When 88% is not good enough

In all the publicity about their attack on Senator Joe Lieberman, it has gone almost unnoticed that the far left has also targeted some members of the Black Caucus for their support of highly selective Bush administration policies. This support often came about only after hard negotiations to win administration support for programs to help people in their districts.

Having lived in Chicago for two decades I find it almost unimaginable that former Black Panther Bobby Rush could be challenged from his left, but he was. Cong. Rush's vote for the energy bill upset the masters of the Internet's political universe and their followers, many of whom who seem as enthusiastic about enforcing left wing political dogma as the Saudi mutaween are about enforcing Sharia.

Another Black Caucus member, Rep Wynn of Maryland, is also being challenged from the left because his record of voting 88% with the party was, to his great surprise, not considered good enough.  He had this to say to the Washington Times,

"My general view is that the Democratic Party used to be the big tent party where everyone is allowed to express their views; now it is being taken over by these bloggers and purists who can only see one way of thinking,"

The article goes on to quote such leading black consultants as Donna Brazile as questioning the wisdom of demanding that a Democrat candidate position's be 100% to the left 100% of the time, regardless of the office being sought or the constituency being served.

I have long questioned the conventional wisdom about the Democrat party's immutable lock on 90+ percent of the Black vote, so I find these attacks on the Black Caucus from the hard left particularly interesting.

I was also intrigued by hip hop mogul Russell Simmons's endorsement of Michael Steele in the Maryland Governor's race. I know next to nothing about Mr. Simmons except that when surfing my Direct TV menu the other day, I noticed  the Biography Channel was airing a joint biography of Simmons and Hugh Hefner.  The tie was that Simmons has been doing for hip—hop what Hefner had done to soft core pornography with Playboy: made it safe for the middle class to openly enjoy without social censure.

If the comparison is apt,  Simmons will become a major figure in the social history of America. One thing for certain is that hip—hop has indeed gone mainstream.  On Bravo network's Project Runway Wednesday night, the challenge for the seven competing designers was to create a jet set look for themselves. Michael Knight, a polite, soft spoken 28 year old black contestant from Atlanta, favored by many fans to win the competition, created a hip—hop look in white seersucker with just a few touches of bling. When asked by the judges his intended destination, Knight said in a matter of fact manner, "the Hamptons."

A vast many political pundits have taken up the cry that 2006 will be a bad year for Republicans, a 1994 in reverse, with a seismic change in the Congressional power structure.  I don't know about that.  What I do know is that the pundits tend to be over—invested in the inside the beltway conventional wisdom while remaining blind to changes in the underlying culture.  For example, from 1992 to 1994 the punditry was as heavily invested in their support for Hillarycare as they now are in the meme that the war in Iraq was a mistake.  At this time in 1994 the buzz from many of them was about voters punishing Republicans for stopping health care reform come November.

One major change in the culture that appears to have gone unnoticed by the political class is that an entire generation of American blacks have grown up and economically prospered without ever experiencing legal discrimination. Yet many of the political leaders who supposedly speak for blacks talk as if Jim Crow is still a fact and that aspirations inside the black community go no further than waiting for the next government handout. 

One example of how times have changed is that with the new affluence many black communities have become concerned that black owned business often get sold off at bargain prices when the owners die because the family was not aware of the need to plan around death taxes. The sale of the Chicago Defender, a newspaper that was an icon of black culture, is a case study in the way the estate tax hammers those whose legal sophistication does not yet match their financial affluence. 

Yet should a black Congressman vote for estate tax reform precisely because the tax hits hardest at the newly prosperous, the largely white, affluent left wing of the Democratic Party beats up on him for being a "conservative sympathizer." This is particularly rich in irony since so many leading left wing Democrats such as Dean, the various Kennedys, Kerry, Dayton, Lamont, Rockefeller et al, had the money and leisure to pursue political careers precisely because their own ancestors were able to avoided the grim reaper's favorite traveling companion, the taxman.

I have no idea what might happen in the November elections, but I do suspect it will not be as the pundits have been predicting.  Many conservatives are certainly upset with the Republican incumbents, but who out there is truly in love with the Democrats other than the voices on the hard left? 

A spate of documentaries and reenactment on broadcast and cable TV marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 may well remind many conservatives that this is not 1992.  Back then in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union they felt safe in venting their angers and tipping the election to Bill Clinton by staying home or by voting for Ross Perot.  Clinton, after all, had run against the left in his own party and sounded much like a fiscal conservative.

As we get closer to election day, I suspect the dominance of the far left voices of the Democrat side will be a constant reminder of the high consequences of abandoning the party this year. In addition, the rise of open expressions of anti—Semitism by the political left threatens to shear off more of the reliably Democrat Jewish vote,  while the left's traditional race/class warfare,and social spending themes seems to have less and less appeal to the rising financial aspiration of the coming generation of black voters.

America's political left likes to point out that their own dissent over the war on terror is both highly patriotic and a sign of the strength of our culture.  What then to make of the true strength of a party that has become so intolerant of dissent from within that they now sometimes turn on allies as reliable as members of the Congressional Black Caucus?

