On June 25, Robin Toner's piece "Kerry's Campaign Theme is Leaning Toward Center" included these paragraphs:
His message, in part, is a return to the promise of Clintonian centrism: reducing the deficit, spurring economic growth, trying to ease "the squeeze on middle-class America," as Mr. Kerry puts it, from things like the cost of health insurance and college tuition.As I wrote yesterday, where else can the DLC go?
Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council and a longtime Clinton aide, fretted openly during the heyday of Howard Dean last year that the party was moving to the left. Today, Mr. Reed describes Mr. Kerry approvingly as "a pragmatic centrist in the Clinton mode."
Familiar faces from the Clinton years, like the economic adviser Gene Sperling, are now at Mr. Kerry's side; James P. Rubin, a State Department spokesman in the Clinton years who advised Gen. Wesley K. Clark during the primaries, is now traveling with Mr. Kerry full time.
In any case, here are the very next paragraphs from the story:
But Mr. Kerry's message also reflects a very different time from the 1990's, framed by three unsettling years of terrorism, war and political division. Mr. Kerry's favorite refrain these days is a plea to "let America be America again." It is a quotation from a Langston Hughes poem that he uses to evoke the idea of restoration - for the economy, for a tax code that he asserts is increasingly unjust, for the dreams of the middle class and, perhaps most of all, for the country's foreign policy.Gee, how horrible to have a Democrat worried about an unjust tax code, the aspirations of the middle class and Bush's "go it alone" foreign policy.
Mr. Kerry's basic campaign speech has a distinctive edge, reflecting the Democratic Party's fury at President Bush and his handling of an increasingly unpopular war.
Indeed, the Times reporter points out that this is a big applause line for Kerry:
"The United States of America should never go to war because it wants to. We should only go to war because we have to."As I've argued before, Kerry may have voted for the congressional resolution about Iraq in October 2002, but there's no way he would have gone to war in March 2003.
Kerry is a long-time genuine Democrat. Some of the very same people currently worrying about his centrism were arguing last fall that he was too much of a "Massachusetts liberal" to be elected (they supported Dennis Kucinich).
The left needs to be part of the coalition that elects the next president. The Democrats have adopted some of Nader's positions from 2000 and have not nominated one of the DLC's preferred choices (Joe Lieberman would have been first, I think). John Kerry is a better small-g green than Ralph Nader. His environmental record in the Senate is first rate.
I've even put my money where my mouth is. Last week, for the first time ever, I contribued to a specific presidential candidate (rather than to the DNC or DCCC). I urge others to do so too. It's going to take millions to beat Bush.