Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Memo to Dems

Re: 2008
Subj: Pay attention to Jim Webb

The freshman Virginia Senator has his finger on a new brand of populism that can make the difference in the next election. Webb is often referred to in the clueless mainstream media as a "conservative" Democrat for the usual superficial reasons the mainstream media likes to fixate on. That's fine because it means he gets to undauntedly put real issues on the table without absorbing the "liberal" discount. In other words, he may finally show Democrats how to separate economic progressivism from the "liberal" label.

From last night's response:

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

Could it be.. after nearly thirty years of wandering the "new economy" DLC desert.. Democrats are ready to represent actual people again?

This is not your run-of-the-mill whiny Dem nonsense.


Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20 th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other." And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world.

Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

That is some refreshing red meat from a rising star in the party. But the field of Presidential candidates is admittedly dense. Visual aids are in order.

Here's what Webb is talking about:

Is his party ready to listen?

How did Webb manage to make such a compelling statement of principle in a spot ordinarily reserved for milquetoasty timidity? He threw out the canned statement and wrote his own speech.
Webb was given a speech to read by the Democratic leadership. He threw it out and wrote his own. As a well-regarded novelist, Webb has a sense of narrative and human drama.
I like this guy better every day.

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