Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Fighting Moderates

As Kos notes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is following the wise path of leading strong opposition to Republican domination of the federal government from the center:

I think it's becoming CW that Reid's Senate is off to a great start -- a unified, focused caucus ramping up strong, principled opposition to Bush his Republican cronies.

Part of that newfound effectiveness may stem from the absence of those very Democrats who once backed key tenets of the Bush agenda, only to be targetted and defeated the following election cycle.

But part of it seems to be based on Reid's deputizing of key Red State Democrats.

A little-known fact -- conservative Dem Max Baucus of Montana is in charge of Senate Democratic opposition to Bush's privatization scheme. Biden, no flaming liberal, is in charge of leading the Senate Dem charge on foreign policy.

And the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, which today ran hearings on corruption in US contracting in Iraq, is chaired by North Dakota's Byron Dorgan.

So how will Howard Dean's selection as chairman of the Democratic National Committee fit in with Reid's centrist opposition strategy? Paul Krugman today predicts that it will fit quite nicely:

"The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there," Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. "But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe."

Those words tell us what the selection of Mr. Dean means. It doesn't represent a turn to the left: Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense. Instead, Mr. Dean's political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House. . .

For a while, Mr. Dean will be the public face of the Democrats, and the Republicans will try to portray him as the leftist he isn't. But Deanism isn't about turning to the left: it's about making a stand.

Ultra-liberals Kos and Krugman cannot help themselves when it comes to the "cronies" and "right-wing radicals" rhetoric, but they both appear to be bowing to reality that this is a center to center-right dominated country right now and to get back in the game the Democrats have to act accordingly. That is a big, and necessary, first step.

(Linked to OTB.)