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Obama's Win: How it Will Change the Leadership and Future of the Democratic Party

06/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Rob Kall Host, Bottom-up Radio Show WNJC 1360, publisher, OpEdNews.com positivepsychology.net and Storycon.org

This 2008 presidential race has not just been about who would become the Democratic presidential candidate. It has also been all about the future leadership and control of the democratic party. Obama's win means a major change in the leadership of the Democratic party, policy, direction and people. I've interviewed Ed Rendell, Joe Trippi, Ned Lamont, Markos "dailykos" Moulitsas, Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Katrina vanden Heuvel, Christy "firedoglake" Hardin Smith, and more to see the future of the Democratic party. In 1992, Bill Clinton and his team led a takeover of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council emerged as the new policy leader and Bill Clinton was its Don. The DNC head was its consigliere. The DLC moved the Democratic Party further and further to the right, trying to make it look more and more like the Republican Party. They embraced open trade policies that betrayed workers and unions. They encouraged anti-choice candidates and embraced and went to bed with big corporations. Now, the campaign of Barack Obama will probably end much of that"- and more. Hillary is one of the current top leaders of the DLC, according to the DLC website. Her loss to Obama is a major blow to the DLC, the Clinton dynasty and all the former staffers from the Clinton presidency waiting in the wings for high paid, high power jobs. Bill Clinton has been the most powerful Democrat in a good 40 years, at least since Lyndon B. Johnson. Now, Obama is not only presumptive Democratic presidential candidate. He is also the new leader of the Democratic Party and will continue to be so, if he wins the presidency in November. I've long felt, as a progressive, that the DLC, pulling the Democratic Party to the right, was bad for the Democratic Party. They were attempting to make Democrats look more like Republicans. This was my main reason for opposing Hillary, as a DLC leader and icon. But I wanted to get a feel, from leading thinkers within the Democratic Party, what the new leadership of the party would look like. I started interviews for this article around the time of the last debate, in Pennsylvania, doing face to face interviews with Governor and former DNC Chair Ed Rendell and Iraq veteran, Blue Dog congressman and Obama Supporter Patrick Murphy. After the debate, I either interviewed by phone or email Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas, FiredogLake's Christy Hardin Smith, the Nation's Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Cindy Sheehan, consortiumnews' Robert Parry and at a conference, spoke with Joe Trippi. I generally asked questions along the lines: "What's the future of the Democratic leadership? What's the future of the DLC? Personally, I'm thrilled with the idea of the DLC and its right-leaning policies fading away as soon as possible. The question is, does that mean that the Democratic Party will start moving to the left? Some say Obama is the most liberal member of the senate. I have not been impressed with his progressive credentials, nor have most of the progressives I am in touch with. But I like the idea of someone who starts to the left of the DLC and Clinton. And at least he doesn't characterize a liberal group like moveon.org as the bad guys, like Hillary did. The question is, who does he bring in to the party? Will he open it up to people who are further left? Who will gain power? Who will lose power? With the DLC fading out of the picture, will some of their right wing darlings take a powder? Will Bush-hugging incumbent democrats start to fall, like Al Wynn, who was beaten by progressive Donna Edwards? There are a lot of those DLC and right wing dems out there. But even among the Clinton "team" there will be people who see the light, smell the coffee and figure out that their political survival will depend upon landing on the right side when the final vote is in. I give former Clinton staffer Donna Brazile a lot of credit for her deft handling of her role as superdelegate and pundit during the primary season. This article provides relatively untouched transcripts of the interviews and email exchanges I performed. At the end, I'll throw in my two cents worth of opinion. * * * Minutes before the Philly debate started, I asked PA governor and former DNC chair, Ed Rendell, "It's not just a contest between Clinton and Obama, it's really a contest between two different parts of the Democratic Party, isn't it?" Governor Rendell replied, "No, I think, actually, I would say that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama both come from the moderate to progressive parts of the party. I don't buy the fact that senator Obama is a far left liberal by any means. I lot of his positions are fairly moderate and he's for fiscal conservatism, so I think they are from the same basic segment ideologically." I asked, "But in terms of controlling the party, won't there be a huge difference there?" Rendell answered, "I don't think it will make much of a difference. I think that whoever wins will represent a broad spectrum of the party." Keep in mind; Rendell was, during the 2000 presidential election, head of the DNC. He knows about power. A Slate.com article reported "was so frustrated with his job as DNC chairman during Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign that he complained to the New Republic,

