Blurred messages from Democrats
HERE'S THE new Democratic Party slogan: We stand for nothing but victory.
Or, as Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The New York Times: "Some people argue about old Democrats and new Democrats. I'm a Vince Lombardi Democrat. Winning is everything."
Inspirational, isn't it? That should lure those Red State voters to the Democrats' side.
Pelosi is also encouraging former Representatative Tim Roemer of Indiana to seek to replace Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Roemer, who is Catholic and antiabortion, has a 94 percent rating from the national Right to Life Committee. Pelosi has a 100 percent prochoice voting record, as rated by NARAL, a national organization devoted to a woman's right to choose abortion.
Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, describes Pelosi's support for Roemer as a way to illustrate the party's new "big tent" commitment. Said Brazile, via e-mail: "As a party, we have a large tent, but our basic values will remain. The Democratic Party's problem is not what we stand for, as much as how we communicate our values. Roemer's personal views will not alter the Democratic platform on choice."
Put aside the practical matter of how the party plans to communicate values through a prochoice platform and a prolife party chairman. This is a way to win?
Roemer as head of the DNC sounds like a desperate effort to figure out which way the wind is blowing, long after the 2004 wind blew the Democrats away. Where does it leave Democrats when President Bush and his allies work to secure the appointment of Supreme Court justices who are anxious to repeal Roe v. Wade?
It also sounds like a way to institutionalize John Kerry's losing campaign strategy: When it comes to controversial issues, duck. Stand for everything and nothing. Whenever possible, avoid direct answers on issues like war and abortion.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy had it right yesterday. In remarks prepared for delivery to the National Press Club, Kennedy said, "We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices. We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again and deserve to lose."
Currently, Democrats like Pelosi and Emanuel sound confused, not reasonable. Indeed, adrift is a word that comes to mind.
Confusion and drift are ways to kill, not grow, a political party. But it appears to be the path of spooked Democrats after the Nov. 2 election loss.