Back to the future

Joe Klein on how the angry partnership between Dean and Gore is remaking the Democrats. Klein puts his finger on the basis of the Dean-Gore alliance when he observes that “the two have so much in common; they’re the angriest guys in the Democratic Party.” He also shrewdly recognizes that Dean’s anger is “tactical, not visceral.” And Klein is on the money when he says: “Gore 6.0 seems more radical than previous models, with a passion upgrade from the glitches in 5.0 (clumsy populist presidential candidate), 4.0 (clumsy earth-toned presidential candidate), 3.0 (loyal Vice President) and 2.0 (militant New Democratic candidate for President in 1988).”
However, the main insight of Klein’s piece comes towards the end when he points out that “Democratic factions tend to be sedimentary.” The old-time blue-collar economic populists (represented today by Gephardt) were supplanted by radical-liberal activists, who in turn were pushed aside by the “new” Clinton-style Democrats. Now comes the latest faction (Klein calls them the “new-news”) led by Dean. Clearly, as Klein acknowledges, they most resemble the radical-liberals, who, of course, fared the worst of the factions when they encountered the electorate. Klein tries to avoid the obvious conclusion by claiming that the “new-news” have borrowed elements from other factions and have developed a style all their own. But, by the end of the piece, not even Klein seems persuaded.

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