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Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2001 / 15 Shevat, 5761

David Limbaugh

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Democrats' Dubya dilemma


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IN MY last column I argued that George Bush was confounding the media. I want to expand on that theme. He is also confounding the entire Democratic Party, which is already experiencing post-election discord.

Since before George McGovern's 1972 presidential bid "moderates" have been fighting to regain control of the party. Al From's Democratic Leadership Council claimed to have established control when its own Bill Clinton became president in 1992.

In fact, Clinton set the tone for moderate ascendancy when he put Sister Souljah in her place during the 1992 campaign, thereby sending a message that extreme elements would have no place in the New Democrat hierarchy.

After eight years of New Democrat Clinton and the booming economy validating his "centrist" approach, one would think that the moderates would have solidified themselves as the dominant voice in the party. Think again.

But Clinton could hardly be called a moderate. He tried to nationalize health care, expand federal control over education, reenergize affirmative action, and enact a multibillion-dollar domestic stimulus package. He implemented the largest tax increase in history, twice vetoed welfare reform, resisted Medicare and Social Security reform, and remained a committed enemy of the military and national defense, small business, private property owners, the Second Amendment, the rule of law and the unborn. He catered to the trial lawyers, Big Labor and environmental extremism and tirelessly engaged in race-baiting and class warfare.

Oh yes, we finally got balanced budgets under Clinton and even surpluses, but he did his best to prevent them. Yes, I am serious. Had he succeeded in socializing medicine, passing the domestic spending package and other spending increases, and resisting welfare reform, the budget would not have been balanced, even with the booming economy.

True, Clinton began as a free trader. But don't forget that he couldn't even remain pure to that cause as the special interest lobbies (labor and environmentalists) ultimately adulterated his allegiance there as well.

Clinton's two terms were anything but an affirmation of moderate principles. At almost every turn he yielded to the pressure of the special interest groups that collectively form the base of the Democratic Party.

Following Gore's defeat, Democratic intramural squabbles continue and the debate rages. The New Democrats blame Gore's loss on his liberal populism and abandonment of "centrist" themes. Liberals say that he wouldn't have done as well as he did had he run as a moderate. There is some evidence to support each position.

The debate may prove to be academic, because Democratic leaders, especially presidential hopefuls, apparently believe they have to cater to extreme elements of their party. How else do you explain Sen. Lieberman's amnesia about school choice and Hollywood's assault on the culture during his vice-presidential bid? How else do you explain Sen. Toricelli's abrupt 180 in opposing John Ashcroft after pledging to support "this honest man"? How else do you explain Sen. Carnahan's shameful vote against Ashcroft? Should I go on? Sorry, no space.

Democratic leaders are faced with a dilemma. The majority of Americans increasingly distrust big government, yet the Democratic base is growing more liberal, extreme, strident and belligerent.

As if this wasn't a big enough problem for Democrats, they now have ole Dubya to deal with. Bush is making overtures to Democrats (and their constituencies) with a ferocity and intensity that would suggest he might even mean it. Imagine that.

I don't believe Bush is trying to divide the Democratic Party or even exploit the divisions that already exist. But he does believe that every member of every Democratic constituency is fair game, and he intends to court them -- all of them, irrespective of race, creed, gender or any other category.

It would be much easier for Democrats if Bush were just being Clintonian, but they know better. If they rebuff him, their appeals for bipartisanship will be seen as disingenuous. If they embrace him, it may actually pave the way for bipartisan legislative successes -- and thus further empower this conundrum of a chief executive.

So even though Bush may not seem to be a perfect answer to the purist conservative's prayer, he may be just right for the times -- in terms of conservatives making forward progress. While the rest of us are arguing over the extent to which government should be involved, Dubya's in the process of winning hearts. That's an essential step if we hope to achieve long-term reform.



JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up

02/05/01: Dubya is confounding the media
01/29/01: The Teamsters, the DNC and the reformers
01/29/01: The Old Limey
01/25/01: Clintonís disgraceful departure
01/22/01: Ashcroft: Principle above self
01/17/01: Justice for Riady?
01/15/01: Ashcroft: A hill to die on
01/10/01: Returning to the supply side
01/08/01: Reasons for optimism
01/03/01: Bush's daunting challenges
12/28/00: Ashcroft: A triumph for the rule of law
12/26/00: A tinge of revenge?
12/20/00: GOP: Breaking the race barrier
12/18/00: Civility doesn't require surrender
12/13/00: Al Gore: Innocent victimizer
12/11/00: Judicial restraint and ordered liberty
12/06/00: The four years war
12/04/00: Debunking Gore myths
11/29/00: Defending the smaller principles
11/27/00: Albert O'Gore and the little people
11/22/00: Doing 'anything to win'
11/15/00: Enough is enough, Mr. Gore
11/13/00: Al Gore: Thy country or thyself?
11/08/00: Bill and Al: Your time is up
11/06/00:The impending Bush mandate
11/01/00: Can't stop thinkin' 'bout tomorrow
10/30/00: George: Give Gore the ball back
10/25/00: Mr. Gore: A few more questions
10/23/00: It's the big government, stupid
10/18/00: Gore's down, so will he panic?
10/16/00: We're fresh out of new Al Gores
10/11/00: Gore: Fuzzy math = dirty politics
10/10/00:Gore: Renaissance man or unbalanced?
10/04/00: Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
10/02/00: Clintonís fragmented presidency
09/27/00: Liberal media doth protest too much
09/25/00: AlGore: Turning dreams into nightmares
09/20/00: Something fishy's going on
09/18/00: It's the liberalism, stupid
09/13/00: An open letter to open-minded cynics
09/11/00: The virtues of going negative
09/06/00: On a mission for marriage
09/04/00: Al Gore's 'Trivial Pursuits'
08/30/00: Lieberman and the paradox of liberal 'tolerance'
08/28/00: A campaign divided against itself
08/23/00: Al Gore's trickle-down populism
08/21/00: Prosperity without a clue
08/16/00: AlGore can run but he can't hide
08/14/00: When hate speech is OK
08/09/00: Bush: The pundits' enigma
08/07/00: GOP convention: Live or Memorex?
08/02/00: The first attack dog
07/31/00: The Cheney taint?
07/26/00: The anti-gun bogeyman
07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
07/10/00: The perplexities of liberalism
07/05/00: Big Al and big oil
07/03/00: Partial-birth and total death
06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
06/26/00: Supreme Court assaults religious freedom
06/21/00: Waco: We are the jury
06/19/00: "Outrage" just doesn't quite cut it anymore!
06/14/00: Al Gore: Government's best friend
06/12/00: Say goodbye to medical privacy
06/07/00: Elian: Whose hands were tied?
06/05/00: Who, which, what is the real Al Gore?
06/01/00: Legacy-building idea for Clinton
05/30/00: Clinton: Above the law or not?
05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?

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