I imagine we'll not see the likes of a Bill Clinton again in my lifetime. A man who could sell you a shit sandwich and have you ask for seconds. The kind of politician who can't help to succeed just by the sheer force of his personality. Whether you love him, hate him or have no emotional response whatsoever, you can't deny that the man was nearly a force of nature.
Which makes the flailings of the terminally ill Democratic Leadership Council all the sadder. They've managed to convince themselves that the formula that worked for Bill Clinton can work for anybody. In their sad little minds, Bill Clinton won because of THEM, not him. Poor bastards.
Don't believe me? How successful has anyone BUT Bill Clinton been employing the "triangulation" strategy? Since the ascendency of the DLC, the Democratic Party has lost the House and Senate. They've abandoned countless races on all levels in favor of electing national candidates. They've adopted a "defensive" strategy in their own strongholds, taking serious challenges in places where they should be winning easily.
And what has it gotten them? Not much. Nearly nothing since Bill left the stage. Sure, Hillary made a decent showing in the Senate, but how far would she have gotten if she wasn't attached to Bill?
So now the DNC is being forced to evaluate themselves. At first it looked like it would be a case of more of the same. The DLC wonks insisting that the party had to move a little farther to the right to compete. Of course that's the fatal flaw in the "triangulation" strategy. When faced with opponents that take two steps back every time you take one step forward, you eventually find yourself completely away from your principals. But then a curious thing happened.
As a phoenix rising from the ashes, Howard Dean has emerged as the grassroots favorite to take over Terry McAulliff's job. A candidate that the DLC can't stand, mostly because he's proven the DLC wrong on a lot of fronts. He proved that Dems don't need to pander to the same special interests that give more money to Republicans anyway. He proved that Dems can win even in deep red districts. One of his Dean Dozens gave Tom DeLay his first serious challenge EVER. Most of all he's proven that the grassroots can and will do wondrous things for anyone that will respect them enough to listen to them. Unlike the other candidates, he refused to disappear (Hell, John Edwards was gone almost immediately after being named Kerry's VP choice.) and he worked his ass off to do more for Kerry than the other seven candidates combined. Sure, he didn't win the primaries, but before all is said and done, he may be the one that emerges to "turn the worm" for the Democratic Party.
And the funny thing is that the DLC doesn't seem to be able to do anything about it. They can't find ANYONE who even wants to give him a serious challenge. They tried to rewrite the rules to force Dean into the back room while a DLC crony remained the public face (until they found out they didn't have the votes.) The DLC, through their utter incompetence has made themselves near-irrelevant. They piss and moan about what needs to happen and everyone else just kind of looks at them like you'd look at a dog who just farted.
Of course, Howard Dean has been the frontrunner before and lost it at the last minute. So anything can still happen. But I think that the rank and file, the folks who write the small checks and walk the neighborhoods and work the phone banks know what's up and they have a pretty good idea that the DLC doesn't necessarily have their best interests at heart.
It will come to a head February 12th, so stay tuned faithful readers.