Whistling past the Democrats
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 11/2/10
The Democrats are now disassembling like a Brad Childress crazy train. They were given a choice back leading into 2008 with two clearly outlined paths. The one from Thomas F. Schaller in his book “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.” The other by Democratic strategists Steve Jardin and Dave “Mudcat” Saunders in their book “Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run ‘em Out.” Quite obviously they followed the Schaller path. Jardin and Saunders warned that ignoring the South and the heartland was immoral and would have catastrophic consequences for the Democratic Party. It has done worse than that. Today, Democratic analyst and commentator Pat Caddell calls the situation in the heartland “prerevolutionary.”
The Democrats lose today because they followed orthodoxy and a tradition in opposition to their own new thinking. A warning to the Republicans. And possibly because of listening to the radio; NPR – which, since rise of the Car Talk guys, has turned the liberal mind and imagination to pablum. Gone today are Steffens and Ida Tarbell, gone Arthur Koestler and Alfred Kazin. Even Norman Mailer. Welcome Lady Gaga and Bono.
Leading to 2008 Marcos Moulitsas of Daily Kos promoted Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia, General Wesley Clark, former NATO commander, and Jim Webb, novelist/warrior/senator from Virginia and cried from the heart: Will these Clinton-era people ever leave the room? But the Democrats turned to Hillary, although her ranking among young people at DKos hovered between 4% and zero. Then they blocked Hillary with Obama. They had a great opportunity with Mark Warner, Wesley Clark and Jim Webb to begin and build. But they ignored – despised, many of them – the heartland and Dixie and these three are from the South. That is why they are screwed now: Already the race card is used to define loss. The instinct is to recall Hillary again. Institutionally, that is today all they are capable of. But they listen for moral advice from stand up comics and professional wrestlers, no? Obama could begin to restore this: Bring Webb into the Cabinet. Maybe replace Biden with him.
Beneath the cries and whispers today is coming the slow realization that Sarah Palin is a real part of life and will continue to be. This happened before with Ronald Reagan. But the Jacksonian spirit that is Sarah Palin and Tea Party actually started with the Democrats and with Jim Webb. Their defaulting again to Hillary and even Howard Dean which was escapist the first time could this time destroy the party. And the Democrats have become effete. Webb, Warner and Clark are not. This is where they could begin again. But they must make a pledge: Adults now. No more rock stars.