2005/07/28

Final word on the DLC

The faction of the Democratic Party known as the DLC was pretty much the only player in the game from the Clinton years through 2003, when their manifest inability to win elections forced Democrats to adopt new standard-bearers and priorities. Hunter on DailyKos explains why the DLC lost their preeminence and why it's very unlikely that they'll ever win it back.
He points out that the DLC is all about framing and interpreting the issues of the day to favor Democrats, to put Democrats into a good light. How has this "framing" worked?

Name an issue in which the Democratic leadership -- any of it -- has currently made a significant impact in moving the story forward or even denting Republican efforts. Any story. Downing Street? Rove, and PlameGate? DeLay-Abramoff-Reed corruption links? Have any significant stories been propelled into the media with DLC-style Democratic leadership assistance, or have they happened in a media largely unencumbered with these remarkably shy and hard-to-pin-down "centrist" Democratic voices?

Problem is, no one can seem to recall any issue of the past decade that the DLC has effectively framed and put out there. Republicans have done this, of course. By showing crippled veteran Max Cleland as a close buddy to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, Republicans re-framed Cleland as a traitor to the United States. By attacking John Kerry with the Swift Boat Veterans, Republicans made it seem that Kerry's service in Vietnam wasn't all that respectable or admirable. I don't seem to remember the Swift Boat Veterans re-framed as anything, meaning they're completly free to attack the next Democratic military veteran. For all their attention to the ideas of framing, the DLC was completely unable to come up with any sort of response to these two attacks.
The DLC proved completely incompetent in the one area they claimed to have expertise in!

By DLC Democrats attempting to:

...find a midpoint of American politics defined not by a right-left, liberal-conservative axis, but upon a milquetoast blandness carefully calibrated to neither offend, nor inform, the voters[,]

the DLC leaves voters constantly unsure as to what it is Democrats stand for. As the fundamental positions of DLC Democrats are constantly changing and in flux, no one's clear from one day to the next, what the latest carefully-calibrated position is. Sure, it'd be nice to stick with a candidate who is firmly in favor of unions, but if her opinion of unions is dependent on poll numbers and one period's poll numbers cause her to abandon unions, then she ends up with the worst of both worlds. Previous support for unions makes the candidate untrustworthy to anti-union people, changing positions on unions in response to poll numbers means the candidate is a fickle, unreliable, finger-to-the-wind politician who can't be counted on in any kind of crunch.

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