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Hullabaloo


Sunday, June 05, 2005

 
Whose Party Is It Anyway?

Atrios is on fire today. This explication of the Democrats' position and challenges on Iraq is spot on.

He mentions Matt Yglesias' observation that the liberal hawks are unwilling to admit they were wrong because to do so would create a hit to their credibility. This is very interesting. We know that Bush and his cronies believe they will lose credibility if they admit they are wrong about anything and they are probably right. Without their claim to God-like infallibility, I suspect they know that their whole delicate house of cards might collapse. They do not want their base to ever get it in their heads that the emperor has no clothes and they will fight like hell to see that they don't.

However, there are plenty of liberal hawks like Joe Biden, for instance, who also seem to be backed into a corner because they think that they will lose credibility with...who, exactly? Fred Hiatt? Tim Russert? Because they sure as hell won't lose credibility with the base of the Democratic party --- they'd be heroes. See, to us, admitting you were wrong about Iraq means that you gain credibility, not lose it. Indeed, the reality based community tends to believe that it's important to admit when you were wrong. It's all part of that whole godless scientific method, empirical data, age of reason, enlightenment lah-de-dah we hold so dear.

But then it's obvious they have no respect for the base of the Democratic party. Just this morning, both Biden and Edwards dissed Howard Dean big time. While Bill Frist bumps and grinds the pole to James Dobsons' every command three years before the presidential election, our presidential hopeful club is already running to the middle as fast as their chubby little legs will carry them. Or perhaps they are just running toward their nannies, the liberal punditocrisy who get ever so upset at the harsh rhetoric being flung by that rabble rouser, Dean:

Dean ''doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats,'' Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday on ABC's ''This Week.''

While discussing the hardship of working Americans standing in long lines to vote, Dean said Thursday, ''Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.''


Oh mercy me, pass me ovah the smellin' salts, daddy! I'm like to be bowled ovah with a feathah!

Dean's words are actually quite powerful to anyone who isn't a hypocrite, a member of the Sally Quinn circle jerk society or a paid spokesman of the RNC. It's the kind of thing that real people say in real life. It's authentic, Real Murica speak, not Washington pearl clutching bullshit. The presidential race is three long years away and Joe and John both should have laughed and said, "Howard was talking about the Republican leadership and their lobbyist buddies who can't seem to get anything done for the American people --- but they sure do take care of themselves. I think a lot of people probably agree with him on that." Instead they twisted their little lace hankies like a couple of rich old biddies and sniffed and whimpered about how they don't agree with such tawdry sentiment. It's really a wonder we get any votes at all.

Which brings me to Rick Perlstein's guest post on Political Animal the other night. I still haven't received my copy of his new book, and I'll discuss it in much greater depth when I have, but I think that Perlstein's quite correct when he asks:

Here's a riddle: what is a swing voter? More and more, it is an American who thinks like a Democrat but refuses to identify as one.

...If it is true that party identification — which, as Stan Greenberg argues, is a form of social identity that endures over the long term — is the best predictor of voter behavior, isn't getting this selfsame public to identify with the Democratic Party much, much more than half the solution?


There is much more to his prescription, of course, than merely respecting the base. But if party ID is a form of social behavior that endures over the long term, it is a necessary first step. The grassroots of the Democratic Party were the ones who pushed for Howard Dean to become the chairman of the DNC. When you treat him like an unruly child or a slightly crazed relative, you are saying to the voters who have already committed to the party and strongly identify as Democrats that they are a bunch of losers. Why on earth would anyone join a party that does that?



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