"I basically take orders from 27-year-old guys in Nashville who have virtually no real-life experience. All they've done is been political consultants living in an artificial world, and basically their opinion counts more than mine." That's the cry of the DNC chair, Washington's political eunuch."



That's because the candidates hand over so much control to campaign. But once the campaign is over, things will change. Rendell may be hoping that things don't change much, since he's been such a strong Hillary supporter and DLC leader. On the other hand, "Fast Eddie"- is known for his nimble, catlike abilities to land on his feet and work the system. He'll be just fine.

* * *

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D- PA), commented, after I asked him, post-debate, in the "spin room,"- about how an Obama Presidency would change the power and control in the Democratic party, " I think we need all these folks to mend and come together. I do think that Barack Obama-- that his ability to get people involved in politics who have never been involved before-- is something that we cannot discount. I think that's the reason you are seeing, in large part, why there are so many grassroots activists in place, and why there are 300,000 more Democrats, just here in Pennsylvania."-

Murphy's congressional district went for Hillary in a major way and he faces a tom Manion, a tough, marine veteran whose son was killed in Iraq. He's in for a tough fight this fall.

* * *


After the debate, I spoke to Washington Post columnist Chris Cilliza, "This is not just a contest between Hillary and Obama. It's also a contest for the power control in the Democratic party."-

Cilliza replied, "I think there's no question that the Clintons have long been two of if not the two most powerful figures in the Democratic Party. But I also think that while the Obama campaign has elements of an insurgency and a challenge to that power structure, Barack Obama has become a candidate with significant establishment support as well. He's got support from senators, governors and members of congress. So I don't think it's as simple as, it's the current party structure against some other party structure wants to come in"-

Pushing the conversation further, I said, "It seems, though, that at the top, things are going to change."

Cilliza replied, "That's almost inevitable in any election"- If Barack Obama is elected, would it be a new era in the Democratic Party? Sure. It probably would be. He would bring in a whole new group of people, just as the Clintons did in 1992. I think that's, in some ways, the natural way in which this works. When George Bush was elected in 2000, he brought in a whole new group of people."

* * *


A few days after the Philly election, I interviewed journalist and consortiumnews.com publisher Robert Parry, who was a reporter for PBS Frontline at the start of Clinton presidency first time and then, in 1995, started Consortiumnews.com.

I asked him, "If Clinton wins, will the leadership of the Democratic Party look any different?"

He replied, "If Clinton wins, the first period of time will be spent getting rid of anyone who showed them disloyalty. They'll put their loyalists in everywhere. That's how they work. That's how they think. And that's why they called Bill Richardson the "Judas" on Good Friday. It was typical of them. That's how they are. Richardson was not "made" by them.

"If Obama should win, it puts the old Clinton crowd, with all their money making in jeopardy. Obama will have to draw somewhat to that crowd, because they're the last Democratic group to hold power, but he's likely to reach out to people who were not part of that crowd, to bring people from outside and pick out some of the better people, the less corrupt crowd in the Democratic circles of Washington. He would be somewhat of a threat. The biggest threat he represents is that he would not be dependent upon their money.

She represents the old politics, the politics that sort of came of age in the 80's and the Democrats reponse to it. The Democrats reponse to the Reagan era-- was in part the DLC-- the kind of 'Let's find some way to nest. Let's take the edges off of anything we say. Let's not be too hard line or confrontational. Let's live with that reality of the Reagan era.' So there were a lot of compromises made. Triangulation became the phrase. That was a big part of what the Democrats did during that period.

