While the fissures in the Republican Party grow even larger, there’s been a minor kerfuffle on the Left.
It started with a Wall Street Journal oped by leaders of the Third Way, a Wall St.-backed organization of self-described centrists, warning Democrats to stay far away from economic populism. Elizabeth Warren and Bill DiBlasio don’t speak the language people outside outside the liberal enclaves of New York and Massachusetts understand, they write. What Democrats must do is focus not on income inequality but on the awful terrible crisis of entitlements and federal debt.
The authors must have been thrilled at how quickly the liberal blogosphere linked to their piece on the way toward vilifying their brand. Some Third Way allies publicly bailed on the organization. Warren demanded all such advocacy-oriented “think tanks” be more transparent about their funding sources.
Cokie and Steve Roberts responded by coming down squarely on the side of the centrists in a column they headlined “The rise of liberal self-delusion.” Showing how firmly their feet are stuck in the 20th century, they recount that “Since 1968, Democrats have nominated five northern liberals in the Warren mode (including two from her home state): Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. They all lost. Before Obama, the only Democrats to win the presidency over a 40-year period were two moderate Southern governors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.”
And they place the faultline again on the issue of entitlements, which
are swallowing a growing chunk of the federal budget and squeezing out spending on other progressive priorities, such as medical research and early childhood education. The president is open to reform, but the “professional liberals” defend every cent of those entitlements, and even want to expand Social Security.