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Back to the Barricades?

Ron Brownstein seems to think so. In an article published on Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, he said:

On one front, a liberal operative at a top think tank has accused the Democratic Leadership Council, the principal organization of party centrists, of pushing the party toward a pro-corporate agenda "that sells out America's working class the demographic that used to be the party's base."

In equally combative terms, a leading young centrist commentator published a manifesto in the New Republic magazine accusing the Democratic left of slighting the struggle against Islamic terrorism and undermining the party's image on security an argument instantly embraced and promoted by the Democratic Leadership Council.

In the near-term, the Democratic desire to unify in opposition to almost all of Bush's agenda is likely to take the edge off these disagreements.

But these twin firefights, which have inspired volleys of responses, Web postings and e-mails, reflect enduring divisions over strategy, message and policy that could influence the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee next month and are certain to loom over the contest for the presidential nomination in 2008.

....Democrats have now moved back to the barricades, at least in their intellectual circles. The lines of battle evident in these disputes also could resurface in the race for the DNC chairmanship, which will pit liberals Dean and party operative Harold M. Ickes against centrists such as former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer and Simon Rosenberg, president of the centrist New Democrat Network.

This "let's you and him fight" kind of analysis seems to really miss the point of a great deal of the discussion and debate inside the Democratic party. Perhaps this is the only lens many observers have to look at intra-Democratic party debate, but I think it is a misleading one and I am frankly surprised that as perceptive an observer as Brownstein would employ it. It is particularly useless for understanding the contest for the DNC chair, as Markos Zuniga forcefully points out over at Daily Kos. Framing Simon Rosenberg's candidacy as a New Democrat taking on the liberals, for example, is exceptionally obtuse, as is the general characterization of Dean as the liberals' candidate. Brownstein should know better.


A) How is it that economic fairness/blue collar base is diametrically opposed to the 'security' issue. I think not at all. Corporate pandering, now that is an oppositional problem.

B) Dr. Dean was doing a pretty fair job of trying to straddle this divide before his enthusiam was deemed too intense for the battle of the general election. Labeling him a 'liberal' shows how little attention the media pays to the titles they apply.

It strikes me that the rub is between social liberals and economic equity types with the social liberals having the ear of the party activists and the economic fairness crowd being left behind as they lack sufficient culture to be seen in the company of Saab drivers. Social liberals are willing to side with the DLC types because they all inhabit the same economic sphere.

As you say, the battle lines are not as advertised in the DNC chair fencing match.

Ron Brownstein has really disappointed me of late. This article reads as though it's written from the perspective of one who has lived and operated inside the Beltway a little too long -- which, of course, it certainly is.

Like any farmer who seeks to nurture a crop, perhaps the Los Angeles Times would also benefit from a regular rotation of their East Coast correspondents.

Yeah, he's getting hammered in bloggosphere right now. I never really had a lot of respect for him in the first place. This just made him seem really out of touch in my book.

Brownstein may indeed be capable of better, but hey, this gets all those midwestern and southern op-ed page editors to run his column, so why not?