"And ultimately they had to get into bed with more moneyed interests to compete... because the Republicans could raise all that money and do all those very nasty and effective things, with their newspapers and their radio and the infrastructure they'd been building. So to defend themselves, the Democrats needed more and more money. That put them more and more into the arms of the wealthy left of center types-- what you might call the limousine liberal types-- these are folks who do not want to shake up the status quo too much, but they might favor something a little left of center-- wealthy business people were the money source for democrats, as compared to the more right wing types which became the source of the Republican money.

"But the money here is the key. If Obama has any debt at all, it is to these million plus donors.

"That's the real threat to what you might call the 'Clinton power base' in Washington. A lot of them will lose their status; a lot of them will lose their connections.

"People like James Carville, who's made a lot of money giving speeches and presenting himself as the Democratic pundit. But then you have others-- the Paul Begalas of the world, John Podesta of Center for American Progress. You have a lot of people who have built their whole financial status around the fact that they have worked for the Clintons."

I reply, "It's not just financial, it's power and influence."

Parry says, "Yes, it's power and influence, but I guess I keep coming back to the money. Because what I see here is, power and influence are fine, but what that really gets you is money."


"I think a lot of that fury that you've begun to see from some of that Clinton crowd is the old power structure for the Democrats giving way, and they don't want to give way.

"There's this reaction to what they see as a threat. And they're willing to do anything almost. Their tactics are indistinguishable from what Republicans would do to a Democrat-- indistinguishable. And in fact, that's the point they make. They say, 'If we don't do it, the Republicans will. Better for us to do it and destroy this guy now, rather than have the Republicans do it. Too late.' Well arguably, it's already too late if that's the game. Look at Hillary's negatives-- her chances of winning are getting slimmer and slimmer by the day. That hasn't stopped the Clinton people from still trying to destroy Obama. They've been escalating their tactics of destruction."-

I ask, "Now when you say Clinton people, are you referring to just to her campaign, or the whole Clinton power base?"

Parry answers, "I'm talking about the broader structure. There are journalists who are in on this, who have been close to the Clintons for many years. There are surrogates of various kinds. There's the Clinton campaign and then there's this outreach that they do-- people who have been given favors by the Clintons or who are expecting favors in the future. The Clinton structure is pretty much driven by the idea of favors. It's old-fashioned in that sense too. You get this idea that if you play ball with them you get your reward and if you don't you get your punishment."

I pursue my DLC theme, interrupting, "Now, one more time, I'm going to ask you about the DLC, people like Al Frum. Where will the DLC be if Obama beats the Clintons and takes the Whitehouse?"

Parry replies, "I don't want to pretend I know. But the DLC and the folks around them will more or less be on the outside looking in, because they really are the intellectual base for the Clinton administration and for that group of Democrats who have coalesced around the Clintons. They are the ones who came up with plans-- with concepts of triangulation on how to do some things, how to achieve some results within the Democratic framework but without being perceived as liberal. Obama is a bit of a wildcard, because he doesn't have that much of a record. He might strike deals with these people."

* * *


Christy Hardin Smith is co-founder of the progressive community blog, Firedoglake.com. I explained to her, "What I'm working on is a piece about how the contest between Clinton and Obama is not just a contest between them but about the old control of the Democratic party and something new that's going to emerge. I'm trying to get some perspectives from people on if there will be a big difference and what that will look like. Do you have any thoughts on that?"-


Christy Hardin Smith
"Actually, I don't really Looking at the advisors that both of them have, they're both rooted pretty heavily in a lot of the old dynamic. I don't see that there's a huge amount of difference other than the approach that they both publicly take. But it remains to be seen whether the public approach, if they follow through, will be different. Both candidates' foreign policy advisors, for example, have been part of the DC establishment for a long time. I don't know that there's going to be a huge change from either of them until we see if they follow through on their campaign rhetoric."

