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Preview:, the sharp edge of the vital center, provides political commentary from the New Democrat movement.

Updated: 2012-04-15T20:46:21.783-04:00


See You At TDS


After about 33 months and (as of today) 932 posts at, I'm finally ready to do what so many other bloggers have done, and move from a solo gig to something a bit more integrated into a strategic political mission.As of June 18, I'll be blogging regularly at The Democratic Strategist, an online magazine that's about a year old. In case you're not familiar with TDS, its editors are the

Ch-ch-changes in Caucusland


Yesterday brought a batch of news from the presidential campaigns in Iowa, where believe it or not, the first stage of the nominating contest will commence in about six months (and that's if Iowa doesn't move back a week in a shuffle caused by Florida's legislation moving its primary back to January 29, or even further if New Hampshire decides to deal with all its competitors by moving back into

The NH Republican Debate


I didn't watch the NH Republican debate on CNN, but figure that the most important reactions are among the conservative commentariat. At National Review's The Corner, which basically liveblogged the debate, Rudy Guiliani was the clear winner. At, Mike Huckabee was the winner on the stage, and Fred Thompson was perhaps the big winner. Republicans remain way divided at this point.

Two What-Ifs


The big what-if in the news today was in sports, when Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan scuttled back to Gainesville four days after penning a big-bux contract to go to the NBA's Orlando Magic. This was a what-if not only for the Magic, but for the daisy-chain of hirings and openings that might have emerged in the college coaching ranks if Donovan had stuck with his decision to book.The best

Permanent Bases In Iraq


There's been quite a buzz in the blogosphere and elsewhere recently about the likelihood that the Bush administration's ultimate fallback goal in Iraq is to establish permanent U.S. military bases, as a sort of shriveled imperial booby-prize for our disastrous policies towards that country. Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED has a good summary of the latest talk. You'd think that maybe this was an issue

Obama's Health Plan: The Best of Incrementalism


As you probably know if you've been following the presidential campaign news, Barack Obama released his long-awaited health care reform proposal earlier this week, and it's getting decidedly mixed reviews from the chattering classes. Two progressive blogger/journalists with pretty good street cred on health care issues, Ezra Klein and Jon Cohn, have published quite similar takes, praising many

Winship Weighs In


It's rare these days to find a blog post by someone calling him or herself a New Democrat, and rarer still when that someone is a member of the post-Clinton generation of political activists and analysts. So I have more than a passing interest in the Table For One guest blogs being posted by Scott Winship (former managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, and now with Third Way) over at

The Decline of Conservative Envy


Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers has an important post about one of the most fundamental but insufficiently discussed lessons of the 2006 elections: the collapse of the supposedly invincible Right Wing Machine.One of the nice side effects from our great electoral success in 2006 is that the tide of books, speeches, and studies by progressives with conservative movement envy has been significantly

Memorial Day 2007


I'm just old enough to actually remember a time when large elements of the American male population had died or risked death in uniform, and just young enough to have legally avoided military service myself. I was lucky, while many of my Vietnam-era peers weren't, and part of the emotion properly felt on Memorial Day has to do with the recognition of young men and women who wound up in the wrong

Why Chris Bowers Should Fraternize With Third Way


Yesterday Chris Bowers of MyDD did a long, interesting post about the Third Way organization, and wondered aloud why he should treat as comrades-in-arms people whose name, he suspects, represents a commitment to extinguish his and his friends' influence over Democratic politics.Here's the key section:To be perfectly blunt, why would I want to speak to a group that seems to have been created for

Grass Turning Blue


In a bit of a surprise, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Kentucky today, winning just over the 40% of the vote necessary to avoid a runoff. He enters the general election contest as a heavy favorite over scandal-plagued Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher, who easily beat former U.S. Rep. Anne Northrup for the GOP nomination.Until very recently,

Immigration Deal: One Step Forward Onto a Garden Rake


The new immigration deal, which has barely been revealed in its details, survived a simple vote to proceed in the Senate, but amidst signs that it will be buffeted from almost every direction.39 Democrats and 30 Republicans voted for cloture on the motion to proceed on the deal; 5 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted against it. But all over the chamber, senators who voted both yea and nay vowed to

Model Retraction


A couple of days ago, I did an unhappy post lengthily taking issue with something Ezra Klein had to say at TAPPED about polls and Democratic "centrists," and wanted to report that Ezra subsequently apologized for the whole thing, in terms that went far beyond anything necessary to satisfy me or anyone else. I hope that next time I say something that might unintentionally cause offense, I have

