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« Monday Morning Gazette---Snow Day Edition | Main | Yes, but what was he clapping not unenthusiastically for, young Lance? »


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The great Molly Ivins has a great essay up about courage, truthtelling and the Democrats. Check it out.


At least he's not Pelosi. I'm still scarred by the disappointment I felt when she (and some male Democrat whose name I forget) did the response; she stared weirdly into the tv like she'd never seen one before and talked in a monotone while rambling confusedly. Horrifying.

But, yeah. Of late I'm beginning to wonder whether the Democrats are just totally tone-deaf and clueless, beyond the incapacities of normal people, or whether this is all a put-on show of incompetence in order to hide what they're really up to, an agenda that doesn't include representing progressive values.

I don't know which possibility is worse; it's like wondering whether the Republicans are incompetent or evil -- eventually it becomes difficult to escape the conclusion that they are both.

blue girl

I agree with Rana -- Nancy Pelosi is awful on TV -- there's just something about her -- like nails on a chalkboard. I don't think Harry Reid comes off strong on TV. He comes off like a nice, little old grandpa.

Who are the TV stars? Lance, you know I like Joe Biden. If he doesn't talk too much, he's good on TV, in interviews, I think.

I know strategically it can't be "Barack Obama" 24/7 for the next zillion years -- but I think he's a star.

Feingold's good too.

David W.

As I don't live in the Northeast, can anyone here tell me how Eliot Spitzer comes across on TV? Just curious.


He's an attractive white man from the South. And the last two Democrats that won (three if you count Gore) were attractive white men from the south. That's why.


Barbara Boxer would be good. She's fairly telegenic, and has good cred when it comes to standing up to this administration.

blue girl

I really like Barbara Boxer too.

Off Colfax

How about Salazar? Either John or Ken?

Two prominent Democrats, moderates both, who hail from a purple state. And while Senator Ken isn't the best on television, he's a sight better than Pelosi ever will be. Congressman John, however, IS good on television, and has a good public speaking background.

[clicked through via Big Media Ezra]

cali dem

I haven't seen Gov. Kaine speak but I've heard him interviewed. I'm going to wait and see. I'm going to listen carefully to what he has to say and judge for myself.

However, I think Jack Murtha should have been the Dem to give the antidote to Bush's yearly trashing of the English language and the truth.


When they heard that Lincoln won the Republican Primary, Democratic newspapers charged that he was the "ugliest of all the ugly politicians", a man with a "hacked up face." He had arms and legs that never seemed to find a comfortable position. New clothes never fit well. When he walked, he leaned forward and pushed forward a thigh attached to a stiff lower limb. He never bent his ankle nor his sole, but instead moved his foot downward, ending with a heavy shuffle. The rank and file in the party were terrified of what had just happened. In fact, he only won the primary because those expecting to win were either too liberal or too conservative, a situation that created all sorts of factions. Lincoln was a moderate whose position was probably most closely aligned with the population, and the other nominees did not consider him a threat with which to reckon at any time before the first vote was taken. So as delegates began questioning the likelihood - or lack thereof - of their own respective favorite sons winning the nomination, the game became to at least make sure that the extremists at the "other end of the party", depending on perspective, didn't win. So because his supporters kept whispering in everyone's ears that Lincoln was the best second choice, Lincoln eventually became everyone's first choice.

It was also equally true that his awkward appearance lasted only as long as it took for him to engage his audience. When he talked, contemporaries noted, his features softened and his eyes shone with the rare combination of sincerity and political savvy. His never went back on his word, he publically shouldered the responsibility of mistakes made by those underneath him, and he kept his own counsel until his study of the situation was complete. Oh, yes. I almost forgot. He wrote his own speeches, bothering to use complete sentences and real, not made-up words.

Despite these attributes, there is no certainty that he would have won the election had the Democrats not been almost literally split by the slave issue. (The battle at this time was, I believe, whether the new territories Polk had won in a game of fixed Yahtzee from Mexico would be free states or "whatever the landowners in those territories wanted".) Some of the Southern States had already decided to break away. Because so much that was good about Lincoln emerged more during his presidency than before, it is uncertain whether he could have won the general election in quiet times.

So for purposes of trying to figure out what the Democrats are doing today, it is better to only try to consider the Republican Primary of 1860 and whether it provides any clues.

The choice of a moderate who doesn't rankle the midliners' chains too much.

A polarized country.

One political party where the shit is really hitting the fan, and another political party that has never had any more cohesiveness than what one can do with Popsicle sticks and Elmer's Glue

A desire in the Popsicle stick party to hold the union together and compromise, while maintaining an internal geniality best characterized by Larry, Curly and Moe.

Intense, My Way or the Highway temperments in factions of the Shit & Fan party. ("Tonight ladies and gentlemen, the part of all of the 'My Way' factions will be played by Ralph Cramden and a set of mirrors.")