Rob Kall: "How about the DLC?"-

Christy Hardin Smith: "The DLC's been so weakened over the past few years. I don't know that they're going to fit in much at all. You see that with Harold Ford, who's been a fairly big DLC proponent. He really only has a say occasionally on MSNBC when they don't have anybody else to throw on as an analyst. I think the DLC has been substantially weakened as any sort of force.

"So, I ask, "If Obama takes it, do you think that would dramatically decrease it even further?"

Christy Hardin Smith, "I don't know. He talks a very good game in terms of not wanting to take money from lobbyists or groups that are affiliated with lobbying organizations. But it's difficult to get anything to move through congress without taking those groups on head-on. Whether any president can do that, given their relative strength... is a big question.

Rob Kall: "Do you think an Obama win would move the general democratic leadership and vision more towards the left?"

Hardin replies, "Just looking at their policy issues, whether it's economics or health care or foreign policy-- they're pretty similar. They really come down on their policy issues in a very similar way. I don't see either of them moving things very far left, just seeing the policy that they've floated out so far on the campaign.

"Obama's public rhetoric tends to tack a little further left than Clinton's rhetoric, but the policy information on their website, the advisors that they have-- they're pretty similar down the line.


* * *

I wrote to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, "kos" of dailykos.com, saying, "Besides a contest between Clinton and Obama, this a contest for control of the Democratic Party and vision. If Clinton loses, it is the beginning of the end of the DLC. What will the new leadership look like, who, where what etc.?"

And he replied, "The DLC as an organization is pretty much irrelevant, but the forces it represents are alive and well. Many are rallying around Third Way, which is relatively new. You have the Blue Dogs which are as influential as always. And others will use their deep wallets to curry favor from even the most well-meaning Democrats.

"So killing off the DLC, at the end of the day, may hand us a "W" in this struggle, but the broader war is nowhere near being finished.

"As to what new leadership will look like, I have no freakin' clue, to be honest. I am cautiously optimistic that we'll see more 50-state organizing and reconnecting with our progressive roots, but I'm not about to declare victory. "

* * *



On the other hand, here's a line from a moveon.org fundraiser email, sent out today, the day after Obama crossed the delegate threshold, "After years of DC insiders running the show, a progressive candidate who started in politics through community organizing, who unequivocally opposed the war in Iraq, who isn't afraid to stand up to the politics of fear, an African-American, became the Democratic nominee for president.
What does that mean? The change we all want, the things we petition and hold vigils and make phone calls and rally for""things like universal health care, social justice, and an end to the war""these things are really truly possible, if we believe in them and if we're willing to fight for them."-



I called former CT senate candidate Ned Lamont, the newcomer who challenged incumbent Joe Lieberman in the 2006 senate Democratic primary, and asked, "What's it going to look like, if Obama wins, how will the Democratic party be different? Where will it move? Who will be involved in leadership? How will it change? How will it affect candidates like you, who are trying to go in a different direction?"

He replied, "I think it will inspire new candidates who maybe haven't spent their life in the political process. Our campaign to a small extent and the Obama campaign in a big way showed how far you can go without getting the establishment party support up front.

"And that means both the institutional support and the financial support.

"For Obama, my hunch is that, as president of the United States, he's not as beholding to any of the power brokers out there and has a much freer hand as president.

"That's what Obama is going to be like, but what about what the party is going to be like in terms of new candidates coming in, new policies involved? Where will the DLC fit in in terms of the new politics of the Democratic Party.

"I have no idea where the DLC will fit in. I think you'll find a whole lot of new power centers that are much more dispersed with the Obama campaign."

"What do you mean, new power centers?" I asked.

Lamont replied, "It seems to me that the traditional DNC, DSCC hand picked candidate is going to be less important. I think in the next cycle you're going to have a lot more folks from different walks of life who are getting engaged in the political process, seeing that the old power brokers are not the screen that they once were.

