The much ballyhooed debate on "Meet the Press" between former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and Markos Moulitsas, publisher of the liberal Daily Kos website, was instructive for what it revealed about both the divisions in the Democratic Party and the underlying disingenuousness of both factions.
Ford was defending the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), an organization that holds itself out as centrist, urges the Democratic Party to move in that direction, and proudly claims former President Bill Clinton as its most honored member. Moulitsas was there to represent the more leftist wing of the party, which has used his website to increase its influence.
Ford sounded reasonable on the surface, touting the successes of the Clinton record and attributing those to DLC ideas. But in the end, Ford's message was garbled.
He said that to win national elections "you have to cross three hurdles." You must prove your "strength and trustworthiness on national security," that your values are in line with mainstream America and that you are trustworthy on "taxes, economic and fiscal policy."
So far so good. But how does that differ from the Republican platform? How does it square with what any national Democratic officeholders, save Sen. Joseph Lieberman, advocate?
Looking deeper into the issues, Democrats still lack credibility on national security given their obstruction and incoherence on the Iraq war and their opposition to most measures aimed at bolstering our security, including terrorist surveillance, terrorist financial tracking, tough interrogation techniques and refusing to negotiate with terrorists.
While liberals boast that their values more closely mirror those of mainstream Americans, they know better, which is why they're always double-tongued in this area. They trash "values voters" with one tongue and court them with the other. They play word games, using "choice" and making abortion "safe, legal and rare" to conceal their real agenda.
There is also a disconnect on their tax policy. They say they're for balanced budgets, but if they had their way legislatively -- if President Clinton had had his way -- they would spend us into oblivion. And their rigid prejudices won't allow them to acknowledge that supply-side tax cuts have reduced the deficit and improved the economic condition of all income groups.
So while the DLC is less liberal than most influential Democrats, they aren't as moderate as they would have us believe. They just want to sound more conservative to fool the electorate, which they believe, even if Moulitsas' "netroots" (Internet grass roots) don't, is center right.