Times Turns Thumbs Down On Immigration Deal


As a useful summary over at RealClearPolitics shows, initial response to last week's immigration deal in the nation's editorial pages has been relatively positive. But today, the New York Times came out with guns blazing and urged that the deal be rejected if it's not significantly improved, with the vast "guest-worker" program contemplated in the proposal being the major flashpoint. Given the

The Romney Surge


It's increasingly obvious that Mitt Romney's "second interview" to become the Conservative Alternative to McCain and Giuliani in the GOP presidential contest is working out a lot better than his first. Having jumped into a lead or strong second place in several recent polls in NH, the Mittster is now moving up fast in Iowa as well. Via TPMCafe's Election Central, we learn that Romney's opened up

Immigration and the GOP: Kaboom!


The immigration deal cut last week by the White House and key Senate leaders will probably have the votes to get through the Senate, unless there's a full-scale Democratic revolt against the size of the obnoxious "guest worker" program. But I tell you what is absolutely clear: this deal is rapidly becoming a toxic, divisive problem for Republicans, potentially as large as divisions over the Iraq

On Immigration, What He Said


In case anybody is under the misapprehension that my last post reflected disrespect towards Ezra Klein (which wasn't my intention, though I do think he showed some disrepect to "centrists" in the subject of my unhappy response), let me say his three (so far) TAPPED posts on the immigration "deal" are the best immediate reactions I've seen: a good analysis of the pros and cons of the deal itself,

About Those Poll-Driven Centrists


In his contribution to the TAPPED/Third Way colloquoy on the 2006 elections (see my last post), Ezra Klein goes off into a digression about the alleged "obsession" of centrist groups with polling, adding this unhelpful "hunch" about its origins:My hunch is that both liberals and conservative intuitively understand that their philosophies have a certain instinctual resonance with the broader

Crunching 2006 Numbers


An extended and rather heated exchange has broken out over at TAPPED regarding Third Way's recent analysis of electoral trends between 2004 and 2006, which, to make a long story short, suggests that Democrats main vote gains last year were in "red" elements of the electorate, especially white men and high earners. The report drew criticism from Tom Schaller, Mark Schmitt and Ezra Klein. Then

The Immigration Deal


The big news in Washington today is that the White House and Senate leaders have agreed on another version of immigration reform legislation that would supersede the stalled Kennedy-McCain bill, and maybe stand an outside chance of enactment in the House. I'm not inclined to immediately follow Nathan Newman in labeling this a "crappy deal." But there are clearly some problems with it. Personally

RIP Jerry Falwell


I did a post over at TPMCafe about the death of Jerry Falwell, mainly dealing with my own perceptions of his less-than-titantic domination of his home town of Lynchburg, Virginia. More generally, it's pretty clear that Falwell's national role as anything other than a symbol of, and as an occasional embarassment to, the Christian Right ended a long time ago. Still, he was indeed a pioneer in the

Will GOPers Take a Dive in '08?


Over at The American Prospect, Tom Schaller goes through the various reasons that conservatives are unhappy with the Big Three Republican front-runners for the 2008 presidential nomination--Giuliani, McCain and Romney--and comes up with an interesting suggestion: GOPers could decide it's more important to make a "statement" of conservative principle than to win, and may prove it by uniting behind

Mandate for Democracy


Washington Post reporter and columnist David Broder has been frequently barbecued in the progressive blogosphere in recent years for epitomizing the Beltway Establishment mindset, and particularly its reflexive support for bipartisanship in an era of Republican-driven polarization. But he's also long harbored a quirk that is decidedly and unfortunately unusual among bigfoot journalists: an

Sticks and Stones


One of the perennial issues kicked up in the discussion of Jon Chait's TNR cover article on the netroots was the abusive language frequently encountered in blogs and particularly in comment threads. To summarize a whole lot of posts by a whole lot of people, the theory among some is that MSM types are hostile to the blogosphere because they aren't used to getting criticized up there in their

To Hell With Romney


Via Christopher Orr at The Plank, it was interesting to discover that not all the conservative evangelical Christians who hate Mitt Romney's religion are keeping those views to themselves. Florida televangelist Bill Keller, in an email reportedly sent out to a 2.4 million-member subscription list, made this measured comment, among others, about the consequences of voting for the Mittster:"Those