Friday, September 19, 2003

The battle for the soul of the Democratic party

Joan Walsh does some good work analyzing the General's bad day (Salon Premium content):

I couldn't help thinking that the general is sounding a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger, another political newcomer who's been short on specifics and has asked voters for their patience. Of course, Clark lacks many of Schwarzenegger's negatives -- his notorious past with women, for instance -- and he deserves credit for meeting with the nation's toughest political reporters on his first day on the trail (he gets points for courage, but not for judgment, given how green he seemed). But there's something arrogant and entitled about both of them, who seem to think their star power should make up for their lack of clarity about policy and inexperience with elective office. Voters haven't been charmed by Schwarzenegger; we'll see if they're wowed by Clark.

Again with the Schwarzenegger comparison! Those memes do travel fast in media circles!

Walsh repeats the quote of an angry Democrat that was in The Note (the same one I quoted here) and makes some observations about what's going on within the Democratic party:

And while that angry Democrat isn't a Dean supporter, expect the Deanites to be even more outraged. As Moveon.org's Eli Pariser told Salon's Eric Boehlert this week, there's a civil war brewing between the Democratic base and its loud Dean component, and party elites associated with the Democratic Leadership Council and the consultants clustered around the Clinton-Gore campaigns, who think Dean's too radical to be elected. A couple of more stumbles like Clark's on Thursday, and the Dean folks will be even more furious that their man, who fought to be the frontrunner on the tough field of campaign battle, is being dismissed for a supposedly antiwar general who can't clearly articulate his own stand on the Iraq resolution, which was a defining moment for this generation of Democrats.

There is that. The "anger" that many Democrats feel towards their party leaders is palpable and growing. The fact that they have been caught so off-guard by it is a validation of its legitimacy. The fact that they chose to respond to it by pushing a political neophyte with a bunch of shiny stars on his shoulder is just adding insult to injury.

But let's be clear about something. Neither I nor most of the Dean supporters that I know have any desire to wage a war within the Democratic party. We know as well as anyone how damaging that could be to our long-term prospects for success ('68 anyone?). We just want them to treat us with respect and listen to our concerns.

And if they won't then maybe we will just have to force them to listen.

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