In all the publicity about their attack on Senator Joe Lieberman, it has gone almost unnoticed that the far left has also targeted some members of the Black Caucus for their support of highly selective Bush administration policies. This support often came about only after hard negotiations to win administration support for programs to help people in their districts.

Having lived in Chicago for two decades I find it almost unimaginable that former Black Panther Bobby Rush could be challenged from his left, but he was. Cong. Rush's vote for the energy bill upset the masters of the Internet's political universe and their followers, many of whom who seem as enthusiastic about enforcing left wing political dogma as the Saudi mutaween are about enforcing Sharia.

Another Black Caucus member, Rep Wynn of Maryland, is also being challenged from the left because his record of voting 88% with the party was, to his great surprise, not considered good enough.  He had this to say to the Washington Times,

"My general view is that the Democratic Party used to be the big tent party where everyone is allowed to express their views; now it is being taken over by these bloggers and purists who can only see one way of thinking,"

The article goes on to quote such leading black consultants as Donna Brazile as questioning the wisdom of demanding that a Democrat candidate position's be 100% to the left 100% of the time, regardless of the office being sought or the constituency being served.

I have long questioned the conventional wisdom about the Democrat party's immutable lock on 90+ percent of the Black vote, so I find these attacks on the Black Caucus from the hard left particularly interesting.

I was also intrigued by hip hop mogul Russell Simmons's endorsement of Michael Steele in the Maryland Governor's race. I know next to nothing about Mr. Simmons except that when surfing my Direct TV menu the other day, I noticed  the Biography Channel was airing a joint biography of Simmons and Hugh Hefner.  The tie was that Simmons has been doing for hip—hop what Hefner had done to soft core pornography with Playboy: made it safe for the middle class to openly enjoy without social censure.

If the comparison is apt,  Simmons will become a major figure in the social history of America. One thing for certain is that hip—hop has indeed gone mainstream.  On Bravo network's Project Runway Wednesday night, the challenge for the seven competing designers was to create a jet set look for themselves. Michael Knight, a polite, soft spoken 28 year old black contestant from Atlanta, favored by many fans to win the competition, created a hip—hop look in white seersucker with just a few touches of bling. When asked by the judges his intended destination, Knight said in a matter of fact manner, "the Hamptons."

A vast many political pundits have taken up the cry that 2006 will be a bad year for Republicans, a 1994 in reverse, with a seismic change in the Congressional power structure.  I don't know about that.  What I do know is that the pundits tend to be over—invested in the inside the beltway conventional wisdom while remaining blind to changes in the underlying culture.  For example, from 1992 to 1994 the punditry was as heavily invested in their support for Hillarycare as they now are in the meme that the war in Iraq was a mistake.  At this time in 1994 the buzz from many of them was about voters punishing Republicans for stopping health care reform come November.

One major change in the culture that appears to have gone unnoticed by the political class is that an entire generation of American blacks have grown up and economically prospered without ever experiencing legal discrimination. Yet many of the political leaders who supposedly speak for blacks talk as if Jim Crow is still a fact and that aspirations inside the black community go no further than waiting for the next government handout. 

One example of how times have changed is that with the new affluence many black communities have become concerned that black owned business often get sold off at bargain prices when the owners die because the family was not aware of the need to plan around death taxes. The sale of the Chicago Defender, a newspaper that was an icon of black culture, is a case study in the way the estate tax hammers those whose legal sophistication does not yet match their financial affluence. 

Yet should a black Congressman vote for estate tax reform precisely because the tax hits hardest at the newly prosperous, the largely white, affluent left wing of the Democratic Party beats up on him for being a "conservative sympathizer." This is particularly rich in irony since so many leading left wing Democrats such as Dean, the various Kennedys, Kerry, Dayton, Lamont, Rockefeller et al, had the money and leisure to pursue political careers precisely because their own ancestors were able to avoided the grim reaper's favorite traveling companion, the taxman.

I have no idea what might happen in the November elections, but I do suspect it will not be as the pundits have been predicting.  Many conservatives are certainly upset with the Republican incumbents, but who out there is truly in love with the Democrats other than the voices on the hard left? 

A spate of documentaries and reenactment on broadcast and cable TV marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 may well remind many conservatives that this is not 1992.  Back then in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union they felt safe in venting their angers and tipping the election to Bill Clinton by staying home or by voting for Ross Perot.  Clinton, after all, had run against the left in his own party and sounded much like a fiscal conservative.

As we get closer to election day, I suspect the dominance of the far left voices of the Democrat side will be a constant reminder of the high consequences of abandoning the party this year. In addition, the rise of open expressions of anti—Semitism by the political left threatens to shear off more of the reliably Democrat Jewish vote,  while the left's traditional race/class warfare,and social spending themes seems to have less and less appeal to the rising financial aspiration of the coming generation of black voters.

America's political left likes to point out that their own dissent over the war on terror is both highly patriotic and a sign of the strength of our culture.  What then to make of the true strength of a party that has become so intolerant of dissent from within that they now sometimes turn on allies as reliable as members of the Congressional Black Caucus?