Some recent articles have shined a light on an interesting political development: the Democrats?and the Republicans?are in disarray and taking a beating in the press.
On the face of it, Democrats have plenty to cheer about: low poll numbers for President Bush; Majority Leader Tom DeLay forced to step down because of a series of indictments from a Texas prosecutor; high gas prices; the CIA-leak investigation; a supposedly unpopular war; large deficits, and now a rift in the Republican Party over the nomination of Harriet Miers to be the next Supreme Court Justice. It would seem that their prospects are good for making significant gains in 2006, in both the House and Senate. If that happens, Bush’s last two years in office will not be a happy time for him. There would certainly be wall to wall investigations by Democratic-led committees, and if they see an opening, an attempt at impeachment.
But for some reason, the liberal media are also full of stories about gloom and doom in the Democratic Party. Clearly it’s gloom and doom that the media share. They’re clearly worried about Democratic prospects in 2008.
Newsweek ran a story in its October 10 issue by political editor Howard Fineman, called “Demoralized Dems.” He said in a room of well-connected Democrats, he was “struck by how gloomy they were. They can’t stand Bush, but didn’t have much faith in their own party’s prospects.”
He pointed to the charisma factor, and gave a big edge to the Republicans. Calling them “big, bold, controversial characters. Good copy if nothing else,” he named Rudy, Colin, Arnold, McCain and Condi. Comparing them to the “more or less official roster of titular Democratic leaders,” he named Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and John Kerry. “‘Nuff said,” wrote Fineman.
Then there’s Hillary. He said that while the “purported inevitability” of her nomination excites some of the faithful, it “deeply depresses some others, both inside and outside the Beltway.” He describes an “undercurrent of unease about the ‘Back to the Future’ quality of another Clinton candidacy. Do we really want to relive the Clinton Years?,” he asks. “Under their breath,” writes Fineman, “even many Clinton acolytes tend to say ‘No.'”
That same week, the Washington Post ran a story about two former Clinton aides who have written a report sponsored by a group called Third Way, which is supposed to help draw Democrats to what they see as a more centrist philosophy, hoping to draw voters from the Republicans’ center-right coalition. Their report argues that “liberals espouse views diverging not only from those of other Democrats, but from Americans as a whole. To the extent that liberals now constitute both the largest bloc within the Democratic coalition and the public face of the party, Democratic candidates for national office will be running uphill.”
The authors of the report, Elaine Kamarck and William Galston, wrote a similar report back in 1989 called “The Politics of Evasion,” which according to Post reporter Thomas Edsall, “helped set the stage for Clinton’s presidential bid and the prominent role of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. In some ways, the report released yesterday showed how difficult the debate is to resolve.” Edsall wrote that they are not very specific on recommendations, but he did name a few things: “They suggest that Democratic presidential candidates replicate Clinton’s tactics in 1992, when he broke with the party’s liberal base by approving the execution of a semi-retarded prisoner, by challenging liberal icon Jesse L. Jackson, and by calling for an end to welfare ‘as we know it.'”
It’s not clear how that will go over as a platform. As we noted in a recent commentary, the left is organizing to create a media and cultural infrastructure that, as they see it, will compete with that of the right?think tanks, talk radio, Internet, TV. It is bizarre to think that they feel they don’t have enough representation in the news media and on TV. Can you imagine, for example, a conservative version of the new show, “Commander in Chief,” in which the evil-doers are Democrats and the new female president is a conservative independent? Are we being softened up for the expected Hillary campaign of 2008? And the Bush bashing continues on shows like Bill Maher’s HBO show, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Al Franken’s TV version of his radio show, not to mention on mainstream media and many cable-news talk shows.
Al Gore has started up one of those new networks, called Current, which is supposed to help counter all of that evil right-wing media that he and many others believe dominates the culture. Gore gave a rather bizarre speech this month offering his take on many aspects of politics, culture and the media.
Incredibly, Gore claimed that Dan Rather was “forced out of his anchor job after angering the White House?” In a press release, we noted that Gore “seems not to have noticed that Dan Rather destroyed his own credibility by using fraudulent documents on the air to smear the president. Rather stepped down because he humiliated himself and CBS News. Gore seems to be excusing Rather’s sleazy conduct and blaming the White House for the network’s media malpractice.
At the same time, Gore declared in his speech that Jon Stewart, host of the fake news program, “The Daily Show,” on Comedy Central, was “brilliant.”
In his speech, Gore complained about “the destruction” of the “marketplace of ideas” and said there was a “strangeness” that “haunts our efforts to reason together about the choices we must make as a nation.”
Some think Gore may run for president again. But with speeches like that, we understand why the media are demoralized over Democratic prospects in 2008.