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Conservative View of Clinton’s Success, Dean’s DNC Lacks Focus

Every now and then it’s a good idea for Democrats to try and see ourselves from the adversary’s point of view, if only to get a better fix on what drives their strategy. Grudgingly recommended in this context is Duncan Currie’s well-written Weekly Standard article “The Clinton Paradox: Liberal Democrats claim they want 'another Bill Clinton.' But that's only half-true.”

Currie says Democrats are “only being half-serious” when they “yearn for another Bill Clinton to lead their Party out of it’s doldrums.” He argues further:

What they want, one assumes, is a charming, charismatic, good-looking, and eloquent partisan who appeals at once to both blue-state Deaniacs and red-state moderates. That sure sounds like Clinton, the Democrat who twice carried Ohio, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Arkansas (his home state), Tennessee (Al Gore's home state), Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Nevada, and New Mexico.

… DLC-bred Clinton was a political maestro: a once-in-a-generation natural who melded a wonkish command of the issues with a magnetic allure that drove Republicans batty. Which explains liberals' enduring fascination with Clinton: They want a nominee with Clinton's charisma and electoral viability, but minus his me-too-ish centrism on the issues.

Some of this rings true, but Currie’s conclusions are less convincing than his tribute to Clinton’s command of the issues and Alpha Male charms. Currie argues that Dean’s chairmanship of the DNC is a step backward to the shrill moralistic tradition that he believes leads to Democratic electoral defeats. Currie has more to say about Democratic prospects for success under a more hawkish foreign policy and various candidate scenarios. Currie's arguments deserve a cautionary read. But there is just as much reason to bet that Dean will confound the conservatives’ expectations and help unify the Democratic Party as a credible force for peace and prosperity.