And a moderate platform in each party that could be readily interchanged with the other.

Once you can wrap your overeducated brain around the fact that Bush was re-elected, you might be able to understand why the Democrats have selected a messenger who might somehow connect with that big midsection of the population that most of us are never going to understand. The liberals despised Lincoln, as did freed slaves who knew that he had no intention of eradicating slavery in the states in which it already existed. I don't think this is so much a north versus south thing, as it is a function of the fact that politicians who succeed in the Northeast are rarely moderate enough. Clinton was a Democan, or a Republocrat, for crying out loud, and spent enough time studying people and picking himself back up to know how to connect.

I only wish this Kaine guy were uglier, ganglier, and more out of place in the comfort zone. He has that kind of rodent exterminator, cozy look about him. But what do I know.


This is why the two party system is so destructive to democracy.


sfmike, gods I love Molly Ivans - that was a breathe of fresh air.


Cate -- I think you make a number of good points there.

However, I do have trouble believing that the current agenda of the Democrats is either "moderate" or "centrist." That is certainly the story being told, but if that is the case, why are they not, as a party, aggressively questioning the war, like a majority of citizens do? Why are they reluctant to address issues like civil rights and women's rights, things which a majority are behind? Why do they avoid talking about the environment, again something that the majority is worried about. (Molly Ivins says this much better than I do; I'm mostly just paraphrasing here.)

Either (a) Democrats are stupid wimps, or (b) they are claiming the mantle of "centrism" in order to mask an agenda that isn't really concerned with the interests of the majority of Americans.

Now, I'm a Green, so obviously I'm somewhat biased. Yet I'm used to being out of the mainstream, and in assessing its ebbs and flows from an outside perspective, and while I can find much to admire in a Barbara Boxer, or a John Conyers, or a Howard Dean, their particular politics are nowhere near as leftist as the Greens. Their compatriots, moreover, are nothing like the "mainstream" I remember from even ten years ago. In the case of the former, I can see a clear difference between them, the far left where I sit, and the far right where the 30-36% of hardcore Bushites sits. In the case of the latter, I see a steady rightward drift. I'm thus inclined to think of Boxer, Conyers, Dean et al. as representatives of the true center, and not the Hillaries, Bills, Liebermans, and Reids and Pelosis.

It's not simply a matter of where they sit on a left-right political spectrum; it's who they choose to listen to and how they conceive of their job as elected officials -- I'm not convinced that the "centrist" or "moderate" mainstream Democrats are, in fact, interested in voters at all -- just their votes (a very different thing) and the money from their corporate sponsors. "Corporatist" vs. "populist" would be a more fruitful axis to orient along, than "centrist" or "moderate" versus "extremist."


There are all sorts of problems that one can see when one starts focusing on simplistic things like opinion polls. I love Molly, but she is in part an entertainer. I don't want to be led around by the nose by members of the same group that favored the war in the horrible years until 2006, and the 41% of American numbskulls unfamiliar with evolution. These folks are part of the "majority" group we now think should be directing the Democratic Party moves.

Most Republican legislators are not Christian Fundists, but the former kow tow to the latter in order to win elections. This makes us in practice less a two party system and more like multi-party systems, with the smaller parties forming alliances in order to gain a majority in the parliament. The problem is, here only the Republicans do it; while the Democrats continue to fracture with no one making any overatures to fold in Greens, Socialists, and Independents. Perhaps the Dems are attempting to break the stronghold that the Cons have on the Mod Reps because this Cons agenda is simply too terrifying to too many to allow to continue. Maybe it is easier than trying to form an alliance with the Greens.

Compromise is a good thing, as long as there are idealists anchoring the end of the tug of war rope. Instead of a rope, however, what we have in this country is a leaf rake, with the Republicans holding on to the long handle, anchored by the Conservatives, and the rest of us pulling from individual tines, unable to gather any kind of momentum or force. Lincoln did not agree with slavery, but was willing to accept it where it already existed in order to preserve the Union and avoid bloodshed. He was not an abolitionist radical, and because of this many in the New England States despised him and thought him weak. But he did make concessions to the party stronghold, such as the Emmancipation Proclamation, when he saw he had the opportunity to do so that made sense to a wider portion of his voter base. Lincoln justified the proclamation upon learning that slaves were helping the Confederate Army by following orders to dig trenches on the battlefields and work the farms while the masers were fighting. Freeing the slaves contributed to the Northern War effort.

We should find someone with intelligence and integrity, then get behind him or her regardless of whether the candidate satsifies every one of our own special interests. Build a party, and respect the factions within it. It has been done before, and it has worked. There is nothing new in politics, the science of humanity, or our tendency to not remember either.

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