Saturday, February 16, 2008

How to guarantee a Democratic presidential defeat in November

The presidential election is the Democrats' to lose. Nobody is taking the wobbly Republicans too seriously right now. But, it is still possible for the Democrats to sqaunder that advantage between now and November. How? By focusing attention on getting Al Gore to take sides in the Hillary/Barack batte.

By focusing so much attention on the importance of Mr. Gore, the Democrats would be inadvertently casting the election as a re-run of the 2000 election. Granted, the left-wing progressives really would prefer that impression, but the overall American electorate have already "seen that movie" and are unlikely to change their minds and now "vote" for Mr. Gore, notwithstanding eight years of President Bush. Remember, the American people reelected President Bush in 2004 despite the fact that Iraq was already going badly.

The too-ambitious progressives also need to cogitate on the fact that despite their labelling of Hillary as a "Bush-Democrat", middle of the road Americans are unlikely to mistake Hillary or even John McCain for President Bush. If anything, middle of the road Americans are more likely to think of Hillary as still a little bit too liberal rather than being right-leaning as the progressives suggest. That is why it is so urgent for Hillary to be more of a hard-core centrist and even be more than a little accommodating to moderate republicans.

Sure, Hillary is courting Gore's endorsement as well, but she does not need it (and certainly won't want it in the general election!) and simply seeks to keep a strong contender from getting it. The unfortunate truth is that as little as the left-wing progressives are needed to win the general election, they are still a force to reckon with during the primaries and going into the nominating convention. The real risk for Hillary is that any effort she makes to court the so-called progressives will cause a backlash and loss of popular appeal in the general election. Democrats everywhere need to think about that more carefully.

The ironic thing about this campaign is that the progressives are using the playbook of the neoconservatives with a take no prisoners, "we will ultimately win as long as we do not compromise!", scorched earth approach as opposed to a bipartison and nonpartisan appeal to all sides that is more characteristic of the centrism which reflects what the true majority of Americans really want. To be fair, Barack is not a true progressive, but he is close enough and has been too-willing to accept the support of progressives so that he becomes a de facto progressive. How strange... if he thinks that the progressive movement is so valid, why doesn't he stand up and proclaim that he is a progressive? Because he wants to win the general election.

In short, the progressives courting and touting of the public support of Al Gore would cause more damage to the Democratic prospects in November no matter how much short-term benefit it gives for winning the party nomination.

-- Jack Krupansky

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