The new guy
I think it's fine for Martin O'Malley to make his "youthful" age of 52 a selling point in his campaign. It's not as if he's the first. President Obama wasn't shy about running as the "young" candidate in 2008 against both Clinton and McCain. Mondale certainly tried to do it against Reagan.
But here's where he goes wrong:
On Saturday — with supporters on stage behind him, their “New Leadership” campaign signs raised in the air — O’Malley made his pitch to be that candidate. He outlined his eight years as governor of Maryland, where he ushered in same-sex marriage, a bill granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, and an increase in the minimum wage. The speech touched only briefly on foreign policy, focusing more on the left-leaning economic policies he’s pushed on the campaign trail in recent months.
Arguing for more regulation on the Wall Street, O’Malley wove in a line casting Clinton — along with Jeb Bush, a leading Republican candidate — as an establishment figure.
“Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton. I bet he would,” said O’Malley...
At a union hall in Davenport, asked if he thought his age gave him an advantage in the Democratic contest, O’Malley didn’t answer directly, making a joke instead about how young he was, at 36, when he became the mayor of Baltimore. And in Des Moines, surrounded by dozens of “New Leadership” signs stapled to the wall of his state headquarters, O’Malley was asked if he was making age an issue in the campaign.
“No,” he said, “but I do believe that as times change our challenges change. And the things that we were able to do both in Baltimore and in Maryland required new thinking and new perspectives and, yes, new leadership that’s willing to try new approaches.”
That sounds great. But if Clinton is going to be held responsible for ideas her husband held back in the 90s it's probably fair to ask what ideas O'Malley held much more recently. Here's a hint:
Our Chance to Capture the CenterMaybe he's gotten younger in the intervening years. But someone should ask him because that stale centrist claptrap makes Clinton 2008 look like Bernie Sanders. (And Sanders might as well be Che Guevara.) If he's to the left of her today then the odyssey that brought him from that DLC scold to a left wing populist crusader must be a fascinating tale.
By Martin O'Malley and Harold Ford Jr
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
With President Bush and the Republican Party on the rocks, many Democrats think the 2008 election will be, to borrow a favorite GOP phrase, a cakewalk. Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.
The temptation to ignore the vital center is nothing new. Every four years, in the heat of the nominating process, liberals and conservatives alike dream of a world in which swing voters don't exist. Some on the left would love to pretend that groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist voice, aren't needed anymore.
But for Democrats, taking the center for granted next year would be a greater mistake than ever before. George W. Bush is handing us Democrats our Hoover moment. Independents, swing voters and even some Republicans who haven't voted our way in more than a decade are willing to hear us out. With an ambitious common-sense agenda, the progressive center has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win back the White House, expand its margins in Congress and build a political and governing majority that could last a generation.
A majority comes hard for Democrats. In the past 150 years, only three Democrats, one of whom was Franklin Roosevelt, have won the White House with a majority of the popular vote.
What's more, political success built on the other party's failure is fleeting. Jimmy Carter won a majority in the wake of Watergate, but his own shortcomings on national security and the economy took him from majority victor to landslide loser in four years. Repudiating the other side's approach is only half the battle. Since neither side has a monopoly on truth, the hard part is knowing when to look beyond traditional orthodoxies to do what works.
Like FDR, we can build a lasting majority only by earning it -- with ideas that demonstrate to the American people that if they entrust us with national leadership, we can deal effectively with the challenges our country faces and the challenges they face in their everyday lives.
Over the past six years, we've seen what happens when an administration writes off the political center and manipulates every decision for partisan gain. Bush's failure to solve -- or even address -- America's great challenges has left our country dispirited, disillusioned and divided.
Contrast the collapse of a conservative president with the success of the last centrist president. Bill Clinton ran on an agenda of sensible ideas that brought America a decade of peace and prosperity. He was the only Democrat to be elected and reelected president in the past seven decades, and he left office more popular than almost any other president in recent memory.
Nearly seven years after Bush succeeded Clinton in the White House, America is facing challenges as great as we've ever seen -- a war against Islamist radicals who would destroy our way of life; global economic competition that demands we raise our game; and a quest for energy independence and efficiency that Al Gore has shown us could make or break our planet. To conquer such enduring problems, Democrats will need a broad, enduring majority -- and a centrist agenda that sustains it by making steady progress.
Most Americans don't care much about partisan politics; they just want practical answers to the problems they face every day. So far, our leading presidential candidates seem to understand that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. That's why they have begun putting forward smart, New Democrat plans to cap and trade carbon emissions, give more Americans the chance to earn their way through college, achieve universal health care through shared responsibility, increase national security by rebuilding our embattled military and enable all Americans who work full time to lift themselves out of poverty.
As the caucuses and primaries approach, candidates will come under increasing pressure to ignore the broader electorate and appeal to the party faithful. But the opportunity to build a historic majority is too great -- and too rare -- to pass up.
A new Democratic president will have the chance to unite Americans around solutions that will make all Americans proud of their country again. For the sake of the hardworking Americans who are depending on us to fix Washington and put our country on the right track, we pray that Democrats set out to build a majority that can last.
Update: And then there's this, from Lee Fang.
While much of the talk about a progressive revival revolves around populist figures like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Elizabeth Warren, there are other, better funded efforts afoot. Corporate titans from finance to natural gas to big retail to telecom are attempting to steer the party, and as the midterms shape up, these interests are pushing to ensure they continue to have wide sway over America's only viable outlet for center-left expression at the polls. Which brings us to the latest venture in corporate-centered party-building and the group hosting a chat in ANGA's headquarters: The NewDEAL.
Created by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, the NewDEAL is one of several cash-rich efforts to resurrect the Democratic Party's flailing bench of electable candidates.
This NewDEAL has little in common with President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal platform, which pledged to save capitalism from itself by cracking down on predatory banking institutions and restoring workplace rights for Americans. No, this NewDEAL is a 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy nonprofit, a tax vehicle which allows campaign activity without disclosure of donors, and its name is an acronym for "Developing Exceptional American Leaders."
The group, touted as a platform to "highlight rising pro-business progressives," is led by Democrats who have made a name for themselves by bucking the populist trend. They include NewDeal co-chair Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, whose zeal for the charterization of public schools and love of Wall Street makes him indistinguishable from many across the aisle. The other co-chair, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, has staked a position in his state's energy wars as a staunch defender of drillers.
That group was started in 2012. That odyssey from pro-business DLCer to populist crusader must have been very fast indeed.