Tory men and Whig measures

The “moderate/liberal” dimension isn’t simple, and it’s not identical with the “netroots/Establishment” quarrel.

There’s a lot of nonsense written about the fissures within the Democratic Party. The picture is certainly complicated, but some things stand out as obviously wrong.

One of them is that the grassroots/netroots v. Establishment split is identical with the liberal/progressive v. moderate split. Even if it were clearer than it is who’s a “moderate” (Clinton? Gore? Clark?), the two splits just aren’t along the same lines.

Take the Webb/Miller race, for example. Webb, a culturally Red Reagan administration alumnus, played the “grassroots” “moderate” to Miller’s “Establishment” “liberal,” and won narrowly statewide by stomping Miller in “liberal” Northern Virginia.

Personally, I’m all for Tory men and Whig measures: I have no use for the sort of “moderate” who’s only for a moderate degree of income redistribution and social justice and only moderately against air pollution, legalized bribery, and torture, but as long as someone is going to do the right things I’m all for his being a churchgoing NASCAR fan, and as far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to vote to ban flag-burning if he thinks it will bring in any votes.

But mostly I’m willing to take what I can get. If Joe Lieberman were holding down Ben Nelson’s seat in Nebraska, I’d be all for him, smarmy religiosity and all; and if Nelson, nice guy as he seems to be, represented Connecticut, I’d think we ought to be able to do better.

For President, we need a candidate who can hold Kerry/Gore territory and carry Ohio or Florida. That candidate clearly isn’t named Feingold, Kerry, or Clinton, but I doubt we really have to settle for a Biden or a Bayh.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

9 thoughts on “Tory men and Whig measures”

  1. I don't get this. Clinton is, to my mind, aligned with biden, bayh and lieberman as a faux centrist dem who occasionally makes gestures at real democratic and progressive ideals but never comes through in the clinches. Kerry and Gore and Feingold are at lest real progressives (in their different ways) and real fighters. Clinton, biden, bayh and lieberman would all support a faux centrist dem against a raging mixed breed "webb" type because they support losing, middle of the road appeals over strong appeals to emotion and partisan identification. To the extent that they insist on ditching their base (progressives and dems) to reach out to a middle that hates them for their triangulation (or their perceied radicalism) I don't see clinton-biden-bayh as somehow on either end of a spectrum with something in the middle. They are in the right side of a spectrum and the dem party doesn't seem to be looking for a middle candidate.

  2. It's far from "clear" that Clinton or Feingold wouldn't be able to win Ohio or Florida in '08. Feingold in particular is not very well known on a national level. To presume it's impossible that a candidate can win before the campaign has even begun and he's even had an opportunity to introduce himself to voters is unfair.
    I'm not saying that either Clinton or Feingold will definitely win, just that it's impossible to know this far in advance what the electoral terrain will be in '08. We don't yet know how the two parties will fare in the '06 midterms. If there's a massive groundswell of support for Democrats in the fall, it would suggest that any Democrat would be favored against any Republican. We don't know either who the Republican nominee will be, and the question of whether someone could win a particular swing state is largely dependent on who their opponent is.
    Anyway, if it is already clear to you that Russ Feingold and Hillary Clinton can't win in a general election, please tell your reasoning to the rest of us because I am genuinely curious what makes you so certain.

  3. Your candidate is named John Edwards.
    I attended my son's graduation from the University of Maine a few weeks ago. Edwards was the commencement speaker. U Maine attracts mostly middle-class students from all over the state. My point is: this wasn't an audience comprised of Portland area sushi-eating, voignier-drinking, Birkenstock-wearing libruls. Hardly.
    They LOVED Edwards. And it wasn't even a campaign speech.
    He can win, damnit!

  4. The split is passionate vs. business as usual. Cares vs. that's the way things are. Principle vs. money. Willing to take a risk vs. milquetoast. To lump Feingold with Kerry and Clinton is insulting to Feingold.

  5. I was interested to see the DesMoines Register poll numbers on Sunday. John Edwards 30%, Hilary Clinton 26% John Kerry @16 and Tom Vilsak 10%. Those early primaries and caucuses are likely to be pretty important if the discontent with Hilary is as great as everyone seems to think it will be. It will be interesting to see who breaks out. Maybe Edwards/Clark might not be bad. Or perhaps if he keeps being a non-candidate for long enough maybe it will be Al Gore's turn. He is sounding pretty good now.

  6. I think bicmon is right. You're looking for some southern Johnny. 100% NARAL rating, voted against the Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, and nobody will believe he's a liberal as long as he talks with a drawl.

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