"Centrist Democrats Warn Party Not to Present Itself as 'Far Left'" is the headline of a story in today's New York Times about this year's confab of the Democratic Leadership Council.
On Sunday, Billmon posted this. Consider it a preemptive reply to the DLC:
A whole bunch of people ... have weighed in recently on the Howard Dean phenomenon, with a heavy focus (naturally) on the question of whether he is "electable" – which, the context of the modern Democratic Party, means "is he another George McGovern?"
Most, though not all, of the above have answered in the affirmative, casting Dean into the pit of left-wing losers – the kind of candidates the Democratic establishment may secretly admire, but has no wish to actually nominate.
Now personally, I think the better question is this: If Howard Dean is nominated, will he:
A. Stand up at the Democratic National Convention and swear to raise everybody’s taxes?
B. Take a ride in an Abrams tank, wearing a silly helmet that makes him look like Snoopy?
C. Break down and cry on camera because some right-wing nut case of a newspaper publisher wrote nasty things about his wife?
D. Slap a ton of orange pancake makeup on his face and sigh loudly into his mike every time his opponent tries to get a word in edgewise in the next presidential debate?
All of these, of course, are stupid things that were actually done by the party establishment's favored candidates....
My point is that if the establishment is going to throw George McGovern in our faces, then progressives should have the right to throw some of the establishment's turkey candidates back in its collective face. Did Wally Mondale win more states in 1984 than George McGovern did in 1972? Not that I noticed.
To give the DLCers their due, they lump Mondale in with McGovern as a sandal-wearing hippie peacenik loser.
I'm of two minds here. I don't want to see the Democrats nominate someone who's wildly unpopular outside the party's core. On the other hand, some things are starting to change in this country right now, though the DLC doesn't seem to have noticed -- voters are worrying about the effect of tax cuts on deficits, they're noticing that the star-spangled Bush has painted a big fat "AMBUSH ME" target on the troops in Iraq, they're grasping the fact that a presidential lie that isn't about oral sex can also be regarded as a sign of character deficiencies. So I'm not sure we know right now what makes someone "electable."
One thing that will make the Democrats' 2004 nominee a lot less electable is being accused by fellow Democrats of being an out-of-step pinko. One interviewee in the Times article seems to get that. The rest of the DLCers need to figure it out.