Thursday, August 10, 2006

The DLC...

Ed Kilgore's New Donkey post about the Democratic Leadership Council is just hogwash.

Kilgore would like you to believe that the DLC is just another underfunded think tank that doesn't have any undue influence on the national debate. On one hand, he's right that at the present, with Democrats out of power, it isn't entirely powerful. But, the last time Democrats had the White House, under Clinton, it was. The New Republic magazine was known as "the in flight magazine of Air Force One," and Clinton made his reputation on "triangulation," which meant that (and a lot of Republicans said this) that he often championed what were typically Republican issues. Welfare Reform is a good example. I'm not even going to argue that Clinton's welfare reform didn't work (it kind of did, kind of didn't) but it was an example of a Democrat working hard on a right wing issue. It was, basically, a Democrat response to Rondal Reagan's charge that the system was being ripped off by welfare queens. Like I said, it wasn't wholly stupid. Because Clinton also led us to an economic boom, his welfare reform kind of worked (by pushing people into the labor force at a time when the economy demanded labor) but also kind of failed (some folks were left bereft and died, others entered the labor force during an economy that, even during the Clinton years, didn't provide an inflation-proof wage). It almost doesn't matter whether or not it worked. It was, in the end, a Democrat approach that was Republican to the core because it dealt with the problem of poverty on Republican assumptions -- the policy assumed that poverty is an individual's problem, rather than a failure of the state or the state's economy.

My point is that things like welfare reform were DLC issues. While Clinton was in power, and I do like Clinton and miss him as President, the DLC was powerful and its ideas were implemented. If we have another President like Clinton, the DLC will ascend again. When the Heritage Foundation or the CATO Institute or The American Enterprise Institute were founded, they were also in the place where Kilgore describes the DLC today -- underfunded, understaffed and without influence. But... those think tanks waited and when they had a guy in power who they could work with, they became powerful. Same for the DLC. Maybe, right now, it's underfunded and understaffed, but put one of their folks in the White House and it'll be a force, as it was under Bill Clinton.

Kilgore wants to claim, at the moment, that we shouldn't worry about the "little old DLC." At the moment, with Republicans running three branches of government, he has a point. But even the mainstream press is onto him, as DLC regulars like Al From are frequently quoted in nationally-read articles.

Right now, no insitution that's left of center (or that purports to be) is in power. But things change, just ask Joe Lieberman. We should take the DLC and its ideas seriously right now. Some of their ideas are really good (they have a free-market point of view that is still compassionate to Americans, for example) and some are really bad (they won't come out and support same sex marriage and they're often socially prudish on issues that involve the free expression of Hollywood and Game designing artists, and they're also too into the 'fight Islamofascism' idea).

The DLC isn't on top right now. But they have the ear of the mainstream media and they will have influence if their candidate reaches the White House. They did once before, under Bill Clinton. Those were good times. I don't think the DLC is evil. They have some good ideas. But Kilgore's argument that we should ignore them because they don't have power at the moment is very self serving. I already said that they have some good ideas. But they have some sucky ideas too. On social issues, the DLC are a bunch of prudes. On economic issues, they get some things right (free trade's a good thing) and other things wrong (they don't understand how much of an obligation a government should have to its struggling citizens) and on foreign policy they're insane (they by the "we're at war with Islam" meme that's ruined our society since 2001).

The DLC shouldn't be ignored now because they're undermanned and underfunded. It should be engaged now because we need to deal with it before it can have a White House and Congress that it can influence.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home