Until Democrats promote someone who barks out something like, "We can and will win in Iraq," or, "Let the word go out: An attack on the United States originating from a rogue state is synonymous with its own destruction," or some such unguarded and perhaps slightly over-the-top statement, I don't think that the American people will entrust their safety to the party. John Kerry, to be frank, is no Harry Truman, and time is running out for Hillary Clinton to morph into Scoop Jackson.
Philosophically, two grand themes explain the Democratic dilemma. One, the United States does not suffer from the sort of oppression, poverty, or Vietnam nightmares of the 1950s and 1960s that created the present Democratic ideology. Thus calcified solutions of big government entitlements, race-based largess, and knee-jerk suspicion of U.S. power abroad come off as either impractical or hysterical.
Second, there is the widening gulf between word and deed — and Americans hate hypocrites most of all. When you meet a guy from the Chamber of Commerce or insurance association, you pretty much know that what you see is what you get: comfort with American culture and values, an upscale lifestyle that reflects his ideology and work, and no apologies for success or excuses for lack of same.
But if you listen to Dr. Dean and his class venom, it hardly seems comparable with how he lives or how he was brought up. John Kerry's super power boat, Teresa Kerry's numerous mansions, Arianna Huffington's gated estate, George Soros's jet, Ted Turner's ranches, Sean Penn's digs — all this and more, whether fairly or unfairly, suggest hypocrisy and insincerity: Something like, "High taxes, government regulation, racial quotas, and more entitlements won't hurt me since I have so much money at my own disposal anyway, but will at least make me feel good that we are transferring capital to the less fortunate."
Worse yet, such easy largess and the cost of caring often translate into contempt for the small businessman, entrepreneur, and salesperson who is supposedly illiberal because he worries that he has less disposable income and is less secure. And when you add in cracks about Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and the "Christian Right" — all the things the more cultured avoid — then the architects of a supposedly populist party seem to be ignorant of their own constituencies.
As VDH observes, the Democrats are stuck in a time warp. They keep reliving the 60's over and over again. Their rhetoric has remained static and has become increasingly absurd when considered alongside the urgent problems of the 21st century. Whether it is foreign or domestic policy, they try to fit it into the procrustean bed of Vietnam or racism or the evil capitalism memes. They can't seem to think outside the box of the 60's, let alone the last century.
Personally, I think that, like the Jihadists, they prefer to commit political suicide--taking down as much of the country as possible--rather than to consider amending their hypocritical class warfare bullshit. The rehashed (and fully discredited) Marxist, pseudoreligious ideology they embrace like dogma is not capable of connecting to the real people who live and work in a free society. Real people see them as either impractical or completely hysterical.
Read it all, for it is very good.