Monday, February 7


I'm a Republican and a Reagan Republican at that. And I'm a Bush-backer, albeit with certain caveats, as I'm not a "my party right or wrong" kind of guy. And, contrary to what Democrats think and write and say, I don't feel that I belong to a political party in which one clique, one wing, one point of view, predominates. Is our tent as large as it ought to be and could become? No, not yet. Black voters are most noticeably absent.

But we're heading in that direction -- a bigger, more diverse family. The Reagan Revolution brought a flock of cross-over Democrats into the ranks of the Republican Party. Reagan sparked the exodus (and was himself a disaffected "Roosevelt Democrat"), and his leadership and vision formed the genesis of a Roosevelt-style coalition, but built around moderates and conservatives. Bush stumbled the first time around, but clearly rallied "the base" in 2004, building a broader following for the party and garnering the largest number of votes in history. He'll never make a traditionalist like me forget Ronald Reagan, but he's come into his own now and is a party standard-bearer with his own special brand of appeal and charisma. The other side hasn't figured this out yet (Adlai Stevenson's defeats in 1952 and 1956 might have given them a clue), but you don't have to be terribly articulate and comfortable in pinstripes to win the presidency (and stay there). You just have to connect with people and be a candidate of conviction.

Which brings me to the opposition party and a piece of news rife with implications. If the Democrats keep up their post-election antics they're in for more of the same in 2006 and 2008. It's as if they just don't get it. They don't build coalitions. They chase people off. Look at the South. They've become a party of the intransigent, narrow-minded, take-no-prisoners Left, rather than a party of ideas and solutions, with a broad-based constituency and compelling platform. And because they're itching for yet another fight (e.g., Social Security reform or cabinet and judicial nominations), rather than a collaboration, they're going to shoot yet again an already bullet-riddled foot. They look so tired, they sound so petty, and the bile pours out of their mouths like molten steel from a huge ladle.

How do I know they're in trouble apart from their current fix vis-a-vis the White House, Congress and the state houses? Because their hard-bitten left-wing has done it yet again, chasing off another good man -- Tim Roemer this time around. Roemer gets it and they don't want to hear cool logic or fall in line behind a pragmatic, realistic approach to regaining the ground they've lost.

No, they want the reckless ranter, Howard Dean, in the DNC Chairmanship -- he of the anti-Bush animus and unrestrained vitriol. He's Terry McAuliffe with a stethoscope and a propensity for losing to match. The daunting Dr. Dean -- yet another dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat who doesn't give many Americans a warm feeling of security in an age of rabid Islamic terrorism. Roemer has ideas and remedies, and he sees reasons for the pounding Kerry took. Shame on him. Who wants clear thinking and objectivity, right? Meanwhile, Kerry contents himself these days with telling folks he's not a flip-flopper, while his wife drops the Kerry name. Even she's turned-off by the man. And when you say, "DEMOCRAT," the Pavlovian response remains: "Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Pelosi, Moore and Dean."

And, goodness, how dare Roemer be Pro-Life in a party that flat wants open borders and hordes of illegals, because they're prospective voters. This the party of no compunction about 47.3 million dead fetuses, but a party that proudly deplores at every opportunity the war in Iraq, and 1,591 casualties there and in Afghanistan. Abortion mills are okay. A strong military and the defeat of terrorism are suspect.

Roemer shouldn't just throw his hands up and drop out as a rival to Howard Dean. He ought to take a page out of Zell Miller's playbook and get out of Dodge.