Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Big Dog. An Observation

I’ve been reading some of the conservative blogs and listening to the pundits on tv and radio, both amateur and pro, and they voice a similar refrain. Their remarks usually reflect the talking points of the Republican party, but to a man (and woman) they all agree that the current crop of Democratic candidates are having trouble “getting traction”. I assume they mean that none of them seem to have caught the attention of the voting public. As short as that attention span may be, they?re right. But their reasons are usually the same. They mention the Dems lack of leadership, toughness and ability to speak plainly the US public. Conversely, those are all qualities they ascribe George Bush. But they usually leave out one big reason and if they mention it at all, it comes as an aside.

What’s the whispered reason for the Dems lack of connection to the voting public?

In two words, Bill Clinton. The Big Dog. The penultimate pol. Probably the most astute politician of this and the previous century. His shadow (some might call it aftertaste) hangs over and with us. Saying he's a hard act to follow is an understatement. In the Democratic voting public's mind, Clinton's the yardstick by which all other Democratic presidential candidates will be measured. He pretty much made his own image and played it all the way to the White House. I mean W's good, but he comes off as packaged as he most surely is. Clinton steered his own political ship. Bush's stayed course is managed by the galley crew rowing below.

The bad part is that Clinton isn't helping the Democratic candidates. And it's unfortunate that none of them have broken out of his shadow or figured out how to harness his legacy of economic boom times, a nation at peace and a public not worried sleepless about global insecurity. Bush's strategy seems to keep the war and worry drums beating loud enough to keep the Dems down and the US public's mind off their economic insecurity. If Karl Rove can keep that message alive for the next year, Bush wins.

Eventually someone will break out of the pack. Will it be further to the right Republicrat Joe Leiberman? Maybe. How about the Lefty firebrand Dennis Kucinich? Hardly. But until then, the current Democratic candidates are just barking at the Mailman on the other side of the fence while the Big Dog sleeps with one ear perked up.

Posted by grover at June 15, 2003 2:30 PM