May 31, 2005
The Democrat Party of Howard Dean and Teddy Kennedy bears little resemblance to the party of FDR and John F. Kennedy. Which is why they keep losing.
A bluff is an attempt to divert and delay reality. But if you look long enough at the Democratic opposition to Priscilla Owen, Janice Brown and John Bolton, it is impossible not to notice contradictions that undermine the Democratic Party's most basic sense of self.
On the Owen and Brown nominations especially, the Democratic faith system falters badly. Yes, we know Priscilla Owen has ruled "in favor of corporations" and Judge Brown went the wrong way in a lead-paint decision and both are a threat to "privacy" concerns. And for latter-day Democrats all this matters. But I don't see how the Democrats get around at least some voters noticing that obliterating both Priscilla Owen and Janice Brown bears false witness to the party's foundational achievements.
Above all else, from FDR onward, the Democratic Party leveled the American playing fields. We can argue the details and methods for getting there, but it's a done deal. Whether Title IX, women in the professions or blacks in formerly all-white industrial unions, this is the party's legacy, its crown jewel.
But if a smart white woman from good-ole'-boy Texas and a smart conservative black woman from California pose an unacceptable threat to national equilibrium, then years of Democratic moral claims on behalf of "all" women and minorities were hooey. There never was any intention to let conservative women or blacks advance into positions of public authority, not then or now.
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