target of this attack. He has boldly outlined a workable policy to provide health care for more Americans than currently have coverage, identified a way to do it that is affordable, and has also identified civil unions as a civil rights issue. He has attacked the Democratic leadership as far too often voting with the President in a naked attempt to ride his coat-tails instead of defining a unique vision for the party and the country.

Agree or disagree with the position, but how can you look at those policies and conclude that they’re not bold?

Myth #5: Bush can’t be beaten.
Fortunately the DLC believes he can be beaten. They just seem to think that only their members – Senator Lieberman and Senator Graham – can do it.

The conclusion one draws after reading the DLC memo is that Governor Dean is too liberal, he’s an elitist, and he can’t win.

In what is most likely the ultimate rebuttal to this memo, let’s quote the most famous and most successful of the DLC members on Governor Dean’s potential:

“‘Look at what he did as governor of Vermont,’ said President Clinton. Clinton described Dean’s accomplishments with health care in his home state and his proposal to promote a national health care plan with a modest price tag as ‘New Democrat’ positions. He was referring to the moniker the Democratic Leadership Council puts on Democrats who can blend moderate ideas that appeal to swing voters with traditional Democratic themes.”

Alright then.


  1. Rick, thanks for providing five myths about the Democratic nominating process. I've been thinking about the process since I met Dean at the Nashua MeetUp last week. I wonder if you might have time to read "What if Tweedledee and Tweedledum agree to have a battle?", posted at:

    Note: I wish I knew how to grab the xml from this site so I could stick it in my RSS news aggregator. Use little words...

  2. Critt, it depends on what aggregator you use, but the feed URL is:

    Pop that in your aggregator and you should have the full text of this weblog in it.

  3. The Democrats are about to do it again - nominate McGovern Jr. They did it in 1984, they did it in 1988, and now they will try again with Howard the Duck.

    Don't you people learn? Us independents will not go for the left-leaning crap anymore - this is why Bush won in 2000, and Republicans swept the 2002 midterms.

    If Howard the Duck is the nominee in 2004, watch for a 50 state blowout for Bush - unless Vermont wants to become the Massachusetts from 1972.

  4. Harry Truman said it. Given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat trying to look like a Republican, the American people will elect the Republican every time.

    You guys look a lot like Republicans to me.

    Here's the truth:
    The war in Iraq was a grotesque failure in International relations. The president lied us into it. He executed it poorly. He is screwing up the peace.

    The so-called war on terrorism is a basically the theft of our constitutional rights. Also bungled.

    The tax cut was reverse robin hood --- steal from the poor and give to the rich.

    Any democrat who backs the president on any of those three issues, is a republican.

    Then of course there are the disasters with environment, the economy, the piece-by-piece dismembering of the New Deal.

    So far you centerists have lost the presidency, the House and Senate. The courts are rapidly becoming solid right wing. A pretty lousy track record in my opinion.