Jim Webb makes Democrat #5

Jim Webb has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination for president, the fourth candidate challenging Hillary Clinton.

Webb may be one of the most interesting and complex candidates in the race:  Secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan, former Senator from Virginia, a Viet Nam War hero, a novelist, a scholar.  Webb is a staunch defender of the military who is anti-war, a populist, someone who is running to the left of Mrs. Clinton who nevertheless has some  conservative positions.  The author of an excellent book on the Scotch-Irish, Webb is an advocate of the Democrats’ old constituency of “the common man,” who in the midst of the recent backlash against the Confederate flag, tried to explain the complexities of that symbol in Southern culture.

Any of you supporting him?

[Read more…]

Martin O’Malley enters the Democratic race

The rock guitar-playing former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, announced that he is running for president as a Democratic alternative to Hillary Clinton.  He is running to the left of Mrs. Clinton, whom he accuses of supporting wealthy special interests.

Democrats, would you rather have Mr. O’Malley than Mrs. Clinton, who is supposedly more conservative than she is?  Republicans, would you rather have Mrs. Clinton than Mr. O’Malley, since she is supposedly more conservative than she is?  Or does personality, for better or worse, trump policy? [Read more…]

The Democrats’ bench problem

The Democrats have a few pretenders, but no real options to the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  This is a symptom, according to Josh Kraushaar, of a more serious structural problem for the party.  Democrats have done so poorly in state and local elections that they are lacking good candidates for the higher offices.  They have a few stars that keep getting re-elected, but once they are gone, to use a sports metaphor,  there is no “bench.” [Read more…]

Ideological sorting

In the course of a column on a recent Medicare bill, Michael Gerson observes that in the not-too-distant-past there were liberal Republicans (in the northeast) and conservative Democrats (in the past).  Back then, lawmakers could form coalitions with kindred spirits across the aisle to pass legislation.  But now both parties have undergone “ideological sorting,” so that Democrats are virtually all liberal and Republicans are virtually all conservative.  Thus, votes are along party lines, and the only hope of advancing an agenda is to win a big enough majority to steamroll the other party.  This is why, he says, our politics is so polarizing and it is so difficult to get legislation passed.

Read what Mr. Gerson says after the jump and consider the questions I raise. [Read more…]

Socialist Bernie Sanders is running for President

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent who identifies himself as a Socialist, is running for president on the Democratic ticket.  You may think, another socialist?  But Sen. Sanders is at least open about his radicalism, and he has a constituency in the Democratic party.

Charles Lane discusses how the Democratic party has veered sharply to the left since Bill Clinton ostensibly brought the party to the center.  Now Hillary Clinton is having to present herself as “progressive,” despite her corporate ties and her record.  So now she is running against many of her husband’s policies. [Read more…]

Senate thwarts both left & right to fund government

The Senate passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, ensuring that the government will not shut down.  Both tea party conservatives AND populist liberals led by Elizabeth Warren opposed the measure.  So did every potential presidential candidate in the Senate of both parties .

(Question:  The Republicans have the tea party, who attack the GOP establishment for its lack of orthodoxy and ties to crony capitalism, to the point of being willing to shut down the government.  What do we call the equivalent on the left, who attack the Democratic establishment and are willing to shut down the government?  The chai party?  Propose something, and maybe it will catch on. [Read more…]