Ron Brownstein has a must read look at the growing rift between Dean and the Centrist Democrats:
The rapidly escalating war of words between Howard Dean and the Democratic Party’s leading centrists is reopening old ideological divides suppressed during Bill Clinton’s presidency and raising new fears about Dean’s ability to unite the party if he won the nomination for president.
Party centrists were stunned Monday when Dean denounced the Democratic Leadership Council, a group that provided many of the key ideas for Clinton’s “New Democrat” agenda, as “the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.”
Dean’s comments came just days after he delivered a speech widely seen as accusing Clinton of conceding too much ground to Republicans. The sharp verbal volleys from Dean against party centrists may help energize his liberal base as the first primary contests approach next month in Iowa and New Hampshire. But even Democratic moderates who have been sympathetic to Dean’s campaign worry he could be pushing the party toward an internal upheaval that would severely erode his ability to compete as a general-election nominee.
This is hysterical. I think Dean really decided to run to the left because the middle ground was taken. He figured he could run back to the center. But as he found loyalty and friends on the left, he has moved further into that “comfort zone.” Much like a kidnapped victim falling in love with the kidnapper [Ed. — That’s called Stockholm Syndrome], Dean has bought the rhetoric he only intended to use to advance the campaign.
Dean’s declaration Monday was more than rhetorical positioning; it also reflected his political strategy.
All year he has argued that Democrats’ first priority should be to mobilize their core supporters, such as women’s groups, African Americans, unions, and gay rights activists. That inverts the argument from Clinton, first advanced by the DLC in a 1989 study titled “The Politics of Evasion,” that Democrats could only win the White House by reconnecting with moderate swing voters because their base no longer constituted a national majority.
Al From, the DLC’s founder, and Bruce Reed, the former chief Clinton domestic policy advisor now serving as the group’s president, sharply criticized Dean in a memo to party leaders in May that linked him to landslide presidential losers George S. McGovern and Mondale.
I think Dean has bought the spin that the parties only need to mobilize their voters to vote this year. We’ve all heard that this year. The independents are too small a group or won’t vote, so just bring out your base.
Dean has decided to do just that. Keeping them inflammed will get the liberals to the polls. Only he forgets, I think, that those surveys of independent voters count centrist Dems as Democrats. That group of Dean’s base may vote for Bush or stay home. Dean no doubt thinks they will come home to roost once he has the nomination.
That may not be the case. He has moved so far left that Bush can easily take over the center now, which he is already doing. Dean won’t have any where to advance.