July 03, 2003
ANOTHER LOVE NOTE FROM THE DLC....A few weeks ago the
DLC's Al From and Bruce Reed lit off a little nuclear torch aimed at
Howard Dean, pissing off all manner of Democrats and assorted liberals
in the process. Today in the LA Times they repeat almost exactly what they said back then:
Every weekend, yet another special-interest group hosts a candidate
forum to pressure the presidential candidates into praising its agenda.
Some of the candidates seem intent on running applause-meter campaigns,
measuring success by how many times they tell the party faithful what
they want to hear.
....Ironically, party activists are out of line not only with their
party's historic tradition but with their fellow Democrats. In 1996, a
survey by the Washington Post compared the views of delegates to the
Democratic convention with those of ordinary registered Democratic
voters. They might as well have come from different parties. On every
single social and economic issue, the views of the registered Democrats
were closer to those of all registered voters than to those of
Almost two-thirds of Democratic delegates wanted to cut defense
spending; most registered Democrats did not. A majority of Democratic
delegates opposed a five-year time limit for welfare benefits;
two-thirds of registered Democrats supported it. Democratic delegates
were split on the death penalty; registered Democrats favored it by a
margin of more than 2 to 1.
Now, candidates of either
party making the rounds of interest groups during primary season is
hardly cause for alarm, and considering the positions that most of the
major Democratic candidates have taken, it's hard to see why the DLC is
so concerned about a return to McGovern style liberalism. What's more,
even those 1996 polling numbers they cite aren't really that scary: they
show that Democratic delegates are somewhat more liberal than Democrats
as a whole, but not wildly so. I imagine that exactly the same is true
on the Republican side.
I don't mind that the DLC is pushing on the Democratic candidate to
be tougher on foreign policy. That's a perfectly defensible position,
and one that makes sense. But what I do mind is that they seem unable
to write an op-ed with the goal of bringing both activists and the
rank and file together. Instead, their piece is overtly dismissive,
seemingly telling activists to just get out of the party and go vote for
Nader. What's the point of that?
Republicans do a much better job of supporting their activists and
making them feel wanted, but without letting them take over the party.
Why can't the DLC do the same?
Posted by Kevin Drum at July 3, 2003 11:32 AM
I'm glad we have these corporate a** kissers running scared. It's time we took our country back!
Faux News doesn't run the world. Beltway pundits don't run the world.
WE are the masters of our own destiny, and won't be marginalized by the
One, I'd argue that the activists have taken over the GOP.
Two, I'm not convinced the DLC aren't actually trying to deep-six the
democratic party. I mean, hell, if all the liberal voters actually did
piss off, we'd probably wind up with a GOP majority, Green minority, and
a handful of Democrats in Congress wondering what happened.
Those guys have their heads so far up their asses it's not even
funny. They don't even know who's fighting for Dean. I DIDN'T VOTE in
the 2000 election because I hated the candidates, all of them, so much.
And now I'm volunteering for Dean. Frankly, he's able to force his
followers to see past ideological difference and recognize some other
potentially important factors: integrity, courage, consistency, etc. I
don't agree with Dean on a laundry list of items, and most of my friends
who follow him don't either. I'm sorry but the Democrats have just
lost their f-in minds if they think Dean's appeal is his liberalism.
Shouldn't somone break the news to the DLC that they are a special interst group that holds canidate forums?
Whew, I was just about to note my shock that Democrats were willing
to admit that Republicans hadn't been taken over by their activists, but
John Yuda has saved me in only the second post.
So I'll just register much less shock that Kevin, one Democrat, is willing to admit that. :)
Mmmm. Thought Al From was a conservative columnist? He's a Democrat? Whodathunkit.
Now they're aiming their suicideguns at their own. Lurvely. No wonder I can't stand Democrats.
Couldn't stomach the Tipper/Lieberman ticket last time round. Bill
Clinton made me ill; though the concerted, 8-year-and-counting character
assassination by Mellon Scaife, Bill Kristol, Ken Starr et al was
And the crop of losers they had running for the nomination were too busy COVERING THEIR ASS to actually stand for anything.
I trust Dean to be honest and make pragmatic decisions. Pragmatism
over dogmatism. I don't care that I don't agree with him; but I TRUST
So, 'DLC', how can you answer for the 49%-or-so eligible Americans who DIDN'T vote in 2000, or the roughly 20% of registered Democrats who voted for the evil Republican farknut?
Izzit 'cause... YOUR IDEA OF AN ELECTABLE CANDIDATE SUCKS? Naw...
