September 30, 2005
Democrats paper over their divideBy Christopher G. Adamo
Last weekend a gathering in Gillette, Wyoming highlighted the present, chaotic state of the Democrats and their party. The two faces, one representing moderation and the other representing fire—breathing liberalism tried to smile at each other, but one of them blinked, as Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal essentially renounced the basic philosophies of his party in front of 75 Democrats.
More stunning yet was that he did so in the presence of Democratic National Committee vice chairman Rep. Mike Honda (D—CA). Honda responded by attempting to portray a bridge of commonality between Freudenthal's pragmatic candor and the image presented nationally by the Democrats. But in doing so, he admitted in public that the party had "lost touch at the federal level." The AP reported:
Honda, while desperately seeking to portray a facade of unity with the Governor, was clearly shaken.
Freudenthal's words were certainly not the first occasion of such antics among Democrats in the Cowboy State. Wyomingites still chuckle when recalling the 1996 Senate Race, in which Democrat candidate Kathy Karpan attempted to establish herself as a staunch protector of the Second Amendment.
Having been haunted throughout that campaign by a picture of herself, on stage with Bill and Hillary at the '92 Democrat Convention, Karpan recognized the need to impress voters that she would support their right to own firearms. So her campaign ran an ad in which she was portrayed on a duck hunting expedition, complete with 12—gauge shotgun.
Unfortunately for her, it was quickly discovered that the ad was staged in a Cheyenne city park where hunting of any kind was prohibited. Ultimately, Karpan's deceit proved that she had even more in common with the Clintons than previously known.
Freudenthal, ever the skilled politician, carefully avoided any similar gaffes. Apparently not wanting any visible record of an alliance with John Kerry, he invoked the standard excuse of 'scheduling conflicts' as reason to forgo last year's Democratic National Convention.
In Wyoming, a steadfastly 'red' state, Freudenthal's predicament is glaringly obvious. It is also highly illustrative of the split occurring nationally among Democrats.
On the one hand, the party's elites regularly posture themselves toward the center in order to win elections. But in recent years, an idealistic and radical element has asserted itself. Blinded by an arrogant belief in their absolute moral and intellectual superiority, this faction is convinced that it only needs to trumpet its countercultural and anti—American message with sufficient volume, and the rest of the country will enthusiastically follow.
Though both factions ultimately seek to advance the same agenda, they sharply disagree on strategy. And, all too often, the party's career politicians are caught in the middle, as they were at another gathering last weekend, the September 24 anti—war, anti—America rally in Washington D.C. Ostensibly a peace rally, it rapidly degenerated into a forum for every extreme element of the counterculture. Mainstream Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, chose not to attend, but they still need the fundraising opportunities and enthusiasm of the loony wing of their party.
Such blatant exhibitions of extreme left liberalism make it extremely difficult for Democrat leaders to maintain a coherent and marketable message from a party that increasingly forsakes the character and patriotism of Zell Miller, replacing it with the ranting of Michael Moore and Howard Dean.
Dismayed though Honda may have been that Freudenthal would publicly disavow Dean (his statements certainly will not play well at the national level), the Governor was merely saying what Hillary and others were thinking as they offered their own excuses ('scheduling conflicts,' don't you know...) for not attending the rally.
Consistently, Freudenthal seeks cover within the political framework of the Republicans. So intimidated is he by the prospect of publicly opposing them that, even on a topic in which such opposition would gain enthusiastic support from Wyoming's conservative ranching community, he opts to remain uninvolved.
In the September 19 issue of the 'Wyoming Livestock Roundup,' Wyoming beef producer J. Randall Stevenson excoriated Freudenthal for remaining neutral (or, as Stevenson bluntly expresses it 'neutered') in response to a USDA decision to open the nation's borders to imported (and possibly tainted) beef.
Yet despite such posturing, Governor Freudenthal may continue to do well politically. Ironically, this is due in large part to Wyoming's RINO dominated state legislature, which by its own rampant liberalism makes it infuriatingly easy for Freudenthal to masquerade as a 'moderate,' or even a conservative. So he might sail through to reelection next year. Unless, of course, he faces a challenge from a real conservative.
Christopher G. Adamo is a frequent contributor who lives in Wyoming.