Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Fantasy Land Called "Third Way"

The Washington Post and the New York Times both report that William Galston and Elaine Kamarck think Democrats need to be "centrists" of some kind (they're not exactly sure what kind, apparently) in order to win the presidency.

No doubt Democrats will one day - perhaps as early as 2008 - win back the presidency. A presidential election is generally mostly determined by the national economy, and that economy swings in cycles. Eventually the Democrats, if they survive, will catch a wave and be sitting on top of the world - or at least 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But the Galston/Kamarck reports come complete with very predictable, and numerous, suggestions that Democrats must take the Third Way because that's what Bill Clinton did, and he was the last Democrat to "do it."

Fine. History is what it is.

But, as Henry Ford famously pointed out, history is bunk. What is missing in the Galston/Kamarack reports is any mention of the fact that Bill Clinton failed to get a majority of the popular vote in either 1992 or 1996, or that Clinton won in 1992 because Ross Perot launched a personal vendetta against the incumbent Republican and the economy had been in a slump, or that Clinton won in 1996 because the economy was in a boom that had already begun when he took office in 1992 (O, that business cycle), or that Clintonian "centrism" caused the Democrats to completely lose Congress in 1994, or that Clintonian "centrism" has lately been failing to win many elections even when its tried (Georgia's ejection of Max Cleland), or that ...

Well, you get the idea.

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