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6/05/2005

Intra-party scuffles

What kind of party do the Democrats want to be? Armando likes the Big Tent metaphor:
... the fact is we should be having these discussions within the Big Tent of the Democratic Party. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing.

Let the battle of ideas and strategies take place within the Party. However, with my usual firm admonition - after the battle of ideas, we all are Dems, and we pull together behind the candidate who is chosen through this process. If that is Ben Nelson in Nebraska, or Bob Casey or Chuck Penacchio in Pennsylvania, or any progressive or moderate you can think of any state, then that is our candidate - for ALL of us.

So that's my bottom line - I am a partisan Democrat. The Democratic Party is the best hope for either a Progressive and/or Centrist Agenda. The Republican Party is the Party of Dobson. By all means, every one fight for their ideals, be they progressives or centrists, but remember in November the D is everything.
The GOP is indeed the party of Dobson. ("Ah," I hear my conservative friends thinking, "but the Democrats are the party of Howard Dean and Michael Moore.") But I'm not sure things are as simple as this.

Let's oversimplify and say there are two factions within the Democratic party, the DLC/Marshall Wittman wing and the Howard Dean/Move On wing. The problem with Armando's suggestion is that each side in this battle views the other as fatal to the chances of the Democratic party in Novembers of even-numbered years. So I don't know if it's possible to just 'have it out' now and all come together come election time.

One thing I do know is that any 'having it out' should not be done on national television. Ezra Klein writes:
Edwards and Biden, frankly, are right to denounce Dean. I like the Governor but his recent rhetoric doesn't just go too far, it goes there pointlessly. What, for instance, is the use of saying Republicans have never made an honest living in their lives? I'm as partisan as they come, but with Republicans easily winning the middle class, even I'm not able to believe this is a clear cut proletariat v. bourgeoisie confrontation. And even if Dean was, as he says, limiting his comments to the Republican leadership, that's still idiotic. Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Having been a wrestler, that means he was sticking around campus from 7AM to 6PM most days, and turning up for weekend tournaments as well. That's the textbook definition of an honest living, as the NEA would certainly tell the chairman.
But this misses the point. Klein's argument seems to be that since what Dean said was wrong, Edwards and Biden were right to call him out on it in the media. This does not follow. Any 'denouncing' of Dean should be done in private if possible, or at least within the confines of lefty media. Not on ABC!

As for the substance of Klein's point, I'm not sure I agree with that either. The fact that the GOP won the middle class is beside the point; most members of the middle class do not consider themselves Republicans (they don't consider themselves Democrats, either). The GOP has done a great job at branding, of their own party and of ours. We need to fight that, and frankly I am not going to complain about Dean putting out the kinds of messages that might cause people to associate the Republican party and various stereotypical vices.

Democrats tend to worry too much about blowback. Yes, it can happen, but it usually doesn't. Usually, the attacker ends up better off (witness the Swift Boat Vets--they smeared a war hero, and there was no blowback to speak of). We don't need to be reckless about it, but I don't think that Dean is being reckless. When he has gone too far, he's qualified his remarks. Basically, if we're going to err, we should err on the side of hitting the other side too hard. We've been erring on the other side for a while now, and what has it got us?

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