"I just think we've democratized the party... and that's good."

"Personally speaking, I certainly didn't have any of the political powers that be that wanted me to challenge a three term incumbent. That's for darn sure. I was not deterred by that two and half years ago. But I think more importantly there are a whole lot of people all around the country who are gonna be looking at Obama's ability to raise money online, his ability to create the grasssroots organization beyond the established political party. And it's going to inspire them to get involved."-


* * *

Next, I spoke with The Nation's Editor and Publisher, Katrina Vanden Heuvel.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel
"You have in Howard Dean someone who, whose campaign in 2004 was a striking repudiation of Clintonian centrism. It urged Democrats to end the war and it talked about a bottom up kind of campaign, using the internet, and organizing, and I think Obama is sort of Dean 3.0, fusing online and offline in ways Dean never had a chance to do and I think what Dean has done with the Democratic party, in terms of his 50 state strategy, is very much in line with what Obama has been doing and talking about, which is, not seeing the country as red and blue, but trying to organize in every state and bringing people into that organization so it's not just about suites but also about the streets. It's a party that's not just throwing some money at TV ads every few election cycles, but it's building, from the bottom up.

"It's not about a party that's just a money machine but really engages from the local level up, people in the party.

"In many ways, when Howard Dean became head of the DNC, it was viewed as a repudiation of the Clinton strategy of running the DNC, of what Terry McAuliffe, who was Clinton's person, did. There was no question that immediately after the 2006 election, there was a move by people like James Carville to sort of take on Howard Dean. So you could see that if Clinton became president, Howard Dean might not be their person. On the other hand, Howard Dean has made noises about leaving after '08, and it is the case that new presidents do try to put their person in. If it's Obama, Howard Dean is much more in synch with his vision than the Clinton vision.

Rob: "I see this whole contest between Clinton-Obama as more than just for president. It is for the leadership of the Democratic Party. I think that is part of the reason for the intensity of the conflict going on, really."

Katrina: "I agree. Certainly, Bill Clinton sees this fight as, probably; it's either a fulfillment of his legacy or a repudiation of Clintons and his control of the Democratic Party. But on the other hand, to move it beyond just personalities, there's a different vision of what the Democratic party's role in our country could be, which is again, not just top down, and a vacuum for money, but a party that is putting money into organizing people in 50 states. That 50 state strategy is the hallmark of Howard Dean's time as the DNC Chair. And it's come under fire. It's come under fire from people from people who think that the role is to fight it out just in the battleground state or certain states and not try to engage people across this country."

Rob: "Do you see other ways that things will change, in terms of the way that grass roots
efforts are involved or the way new candidates are determined?"-

Katrina: "Absolutely, I see it already. I think Donna Edwards, who's the new congressperson from Maryland, was very much involved, again, the kind of Dean 3.0, the use of the internet, not just to raise money, which of course, is a factor, and though I am all for public financing, I do think the internet democratizes fundraising to a point. But I think you are also seeing the internet, and social networking, which Obama's campaign and Donna Edwards used effectively to engage voters, primarily younger, but the future of the party, BTW, here's another thought- this race has, as you well know, energized, an unprecedented registration, a new engagement. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, it's not clear to me what happens to our younger generation, which, for the most part, has been brought into this presidential election through Obama's candidacy.

