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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, November 07, 2002
10:52 AM

Doesn't quite compute.... EJ Dionne makes a lot of good if now conventional observations about the elections, but this doesn't make any sense:

The natural response of Democrats to this disaster will be to retreat to comfortable old arguments. The party's left will say the problem is that Democrats weren't progressive enough. The party's moderates will say the problem is that Democrats weren't centrist enough.

This debate is useless. The Democrats' problem is not about positioning. It's about having something to say about things that matter.

Also known as positioning.

Most Democrats believe the Bush tax cuts are a disaster not only because they threaten fiscal chaos but also because they will deprive the government of revenue needed to solve problems. But too many Democrats were afraid to say that.

Most Democrats believe that government regulation -- to protect the environment and to curb business abuses -- can be a good thing. But too many were afraid to say that.

Most Democrats worry that a divided Bush foreign policy team will mismanage a war on Iraq and needlessly alienate our allies. But too many were afraid to say that.

Hey EJ, those are three pretty conventional Democrat positions, with the possible exception of the last point, which can veer off into cheerleading for the United Nations, not a universally popular position especially in the Red States. "Positioning" is about arguments, even though it can be manipulated by cynics in a fallen world. It's true the Democrats seemed to say nothing in this election other than I'm Not a Republican. But the alternative, running boldly to the left, probably wasn't going to help much this time around. Most voters bought the Republican position on the war against Iraq, wouldn't blame the GOP much for the economy and saw corporate greed as a universal human flaw partly avenged by executives being led away in handcuffs. And that's some position.

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