Gar­bled po­lit­i­cal mes­sages on the Left

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - David Lim­baugh

The much bal­ly­hooed de­bate on “Meet the Press” be­tween for­mer Con­gress­man Harold Ford Jr. and Markos Moulit­sas, pub­lisher of the lib­eral Daily Kos web­site, was in­struc­tive for what it re­vealed about both the di­vi­sions in the Demo­cratic Party and the un­der­ly­ing disin­gen­u­ous­ness of both fac­tions.

Mr. Ford was de­fend­ing the Demo­cratic Lead­er­ship Coun­cil (DLC), an or­ga­ni­za­tion that holds it­self out as cen­trist, urges the Demo­cratic Party to move in that di­rec­tion, and proudly claims for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton as its most hon­ored mem­ber. Mr. Moulit­sas was there to rep­re­sent the more left­ist wing of the party, which has used his web­site to in­crease its in­flu­ence.

Mr. Ford sounded rea­son­able on the sur­face, tout­ing the suc­cesses of the Clin­ton record and at­tribut­ing those to DLC ideas. But in the end, Mr. Ford’s mes­sage was gar­bled.

He said that to win na­tional elec­tions “you have to cross three hur­dles.” You must prove your “strength and trust­wor­thi­ness on na­tional se­cu­rity,” that your val­ues are in line with main­stream Amer­ica and that you are trust­wor­thy on “taxes, eco­nomic and fis­cal pol­icy.”

So far so good. But how does that dif­fer from the Repub­li­can plat­form? How does it square with what any na­tional Demo­cratic of­fice­hold­ers, save Sen. Joseph Lieber­man, ad­vo­cate?

Look­ing deeper into the is­sues, Democrats still lack cred­i­bil­ity on na­tional se­cu­rity given their ob­struc­tion and in­co­her­ence on the Iraq war and their op­po­si­tion to most mea­sures aimed at bol­ster­ing our se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing ter­ror­ist sur­veil­lance, ter­ror­ist fi­nan­cial track­ing, tough in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques and re­fus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with ter­ror­ists.

While lib­er­als boast that their val­ues more closely mir­ror those of main­stream Amer­i­cans, they know bet­ter, which is why they’re al­ways dou­ble-tongued in this area. They trash “val­ues vot­ers” with one tongue and court them with the other. They play word games, us­ing “choice” and mak­ing abor­tion “safe, le­gal and rare” to con­ceal their real agenda.

There is also a dis­con­nect on their tax pol­icy. They say they’re for bal­anced bud­gets, but if they had their way leg­isla­tively — if Pres­i­dent Clin­ton had had his way — they would spend us into obliv­ion. And their rigid prej­u­dices won’t al­low them to ac­knowl­edge that sup­ply-side tax cuts have re­duced the deficit and im­proved the eco­nomic con­di­tion of all in­come groups.

So while the DLC is less lib­eral than most in­flu­en­tial De- mocrats, they aren’t as mod­er­ate as they would have us be­lieve. They just want to sound more con­ser­va­tive to fool the elec­torate, which they be­lieve, even if Mr. Moulit­sas’ “net­roots” (In­ter­net grass roots) don’t, is cen­ter right.

Tellingly, Mr. Ford him­self char­ac­ter­izes the DLC’s po­si­tions as “pro­gres­sive,” which we all know is a eu­phemism for “lib­eral.” Re­gard­less of whether Mr. Ford wants to pre­tend “pro­gres­sive” means “con­ser­va­tive light,” most of his fel­low Democrats clearly un­der­stand it to mean “lib­eral,” but with­out the neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions. Ei­ther way, we’re wit­ness­ing so­phis­ti­cated ob­fus­ca­tion from the DLC.

Mr. Moulit­sas’ mes­sage was equally odd, but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. He, too, started off sound­ing rea­son­able, crit­i­ciz­ing mil­que­toast Democrats like those of the DLC for “blur­ring the dis­tinc­tions” be­tween the par­ties, not be­ing “proud Democrats” and at­tack­ing fel­low Democrats.

But af­ter is­su­ing th­ese ad­mo­ni­tions he pro­ceeded to vi­o­late most of them him­self. Though he de­cried the DLC for at­tack­ing Democrats, he has been re­lent­less in at­tack­ing the main Demo­crat out there, Hil­lary Clin­ton, as well as Democrats in the DLC.

Mr. Moulit­sas said the elec­tion “had noth­ing to do with be­ing cen­trist or lib­eral or con­ser­va­tive.” He even brushed back host David Gre­gory for try­ing to get him to talk about is­sues. Throw­ing in a dash of Perot pop­ulism, he said this wasn’t about him and what he thought about the is­sues, but the mil­lions of net­roots who have found a voice on his web­site. I won­der how long he’d stick to that non­sense if con­ser­va­tive net­roots in­vaded his web­site and be­gan ad­vo­cat­ing con­ser­va­tive causes. Plus, if it isn’t about is­sues, why does he trash the DLC for “blur­ring dis­tinc­tions”?

In­deed, Mr. Moulit­sas un­wit­tingly ac­knowl­edged the silli­ness of his de­nial of in­ter­est in is­sues when he ut­tered the glar­ing non sequitur that the 2006 Demo­cratic vic­tory “had to do with stand­ing tall for core pro­gres­sive (read: lib­eral) prin­ci­ples.” Trans­la­tion: Mr. Moulit­sas doesn’t care about lib­er­al­ism or is­sues on the one hand, but they are all that re­ally mat­ter to him on the other. At least there’s one thing th­ese Demo­cratic fac­tions have in com­mon: their use of the “P” word to dis­guise their re­spec­tive agen­das.

The only dis­cernible mes­sage from this so-called de­bate was that for all the Repub­li­cans’ po­lit­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, Democrats are still di­vided and their var­i­ous fac­tions are all afraid to be hon­est about their core be­liefs, ex­cept for their uni­fy­ing dis­dain for Pres­i­dent Bush and Repub­li­cans. Per­haps they can all feast for a while on Karl Rove’s res­ig­na­tion.

David Lim­baugh, the brother of talk ra­dio host Rush Lim­baugh, is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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