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Thursday, January 10, 2008

One of my favorite bits from 2006 was watching the frenzy with which the kook bloggers on the left, like Kos and the simpering Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake, dedicating their time and resources, not to helping Democrats, but to trying to defeat one Democrat in particular, Joe Lieberman. That Lieberman was a solid liberal didn't matter to them; he had gone against the base on the issue of the war in Iraq, and therefore he was a DINO, a Democrat In Name Only.

It was hilarious to watch. Remember the remixed Ned Lamont/Mentos commercial, with all the uber-lib bloggers crowding in to Ned's living room urging him to deliver them from the guy who only six years before had been the nominee of the party for Vice President?

Indeed, there is a long-standing debate among liberals and leftists as to how to get the Democrats back into the permanent majority status they largely had between 1932 and 1968. The Left argues that they need to go with economic populism (i.e., soak the rich), that by moving rightwards they have dispirited the activists who would otherwise be rallying to the party and carrying, say, John Edwards to victory, instead of watching another Botoxicated Brahmin leading the party off yet another cliff.

It's an appealing argument to the Left for obvious reasons. And it's the painless solution to all the liberals problems. They don't have to abandon the dream of socialism, they have to embrace it. Oh, sure, they may need to "frame" it better through focus groups, but it's a lot funner than actually getting serious and abandoning the politics of envy.

There's just one problem. It doesn't work. One of the oddities of liberalism is that because they have no respect for their elders (that's conservatism), is that each generation must learn the same lessons over and over again. "Let's nominate a real liberal and we'll win this time." Well, it didn't work in 1948 (Wallace), it didn't work in 1972 (McGovern), it didn't work in 1988 (Dukakis). So in 1992 the Democrats finally decided to go for a moderate with Bill Clinton. Yes, I know you all probably think Clinton was every bit as liberal as those other guys, but he wasn't. He fiddled with tax rates, but didn't raise them anywhere near the punitive levels that existed prior to Reagan. He did try to socialize medicine, but that's been in the Democrats' platform since 1948 or so.

But you know how it is, you get a little success you get cocky. In 2000, the Democrats nominated the liberal Gore over the moderate Bradley. In 2004, they went with the perceived "electable" candidate, but it was still a liberal from Massachusetts; really the electable guy was probably Joe Lieberman or Evan Bayh. But they were completely unacceptable to the base as DINOs and so they did not get the brass ring but the raspberry. Lieberman was essentially booted out of the party.

So, after watching all this with some amused detachment, I came to the 2006 election and saw my party get crunched. If 2008 proves to hold a recession (and it is starting to look quite possible) Republicans could be in deep trouble.

And what do I see? A base that is disgruntled with the frontrunner for the party's nomination. That calls him a RINO, that talks about how he ought to be drummed out of the party for his apostasy on a few issues. Hugh Hewitt is Kos with a little better sense of humor, Laura Ingraham is Jane Hamsher without the simper.
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