"Republicans do a much better job of supporting their activists and
making them feel wanted, but without letting them take over the party."
Sorry, Kevin, but you're quite a ways off on this one. They HAVE taken over the party.
And Sebastian, if you really don't think the activists have a
tremendous amount of pull in the GOP, please explain Grover Norquist.
The Mighty Reason Man needs to explain the 2002 elections.
Nice how anything can morph into Republican bashing.
I'm in the party, I can see for myself that the activists have not
taken over. I'm also assured that the activists have not taken over the
Democratic party, even though to me (an outsider) it appears that they
have. This conversation appeals to my notion that outsiders will focus
on the extremists.
Activists have a strong influence in both parties. On the Republican
side, I'd say that the supply side (i.e., economic) activists *have*
taken over the party, but that the social activists haven't.
And while the DLC's tone annoys me, I'd also warn everyone not to
make the same mistake they're making and just dismiss them. Like it or
not, the reality is that to win elections you have to appeal to
moderates, and right now the moderates are feeling fairly conservative,
especially on national security.
We liberals need to compromise with the moderates every bit as much
as they need to get off their high horse and stop insulting the
activists. Unless we do that, it's four more years of Bush.
Jeez, after reading the DLC I'd have to assume that if Dean is the
nominee, they'll endorse Bush (of course ignoring the fact that Dean is
closer to the center than everyone but Lieberman).
Could it be more obvious that these guys are pissed because they
wield far less clout than they did with Clinton in the White House, and
if anyone but Lieberman is the nominee it will stay that way?
Deserving or not, I think many active democrats blame the DLC for the
inexcusable showing in the mid-term election that was predicated on the
exact same strategy they are promoting in today's piece: be Bush lite,
don't russle feathers, sell yourselves out in return for more power.
Because that's what's important, right? That members of the Democratic
establishment gets back to their cushy power positions?
Dean is tapping into something the DLC can't even dream of: winning
supporters through passion and the power of your convictions. It's as
though From and Heard think Democrats should be seen and not heard. I'd
love to see them take that advice rather than provide copy for the RNC a
year from now.
And will they please acknowledge that their pandering to big business
is just as much a play to "special interests" as appearing with Labor
and women's groups?
Kevin Drum: So, we need someone... inoffensively bland, middle-of-the-road, vanilla...
... a Michael Dukakis?
Lurvely. See you in '08.
Thankyewverymuch, but no. I'll take someone who actually has ideas
and is not afraid to express them. And won't squeal like a stuck pig
when someone tries to label them a LIBRUL.
Here's a revolutionary thought: Judge people on their merits.
*smiles and pats Sebastian on the head*
That's nice, dear. Whatever it was you said back there. Now go outside and play with your toys.
I'd rather lose this election with a candidate I can support than win it with a sellout.
That said, I'd rather win it with a sellout than lose it with a
sellout, so if by some stroke of luck he gets the nomination, I'm still
going to vote for Lieberman before I emigrate to New Zealand.
1. I agree with Kevin, to some extent: the tax cutting supply side
has taken over the GOP, and the social activists haven't. With the
(significant) exception of judicial nominees, when has Bush really gone
to the wall for social conservative causes? And social conservatives
will go ballistic if Bush offers up Al Gonzales for the Supreme Court.
But economic conservatives are also still restive, increasingly so, over
spending and trade. There are still factions, it's just that war and
tax cuts have kept everyone on Bush's side.
2. I also agree that the DLC is being too harsh here and giving us
conservatives free ammunition. But it's not true that GOP groups are
immune from the temptation to start flame wars with the rank and file.
It's worse with the Dems now, but remember 1992?
3. Sebastian, if you really don't think the activists have a tremendous amount of pull in the GOP, please explain Grover Norquist.
Norquist's a man of many causes, some of which he wins on and some he
loses -- are you talking about his tax cut plans, his association with
Arab-American groups, his campaign to name stuff after Reagan . . .
Speaking of, it pisses me off every day when I ride past "Ronald Reagan National Airport" on the Metro.
Partially because they named it after him, and I don't think you should go naming things after people while they're still alive.
But mostly because Republicans in Congress forced Metro to spend
millions of dollars replacing all the signs in the whole system to have
the new name on them, instead of letting them replace the signs as they
wore out and spending that money on more useful upgrades and
What really gets me about the DLC attacking Dean is that he really
isn't a wild-eyed leftist. He's anti-gun-control, pro-death-penalty,
pro-balanced-budget, anti-big-spending. If that's not moderate, then
the term's meaningless.
