[Marxism] Democratic Party realities

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 3 07:57:43 MDT 2005


NY Times Magazine, October 2, 2005
The East in the West
By MATT BAI

No Democratic politician in America is connected to as many of the party's 
old and emerging power centers as Hillary Clinton. Her web of influence, 
spun quietly and deliberately over time, is remarkable. She was 
instrumental in helping John Podesta, her husband's former chief of staff, 
set up the Center for American Progress, which is now the party's largest 
and most dynamic policy center. The pollster Mark Penn and the ad-maker 
Mandy Grunwald, both of whom worked for Bill Clinton and are among 
Hillary's closest advisers, have longstanding ties to the centrist, 
pro-business Democratic Leadership Council, while two other Clinton 
confidants, the operatives Ann Lewis and Harold Ickes, remain close to 
women's groups and Big Labor, respectively. The trusted aides Howard 
Wolfson and Patti Solis Doyle have been associated with the Glover Park 
Group, one of the most influential consulting firms among Democratic 
interest groups. Mark Buell, a San Francisco philanthropist who, along with 
his wife, Susie Tompkins Buell, is a close friend of Clinton's, sits on the 
board of the Democracy Alliance, a new network of wealthy progressive 
donors, and one of Hillary Clinton's former top aides, Kelly Craighead, is 
on its senior staff. (Other potential presidential candidates have 
supporters in the alliance as well.) You can hardly pry up a floorboard in 
the basement of Democratic politics without finding some sign of the 
Clinton operation churning underneath.

The chief benefit of this network is that it spans the ideological divide 
in the party, from far left to far center. The problem is that labels like 
"left" and "center" seem to have lost much of their meaning in the party, 
and the divisions in Democratic politics no longer seem to run along 
traditional lines. Gone are the days when Hubert Humphrey waged war against 
Strom Thurmond on civil rights, when George McGovern's protesters clashed 
with Scoop Jackson's hard-liners. In the era after Bill Clinton, the vast 
majority of Democrats, whether they once considered themselves liberals or 
centrists, mouth allegiance to the same set of often tepid principles on 
issues like trade, terrorism and gun control - positions that they will 
often cite as evidence of hard-won unity but which in truth represent the 
absence of the real intellectual discussion that once defined (and 
sometimes doomed) the party. As a result, aside from a few subtle disputes 
- whether troops should be withdrawn from Iraq now, for instance, or next 
year - the philosophical differences between liberals and centrists have 
never been more obscure. Nothing better illustrated the passing of the 
party's long ideological debate better than the explosive presidential 
campaign of Howard Dean (now the party's chairman), whose record as a 
pro-gun, pro-Democratic Leadership Council governor did nothing to prevent 
him from seamlessly assuming the role of chief spokesman for those liberal 
voters who had always embodied the so-called Democratic left.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/02/magazine/02hillary.html

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