Monday, June 12, 2006


The Moose urges the donkey to seize a successful legacy.

The Moose has been struck by how many in the party have either implicitly or explicitly ignored or even rejected the Clinton legacy of the New Democratic Third Way. The Moose distinctly remembers attending countless meetings on the right in 1996 and 1997, where Republicans fretted that Clinton had gotten their number and their ascendancy was being threatened. Clinton had successfully co-opted Republican wedge issues and advanced a political agenda that was at once fiscally responsible and progressive.

Unfortunately, Clinton's impeachment halted the transformation of the Democratic Party. Perhaps that is why the right pursued impeachment so vigorously. The DeLay gang knew a threat when they saw it.

Now, it is fashionable among some precincts on the left to disparage the one legacy that worked for the Democratic Party. They have a bad case of amnesia when it comes to recalling how Clinton offered a successful model for governance - call it Clintonesia.

Fortunately, two pieces have recently been published which seek to refresh the donkey's memory. Peter Beinart writes in the New Republic,

"If Clinton convinced Americans that government action could be moral, he also convinced them that it could be responsible. By reducing the budget deficit, he helped restore the Democratic Party's reputation for economic stewardship, which had been gravely damaged under Carter. And, by using market mechanisms to achieve traditional liberal goals, he found ways to fight poverty in an environment where large new programs were politically impossible."

Indeed, by advancing welfare reform, Clinton legitimized government action. By balancing the budget, Clinton stripped the issue away from the GOP. He essentially co-opted conservatism and thereby was able to advance a progressive agenda.

Al From and Bruce Reed commented in yesterday's Washington Post,

"By any logical standard, Democrats of every stripe ought to be embracing Clintonism and its central tenets -- providing people with more opportunity while demanding more responsibility, and being willing to try new methods to realize progressive ideals... As a political formula, its record is just as impressive. Not only was Bill Clinton the first Democratic president in 60 years to be reelected, but consider this: In the three elections before 1992, Democrats averaged 58 electoral votes. In 1992 and 1996, Clinton averaged 375. He won a dozen red states twice."

Unfortunately, the Deanification and Kossackification of the Democratic Party continue apace. John Murtha (with likely support from Pelosi) seeks to split the party in a divisive race for Majority Leader even before the Democrats are in the majority. The anti-war forces are out to purge the most genuinely Trumanesque Democrat in the United States Senate.

And a gaggle of supposedly centrist Presidential wannabees flocked to Vegas to genuflect before a blogger convention that had as much to do with winning mainstream America as Paris Hilton does with winning the hearts of Focus on the Family. Ironically, the once edgy bloggers have become yet another Democratic interest group - people with screen names - that is pandered to by politicians looking for "buzz" and money.

These bloggers are the cyberspace heirs to the New Politics tradition of the late '60s that put the party in the wilderness for twelve years which was only interrupted by a Carter in '76 (as a result of Watergate). There is the model of Clinton and there are the models of McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. This is a time to choose.

Fortunately, a Clinton chose not to attend the left wing bloggerfest. Good for her.
-- Posted at 8:23 AM | Link to this post | Email this post