Mike: I agree. The DLC wants candidates who are tougher on national
security. Fine. So why not write memos saying that Dean should be
tougher on national security? Why dump on activists of all stripes, and
why dump on Dean generally when his positions on other issues are not
that far from Clinton's?
I don't think it has much to do with Dean's positions on specific
issues. It's easy to confuse the DLC and centrist Democrats, to get the
impression that the DLC is the organization for centrist
Democrats, and that the opinions of the DLC are the opinions of most
centrist Democrats. That's how it's played out in the media. The truth
is that it's a political club run by Al From and Bruce Reed- a
political machine for centrist to moderately liberal Democrats
(interesting how they don't attack Gephardt, who on nearly everything
but the war is to the left of Dean). Dean has been attacking the
Democrats in control of the party, accusing them of being incompetent.
(He's right!) The real reason that From and Reed don't like Dean is
because he won't kiss their rings. The party machine has failed, and
the DLC represents that machine. Dean criticizing the machine is
criticizing the DLC. To them, that isn't acceptable.
Hey everyone, wake up, Dean has an 'A' rating from the NRA, supports
the death penalty, and makes these positions clear so they are not a
secret to his supporters. This is not a leftist here, and every
supporter knows this.
"Leftist" is not why people support Dean, and it isn't "party
activists" by any means! I've seen Dean ask crowds how many people are
involved in politics for the first time in their lives, and I've seen
this asked at many Meetups, and ALWAYS at least half the audience raises
their hands. (Leftist party activists support Kucinich, by the way,
People are happy to see a candidate who is willing to challenge Bush
and the right, and THAT is what is driving the grassroots support for
Dean. For example, when the Senate Democrats recently supported the
$350 billion tax cut, claiming they were winning a "victory," Dean asked
what the hell were they doing supporting another tax cut? (In fact
that tax cut wipes out the ability to pay OUR Social Security when we
retire.) THAT is why people support Dean, and that is why Washington
Democrats are nervous.
To understand Dean's appeal, watch this speech.
A few comments back, Kevin makes the very valid distinction between
the two stripes of GOP extremists -- economic and social -- and
correctly points out that the economic extremists HAVE taken over their
party (hence my Grover Norquist bit above).
I would go a bit further and say that, while the social activists in the GOP aren't completely in control, they have a lot of regional
control. Since the regions in question -- the south and the
non-industrial midwest -- are the reason the GOP is in control of the
country, I'd say that they have a disproportionate amount of influence,
if not outright control of the whole party.
Joel- Maybe I would explain the 2002 midterms if I knew what your
question was. Are you implying that the Dems lost because they are
controlled by activists, or that the GOP won because they are NOT
controlled by activists? Or is your question just a snide little remark
with no real value? Help me out here.
interesting how they don't attack Gephardt, who on nearly everything but the war is to the left of Dean
Hey, be fair to Gephardt! The DLC attacked him too, in the same memo
Kevin refers to at the start of his post. I'm not enthusiastic about DG,
but it's not fair to tar him with the DLC brush.
The Social Activists of the Republican Party are constantly pandered
to, BUT they never actually get what they want. The Republicans bend
over backwards to pretend to make progress on their issues, but they
rarely actually make it happen.
Specifically, Abortion. In MN the 2nd major reason given in exit
polls for voting Republican was abortion. In MO it was the 3rd.
Leading Republicans are walking a thin line. they need to constantly
act as though they're making progress on abortion, but if they ever
succeed, the Democrats might have a serious wave reaction against them
and a lot of Low-taxes Republicans might leave the party. I always get
the impression that the Republican Party exists to give money and power
to the Aristocracy (the upper, upper class) of America and works hard to
convince their rank and file that they're working for them too.
I always get the impression that the Republican Party exists
to give money and power to the Aristocracy (the upper, upper class) of
America and works hard to convince their rank and file that they're
working for them too.
Funny, but I think a lot of us do. Now, I wonder why we'd ever think that.
Explain to me again why we give a damn what Coulter-quoting zealots think about the Democratic party or it's candidates?
squiddy, you really think the DLC is "Coulter-quoting zealots"? I mean, I'm pretty damn conservative and Republican, and I take everything Coulter says with a pound of rock salt.
I wasn't aimin' fer them.
Anybody read Richard Cohen's piece on Dean in the Post today?
There's a lot of sorting out to do between now and Nov.'04. My hunch is
that when the primary dust settles it's gonna be Edwards.
