Quasi-sensible Democrats are in for a disappointment
This piece from Jonathan Chait is an excellent example of the potential for disappointment that some more sensible Democrats may be facing. Please do not think that I am including Chait in the very small boat of "sensible Democrats". I'll ignore the extended discourse to which such an article gives rise, given that he is spewing out more bile (his word, not mine) about his disappointment with the candidate he loved just 30 days ago, but is busy deconstructing today. But this article makes some very valid points about just how destructive a Dean, Clinton or Kerry ticket would be for the party 4 years from now. Viewed in today's terms, indeed, he is right. But as was said with Bush in 2001, events determine what matters in 4 years, not necessarily personalities.
But (again, viewed in a 2004 light) Chait presumes that the Berkeley base of his party will somehow see their way to moderation, or at least silence borne of wisdom. Because it somehow worked so well this year for the Democrats? Because it somehow worked so well for the Republicans in 1992 who wanted to put the Buchananites in some much needed straight jackets with duct tape over their mouths? The Republicans were somehow blessed by a Pat Buchanan who jumped ship in 2000, but not only have the Democrats not had such a fortune, they actually seemed to have turned up the flames a little bit. The rhetoric of the 2004 Democrat primaries, and the way that the various candidates accordingly trimmed their messages to remain competitive should leave little doubt as to which wing of the party is in control.
I have argued before in this space that I think a realignment is taking place in favor of a fiscally conservative and an unapologetically pro-American foreign policy. The Republicans' hold of Congress, and the Bush win in 2000 (which should have been a Gore win in the face of then-apparent economic and national security), Bush's pickup of House and Senate seats after putting his own political credibility on the line in 2002, and his win over John Kerry just a few weeks ago in an especially bitter climate where the media did all it could to set Kerry up for a win, and questions over the progress in the Iraq war, is indicative of the increasing staying power of the Republicans' electoral strength.
Put simply, people don't want to feel guilty for being Americans. They don't feel bad that they earn money and want to keep more of it. They don't think Kofi Annan is more important than the President. They feel that people ought to work their way to a better life, not whine their way there.
But the Democratic base who ultimately decides who the nominees will be, are unlikely to put up an Evan Bayh or a Joe Lieberman. Not when people like Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, the NAACP, NEA, NARAL, and the gay lobby have their hands on the wheel.
So, the sensible Democrats are in for years of disappointment. And I think that despite his rather impassioned article, Mr. Chait and those like him will continue to support whomever the Dems nominate--even if it's Hillary, Dean or Clinton.