There's a potential that you see a realignment of the Democratic Party as a major force in our political landscape if those young people join the party now, progressives who will be part of it for decades to come. If they are alienated, they may certainly vote for Hillary Clinton but they are not necessarily as engaged in the party building as they might be. One reason the nation has supported Barack Obama is his commitment speaks to it of understanding that change comes from below. And that investment that his campaign has made in mobilizing grasssroots organizing is a different concept of elections that has the possibility of fusing movements and elections, which in my view leads to civilizing changes. The great advances have come when the Democratic party has been pushed, is receptive to being pushed by movements outside."-

Rob: "Civilization, that's a big concept."-

Katrina: "Well, no, civilizing advances. If you think about the Civil rights movement, civil rights is a civilizing advance, which took a civil rights movement, allied with an administration-- Johnson-- open to it because of the times, the facts on the ground and the pressure. I personally think that neither Hillary Clinton nor Obama got that right. I mean she didn't phrase it right when she said that Johnson gets more credit because you need Martin Luther king and the movement behind King as well as Johnson to push through changes that do contribute to the civilizing changes of our country.

Rob: "Now you've mentioned social networking. Is there any particular aspect of it? We're talking technology here. So, technology will have a role in having driven the change in the leadership of the Democratic Party?"-

Katrina: "Absolutely. I think partly, the tech, the social networking, that is not just technology, it's the ability to communicate with like-minded people or to engage others and to communicate ideas and views. That may be too highfalutin', it may be more just, you, know, "hey, here's what I'm thinking." But it is the ability to use that networking, in new ways, that didn't exist, by the way, in Dean's time. It wasn't at the level that it is now.

"Technology alone is cold and soulless. But when it is aligned and alive with the energy of a campaign that is speaking to millions of people I think it's valuable and cubing all that energy and that's what we're seeing, And I think also critical, btw, Rob is not just the online stuff, it's the ability to mesh online with off line. Which I think the Obama campaign has not really well. I'm talking about organizing, not just fundraising.

Rob: "They've done amazingly. The way they pull together when people sign up, empower them and enabling them to connect is incredible. How do you think the DLC fits in?"-

Katrina: "I think they became irrelevant around 2006. I think some of that speaks to the progressives in the Democratic party, not necessarily taking back the party, because there's still much work to be done, but the progressive wing of the Democratic party, or what Paul Wellstone called "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" drove issues into 2006, winning issues, economic populism, ending the war-- into this campaign too. This race is being run on an issue terrain that was not the case in 2004-- again, ending the war, Universal health care, though I'd say it needs to go beyond what we're discussing, Trade, fair trade, a new look at the way trade has hurt main street and benefited Wall Street, the environment-- new thinking about that, new thinking about a more progressive economic agenda. I think those issues have been driven in by a wing of the party that, for a long time, wasn't getting heard because the DLC was more dominant. But even people like Al From, who was head of the DLC, pretty quiet these days are synch with what's happening. On the security front, beyond ending the war in Iraq, I also think there is more sanity about the need for a different approach to fighting the, quote, war on terror, a more multilateral approach, a more full dimensional approach than just military might."-

Rob: "How do you think it would affect this congress-- this change. Do you think there will be any change in congress itself?"-

Katrina: "I think the congress looks good. I think you're going to see five, six seven seats senate seats picked up by democrats. I want to say 20 something or more in the house. I think any progressive minded, enlightened president-- Barack or Hillary-- is going to need a strong congress. And I think you're already seeing it. You saw 2006, a whole new crop of candidates elected who are more progressive when it comes to economics and who are calling for a sane end to this war. Jim Webb is one. You know, in the senate you have some of the most progressive populists in decades. You have Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Jim Webb, John Tester of Montana and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. These are kitchen table populists, and they understand, not all of them, but certainly Bernie and Sherrod Brown understand the importance of connecting with movements in the way Paul Wellstone did."-


* * *

At a symposium organized by the New Democrat Network on new internet approaches to politics, I asked bottom internet pioneer and former Campaign manager for Howard Dean and John Edwards, Joe Trippi, "I'm curious, you talk about Top down, Bottom up politics for campaigns, but what about the Democratic leadership. How will it change?"

