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From the NY Times article on the dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library:

Laura Bush, in a bright fuchsia coat, and her mother-in-law, Barbara, in a sensible raincoat, allowed Mrs. Clinton and Rosalynn Carter to precede them to the podium. The band then struck up "Hail to the Chief" and their husbands emerged, with President Bush squeezing past Mr. Clinton out the glass doors of the library and Mr. Clinton giving him deference with a guiding hand at his back. Jimmy Carter and the first President Bush followed.
I posted earlier today about my frustration with a Dean For America/Pew Center survey that asked if the Democratic Party should "move left, move right, stay the same, or die off."  My response was "None of the above."  

We can't solve our problems by ideological repositioning.  We need both the left and the center -- a broad coalition is the way to electoral victory.  What needs to change is our leaders' willingness to stand up and fight for the Democratic values that all of us -- and indeed, the majority of Americans -- share.

I didn't invent this meme.  I got it from a piece I read almost exactly two years ago on a site called The Waldman Report.  The article is no longer at its original URL, but I found it reprinted at The Smirking Chimp.  

It dates from just after the 2002 elections, but it's as true now as it was then.  With apologies to the original author, I'm quoting a big chunk of it below, because I think it's vitally important:

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So I got a message today from Dean for America, asking me to participate in a random survey, conducted by the Pew Center, of people who had been involved in the Dean campaign.  I followed the link provided, and started answering the questions.  They were fairly predictable -- Who would you like to see run in 2008?  What do you think accounted for Kerry's loss and Bush's victory?  But then I got to question #15:
Which of the following best describes what you would like to see happen with the Democratic Party?

 o Remain more or less the same
 o Change to reflect more centrist positions
 o Change to reflect more progressive/liberal positions
 o Die off and be replaced by an entirely new political party (or parties)

This question so annoyed me that I had to send a message to Dean for America:
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So says the Washington Post:
House Republicans plan to change their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today. ...

The rule change, proposed by Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.), would apply only to leaders indicted by a state prosecutor or grand jury. A party leader indicted by a federal court would have to step down at least temporarily. The GOP conference, however, could waive that restriction at any time. Bonilla's proposal will be among several rules changes that House Republicans will vote on in a closed meeting Wednesday. ...

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I've written recently about the need for Democrats to do a better job of communicating with middle America about "values."  But if there is any condescension from blue staters toward red staters, there is certainly plenty of it flowing the other way as well.  Josh Marshall makes an interesting point: red state hatred of the blue states may be linked to irrational notions of violated honor -- call it the Zell Miller factor:
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In public discussions of Alberto Gonzales and his authorship of the infamous torture memo, we should stick to this logic -- which is the logic of all seasoned military folks:

The Geneva Conventions are not optional.  And they do not exist because we want to fight a "sensitive" war and be loving to our enemies.

They exist to protect OUR troops when they are captured.  And subverting the Geneva Conventions endangers the safety and security of our own fighting men and women.

Alberto Gonzales, a lawyer wearing a fancy suit and sitting in the White House thousands of miles from the front lines, wrote a legalistic, hair-splitting rationalization of torture.  By doing so, he undermined the Geneva Conventions -- and he BETRAYED OUR TROOPS.

Now our men and women on the front lines may be captured and very likely tortured by an enemy that sees that we won't follow our own humanitarian principles.  And our troops can thank Alberto Gonzales for selling them out.

Use this in your letters to the editor, and communications with your Senators.

The Washington Post describes what some top Dems are talking about these days:
Bob Shrum, Kerry's chief campaign consultant, told reporters during a Democratic panel yesterday that Kerry "will not do what Al Gore did after the last election -- he will not disappear."
I wish perennial loser Bob Shrum would disappear...
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OK, I've said plenty this week about how the Democrats can better connect with the red states when it comes to "values".  But now the entire pundit class is on fire with this idea, and naturally they have already taken it way too far.  

The NY Times' "liberal" columnist Nicholas Kristof says that the way to show we're in touch with heartland values is to execute more retarded black murderers.  Kristof is a master at drawing bogus conclusions from morally repellent examples.  (He's also said that NYC should end rent control, because that's what the Chinese Communists did.)

Being sensitive to middle America's cultural and social values is one thing.  But selling our souls is another.  And what's utterly missing from this discussion is any mention of ECONOMICS.

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Exit polls and anecdotal evidence make it clear that large numbers of voters opposed John Kerry and favored George W. Bush because of their stances on abortion.  In this diary, I'm going to delve into the connections between abortion and moral attitudes.  I may get some flak for some of what I'm going to say, because opinions tend to be fixed and extreme on this issue.  But I believe in seeking middle ground.  As long as the vast chasm between the pro-life and pro-choice camps continues to be a major factor in American politics, it will be dangerous for Democrats.
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Problem: The Democratic Party is the party of cultural values -- abortion rights, gay rights, gun control -- that are favored by liberals and by majorities in blue states, but out of favor with a majority of the electorate on a national level.

Solution: Let's go back to our roots, and make economic populism the party's national common denominator. (I mean things like strong job protection, progressive taxation, labor rights, market regulation, a social safety net, and universal health care.) This will allow Red State Dems to win, by freeing them from locally unpopular social positions, and allow Blue State Dems to continue to advocate for the liberal social policies they feel strongly about.

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If you're familiar with What's the Matter With Kansas? (an amazing book -- I'm reading it now), you know about the paradox of working- and middle-class people voting for "values" but getting an economic system that shafts them.

The Republicans have managed to get people so fired up about gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, and the like that they will vote for a party which lowers their wages, reduces their health benefits, destroys their environment, and outsources their jobs.  It's clearly a very powerful dynamic.  I know people who are taken in by the "culture war" arguments -- including family members in Ohio and Florida.  How do we fight back?  

It seems to me that the answer is this: Our tent must become bigger than the Republicans'.  To broaden the Democratic base enough to gain electoral majorities, we need to focus on economic issues, and take cultural wedge issues off the table.  

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I don't want to indulge in finger-pointing and self-recrimination right now, but I do have some initial thoughts about why we lost.

This was a campaign of ideas versus emotions.  Emotions -- especially the emotions of fear and anger -- won.  The GOP made the majority of Americans afraid of terrorism, and angry about gay marriage.  

We should not apologize for running a campaign of ideas and hope, rather than one of fear and anger.

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