THE PARTY OF IDEAS. If there's any justice, today's New York Times article chronicling the intellectual vibrancy now on the left will finally kill the crusty charge that Democrats lack ideas. If you'll remember, that was the word shortly after Bush won reelection. It was the primary talking point during the GOP's aborted campaign to privatize Social Security, and even though their big, new idea proved an embarrassing failure, its implosion did nothing to dislodge the new swipe against the Democrats from the media's mind. The claim became so ubiquitous that Jon Chait (yes, that Chait) penned my favorite ever TNR article, "The Case Against New Ideas."
But if the worth of "new ideas" is questionable, the worth of the appearance of new ideas is undeniable. And as the Times article shows, the left is almost over-accessorizing with them. Our Supreme Leader Mike Tomasky, of course, has stepped forward with his case for the "common good" as an organizing principle. Ruy Teixera and John Halpin, writing on this website, used 18,000 words and a heap o' demographic data to conclude roughly the same. Peter Beinart is about to release The Good Fight, his Big Book on the Democrats and national security, while his bete noires over in the blogosphere have weighed in with their case for progressive restoration in Crashing the Gates.
On the economic side of things, the Clintonistas are planning a return to center stage with the much-hyped wonk supergroup who've formed the The Hamilton Project, while the labor-liberals over at the Economic Policy Institute will have the inimitable Jared Bernstein's new book of economic Big Think, All Together Now, to unite behind.
Meanwhile, the right is undergoing an intellectual collapse, with studies discrediting the starve-the-beast approach, Iraq discrediting neoconservatism, and reality discrediting the Bush administration. Live by the meme, die by the meme, I guess.
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