The Death of Triangulation?

In the NYTimes, TNR's Noam Scheiber writes:

During the 1980s and ’90s, the [DLC] played a vital role in curbing both the perception and the reality of liberal excess inside the Democratic Party, and its efforts paved the way for Mr. Clinton’s ascendance. The council’s medicine worked. The centrist wing of the party won important battles on welfare reform, crime and the budget. By the late ’90s, Americans trusted Democrats to run the economy and keep their neighborhoods safe.

But George W. Bush taught Democrats of all stripes that their differences with one another were minor compared with the differences between them and Republicans. For seven years, Democrats have faced a radical administration that operates in bad faith. Yet there was the Democratic Leadership Council, still arguing that teachers unions endanger the republic.

. . . Today, the council has almost no constituency within the Democratic Party. About every five years, the Pew Research Center conducts a public opinion survey to sort out the country’s major ideological groupings. In 1999, Pew found that liberals and New Democrats each accounted for nearly one-quarter of the Democratic base. By the next survey in 2005, New Democrats had completely disappeared as a group and the liberals had doubled their share of the party. Many moderates, radicalized by President Bush, now define themselves as liberals.

On a variety of issues the council, and not the party’s liberal base, is out of touch with the popular mood. A recent Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of independents, along with 70 percent of Democrats, favor withdrawing from Iraq by next spring.

Precisely. I completely agree with Noam Scheiber here. However, I think Scheiber is wrong to argue that the DLC should just go away. What they should do, in my view, is understand this:

And that is FDR's lesson for Obama. Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle

It is a lesson for Obama AND the DLC. Both should work to help Democrats define our agenda as the middle.

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    et al (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 02:06:41 PM EST
    It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle


    The public will say what is the middle, and the Far Left is not, and can not be sold as such.

    Misleading (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 02:14:16 PM EST
    is your middle name.

    But the point escaped you. To wit, having the public see your agenda as the middle.

    It is pathetic that it needs to be spelled out to you like you were a child.


    I understand, You just can figure out (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 29, 2007 at 03:31:14 PM EST
    that some disagreed with you.

    I assume that when you say "see your agenda as the middle," you are implying that the public sees the other two sides as on the fringe.

    For that to happen the public must accept your position.

    The public isn't gonna do that. Thet will see the middle as they see it, not as you tell them.

    I know you have trouble understanding that the american people are intelligent people with their own minds, but trust me. They do.

    BTW - Thanks for the snark. Makes you look like a real leader.


    The far Left (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 02:44:34 PM EST
    is still somewhere near the center from that Fair and Balanced where you're situated, Poker.

    Fair and Balanced Place.. (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 02:48:42 PM EST
    I do think you missed the point... (none / 0) (#19)
    by dkmich on Sun Jul 29, 2007 at 05:25:55 AM EST
    Exactly who is the far left?  If you mean me or posters in general at liberal blogs, think again.  The DLC went from stuck in the Great Society (which created all the Reagan Republicans) to Republican lite clones (which created all of us).  Representing the middle doesn't mean taking "compromised points of view" to prove how close to Republicanism one is.  It means representing the views of the working/middle class, which is the majority of people in this country.   The DLC knew it had to move to the middle, they just couldn't define it.  FDR was no fool, and the DLC and the Democratic Party would have been much better off if they had followed FDR instead of Reagan.  

    Yes. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 12:59:13 PM EST
    It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate.
    It is a lesson for Obama AND the DLC, and for Obama's supporters, well meaning as they may be, and for anyone who suggests giving Obama or other Democratic presidential candidates a pass if they do not strenuously advocate for defunding and ending the Iraq occupation before the 2008 elections and instead continue supporting funding it to disingenuously have something to run against next year.


    Hence, the continued allure (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 01:29:55 PM EST
    of Chris Dodd. (He even cut a campaign commercial to that effect).

    IMNSHO (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 01:04:45 PM EST

    I was going to say (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 01:08:15 PM EST
    IMHFO, but I wasn't sure if it would pass the filters. ;-) Ooops.

    "Middle" Defined Empowering Government (none / 0) (#8)
    by TearDownThisWall on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 02:45:29 PM EST
    B'crats to solve all the country's problems?
    I hardly think so....yet the "left" in this country would want to do just that on many issues.
    Is that really what Jefferson/ Franklin etal had in mind?

    It's hilarious that people are writing off the DLC (none / 0) (#10)
    by Geekesque on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 03:35:58 PM EST
    while Hillary is leading the race for the nomination.

    Hillary will be represented at the conference by Bill.

    The DLC (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 03:42:02 PM EST
    drives no issues, agendas or candidates.

    It is hilarious that with Obama is some troublenow, you want to pust the DLC questionback into the picture.



    Who do you think would take over the DNC (none / 0) (#13)
    by Geekesque on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 04:36:20 PM EST
    if Hillary gets elected president?  

    The DLC has had a hammer-lock on the Presidential nominee since 1992.  

    In 2004, Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt were all solid  DLC/NDC types.

    In 2008, we have Clinton, Edwards again (having disavowed his prior ties), and Bill Richardson--three out of the top 4.

    The House NDC caucus includes 58 members of the House and a full 1/3 of the Democrats in the Senate.

    Am I supposed to be impressed that the DLC'ers in the presidential field are distancing themselves from the DLC?  


    Hillary would (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 04:40:25 PM EST
    Look, if you want to play conspiracist on this then you have to go back to the ORIGINAL conspiracy theory that placed Hillary as the staunch liberal at odds with the DLC in the Clinton Administration.

    Conspiracist? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Geekesque on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 05:12:46 PM EST
    Since when are facts conspiracist?

    Which facts are those? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 06:15:25 PM EST
    Your OPINION that the DLC will take over the DNC is no fact Geek.

    Sheesh. It is conspiracy theory from you. Be better than the rest of them Geek. Please.


    Bifurcation (none / 0) (#12)
    by Desider on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 04:22:47 PM EST
    As someone noted/speculated recently, public opinion has become a two-humped camel, two alternative realities with only some swing available for the few between the humps. I don't quite know whether Clinton-style triangulation is still the same recipe for success in 2007/8. I also think there's been a lot of shifting on how average people left or right see investments, business, security, defense, gay issues, etc. I'm not sure how many really care about government corruption/shredding the Constitution. I do think having a believable religious presence is important (painful as it is for both an atheist and a Constitutional secularist to say, but as a prgamatist, wtf, why not).

    Huh? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 07:55:35 PM EST