Trippi: "It's changing. You know, John Tester wasn't some committee's guy in DC. They wanted Morrison, the state auditor. They pretty much hand picked Morrison as the senate candidate in 2006. But Jerome Armstrong and a bunch of other people went out to interview this guy named John Tester and fell in love with him, started talking about him all over the blogs and started generating small donations to him, got him a bit of notoriety and his campaign took off. He defeated Morrison in the primary and is now the US Senator from Montana.

"And that happened, like 15 times, on the house side. John Hall, the race I did in New York 19, I don't remember who our Democratic primary opponent was, but they were the DCCC's candidate. They didn't think that Hall... they probably thought that he was too liberal or something... I don't know what they thought. But they didn't go with him. And he beat Sue (Kelly a six term Republican incumbent.)

"I'm just citing a few cases. The committees don't have the total control-- look they can still deliver a candidacy and they do and god bless them, I'm not saying that. But you are starting to see the shift where ... and I think the DCCC and the DSCC, this time they learned their lesson. They do have their ear to the ground listening to what the bloggers have to say about this candidate and that candidate. The are actually listening to the bottom. Maybe the bloggers in Montana know something that we don't know. Maybe they are a little smarter than us. We're just basing it on a visit to DC and some cursory look at what the guy can raise and that kind of stuff. And the bloggers are vetting this kind of stuff better than we are.

"I think we're already seeing a shift in sort of the top down and how the two committees work, learning lessons from 2006 and starting to have their ears close to the ground to hear blogging about candidates."


***

I made several efforts to interview a spokesperson for the Democratic Leadership Council, speaking to their communications director, but they never got back to me.

***
So, we have a range of responses. Some, like bloggers Christy and Markos are a bit cynical, and say not much will change, that there's really not much difference between Obama and Clinton. Keep in mind; this was back in the thick of the battle, just about the time of the PA primary. And this does not at all mean that they won't be getting behind Obama, which I am certain they will be doing.

The more conservative Dems, Rendell and Murphy don't see much of a change. That may be wishful thinking, but, since they agree with the further left leaning bloggers, maybe they're both right.

Then we have moveon.org, Ned Lamont and Katrina Vanden Heuvel much more optimistic and hopeful.

Here's my take. This is a time of ferment and change. The early days of the end of the Clintonian control of the Democratic Party will be times when there are many opportunities for people and organizations to jump into the openings in the power hierarchy that is forming. With way over a million financial supporters, Obama will not be feeling as owing to big money people as another candidate might. That's a good thing. If he crushes McCain like I think he will, then Obama will have a strong mandate, both from the Dems and the general electorate. He'll need it. He will be facing a Herculean cleanup task."-

I've never seen Obama as a progressive, just someone a bit more centrist, and not as right leaning as Hillary. Obama may make friends with a lot of K street lobbyists. The progressive blogosphere may be able to raise enough of a cry to persuade him that he doesn't need them, that he can get by with a few million people on the net financially supporting him.

The Dem leadership will, with the 111th congress, have to contend with even more blue dog democrats, possibly 60 or even 70 of them. They will make it more difficult to pass anti-war funding and legislation that requires big budgets. The Blue dogs have been a major factor in preventing Nancy Pelosi from getting things done.

But overall, the 2008 election will clearly see the nation move further to the left. The Democratic Party may not look that left-leaning because it will be picking up Democratic seats in formerly Republican districts, and those Dems may tend to be more conservative, blue dog types.

It will take a strong leader to bring together this diverse group of Democrats. Obama shows great promise. My hope is that he will make a serious long term commitment to bringing many more women, minorities and young people into leadership positions within the Democratic Party. That's the way to plan for the future. The US faces some incredibly rough challenging times ahead. We can trust that the Bush administration has lied to us about and hidden the worst news about our economy, infrastructure, etc. Things will not turn around over night. It will take deft leadership to keep the American public in the loop, so they don't flip all the blame for their problems, as the GOP will try to do.

Joe Trippi says that we might expect an Obama White House to apply bottom up ideas to democracy itself. Now THAT would be interesting.

Originally published here on OpEdNEws.com