Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Democratic-Republican intensity gap

Rick Perlstein has a great piece on the intensity gap between the Democratic establishment, on the one hand, and the entire Republican Party, on the other, when it comes to "down ballot" elections. Hillary's GOP Sympathies Washington Spectator 08/22/2016.

The version at the National Memo is titled Don’t Save The Speaker—Let Him Go Down With The Trump Ship.

This section makes Perlstein's point dramatically with this series of flashbacksd:

You see the mid-1990s, when President Bill Clinton, kneecapped by his botched initiative to welcome gays into the military, the defeat of his healthcare plan in 1994, and the Republican takeover of Congress the same year, responded by taking Dick Morris’s advice and defining his administration via the neologism of “triangulation”—living halfway between the screaming lunacy of Newt Gingrich on the one side, and the Congressional liberals in his own party on the other, thus enshrining a false equivalency that Democrats fighting to preserve the social safety net and perhaps to even expand it must be, well, just as extreme as the guy who said, “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty.”

There was 2004, when John Kerry’s Democratic National Convention team—at the height of the Iraq debacle, a faltering economy, and a series of corporate scandals capped by the collapse of a fraudulent company called Enron, run by one of George Bush’s old pals - vetted all speeches to make sure they didn’t criticize George Bush. (“Bush will come up this week,” explained Kerry spokesman Stephanie Cutter, “but we don’t have to tell the story of George Bush because the American people are living it every day. What we’re talking about is the future.” Only old man Jimmy Carter, God bless him, exercising a former president’s prerogative, dared defy the ukase.)

Then there was 2008 when, waking up to the smoking ruins all around them, the American people repudiated conservatism so thoroughly that Republican pundits like David Brooks began opining that their party’s “stale, government-is-the-problem, you can’t trust the government” rhetoric was “a disaster for the Republican Party.”

And when, instead of throwing ’em anvils, our new president made Kerry’s 2004 mistake all-but-official party policy. As he put it of our friends on the other side of the aisle in 2010, “no person, no party, has a monopoly on wisdom,” and it was time to find “common ground.”
No wonder that so many Democratic base voters and activists are so tired of this "bipartisan" posturing by Democratic leaders.

A cynic might even suggest that this approach might have something to do with the preferences of the Democratic Party's corporate sponsors. It's convenient for them for a Democratic President to be able to say, gee, I'd like to do Democratic things, but I have to support all this conservative stuff because the Republicans control the House, or the Senate, or both, whatever.

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