It may seem to the lefty sphere that it's clear as crystal that Congressional favs at Bush levels means Sixpack is sick of Dem pussyfooting on Iraq and wants a power-of-the-purse showdown - but I'd be staggered if the Dem leaderships agree!
These folks are the poster children for risk averseness: just walk through the Pelosi and Reid pressers and talk show appearances, speeches and whatever that would come with such a showdown. Imagine the Churchillian-ness of the rhetoric, the calm assurance in the voice.
You can't. It boggles the imagination.
The last time that the Congress took on the presidency in as momentous a way is - never! (So far as I can remember, at least.) We're talking something like the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, or (coming a bit more up to date) the coup in France that brought de Gaulle to power in 1958.
The three qualities you need in the promoters of such a coup are risk-seekingness, motivation and capacity for action. The Dem leaderships strike out on each one.
Boy, I hope I'm wrong. That, cometh the hour, cometh the man.
But - which man might that be? (Or woman. Or alien...)
You make the bull point rather more clearly than I did - the reason why the Dem leaderships don't move to cut off Iraq funding is they are not made that way: in a million years, they won't bet the farm on coming ahead with Sixpack!
(If I were them, I reckon I'd most likely take the same line.)
It's mental exercise and a bit of fun to speculate on strategy assuming counterfactually that they are up for a death-or-glory charge. But that's all.
My point was that, just before the assassination, JFK - a pol rather more associated with liberalism than LBJ - was not making much progress in a Congress which was supposed to be under Dem control.
In fact, from the reading that I've done into JFK's relations with Congress, nothing very much was moving: he had what seemed like a huge win early in wresting control of Rules from Howard Smith, but that didn't help him in the Senate, of course.
So afraid was he that his program in Congress would entirely seize up that he delayed until November 62 in issuing what came out as EO 11063 desegregating Federally funded housing.
The assassination was a hell of a laxative, helped along by the efforts of an LBJ with his eyes on the prize of Nov 64. But the CRA of 1964 would likely not have passed unless Dirksen had kept his guys in line to beat the Southern filibuster.
Now, whatever the reasons, LBJ's Congresses passed what they passed; but that's been the last time such a program has been enacted, and it only happened as easily as it did because JFK had gotten capped.
(Even in the aftermath of Watergate, and with back-to-back Dem-controlled Congresses, Carter managed to enact no similar program.)
How the 60s generation moved from an era founded on the diverse and engaged coalitions that built the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the women's rights movement into the atomized, PC, ineffective political world that greeted us at the dawn of the Clinton era...a world that we GenX'ers in no small part contributed to and endorsed...is the true story of the fall from power of liberals in the United States.
When exactly were the liberals in power in the US?
The development of something recognizable as liberalism (as opposed to Progressivism) in the Federal executive really only happened during FDR's time in the WH. But only as an element in competition with other elements (the last hurrah of Progressivism, corporatism, etc).
With the exception of Ike's pretty unideological admin, the Dems had a clear run in the top job till Nixon; but were the liberals in charge then? Hardly: that was the era of the Conservative Coalition, not just holding the line against desegregation, but curbing reforms in other areas.
The Great White Hope, JFK, was getting nowhere fast with his (supposedly Democratic-controlled) Congress by Dallas.
It's clearly right that the Dems today need to get used to forming coalitions to get results: but far from clear (to me, at any rate) that the center of gravity of such coalitions would be anything remotely close to liberal.
To take the word beyond a slogan, you need some way to tie liberal to particular policy stances: something along the lines of Can you be a liberal if you believe/don't believe X?
And - in branding the Dem Party (as opposed to defining liberal), you can't exclude voters you need to produce Congressional majorities (and, if you want to get something done, more generous ones than the party currently enjoys!)
I think there's a tangled skein of definitional problems, polling methods and analysis, possibilities for action (and a bunch of other stuff I can't think of right now) that needs to be untangled.
What does progressive mean? How does one construct a definition? Is a definition necessary or possible? Should a definition (assuming one to be possible) be constructed with the aim of setting up a tent with the maximum possible coverage? And are there elements that a definition should be tailored to exclude?
At what level of abstraction is it possible to demarcate what is and what is not progressive? (Is a laundry list possible or desirable? If such a list is not produced, how is the charge met that the definition is mere sloganizing?)
Clearly, if the intention is to gradually cleanse the Congressional party of non-progressive Dems, presumably there will be a criterion or criteria by which the sheep will be separated from the goats.
Who makes the decision? Any eligible Democrat can run in a primary; will there be some kind of progressive seal of approval given to those found worthy? Who will decide? How will they be accountable, and who to?
Given that resources are limited, will there be a pecking order as between approved progressive candidates? On what basis? Who decides? Etc, etc.
Is it possible to increase the Dem majority without the marginal Dem MCs being less progressive than the average?
More a question of change in practice: what we have now is what Fisk and Chemerinsky (must-have article) call the stealth filibuster which derives from a reform of Mike Mansfield's dating from the early 70s.
The deal is: filibustering now comes with much smaller (but not negligible) cost to the filibuster and other senators, which means that everybody's doing it.
(Try the filibuster tag from early 06 (the Alito fracas) - or even my latest.)
I can't see any editing (by whomsoever done) working; at least segregation into two lists (diary lists as well as rec lists, I'd say) would have some basis in fact, rather than merely a bunch of guys' opinions, and might stand a chance.