Thursday, August 10, 2006

In Which I Respond to Jason

I can hardly describe my reaction to your post, "An Open Letter to Tom Noyes" in which you first offer some truly embarrassing words of praise, and then put me squarely on the spot:
As a person who has shown some insight into the thinking of DLC type Democrats, and even some affection for their attacks on the Democratic party can you please answer these questions:
1) What in the world is Carper thinking?
2) Do you think there is anyway to get Carper to reconsider this asinine, Republican comforting position?
Where to begin?
While I'm flattered by your comment that I have "shown some insight into the thinking of DLC type Democrats," I must take exception with your opinion that I have demonstrated "affection for their attacks on the Democratic party."
So here's where I stand on the DLC: I like the practical, policy wonk side of the movement. I think the Public Policy Institute does some useful work in a wonkish kind of way. Democrats have lagged in creating the think tanks we need to help develop and advocate for sound public policy.
I emphatically do not agree with current DLC leaders such as Al From who seem convinced that anyone not hewing toward the center presents a mortal danger to the Democratic Party.
As for the "Third Way," 1992 was a long time ago. I would associate myself with the comments I highlighted yesterday from Simon Rosenberg, DLC alum and president of the New Democratic Network:
The “Third Way” political approach doesn’t fit our time. The conservatives rise to power, and their utter failure to govern responsibly or effectively, requires a new progressive politics of confrontation, not accommodation.
I hope that is clear enough.
As to what Carper is thinking, my short answer is that I have no idea. Does Carper truly believe that it's a good idea for Lieberman to run as an independent? Or is he sticking with his colleague because he promised to? I don't know.

I do know that Carper has certainly put himself on the spot regarding Lieberman. Carper, along with fellow DLC members John Carney and Jack Markell supported Lieberman in 2004. But Hillary Clinton, who is just as prominent in the DLC, rushed to declare her support for Lamont while, as the New York Times reports, taking a diplomatic tone with Lieberman:
Mrs. Clinton urged Mr. Lieberman to “search his conscience and decide what is best for Connecticut and for the Democratic Party’’ before pushing ahead with an independent candidacy.
“I know this is a very difficult decision for him to have to make,’’ she said. “I hope he thinks hard about it.’

The tone may diplomatic, but the message is hard to miss.
As to whether there is any way to get Carper to change his mind, I have no idea, again because I don't know what he truly thinks.
If he believes that it is a good idea for Lieberman to run as as in independent, then I think that events will eventually force Carper and Lieberman to reconsider.
If Carper is sticking with Lieberman out of loyalty, then he may at some point talk with Lieberman about the practical hurdles he faces in the next three months -- which are far more difficult than Lieberman can imagine.
The phone call from Rove looks terrible. So far two GOP Senate candidates have come out for Lieberman. As the GOP rushes to his defense, it will become harder for any significant Democrats to continue to support Lieberman over Lamont.
Lieberman faces daunting challenges running as an independent. He may be shocked by his sinking showing in the polls in the next few days. He will find that unions are unlikely to offer the kind of street support that any major campaign requires. He will certainly have difficulty raising money from longtime supporters who instead are writing checks to Lamont. He has no staff to speak of, no consultants and no polling firm. Democratic operatives are hardly likely to want to work for someone who has bolted the party. I think that the challenge for Lieberman may be not so much winning as staving off personal and political embarrassment.
So, if Carper is sticking with Lieberman out of loyalty, and if he shares my opinion of Lieberman's prospects, then he might talk to Lieberman one-on-one to convince him that the practical political difficulties are too great to overcome. Perhaps the example of another pragmatic politician, Bill Clinton, could move him in that direction.
I think Ned Lamont will be elected.
I do not think that this primary result represents a fatal shift to the left for the Democratic Party. After all, a substantial majority of Americans have turned against the war in Iraq. Lamont's victory is a signal that we truly are in a watershed election year in which Democrats will take control of the House and perhaps even the balance in the Senate to 50-50.
I'm not sure how to close, except to say that, despite your frustration, we will have good reason to be pleased with the way this election turns out in November.
You colleague and fan,


Blogger jason said...

Thanks for that. I hope Carper reads Tommywonk. I don't hold out much hope that he reads Delawareliberal.

As for this...

and even some affection for their attacks on the Democratic party.

I don't know where that came from. You must have said something sort of nice about Terry McAuliffe once.

I regard McAuliffe's very existence is an attack on the Democratic party.

9:55 PM, August 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonkism lives!!!

3:34 PM, August 12, 2006  

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