To paraphrase one of the laws of physics, for every activist there's an equal and opposite
Right now we've got a Whitehouse full of right-wing whackos. What we
don't need is to replace them with a Whitehouse full of left-wing
Dr. Dean is in no way a "left-wing loony."
We're not supporting him because he's this ultra-liberal: if we wanted that, Kucinich would be our man.
"But what I do mind is that they [DLC] seem unable to write an op-ed
with the goal of bringing both activists and the rank and file together.
Instead, their piece is overtly dismissive, seemingly telling activists
to just get out of the party and go vote for Nader. What's the point of
Are you confusing the DLC with the DNC? The DLC represents a wing of
the Democratic party, the one Dean calls the Republican wing of the
Democractic party, the wing that wins national elections. Dean's
frequent claim that he represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic
party does not have the "goal of bringing both activists and the rank
and file together", "is overtly dismissive, seemingly telling [rank and
file] to just get out of the party and go vote for [Bush]".
Isn't this sort of jockeying for power that happens in primaries? The kumbaya part comes after the primaries.
As a former member of the dlc, I can only think that they are running
very scared. When you think of the dlc, think of them as their own
'special interest group'....that of more moderate, primarily southern
Dems. It's true that more Liberal candidates in the past have caused
major electoral headaches for more conservative Dems nationwide, but we
are in a position now where people like Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle
were the midterm election GOP posterpeople for 'Liberal kooks'...and
Hillary is a DLC member!
What the dlc is doing is self-defeating...pissing off the party
'activists'..people that are reliable sources of money, votes and
muscle...under the theory that they'll choose the least of evils in
presidential elections. It would be nice for their own interests to be
able to dump the association of more Liberal members, but the Democrats
are much heterogenous then the GOP. If you want majorities in Congress
or to reach the WH, you need Democrats of ALL stripes...having only
Liberals or Conservative Dems will not cut it.
I recognize their points, and I recognize they have their own
agenda...but they've never been this shrill or ham handed. I won't renew
By the way, doesn't it seem like the hatchet attacks on Dean by
established whores (From, Biden, Russert) only make him more sympathetic
and causes him to gain in popularity?
Keep 'em comin'.
"The Social Activists of the Republican Party are constantly pandered to, BUT they never actually get what they want."
I don't think that's entirely correct. The one issue you cite is
abortion but that's something of a red herring since the Supreme Court
has stated that abortion cannot be outlawed. Bush's judges certainly
seem to be conservative and it's a sure bet that his next Supreme Court
nominee will be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. At the national
level, they've been trying for years to overturn "partial birth"
abortion and at the state level, they've been passing various
restrictions for years.
As for the rest of the agenda, well, Bill Frist has proposed a
Constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage and the Republican
Party is firmly on record as opposing any and all gay civil rights
issues. At both the state and national level, this has become
Then there's the faith-based funding initiative and the relaxing of
federal rules regarding money going to religious institutions.
Regarding the separation of church and state, well, again, there's
this little obstacle called the Supreme Court that's in the way. As
above, though, give George a chance and I think that obstacle will be
I'm at something of a loss to find anything they aren't getting.
Back to the subject at hand, I'd have to say that the Republican
Party has certainly evolved over the past 30 years. I don't see how you
can look at, e.g., a Gerald Ford Republican and a Tom DeLay Republican
and not think that the activists have taken over the party. What
happened to the Republican Party that was the party of fiscal
Dean is pretty moderate on almost every issue. The "he's too
liberal" noise is a smear campaign. It's disheartening that it started
from the DLC and has been picked up by several people here. Use of
"liberal" as a smear word will always work against the Democrats, and
Democrats who play that game are losers or saboteurs.
As a liberal myself, I can tell you is one and who isn't. I am agreed
that the Dems should nominate moderates, but Dems should not
participate in the anti-liberal smearing process.
Just recently I debated a couple of DLC types here. Since then I've
found that Dean's performance on Russert wasn't that bad. but the
right-wing party-line was that he's been a disaster, and the DLC'ers
passed it on. One of them even said "It doesn't make any difference if
Dean is a liberal or not, he's thought to be a liberal". What a loser
thing to say. Sometimes we have to work to change people's minds. We
can't just play to their misconceptions.
I also mentioned that no one could ever be quite moderate enough for
the DLC, and that the target was sliding right. That didn';t bother
him/ her either. "That's their job, moving the Dems right". Well, the
job has been done.
Holsclaw shows up again with his wise though predictable comments.
Democrats should take their adversaries' offers of wise advice with a
few grains of salt.
Especially when they seem like partially-successful experiments in
AI. Artificial stupidity was been attained long ago, and trolls should
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