democratic leader

DEMS NEED A BLUE-STATE LEADER….I have to admit to being slightly stunned this morning. So my comments are more stream-of-consciousness than well-thought-out analysis and I will do my best to keep them far from the inevitable Democratic piling-on that I so despise.

I think Democrats need to say out loud now what many have been whispering (or blogging) for a while. I adore my former boss Tom Daschle and–objectivity be damned–am heartbroken today about his loss. But it is clear that Senate Democrats simply cannot afford to have a leader who hails from a hardcore red state. It puts both the leader and the party in an untenable position. With reelection in mind, Daschle didn’t have the luxury of standing firm on the energy bill or in pushing Bush harder over Iraq policy. Even so, he stepped to the plate to play hardball with Republicans by essentially shutting down all conference committees this year and was quickly branded an obstructionist. He couldn’t act completely with Democrats’ interests in mind, nor could he keep his political reputation squeaky clean to please constituents who just want someone bringing home the bacon.

It’s a tricky balance. Democrats can’t choose a leader so liberal that they simply feed into the “Ted-Kennedy-tax-and-spend” stereotype. But a red-stater who risks tough reelection fights cannot afford to be as completely committed to the party’s agenda as they to be.

Which is why Dems would do well to add a name like Dick Durbin to the Harry Reids being batted around right now.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Amy Sullivan

Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.