December 31, 2005


2005: A Tipping Point?: It was a bad year for "New Democrats," but a good year for new democrats (Duncan Currie, 12/30/2005, Weekly Standard)

[R]epublicans had a bad 12 months. But their plight looks rather enviable when compared with the Democrats' current muddle. They are now the "No" party: the party of intractable opposition to George W. Bush. But while Democrats are brimming with antagonism for the president's agenda, they are bereft of the intellectual munitions needed to formulate their own.

Then there is the party's cleavage on matters of war and peace. "Defeating terrorism is the supreme military and moral mission of our time," says the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Try telling that to the anti-Bush Left, whose proxies now dictate and jaundice the tenor of intra-party debate. Indeed, while it was a good year for new democrats in Iraq, it was a dreadful year for "New Democrats" in America.

Take poor Joe Lieberman. Only five years ago he was a few hundred Florida votes away from being Al Gore's veep. Today, Sen. Lieberman is perhaps the loneliest Democrat in Washington. The reason why is as basic as it is disheartening for party centrists: Iraq. Lieberman believes Bush has a plan for victory--and he believes that plan is working. For the MoveOn types, such comments would be heresy enough.

But Lieberman really set the cat amongst the pigeons when he questioned his party's attacks on Bush. "History will judge us harshly if we do not stretch across the divide of distrust to join together to complete our mission successfully in Iraq," he said in early December. "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

The left-wing blogosphere erupted--as did prominent Democratic leaders. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi each took a swipe, with Reid claiming Lieberman was "at a different place on Iraq" than most Americans and Pelosi saying she "completely" disagreed with him. Party chairman Howard Dean also reproached Lieberman, and threw his lot in with Congressman John Murtha's call for a hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops. Liberal activists have even urged Lowell Weicker, whose Connecticut Senate seat Lieberman won in 1988, to challenge Lieberman in 2006 on an anti-war platform. That Lieberman's Iraq stance has apparently made him such a pariah affirms, once again, that this really is George McGovern's Democratic party.

Make that George McGovern and Frank Church's Democratic party, as witness the recent scrap over extending the Patriot Act and using wiretaps to spy on al Qaeda. Liberals' hostility to both reflects two impulses: their propensity, even in wartime, to make a fetish of ACLU-style civil libertarianism, and their desire to play "Gotcha!" games with the White House in hopes of derailing the Bush presidency.

Neither impulse is a responsible one. And each goes a long way toward explaining the public's lingering wariness of Democrats on national security issues. As blogger and Daily Standard contributor Ross Douthat has keenly observed, the spat over wiretapping just reinforces the perception that Republicans will err on the side of doing too much to protect Americans, while Democrats will err on the side of doing too little.

The Democrats weakness on national security matters rather little beside their weakness on economic security, their ostensible raison d'etre. Here's all you really need to know about what a wreck they've become: even the Tories, the original Stupid Party, have figured out that the only path to power in the Anglosphere (less Canada) is the Third Way. Meanwhile, the Democrats have decided that what worked for Bill Clinton is intolerable to them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2005 12:45 PM

I still think you underestimate the importance of the fact that Americans can't trust the Democrats on national security, but it hardly matters at this point. If the Democrats were rational strategists, the only explanation for their behavior this past year would be that they've concluded that they are fated to spend the next decade or so as a weak regional party with little power in Washington. That may be right, though I don't think that they're being either rational or strategic. It will become, however, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 31, 2005 1:36 PM

The same point put a different way.

If we take the Juddian theory that politics is eternally divided between freedom and security, the Democrats now offer neither freedom nor security.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 31, 2005 1:37 PM

. . . but they do offer diversity. Isn't that the end all and be all of politics?

Posted by: obc at December 31, 2005 2:04 PM


Their unseriousness about national security only matters when there's a perceived threat.

Posted by: oj at December 31, 2005 2:09 PM

I see a new Capital One commercial with Howard Dean playing the part of David Spade. Nancy Pelosi asks if she can say YES to a free Iraq just once and is promptly hit in the face with a non-dairy cream pie thrown by Ted Kennedy. All proceeds from the endorsement will go to

Posted by: JimBobElrod at December 31, 2005 3:38 PM

the democrats are quickly becoming seen as a threat to all aspects of security -- physical and financial. what good does it do a man, to keep his house from being bombed, only to have it foreclosed on. they are incompetent and unfit for the modern age. they have not, and can not, adapt to the information age, and are dying because of it. good riddance and don't let history hit you in the ass on the way out.

Posted by: toe of doom at January 1, 2006 2:04 PM