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Loony Left Dooms the Democrats

Monday, 11 November 2002 12:00 AM

Why did the Democrats fare so poorly?

Even a mere week after the election, it is clear that Democrats have learned the wrong lesson from the Nov. 5 debacle. With the near-certain elevation of San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi to the top leadership spot among House Democrats and the ubiquitous call by liberal pundits to further distinguish the Democrats’ positions from those of President Bush, leading Democrats seem convinced that the way to the electoral Promised Land is to move even further to the Left.

The Democrat leadership’s prescription for the maladies afflicting its party is the same poison that brought on the illness in the first place.

The 2002 Democratic Party is not the centrist Democratic Party of the mid-1990s, but something akin to the radical Democratic Party of the early 1970s. It’s easy to see why the Democrats suffered such a resounding defeat when we consider some of the ways prominent Democrats made news in the 14 months between Sept. 11, 2001 and Nov. 5, 2002.

"Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” Clinton intoned at Georgetown University two months after the attacks. Citing the Crusades and other alleged crimes of Western civilization, Clinton – at the same time that he condemned the attacks – seemed to provide a rationalization for the terrorists’ actions.

"Here in the United States we were founded as a nation that practiced slavery, and slaves were, quite frequently, killed even though they were innocent,” Clinton remarked. "This country once looked the other way when significant numbers of Native Americans were dispossessed and killed to get their land or their mineral rights or because they were thought of as less than fully human and we are still paying the price today.”

Woody Harrelson, a visitor to the Clinton White House, implied that America was responsible for 9/11 and maintained, "The war on terrorism is terrorism.” Jessica Lange angrily confessed, "I hate Bush,” and explained that the administration "makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States – it is humiliating.”

"We know there were numerous warnings of the event to come on Sept. 11,” she remarked. "What did this administration know and when did it know it about the events of Sept. 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?”

Some have argued that the Republican victory was simply a matter of the White House’s party inevitably benefiting from the "rally round the flag” effect after a national tragedy. On the contrary, the public supported the Republicans because the GOP response to 9/11 was measured and just, while the response of the Democrats was at times shameful and out of step with the electorate. It wasn’t events that made the Republican triumph a fait accompli, but each party’s very different response to those events.

In fairness, most Democrats did not support the rants of Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte and Woody Harrelson, the junkets of McDermott and Bonior, or the bizarre conspiracy theories of Cynthia McKinney. Yet, it was this far-left wing of the Democratic Party that generated headlines before the election. The public face of the Democratic Party in 2002 was not that of a union worker in Michigan or a single mom in Tennessee, but that of egghead professors, Hollywood whiners, and spoiled rich kids demonstrating against the president.

Democrats need to decide if they are to be the party of Al Gore or Gore Vidal. The vast majority of Democrats are not leftists. Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, not Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, are icons of the Democratic Party. Traveling further down the left-leaning path is the way to political suicide. Yet this is precisely what leading Democrats are prepared to do.

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe labeled Nov. 5 "a very good night for the Democrats.” If the Democrats continue to move left, they will have many similar "good” nights in elections to come.

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Why did the Democrats fare so poorly? Even a mere week after the election, it is clear that Democrats have learned the wrong lesson from the Nov. 5 debacle. With the near-certain elevation of San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi to the top leadership spot among House...
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2002-00-11
Monday, 11 November 2002 12:00 AM
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