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A blog 'for independent minds'
‘Liberal self-delusion’?
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Dec. 15, 2013 12:11 p.m.



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.


Beyond repeating the false choice between taking benefits away from poor elderly and taking benefits away from poor children, the Robertses embrace that assumption of Beltway cheerleaders of Simpson and Bowles:  Keeping the promises made to retirees is off the table. The debate is over how quickly and how brutally to break those promises.

It may scare the Washington elite, but I welcome a healthy, policy-oriented debate among Democrats. The deterioration of economic opportunity and the rise of income inequality are too important to paper over in the name of pragmatic partisanship.

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