Something is certainly afoot. Ted Kennedy’s shocking speech followed by John Kerry’s appearance on “Meet The Press” stating that he lost the Presidency by the number of people needed to fill Ohio Stadium shows a new offensive of the Left is underway. Orrin C. Judd writes in Tech Central Station:
“…the New Democrat philosophy of Bill Clinton is dead. Consider two very different stories separated by two presidential terms -- first, from 1996, The end of Social Security as we know it? …November/December 1996, Mother Jones:
"…You might think Kerrey, a prominent Democrat, would want a re-elected President Clinton to go to the mat to protect Social Security, the crown jewel of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. But in fact, Kerrey is the chief sponsor of legislation that would begin to 'privatize' Social Security, and he wants Clinton's support. Asked whether he's worried about progressive Democrats mobilizing to defend Social Security, Kerrey bristles, "I'll kick the [stuffing] out of any liberal who tries that."
…a growing number of heretical Democrats like Kerrey is drawing up plans to dismantle the Social Security safety net in favor of a private system of individual retirement accounts. […] "Bet on this: No matter who wins the presidential election, Social Security will be on the table in 1997. By 1999, Social Security as we know it may no longer exist."
Obviously we made it past 1999 without Social Security being transformed -- despite Bill Clinton himself calling for the creation of a new form of private retirement accounts and the investment of a portion of the Social Security trust funds in the stock markets in his 1999 State of the Union -- [Hey, I had forgotten that-ed] but what ever happened to that "growing number of heretical Democrats?"
Our second story, from earlier this month, suggests the heretics have been meekly brought back to the orthodox New Deal fold, Social Security Battle Likely January 5, 2005, LA Times:
"The Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist organization, and Third Way, a new group working with moderate Senate Democrats, expect to issue statements soon opposing Bush's push to divert part of the Social Security payroll tax into accounts that individuals could invest in the stock market, officials of the groups say.
"The opposition is significant because both groups have aggressively argued that Democrats should not flatly resist changes to Social Security. Also, in the past some of the leading officials associated with the Democratic Leadership Council have backed the type of private investment accounts Bush is promoting."
And so the restructuring that once seemed all but certain is now cast into doubt, in no small measure because what was the Democratic center has been assimilated by the Party's traditional Left. As recently as two years ago, New Demoacrats (sic) declared that:"We believe in reforming democracy and government to strip away top-down bureaucracy and give citizens and communities the power to solve their own problems. We must be willing to reform old programs in order to preserve our oldest values."
But today they have become just another force for reaction, defenders of those same "old programs" and the very "top-down" status quo they once professed to believe in reforming.…This is a stunning reversal to anyone observing it from outside the Party.
…that this is the moment the New Democrats would choose to fold up their tent and meekly join with Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi beggars the imagination.
The Party looks to be swimming against the tide of history and runs the risk of being swept away. George Bush just became the first Republican to win the presidency with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge and the first re-elected president of either party to gain seats in both chambers since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. ...whatever remains of the New Democrats are still trying to convince themselves this is an aberration, but the evidence suggests that, as Ronald Reagan used to say: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"
Any hopes I have had about being able to vote for a Democrat any time soon are dwindling.
UPDATE: Kaus thinks this may be an overreaction.
Mickey Kaus writes in Slate
“What Was Teddy Thinking? ”Explaining the Dems' bizarre behavior.
“…why would he put himself in the position where a successful election could make him look at least temporarily like a fool (as, apparently, it has)? And why would John Kerry go on Meet the Press even after the election's success was obvious and offer only the most grudging, complaint-drenched words of praise.
…Fred Barnes offers an explanation for this seemingly bizarre behavior. ... Here's an alternative theory: Money. It used to be that at this stage, opposition party leaders would be making conciliatory noises in an attempt to please voters, and conservative or centrist noises in an attempt to please business lobbyists and PACs. But maybe the amount of money that can be raised over the Internet from Democratic true believers is now more important than PAC money. … And if you want to draw a Dean-like share of this Web loot, you have to be ruthless in bashing Bush. Not all the consequences of Internet politics are benign. ... P.S.: Note that this theory explains Barbara Boxer's behavior too.
UPDATE:jim geraghty writes in the Kerry Spot:
“In some circles, anti-Bush sentiment is so overpowering and maddening that Bush critics are willing to say, “Well, Osama bin Laden has a point.” (More thoughts on this here..) When your perspective is this far out there, of course you’re going to support the most ruthless and relentless Bush critic.
Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer… they’re all trying to appeal to the Osama-applauding Bill Maher audience.”