Left for Dead

Democrats still insist on righting themselves to compete with the GOP

 WASHINGTON, D.C.—For four years the centrists in the Democratic Party, i.e., the Democratic Leadership Council run by the Clintons, whined on about how Ralph Nader, not Al Gore, lost them the presidency in 2000. In last year's presidential primaries, the DLC spared no effort to bring down Howard Dean, who replaced Nader as the party's primary hate object. The DLC sent one loser after another into the fray. First there was Joe Lieberman, who warned that Dean was a dangerous lefty. When Lieberman got clobbered in one state after another, all efforts shifted to Clinton look-alike John Edwards. When he got beaten, the DLC had to settle for one of its lesser lights, John Kerry.

Soon after Kerry lost, the mainstream whiners started blaming him, who never was the right candidate and who ran a lousy campaign. Now, they said, it's time to move toward the center and focus on values, and oh, by the way, let's not forget religion next time around. The party needs a fresh candidate. Maybe Hillary could do the trick, although she has been looking rather listless of late.

Then, wouldn't you know it, out of the woodwork came that damn Dean again, this time running to replace Terry McAuliffe as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. A fate worse than death. The Dems dropped everything, and took off after the troublemaker.

Party down: Dean commiserates with his youthful cadre last month.
photo: John Pettitt/DeanForAmerica.com
Party down: Dean commiserates with his youthful cadre last month.


Say What?

"They need a new law for these protesters: 'You cross the line, you do the time.' " - An annoyed Bush supporter to The Washington Post on Inauguration Day, 1.20.05


Check out video from Mondo Washington

Dean is being attacked, as usual, as a marginal lefty (which, as Vermont governor, he proved he is not—unless, that is, you call providing all children in the state with health insurance a leftist program). Even if you have to confess to close friends that Dean is probably not a socialist, you've got to admit he's a nut, as evidenced by his yelling in Iowa. He ought to be in a mental hospital.

What do these politicians want? They want, as always, to move to the center, that is, the right, so as to be in a position to better attack George W. Bush by imitating him.

The party chair will be chosen by 430 voting members of the Democratic National Committee on February 12. In addition to Dean, the candidates include former congressmen Tim Roemer and Martin Frost, party activist Donnie Fowler, New Democratic Network president Simon Rosenberg, former Ohio party chairman David Leland, and former Denver mayor Wellington Webb.

Roemer is controversial because he is against abortion, but he promises not to change the party's position if elected. Frost opposes Washington consultants. Webb, the one black candidate in the field, strongly backs abortion rights. Fowler emphasizes his experience in running campaigns and got applause at a recent meeting in Sacramento by slamming the Beltway power structure. "I am tired of conceding to the aristocracy of consultants in Washington and the Republican Party and the crazy right wing," he said. Leland runs on his experience as a former state party chair. And Rosenberg wants to improve the party's use of technology and downplays the importance of New Hampshire and Iowa in the selection process.

Any one of the above probably would do the trick for mainstream Dems, especially the candidates emphasizing technology, which is a fetish at the DLC. But Dean, who wrecked the party by opposing the war, openly discussing 9-11, backing gays, and generally being a "liberal," will further wreck the party by alienating voters in conservative Southern states, and—most importantly—provide fodder for Republican media campaigns, making it that much harder for the Dem campaign spinners to win.

To which Dean said, "My attitude is that they are going to run those ads anyway, so why not go down and stand up for what you believe in?," adding, "How are we going to convince people in Mississippi that their economic interests are the same as ours if we don't show up? It is incredibly insulting to people."

The very idea you can do something besides cower before the red-state conservatives is too much for the DLC robots. Dean's gotta go. He's liberal, crazy, and in a refrain from the election, doesn't "share our values."

Rummy's commandos
The defense department's own set of spooks for spooky purposes

Revelations by Bill Arkin of U.S. Special Operations commandos operating within the U.S. in his new book, Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9-11 World, won't come as much of a surprise to people who have nursed fears for years, but it does mark the emergence of yet another tentacle of Donald Rumsfeld's Sparta across the Potomac. At the moment, Rumsfeld has one war going and a cleanup operation in another conflict. He is scoping out military operations in 10 countries, including Iran and Syria, is newly embarked on building a spook apparatus abroad to rival the CIA, and now is revealed to be running ops inside the U.S. that inevitably will clash with the FBI and various police units of the Homeland Security Department.

Different from the other government agencies' relatively politically impartial domestic forces, Rumsfeld's operations are driven by the neo-conservative ideologues in the top layers of the government—by people who have domestic as well as international political agendas.

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