06/13/2005 12:56 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Old Guard Democrats Need to Get Out of the Way

Last week’s flap over Howard Dean’s remarks prove yet again the hopeless complacency of the Democratic elite. They seem so resigned at being perennial also-rans that when their putative leader throws a punch their reaction is to run for cover and beg for forgiveness. Fellow HuffPoster, Jann Wenner couldn’t have been more on the money.

Yes, what Dr. Dean said was inelegant, and immediately he should have added, “As a white Christian myself I know something the Republicans don’t: that all Americans deserve a seat at the table of Democracy,” yet that is no excuse for the political cannibalism so shamefully on display from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and most oddly, non-white Christian, Rep. Harold Ford.

I ask these Democratic leaders – who have lead us through a string of more heartbreaking losses than the Chicago White Sox – what possible good can come from trying to distance yourself from the chairman of your own party?

I never thought I’d say this but perhaps Rush Limbaugh was right, the Democrats are more afraid of Christians than Al Qaeda.

How hard would it have been for Pelosi, instead of rushing to publicly chastise Dean, to have instead attacked the opposition with, “I’m a Christian, Dr. Dean is too. The real issue is that the Republican party is no longer a big tent. It’s just a tent pole. The reason this President’s approval ratings are at the lowest of his presidency is that all Americans,
regardless of religion or race, realize his narrow views are out of step with the pluralistic democratic values that have made this nation such a shining beacon of hope.”

It’s not rocket science, it’s Judo: parry their attack and then use their own momentum to slam them against the mat. That's the only way you win, not cowering in fear and trembling in a corner.

Now is the time to attack and attack hard. Thanks to the Downing Street Memo it is now a proven fact that this President lied us into a war, the most serious breech of trust ever committed by a sitting President against our nation.

Republicans should be on the ropes right now, frantically scrounging to re-secure their slim majority. Instead, they press on as if they had won in a landslide and still enjoy broad support. They attack environmental standards, try to pack the courts and public television with right-wing ideologues, do their damndest to rob from the middle to give to the top.

And what does the Democratic leadership do while the Republicans flex their imaginary muscles? They tattletale, they call each other names.

I’m convinced John Kerry would be President right now if it were not for his whimpy handling of the Swift Boat fracas. As Josh Marshall and others pointed out at the time, Kerry’s laying on the ropes and taking a beating by the Swifties demoralized anyone who was ever even considering voting for him. If he wouldn’t defend himself from a gang of shellshocked nutjobs how could he defend us from Al Qaeda? How could Dems have still not have learned that lesson? It is at least the appearance of strength, of fire, cojones, that excites voters, not mealy-mouthed equivocation.

So the next time a Democratic leader has the urge to eat another one of our own I urge them to stop and ask themselves, “WWKRD.” “What would Karl Rove do?”