Tag Archives: partisans

Former President Bush Opens His Library

I will refrain from the jokes because there are plenty. Today President Bush opened his library. (BTW, why did he think that the word awesome needed to be used 100 times?)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

George W. Bush can believe that he stood for Freedom. That’s fine. I will say that I’m glad that his father was able to be there. That had to be a very special moment.

That’s it. That’s all that I’m gong to say about George W. Bush and his library today. Continue reading Former President Bush Opens His Library

Similarities between 1994 and 2010

The more things change…

From Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton:

Health care reform is necessary, and House Democrats should vote for it because it’s best for the nation.

They should also remember the political lessons of history. To paraphrase Mark Twain, history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme. As the White House and the House Democratic leadership try to line up 216 votes to pass health care reform — and as Republicans, aided by the National Association of Manufacturers and abetted by fierce partisans like Newt Gingrich, try to kill it – I can’t help thinking back to 1994 when the lineup was much the same.

I was serving in the Clinton administration at the time. In the first months of 1993 it looked as if Clinton’s health care proposal would sail through Congress. But the process dragged on and by 1994 it bogged down. We knew health care was imperiled but none of us knew that failure to pass health care would doom much of the rest of Clinton’s agenda and wrest control of Congress out of the hands of the Democrats. In retrospect, it’s clear Republicans did know.

On February 5, 1994, the National Association of Manufacturers passed a resolution declaring its opposition to the Clinton plan. Not long after that, Michigan Democrat John Dingell, who was managing the health care bill for the House, approached the senior House Republican on the bill to seek a compromise. According to Dingell, the response was: “There’s no way you’re going to get a single vote on this [Republican] side of the aisle. You will not only not get a vote here, but we’ve been instructed that if we participate in that undertaking at all, those of us who do will lose our seniority and will not be ranking minority members within the Republican Party.”

In early March, 1994, Senate Republicans invited Newt Gingrich, then House minority leader, to caucus with them about health care. Gingrich warned against compromise, a view echoed by Senator Phil Gramm. A few months later, at a Republican meeting in Boston, Bob Dole, then Senate minority leader, promised to “filibuster and kill” any health care bill with an employer mandate.

By then Gingrich had united House Republicans against passage of health reform and told the New York Times he wanted “to use the issue as a springboard to win Republican control of the House.” Gingrich predicted Republicans would pick up thirty-four House seats in the November elections and half a dozen disaffected Democrats would switch parties to give Republicans control. Continue reading Similarities between 1994 and 2010

Governor Dean, Are You Ready to Lead?

Barack ObamaMelissa Harris-Lacewell is one of my favorite people. She has been on my show a couple of times and on the Bill Moyer’s Journal twice. The following is a letter that she posted on The Root.

There’s still time for you to save the Democratic Party.

May 7, 2008

Dear Gov. Dean,

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not tied. You know this. There is little chance of a gracious settlement offer from the Clinton camp. The slim margin in Indiana gives her just enough rationale to stay in it.

Given that she will not voluntarily withdraw, Mr. Dean, I am asking you to take a hard look at the Democratic Party and consider whether you want that party to have a future. If so, now is the time for leadership.

The broad and powerful Democratic coalition of the New Deal no longer exists. By and large, southern whites have joined with Republicans. White ethnic Catholics exit in greater numbers each election. Labor union households are still Democrats, but their numbers and influence are declining. Although the 1990s saw a two-term Democratic president, he had such short coattails that the party lost its 40-year majority in the House within 24 months of his inauguration. In short, the party is in trouble. If it is to have a future, Democrats must forge new coalitions.

The party must shore up its strengths. African-Americans are the most consistently loyal Democratic partisans in national and local elections. But the tie between blacks and the Democratic Party does not bind as fiercely as it once did. There has been a notable decline among blacks who call themselves Strong Democrats and a substantial increase in African-Americans who identify as Independents. Also, far fewer black Americans now believe that there are clear differences between the parties. If you don’t believe me, just ask my Republican colleague Jeff Grynaviski, from the University of Chicago. He and I researched these trends together and he has no horse in this race. He will tell you that these are the same patterns that occurred among white southeners and Catholics before they started shopping for a new party.

Mr. Dean, if you allow Senator Clinton to take the party’s nomination after ruthlessly deploying race in this primary campaign, you will obliterate your base. Despite all the media chatter about white, working class voters, the candidate with a demographic problem is Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama. Obama has developed a national, multiracial coalition, and his vote share among white voters has remained largely consistent throughout the campaign. Just look how well he did last night in Indiana. Hillary Clinton has gone from the favored candidate among black voters in early opinion polls to a candidate who has been repudiated by 92 percent of those voters, a fact proven last night in North Carolina.

Let’s be clear. When black folks switch parties, we do it decisively. After nearly a century of unwavering commitment to the party of Lincoln, it was Republican Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid in 1964, designed to appeal to entrenched American racism, which led to an increase in black Democratic Party identifiers from 59 percent to 86 percent in a single election. Despite Obama’s call for unity in his North Carolina victory speech last night, black Americans will not stand behind a candidate who deploys a Goldwater strategy within our own party. Our opposition to the war will not allow us to vote for McCain, but we can choose to exit the coalition, withhold our votes, to protest a Clinton candidacy. This is not a threat. It is an observation based on historical evidence. Continue reading Governor Dean, Are You Ready to Lead?