Are Democrats too angry (and too liberal) to win back the presidency in 2004? As my old 8-ball used to divine, "Signs point to yes."
I cite the recent successes of far-left candidate Howard Dean in his quest for the nomination, which many originally dismissed as quixotic. Dean handily won an online primary conducted by MoveOn.org with nearly 44 percent of the vote, and even more ultra-liberal Congressman Dennis Kucinich garnered almost 24 percent.
Dismiss this if you choose as an unscientific sampling, but then how do you explain Dean's raising over $6 million in the second quarter of this year, $2.8 million of which came in during the last eight days of the quarter? We are talking here, folks, about the Sean Penn/Alec Baldwin/Susan Sarandon wing of the party -- and it is obviously energized by Dr. Dean's message.
What is his message? Well, it's certainly not that he can lead us better in the war on terror than President Bush. It's not that he can provide better homeland security for the American people. It's not that he can restore a healthier level of growth to the economy.
It's not even that Bush is incompetent and that he can do better. No, his rallying cry is that Bush is a crooked, power-mad, unilateralist, neoconservative imperialist bent on manipulating the country into supporting his globalist designs. This preposterous mantra is what ignites the party's liberal base -- and boy, is it liberal. So liberal that it can't see past its own passions to rein itself into contention.
So consumed is the base by its hatred for Bush that it is fabricating WMD conspiracy theories to discredit him and even believes its own lies.
"Ah, yes, Limbaugh," you say, "but you have no room to talk. Look at the political right's animosity toward Clinton." Touche! However, I'm not playing the blame game here, merely analyzing the situation on the ground, as they say. Were I headed in that direction I would tell you that at least the right's revulsion toward Clinton was grounded in reality -- based on their repeated observations of his pathological prevarication and his consummate remorselessness about it.
But the point here is not that Bush-bashers are worse than the Clinton-bashers were. It's that the Bush-bashers are equally fixated and politically self-destructive, which makes the Democrats' already formidable task of unseating Bush that much more difficult.
Is the Democrats' plight not reminiscent of the Republican's Clinton-mania in 1992 and 1996? Think back: Did the Republicans really offer an agenda around which its base could unite?