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Jewish World Review
Jan. 14, 2005
/ 4 Shevat, 5765
Zell was right
Last year, then-Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat, wrote a scathing critique of the Democratic Party called "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat." A quick quiz in the book, Miller said which of the following things:
a) "We have to be more aware that issues like abortion, like guns, like gay rights, have two sides, and that we need to address people who feel deeply about those issues and show a willingness to compromise";
b) "We gave up on the South. And as Churchill said, 'Wars are not won by evacuation; they are won by blood and sweat and toil and tears.' We can make this the majority party of America in the future, but we must talk about our values. We must embrace people of faith in this party";
c) "We are too coastal. We are too urban. We are too secular. And, most of all, we are too dovish. The public simply doesn't trust us to keep them safe";
d) all of the above;
e) none of the above.
The answer is "e." These statements were made by Democratic consultant Lanny Davis, candidate for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Roemer and former John Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan, respectively. Many of the things that Miller said in his book have now become nearly conventional wisdom among Democratic loyalists. All the Democrats who now say that the party has foolishly given up on the South, that it is unable to connect with religious voters, that it is too beholden to liberal orthodoxy on social issues, that Americans don't trust it on national defense, and that it doesn't speak the language of most Americans should take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Zell Miller was right."
This turnabout is extraordinary given the kind of criticisms that were lodged at Miller last year, especially after he amplified the arguments in his book in a humdinger of a speech at the Republican National Convention. An AFL-CIO official said Miller had "lost his damn mind." James Carville said Miller was being "cynically manipulated by people who are greedy to hold on to power at any cost." Well, Miller appears, in light of events, to have been the shrewdest cynically manipulated lunatic in all of human history.
"In the eyes of Middle America," Miller wrote of the Democratic Party, "it has become a value-neutral party." That is almost mild compared with what other Democrats are now saying. Even Miller's battering of the party for being too extreme on abortion has gained a measure of acceptance. Howard Dean of all people another candidate to lead the DNC now says, "I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats."
It's not just practical politicians who are sounding Zell-like. On national security, Miller worried how Democrats were getting tarred by their association with the most fervent anti-war elements of their party. The editor of the liberal New Republic has argued since the election for a "purge" yes, a purge of those anti-war zealots. Miller complained in his book about the influence of ham-handed consultants on the party. The liberal Washington Monthly just ran an article excoriating "a clique of Washington consultants who, through their insider ties, continue to get rewarded with business after losing continually." Miller defended gun rights and explained how gun-controllers were out of step with the American public. Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently declared, "Nothing kills Democratic candidates' prospects more than guns."
"What I was telling them was right and correct, if only they had listened to it," says Miller, who recently retired from the Senate. Democrats are essentially saying these days that they want a party in which someone like Zell Miller can feel comfortable. Alas, they used to have one. But, as someone once put it, today's Democrats are a national party no more.
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01/05/05: Social Security reform and black progress
12/30/04: The next revolution in work
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12/24/04: Frivolous in the face of evil
An uncomfortable window into our culture's tortured reasoning on anything related to unborn life
12/17/04: The rise of reactionary liberalism
12/14/04: Kerik's immigration sin, and ours
12/10/04: The Rummy Haters
12/07/04: The greedy AARP
12/03/04: Chinese repression American-style
11/30/04: Ohio lunacy
11/29/04: Intelligence reform absurdity
11/23/04: Bush reaches out
11/19/04: Home-alone America
11/16/04: The changing black vote
11/15/04: A grass-roots army
11/09/04: The brewing immigration backlash
11/05/04: The values election
11/02/04: The Kerry recovery
10/29/04: The Ohio insurance policy
10/26/04: The provisional-vote scam
10/22/04: The Florida lie
10/19/04: How government created the vaccine crisis
10/15/04: Kerry's strange respect
10/12/04: Senator, you're no Reagan
10/11/04: Tora Bora bull
10/05/04: The debate that wasn't
09/29/04: Momma gets tough
09/24/04: The GOP's demographic problem
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09/08/04: W the Bold
09/03/04: Loud and proud
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08/27/04: The McCain myth
08/24/04: Kerry refuses to admit that he burst onto the national scene by telling a shameful falsehood about American servicemen
08/20/04: The war on obstetrics
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© 2005 King Features Syndicate