Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 27, 2009

BRODER URGES DEMS TO BE MORE MODERATE.... Former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley wants to see the Democratic Party be more moderate. David Broder, not surprisingly, is thrilled.

The president is surrounded by people who share Daley's grasp on reality, none more important or better placed than Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and a fellow Chicagoan. But the picture is not so clear on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's inner circle is made up of long-standing veterans of gerrymandered House districts, virtually immune from Election Day challenge, just as she is. The wants and needs of "the Democratic base" count heavily for them, and Daley's warnings may be resented or ignored.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's home-state party in Nevada is as closely tied to the unions as Michigan used to be in the days of Walter Reuther, and Reid views the world from that perspective.

As a loyal Democrat, Daley insisted in the closing paragraphs of his op-ed that his party is not doomed to ruin. It can still avoid anything more than a minimal setback in 2010, he said, if it will simply "acknowledge that the agenda of the party's most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans -- and, based on that recognition . . . steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan."

OK, a few things. First, to suggest that Harry Reid "views the world" from a union-dominated perspective is simply mistaken. Is EFCA on the Senate schedule? No. Did Reid change course when labor opposed the tax on "Cadillac" health plans? No.

Second, Broder believes all people should be more moderate at all times -- today's column was almost comically predictable -- but he's wrong to scoff at the notion that Democrats should generate some excitement among the party's activist base. Motivating the rank and file will likely be key to Dems' success (or lack thereof) in the 2010 midterms.

Third, for Broder (and Bill Daley) to believe that liberals' priorities have "not won the support of a majority of Americans" is, for lack of a better word, odd. Liberals pushed for a public option in health care reform, and a majority of all Americans agreed. Liberals supported a Medicare buy-in, and a majority of all Americans agreed. Liberals want a cap on carbon emissions, and a majority of all Americans agree. Liberals want an end to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and a majority of all Americans agree. On most issues, the liberal approach to policy issues is the mainstream approach to policy issues.

And fourth, note that Broder is pretty vague about what "moving to the center" would actually look like. "Ignoring the demands of the base" isn't a substantive recommendation. "Ignoring the demands of unions" isn't a substantive recommendation, either. "Steer a more moderate course" doesn't actually mean anything unless it's followed by some depth.

If Broder wants to see Democrats become more "moderate," how about backing that up with something specific? It's not as if he lacks a high-profile media platform. If he knows where he'd like to see Democrats go, he should say so.

Steve Benen 9:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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I think they are reading the 2006 and 2008 elections right. It isn't as though the Dems won -- so they obviously need to change!

Posted by: Elections don't have consequences on December 27, 2009 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

And nary a word from Broder about how the Republicans should more to the left. Or how the Republican party would need to move to the left in order to get back to "conservative" (or sane).

Broder is an idiot and I wish someone from the White House would call him on it.

Posted by: SteveT on December 27, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, for ideologues like Broder, "moderate" = whatever Broder types favor, i.e., dominant conservatism with a few moderate-liberal twists in terms of faux bipartisanism. The public and policy be damned -- it's about favoring the same conservative shit and calling it moderate forever.

Posted by: El Cid on December 27, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

This would be astonishing if it weren't such a regular thing. The Republican Party has it's wheels falling off because they have spent decades "catering to their base," but have we ever seen a column from Broder recommending the GOP moderate its positions?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Posted by: karen marie on December 27, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Look. Broder is just the Village Idiot. He sez whatever the dominant power-structure in DC wants to hear. He's been a quisling asshole his entire career. He'd have been happier if Nixon had not resigned. He apparently hasn't the faintest notion anymore--if he ever really did--of what America was actually designed to stand for.

It wasn't necessarily designed to stand for super-rich white men, although it's come to stand for that, and Broder is their Idiot. The guy is so contemptible at this point it's hard even to work up a head of outrage over him. He's just a joke. A bad joke, but a joke nonetheless.

Posted by: LL on December 27, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

broder is a complete joke and a disgrace. Why anyone would give 2 seconds of their time reading his nonsense is beyond me.

Posted by: pluege on December 27, 2009 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

I think Broder's actually been dead for years and his columns are written by some kind of poorly programmed bot.

Posted by: mars on December 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I note that Broder, for the sake of balance, provides one sentence criticizing the Republicans for voting no as a block, then spends the rest of the columnn criticizing Reid and Obama by name for not doing the moderate things he thinks they should have done, without specifying what these moderate things were and why they would be considered moderate.

Posted by: Midland on December 27, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Broder says Democrats should moderate their beliefs. In other news the sky is blue and water is wet.

Hey Steve, you are way better than blogging about Broder. The guy is a one trick pony. I have seen the trick. I don't need to see it again. Thank you.

Here is something for you to think about. I have met more foreign nationals on my vacation this year than ever. Wonderful people all, but people who only a few years ago would be vacationing someplace other than Key West. I wonder if it means all those middle class jobs we shipped to India and China are paying Indians and Chinese well enough to do Florida sunsets. Good for them. Bad for us. Why can't America produce the jobs we need to sustain a first world living status for all our people.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 27, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Second, Broder believes all people should be more moderate at all times

And by "moderate" he means "Republican."

Posted by: jim on December 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Broder has been watering the elephants for more than 20 years. Why anyone quotes him (or even reads him) is a mystery to me.

Posted by: Old Yeller on December 27, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Broder has a world that no longer exists in mind when he sits to write his commentary! He is not an essential read these days! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 27, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder is an octogenarian. Even if his mental facilities would allow him to still think about what he writes, he wouldn't need to. He has been trotting out this bipartisan stuff for decades whenever Democrats happened to be in power.

Actually, David Broder's typewriter doesn't even need Broder to sit down and punch in the words any more. It's like the horse that carries its drunken rider home if only he can make it into the saddle.

