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December 17, 2004

Some Democrats Actually Seem Interested in Winning Elections, and Maybe Even Wars, At Some Point

I'm not sure if I should root for them or against them. It's irrelevant in any case, since no one (except conservatives, of course!) is listening:

"The party in certain respects is fossilized," says Gerstein, 37. "It's trapped in the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition. That coalition is no longer an electoral majority or even close to it."

A former aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Gerstein wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Democrats have "fallen right back into the elitist, weak-kneed, brain-dead trap" they thought they'd escaped with Bill Clinton.


He called for more muscle in foreign policy, more respect for religion and "banishing Bob Shrum and his tone-deaf Chardonnay populism" from future presidential campaigns. Shrum, 61, was nominee John Kerry's top adviser.

Meanwhile, via Kausfiles, who has a whole riot of must-read posts, this excellent catch of a Ron Brownstein LA Times piece:

In a provocative cover article this month, New Republic Editor Peter Beinart argues that today's Democrats should follow the example of Reagan (then a centrist Hollywood Democrat), Roosevelt (the former first lady), Reuther (the great labor leader) and other prominent activists who founded Americans for Democratic Action in 1947, largely to build a Democratic constituency for opposing the spread of communism during the Cold War.


Beinart argues that Democrats today need a comparable centrist movement that will define a "fighting faith" for resisting "totalitarian Islam" and reclaim the party's identity from those on the left β€” like filmmaker Michael Moore β€” who he believes see the struggle against America's new foe as "a distraction if not a mirage."


If a Republican had been elected president in 1948 by promising to roll back Soviet control of Eastern Europe through military invasion, the ADA generation probably would have been defined primarily by opposition to the administration's direction too.

Emphasis added.

It's not exactly his point, this does suggest that Democrats have a hard time, based on simple partisanship, supporting a Republican's foreign policy initiatives.

Kaus sums it up this way (in fairness, I think he actually distorts Brownstein's point a little, which is more charitable to Democrats and suggests their opposition is based on principle):

It was a lot easier for Democrats to put the anti-communist struggle "at the center of their hopes for a better world" when a Democratic president (Truman) was waging that struggle than it is for them to put the fight against "totalitarian Islam" their centerpiece when its being waged by a president from the opposing party. ...

And of course Kaus also announces himself as a gay marriage skeptic:

Hmmm. When exactly did support for gay marriage become an essential Democratic party principle akin to racial equality? Was it when Anthony Lewis' wife decided to impose it on Massachusetts? Seems like only a few years ago the concept was an entry on the New Republic's "to be assigned" list. (Sullivan got the job.) Now we must embrace it or leave the party? Isn't that rushing things a bit? ...

And I like to think he's trolling for an Ace-a-lanche when he takes this gratuitous, but scrumptious, swipe at my bete noir (a French term meaning "excitable Betty"):

And isn't this contradiction [i.e., wanting to win the "hearts and minds" of the Muslim world, while simultaneously pushing for gay marriage, which most Muslims -- even the moderates -- find morally repugnant] a big problem for Andrew Sullivan too? (No wonder he wants to wage war on Islamic fundamentalists rather than win them over. He has no hope of winning them over to his full notion of freedom.)

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posted by Ace at 02:37 PM

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