New Republic columnist Noam Scheiber has an interesting piece in the New York Times about the demise of that most odious bastion of opportunism, the Democratic Leadership Council.  According to Mr. Scheiber, it seems that the progressive communiy owes a debt of gratitude to the DLC, George Bush, and Bill Clinton for showing us how bad things can get when a major political party abandons its soul for triangulation.

Scheiber writes:

"Today, the council has almost no constituency within the Democratic Party. About every five years, the Pew Research Center conducts a public opinion survey to sort out the country's major ideological groupings. In 1999, Pew found that liberals and New Democrats each accounted for nearly one-quarter of the Democratic base. By the next survey in 2005, New Democrats had completely disappeared as a group and the liberals had doubled their share of the party. Many moderates, radicalized by President Bush, now define themselves as liberals.

On a variety of issues the council, and not the party's liberal base, is out of touch with the popular mood. A recent Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of independents, along with 70 percent of Democrats, favor withdrawing from Iraq by next spring.

Two decades of work by the Democratic Leadership Council -- and a not inconsiderable assist from President Bush -- have made the Democratic Party the healthiest it has been in the 22 years of the council's existence. Democrats should thank the group and then tell it that it's no longer needed."

If Mr. Scheiber's assertion is correct, I find it very puzzling that the Democratic Party seems on the verge of nominating this man's wife for president:

"In 1991, Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, then the council's chairman, elucidated the 'New Democrat' ethos and previewed the themes of his presidential candidacy ("opportunity, responsibility, community") with a speech at the centrist group's annual conference. 'It became the blueprint for my campaign message,' Mr. Clinton later wrote in his autobiography. He added, 'By embracing ideas and values that were both liberal and conservative, it made voters who had not supported Democratic presidential candidates in years listen to our message.'"

Now, in fairness, I must acknowledge that Hillary will be a "no-show" at the DLC conference this summer.  But, does anyone have any thoughts as to whether Hillary will lead in the mold of her husband, resuscitating the dying DLC heresy and marginalizing the progressive movement for another eight years?

For the full link to Scheiber's story, visit: n/28scheiber.html 

Tags: Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, DLC (all tags)




And Obama doesn't take pac money and wall street money right . So is he a progressive.

by lori 2007-07-28 08:50AM | 0 recs

The comment didn't even mention Obama.  Why can't you address his claims about Hillary instead of attacking Obama?

by Lassallean 2007-07-28 09:38AM | 0 recs

I would not mourn the passing of the DLC, but the rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated. The three top candidates, Edwards, Obama and Clinton, have built their campaigns on a largely New Democrat, DLC agenda. On everything from growing the military to national service to charter schools, they have embraced DLC ideas.

This is especially the case for Obama, with his post-partisan (pox on both houses) rhetoric and embrace of 'personal responsibility'. He has even been holding up Reagan as a model for the kind of 'optimistic' candidate he wants to be. As a result Obama has the highest appeal of the three among Republicans.

The DLC started as a think tank for southern Democrats, in an attempt to preserve the Democratic majority. I say good riddance to those conservative Dems, our party can be more effective without them. But we have a long way to go before the ideological influence of the DLC passes.

by souvarine 2007-07-28 08:54AM | 0 recs

Contrary to his past, I really believe Edwards has undergone a conversion to the progressive cause.  He is running well to the left of Hillary and Obama, and he is making very specific progressive promises that the public can hold him accountable for if he is elected president.  I don't see either Hillary or Obama taking the kind of progressive stands that Edwards is taking.  Of course, Edwards began as a New Democrat, but I trust his commitment to the progressive community, and I believe he, more than Obama or Hillary, would lead the Democartic Congress into a New Deal for the 21st Century.

by Lassallean 2007-07-28 09:35AM | 0 recs

He certainly is running the most progressive campaign of the three, and he has done the most to change the parameters of the debate toward a progressive stand on the issues. His issues page is the best and most comprehensive summary of the progressive stance of all three candidates.

The only issue where I can see he takes a DLC stand is on the military. So at best I can only claim he has DLC roots.

by souvarine 2007-07-28 09:56AM | 0 recs

No candidate is perfect. That can't be our criteria I hope

by bruh21 2007-07-28 10:18AM | 0 recs
Edwards Was A Populist Trial Lawyer, For Gosh Sake

Those are his roots.

The DLC hates populists even more than it hates trial lawyers.  And it hates trial lawyers even more than it hates populists.

You need a more nuanced approach.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-07-28 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards Was A Populist Trial Lawyer, For Gosh

His speeches to the DLC in the past compliment the organization and he was a member of the New Democrat Coalition in the Senate, I don't think you can deny that he was a DLC promoter. He found some way to reconcile his trial lawyer background with his DLC political views.

In any case, my less than clear point was that the 2008 Edwards campaign has moved farther from the DLC than I realized. So I cannot claim that Edwards built his platform on DLC ideas.

by souvarine 2007-07-29 07:56AM | 0 recs

I think your post makes the point for you. Labels' are subjective relative to your point on the specturm. For example most republicans will always call a democrat a liberal but most liberals are far more selective with who they apply that term to. My republican friends call me a liberal and people on mydd call me a moderate, or even a republican lite when they're calling me names.

Joe Lieberman considered himself a democrat but a lot of people did not. Though many people still do. It all depends.

Another interesting thing. Conservative democrats are seen to be more conservative than liberal republicans.

Another factor in how you view a persons political leanings are the issues most important to you. For example, if social issues are most important to you you judge people harder on those issues. Same goes with economic issues and foreign policy  issues.

That answer your question?

by world dictator 2007-07-28 01:06PM | 0 recs

I understand and respect your answer, but I think you are really being too relativistic about nomenclature while disregarding very real differences on substantive issues among the groups you mention.

I don't care what label someone wears.  I care about their stance on issues.  As you mentioned, economic issues are the most important to me, but I don't have much respect for people who don't agree that economic issues are most important.  For example, anyone who thinks that abortion and gun control are about laws and not about economics seems particularly uninformed to me.  That's why I find "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" Democrats particularly appalling, and I am doing my best to oppose them where I can.

by Lassallean 2007-07-29 07:31AM | 0 recs


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