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Saturday, March 29, 2003  
The CalPundit clarifies. . . but doesn't convince

Kevin Drum has written* me to clarify his claim that the Democrats are not centrist enough. He says:

I know that PETA et al aren't officially associated with the Democratic party.  But the reality is that they *are* associated in many people's minds.  Not fair, but reality.  What's the harm in denouncing this kind of stuff occasionally, especially since it would probably do a world of good in the court of public opinion and very little actual damage to the cause?

As for Limsky: yes, most liberals loved the Brody/Berry moment.  Why am I complaining?  Because Limsky wrote an op-ed in the 3rd largest circulation newspaper in the country that makes it look like liberals didn't like it.  That's why.  He probably speaks for about 5% of liberals, but he's the one that people saw that day.

I'm not so sure most people associate PETA with the Democratic Party. I believe they see PETA as way out there, beyond party identification. Even the Greens probably would not claim PETA. (Remind me to ask Barry.) It is also possible most folks see Limsky as rather silly, like that professor who claims Star Trek is racist. Methinks people expect a certain amount of such overreaching from academics afraid that if they don't publish something, no matter how baseless, they will perish. Sure, moderate Democrats could denounce PETA and Limsky. But, doing so requires 'owning' them in the first place. Silence may be the best policy.

In my reply to Kevin, I used the Sister Souljah incident as an example in which I thought a Democratic leader should probably have ignored a fringe Left figure instead of attacking her. He disagrees:

Actually, Sister Souljah is exactly what I'm thinking of.  A lot of us thought it was pandering, and it probably was, but the fact is that it was extremely effective.  He might have lost some tiny fraction of the vote, but he gained lots and lots of moderate voters who were more comfortable with him after that.

I am uncomfortable with anything that looks like Democrats kicking people who are already down. The segment of African-Americans Sister Souljah represents are definitely in that demographic. I sure hope that being nearly as hostile to minorities as the Republicans are does not become the way to center the Democratic Party. The attack on Sister Souljah hardly amounts to that, but it could have introduced a slippery slope. Kevin's remarks have me wondering if he wants to see more attacks on presidential candidate Al Sharpton. I, a liberal who considers Sharpton largely irrelevant, believe that would be an awful idea, no matter how much it would appeal to conservative Democrats.

I am still unconvinced Democrats are guilty of the not centrist enough charge.

*Again, Kevin and I have exchanged several rounds of emails on the centrality question. For some reason, he refuses to link to my entries, either here or on the watch, though that would be easier. That, his refusal to ever acknowledge any idea of mine has merit and some remarks he has made in comments at other blogs make me wary of Kevin, not the differences in our political perspectives. Too often, he reminds me of white liberals I've known who are not comfortable with people of color who have minds of their own. They wish we would just go away.

7:48 PM