Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  

While I try desperately to write around the demise of my (new) candidate, let me distract you by offering a stat. Below are the total number of Americans who voted yesterday for Al Sharpton and Joe Lieberman, respectively.

Al: 48,903
Joe: 62,318

(By comparison, John Kerry got 86,751 votes in South Carolina, where he finished a distant second.)

We all wrote Joe's eulogy six months ago, so this is barely a footnote in the election. We've had enough time to digest the trends, shocking after Iowa, of a surging Kerry and rallying Edwards. New theories about why and how this happen have replaced the old ones that had us celebrating Howard Dean's victories. It seems all perfectly normal now. Kerry, of course.

But let's go back to Joe. Considering that he received 50 million votes from Americans three years ago and was leading in national polls six months ago, barely beating Al Sharpton on Mini Tuesday is a fairly shocking result. In the carefully re-woven fabric of conventional wisdom, this is the loose thread.

The DLC, who were the earliest and most vitriolic Dean assailants (handily beating out conservatives, who were slow to attack), have called Kerry's emergence a triumph of "answers, not just anger." After New Hampshire, they wrote:

For the second week in a row, rank-and-file Democrats have spoken loud and clear: The Democratic Party is moderate, middle-class, and motivated by hope, not anger. Sen. John Kerry firmly established himself as the big comeback story of the nominating process. He won a second straight victory by following the path urged on Democrats by the original Comeback Kid, President Bill Clinton: showing the country not just what Democrats are against, but what they are for.

That's an interesting pirouette, but what about Joe? He was the true moderate--Kerry, recall, is the candidate Global Stewards gave the highest "liberal quotient" rating. He received a 93%, with Joe pulling up the rear at 76%. (John Edwards was third at 88%).

In fact, the DLC has it exactly backwards. Kerry emerged only after he adopted the Dean message. When he got angrier (at Bush) and more clearly liberal, people finally started to take him seriously. If there's a big loser in this campaign thus far, it's not Dean, but Clintonism. Dean's message is going to be the Dem's message. Clinton's old strategy of appeasement and corporatism rode not under the Kerry banner, but Lieberman's. And last night, it managed a bare 62,000 votes.

Come April, Kerry will be tempted to turn back toward Clintonism--both because that's what advisors will say conventional wisdom dictates and because there's a pile of gold in Clintonism. Progressives need to keep his feet to the fire, though--the Democrats are going to beat Bush this year. This is absolutely no time for appeasement or corporatism. As we move forward, Deaniacs and Kucitizens are going to have to hold this line. Our candidates may not have won, but it's still our party.

posted by Jeff | 7:32 AM |
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