Only in political reporting from one of the chief cheerleading newspapers for the Democratic party could you find a lede like this: “The national debate over President Obama’s health care plan has exposed a weakness in the Democratic Party apparatus: it lacks a high profile surrogate to push back — hard — against the rhetorical arguments put forward by Republicans.” Hmm. Let’s think about that.
Obama attacks his opponents as silly, uninformed, and deceitful. The Democratic party’s congressional leaders call American citizens who disagree with them “un-American.” Democratic senators and congressmen on a daily basis accuse Republicans of favoring the status quo and lacking alternative ideas, both untrue assertions and both repeated ad nauseum. Nancy Pelosi speculates it’s only one step between town-hall criticism and shooting gays. Robert Gibbs uses the White House press room to vilify specific reporters and conservative talk-show hosts who dare disagree with the president. The entire Democratic party has become an attack dog. So what could the Post’s Chris Cillizza possibly mean?
Well, perhaps he means that the Democrats need an effective attack dog. After all, with all that name-calling, the Democrats are losing the battle for public opinion with the supposedly hapless Republicans.
It is rather the conviction, often voiced by defenders of Democrats and liberals more generally, that the real problem with their inability to enact a Left-leaning agenda is that they are such marshmallows. Softies like Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid are just too nice and too polite. It’s those mean Republicans who manage to outmuscle the demure Democrats. This of course bears no resemblance to reality, but it is a convenient excuse for declining to examine whether the Democrats’ shortcomings stem from their ideological extremism.
You aren’t likely to see a column entitled “Democrats Need Sane Centrists” in the mainstream newspapers, but they are stuffed with the sort of “If Only They Were Tougher” justification pieces. But that leaves open the question of who the Democrats could find to be any meaner than the crop of politicians they currently have.