Mostly kind of sad, really.

Posted by: eserwe on December 27, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

It's inappropriate to criticize old guys. You may be Broder's age yourself someday.

Posted by: Steve Cry on December 27, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

On a related note, whenever I see a blog post anywhere with 'Broder' in the title I skip right past it.

Posted by: king buzzo on December 27, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

so exactly how are the democrats supposed to chart a more moderate course? obama has been reaching out to republicans since before taking office to absolutely no avail. the senate tried mightily with health care. when a republican does try to work with the other side of the aisle (lindsey graham), his own party condemns him as a traitor.

broder's problem is the republican party isn't about governing any more. it's purely about politics. they have no intent of trying to improve the health care reform bill from their point of view. indeed, if a bill had been crafted solely to attract republican votes it might have gotten one or two at most, probably none at all.

governing has become a game to them. it's all about scoring points. that's fine to a degree ... after all there are supposed to be philosophical differences between the parties, and pull back from the minority party can keep the majority honest. good ideas can come from the right as well as the left. that's not happening. republicans want this president to fail and they're willing to go to any length to make sure it happens, no matter the consequences to the country. if this senate had been around on dec. 8,1941, the republicans would have attempted to filibuster the declaration of war against japan.

country first? hell no. party first.

so mr. broder, if you're the democrats, how do you become more moderate? and if you do, to what end?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 27, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

if only we'd been nicer to karl rove...

Posted by: daveminnj on December 27, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The reason that Broder is not specific about what positions on what issues constitute "the center" is that the center for Broder is a relative position depending on where the two parties happen to be at any given time. And because Republicans have allowed themselves to be pulled so far to the radical right, what Broder is in essence saying is that Democrats must govern as old-style Republicans in order to occupy Broder's mythical center. So, the bottom line, is that Broder is criticizing Democrats for not governing as Republicans.

Posted by: Ted Frier on December 27, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Soooo, Mr. "Bush is on the Rebound" Broder believes Dems and Obama need to be more centrist. Mmm,. Increase troop levels in Afghanistan, check. Continue warrantless wiretapping, check. Push to dismiss criminal case against Bush Administration torture memo author John Yoo, check. Continue many of Bush/Cheney foregin policy strategies, check.

Just what do Daley and The Dean mean by the need to reject liberal left. Where is the liberal left? They're killing me. Just killing me.

Posted by: MGDub on December 27, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta ask: when was the last time Broder counseled the REPUBLICANS they need to move to the center and be more moderate? 'CAUSE THE ONLY ONES HE KEEPS TELLING THIS TO ARE THE DEMOCRATS... and all the while Broder praises the GOP as they go over the cliff with the right wingnuts at the wheel of the bus!

Posted by: PaulW on December 27, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats were any more moderate they wouldn't fucking exist. WTF are these morons insinuating (other than the fact that they are clueless) again? Somebody someday is going to steamroll both of these parties into oblivion; I pray that it is something progressive and not some new evil party with a scapegoat to kill..

Posted by: Nazi Trollop on December 27, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Man, that dude must be on some POWERFUL meds.

I cannot wait for the column where he outlines all the benefits we've all enjoyed from our country "being more moderate" since Reagan: Wall St implosion, failing infrastructure, shipping jobs overseas, endless military deployments, falling value of the dollar. exploding Federal debts.

Posted by: Glen on December 27, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Broder believes all people should be more moderate at all times.

Apparently Republicans are not people?

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on December 27, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ever since he was at the New York Times in 1960, David Broder's idea of "bipartisanship" has been for Democrats to follow the leadership of Republicans on any issue. He's such a moron that Nixon used to laugh at him privately, despite Broder being the one to tell Democrats that Nixon had the pulse of the American people on Vietnam with his "Vietnamization" policy in 1969, and that if the Democrats failed to do this they would be condemning themselves to "political irrelevance."

DAVID BRODER HAS BEEN WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS - EVERY. THING. Yes, I am yelling that because it drives me nuts that people don't see this senile old Republican disinformation operative for the scumball he is. Granted, becoming a Villager requires passing the IQ test low enough, so they have an excuse - but not anyone else.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 27, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

@ Steve Cry:

You have a point. I hope to make it to Broder's age. But if I do, I'll have the good sense to stick to yelling at kids to stay off my lawn instead of embarrassing myself in print.

Posted by: sluggo on December 27, 2009 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's perfectly fair to pour scorn on an old man if he writes this crap over and over and presumably is well paid to do it.

Some people acquire wisdom and grace as they age - Gregory Peck, Walter Cronkite come straight to mind. Others, like Broder, (and some of our own relatives I'm sure), just become more and more entrenched in their positions.

He's a boring old fart.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on December 28, 2009 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

David Broder is an octogenarian.

David Broder has eight arms?

Posted by: howie on December 28, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Add David Broder to the list of bobbleheads that need to be ignored just ahead of What's her face from Alaska, Fat Boy with the drug problem, and Turd Blossom.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on December 28, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Broder praises a Clintonite's advice to Democrats to avoid the liberal agenda like Clinton did.

Clinton did not become very conservative. He just didn't do much of anything.


In 1996 an incumbent president on the winds of an impressive dot-com fueled economic expansion squeaks out a 48% plurality against tired, listless Bob Dole.

When a president stands for nothing, there's nothing to offer as proof of worth.

Perhaps elective victory is not a component of the benefits Broder plans to bring to the Dems, but whatever he DOES have in mind needs to be awfully compelling to accept what appears to be folly.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on December 28, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

oh just phuck the azzwipe.

jeebus who f***ing cares what that old and over the hill pos has to say about anything ???

key rist

Posted by: oh phuck him on December 28, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK



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