Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Leadership of What?

Pelosi's disgraceful statements about sexism prompt Somerby to ask, once again, a central question:
These people don’t seem to care about who wins elections. If you actually care about outcomes, at some point you start getting mad about the trashing of your candidates. But quite plainly, nothing on earth makes these people mad. What’s the explanation?

Do you mind if we pose an unflattering theory? Nancy Pelosi and her husband are extremely wealthy. So are many other people in the leadership arms of the Dem Party—and in the larger “liberal” world. Most likely, these people would rather see Dems win elections. But they gain millions from GOP tax cuts if the other guys do.

But that explain their lack of intensity? We have no earthly idea.

His description of the symptom is, as always, right on. My own explanation of the cause isn't mostly or only about wealth -- though that's related. I think it's about the Democratic Party's evolution. I've written about this at greater length here. The short version is that since Vietnam, the Party has self-conceived as anti-power. It doesn't want to govern, it wants to critique. That's shifting -- gradually, inconsistently, painfully, but it is on balance moving forward. The Party is rediscovering its capacity for and interest in wielding power. But Pelosi and Dean are walking emblems and enactors of an interim stage of that -- the Democratic Party as legislative party. They do things that help win Congressional elections and majorities -- they did it in 2006, and they will do it again in 2008 -- but not that help win the presidency. Not that put it in the position of power, of decision-making -- and responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.

That is, at root, what hurts the Dems on national security issues. It's not a question of willingness to use force, per se. It's a sense that people have that the Dems aren't serious, that they aren't ready, willing and able to be in charge. The Clintons, in contrast, did seem so (at least in comparison to the rest of the Party). And that is what made them seem "monstrous" to the Anti-Power Party.

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