The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trying to Move the Democratic Party Even More to the Right

Peter Wehner in the New York Times:

AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative.

This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right.

Wehner then goes on to argue with what amount to mostly social policies (gay rights!) and a few other cherry picked issues, to argue that Obama is substantially to Clinton’s left. (Not on immigration, executive power, non-identity-based civil liberties, assassination, and a number of other issues.) He also conflates conservatism with running surpluses (not in living memory), and so on, and ignores Obama’s help in bailing out the rich in an unprecedentedly massive way.

Or look at this beauty:

Those who insist that the Democratic Party’s march to the left carries no political risks might consider the fate of the British Labour Party earlier this month. Ed Miliband, its leader, ran hard to the left.

Miliband, of course, did no such thing. The SNP ran hard to the left, and swept Scotland. Labour ran slightly to the left of the Conservative party, and did terribly.  What Wehner is doing is “creating” facts, attempting to move the major parties rightward, and not leftward.

But I’m not particularly interested in in debunking his ridiculous column; I simply want to note that it exists. This is the creation of the circle of acceptability, which is so vastly important in determining what parties are willing to do when they take power.

Read my earlier article on the British election for a more detailed analysis of how right-wing framing works, and how it is, now, beginning to fail the neo-liberals.

(h/t Tim Armstrong.)

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  1. Who is Peter Wehner and why is the NYT giving him prime op-ed space?

  2. DMC

    And Reagan-droid. His opinions on the subject of the Democrats have all the objective validity of David Duke’s on the subject of American Jewery. The Times is a bit subtler than Fox News but not all that much. Its just aimed at a more affluent demographic.

  3. So the author of the piece under discussion is a Republican, who is giving opinion on the Democratic Party’s behavior. Why on earth would anyone give serious credit to anyone who is discussion the behavior or processes of the opposing party?

    Democratic loyalists are wont to say that conservatives “want poor people to starve to death.” They cannot, of course, cite one single conservative person who has ever said that, but they have no trouble whatever claiming that it is the universal goal of all conservatives.

  4. @ibain
    He quotes the bible, “He who is not willing to work shall not eat.” The interpretation that he wants poor people to starve is just that, an interpretation. One could also say that it is the bible who wants poor people to starve to death, that he objects to that but as an adherent to the bible is going along with it. One could also say that he wants poor people to work so that they can eat.

    What he did not say is that he wants poor people to starve to death.

  5. Jerry McKenzie

    What a steaming pile. The NYT readers are eviscerating him and the Times. Wehner seems to have a hard time distinguishing between what people say and what they do. You would think a political wonk could do this, but his piece is just high-falutin’ speechifying to his target audience.

  6. jawbone

    Sometimes the Times feels David Brooks and his kindly “advice” to Democrats needs additional support.

  7. jawbone

    And every little push to the right helps keep the Overton window from moving even slightly to the lef, keeping the political Dems, those not fully Corporatized as of yet, thinking within the current limits. That, along with the Corporate press coverage, helps to drive down enthusiasm among voters who want actual Democrats to vote for. Crushing voter enthusiasm is of major importance to Repubs and Corporatists of all political stripes.

  8. Sandman

    “Democratic loyalists are wont to say that conservatives ‘want poor people to starve to death.’ They cannot, of course, cite one single conservative person who has ever said that, but they have no trouble whatever claiming that it is the universal goal of all conservatives.”


    Ergo, the claim is false? OF COURSE nobody says that out loud. Somebody might write it down. Has Lee Atwater taught you nothing?

  9. What an asshat.

    The Democratic Party establishment – particularly the elected and operatives at the national/congressional/administrative level include a huge % of former moderate and conservative Republicans who are partially responsible for pulling the Democrats to the right over the past two generations. These are the former Republicans who cannot keep a straight face (or run successful primaries) against the feces throwing howler monkeys who are the National Republican Party base & establishment.

    The Democratic Party has drifted dramatically to the right since 1980. The Reagan & the Gingrich legacy in Congress is a rabid collection of bigots, belligerent/ignorant and fearful militarists and class warriors competing to be testicle cozies to the Koch brothers and Big Oil (for example).

    FWIW–Obama was brought kicking and screaming to accept equality for members of the LGBT community. The President has played catch-up on this issue and closeted himself from any leadership role. Even when a federal court gave him a “victory” on Dont-Ask-Don’t-Tell, he continued to push the fight – needlessly and pointlessly – through the appellate court system. There are two many examples of the President and Congress rejecting liberal and mainstream policies to possibly list. This is one of the obvious ones.

  10. Monster from the Id

    DMC is correct. Fox News is aimed at poor (or middle-class) white trash, while the Times is aimed at affluent white trash.

  11. Monster from the Id

    Afterthought: Of course, if not for those hated lib’ruls, all the way back at least to FDR, most of the right-wing middle-class white trash would still be poor white trash.

  12. Tom

    It’s laughable to say either Labour or the SNP ran hard to the left. Government spending would have fallen (as a share of GNI) under either party (see the IFS report).

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