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They call this an opposition party?

December 3, 2004 | Page 3

AFTER MUCH soul-searching following the crushing defeat of last month's elections, the Democratic Party establishment has come up with a new strategy. Keep following the same old strategy of trying to out-Republican the Republicans, but call it a new one--by pretending that John Kerry was a fire-breathing radical during the campaign, so shifting to the right would be a different direction.

The latest example of the Democrats' bold plan to make themselves further indistinguishable from the Republicans is Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) selection to replace loser Tom Daschle as the party's minority leader in the Senate.

Reid is basically invisible outside Washington, where he's inhabited a seat in Congress for 22 years. If he's known for anything, it's his personal affection for George W. Bush and his disagreements with fellow Democrats on numerous issues. Reid is opposed to gay marriage and abortion--though that didn't stop Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro Choice America, from becoming one of his most vocal backers.

As the party's Senate "whip," Reid was responsible for mustering Democratic votes for the resolution that gave Bush congressional authority to invade Iraq--and squelching a few halfhearted efforts by fellow Democrats to alter the language.

He considers himself so close to Bush that he felt the need to assure the New York Times: "I will not tell [Bush] what he wants to hear. I will represent my caucus."

But leading Democrats seem to think this buddy-buddy relationship with the White House is a good thing. "I believe very strongly that the voice of the moderates of our caucus ought to have some sway," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told the New York Times. "I have noticed in the past that all the gravitas has slid to the left. All one has to do is look at the map to know that you can't win a presidential election that way."

That's garbage, of course. There's nothing about Senate Democrats--not even gravitas--that has "slid to the left."

John Kerry followed the party leadership's conventional wisdom that the only way to beat the Republicans is to act as much like them as possible--and he was trounced as a result by the most beatable incumbent president in a quarter-century.

But the Democratic establishment would rather go on losing than change course--and threaten its relationship with the corporate interests and political powerbrokers who pull the strings in Washington.

The truth is that the Democrats aren't an opposition party. If we want to see some opposition to Bush and the Republicans, we'll have to build it ourselves.

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