S andy Levin, a veteran Democratic congressman from a heavily unionized district in suburban Detroit, has a problem. Crowded into his Capitol Hill office are a couple dozen union representatives who have come to talk to him about China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). It's a testy, uncomfortable moment; the union reps are not happy.
The tension actually transcends the rankling disagreement over granting China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, the de facto prerequisite to China's entry into the WTO. The two sides can't even agree how to discuss the question. Levin wants to talk about the arcana of trade ministerials, nontariff trade barriers, and a dozen other things. But his visitors have already made up their minds, thank you, and they've come to state their views, not to debate. Levin "was going on in some detail," recalls Al Benchich, the head of a United Auto Workers (UAW) local in Levin's...
N ot so long ago, Democrats just loved the idea of third-party candidates who came along and shaved points off the margins of major party nominees. The offices at the Democratic National Committee echoed with schadenfreude last fall when Pat Buchanan jumped ship for the Reform Party. But now, with Ralph Nader making a strong showing in early polls and threatening to take progressive votes away from Al Gore, third-party candidacies suddenly seem a lot less appealing to the Democrats.
Still, couldn't Buchanan, who will presumably attract primarily Republican voters, end up paving Al Gore's way to the presidency? While early polls don't give much reason for hope--Buchanan is stuck in the low single digits, more or less where Nader is--two potent elements could make the Buchanan campaign a significant factor in November.
First, consider money: Unlike Nader, Buchanan should be able to run a surprisingly well-...
November 2nd, 2000 -- Long Knives for the Naderites
If you think that liberals and lefties in Washington, DC are agonizing about Ralph Nader's candidacy, you're mistaken. In recent days the mood has turned almost entirely to thoughts of payback -- though it's not entirely clear what form of retribution the party's liberal wing can exact on Nader and his lieutenants.
For some time, left-liberal types flirted with the Naderites or refrained from attacking them frontally. But now that's all changed. Partly, this stems from the fact that the prospect of his tipping the election to George W. Bush -- in the electoral if not the popular vote -- now seems very real. But there's another reason as well.
Nader and his chief supporters long maintained the pretense that electing George W. Bush might only be an unfortunate by-product of their effort to secure federal status for the Green Party, by garnering 5 percent of the vote (for an example, see my earlier online...
August 21, 2000 -- Who'd a Thunk it? :
The AFL-CIO is probably not the first party interest group the Democratic Leadership Council's Al From looks up when he wants tips on who should be next chairman of the
DLC. But John Sweeney apparently isn't waiting to be asked. Roll Call
this week reports the odd but intriguing news that Sweeney would love
see Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana head the group.
On the face of it Bayh seems a particularly odd choice for Sweeney,
his reputation is that of the Newest of New Democrats. But the heart
the matter seems to be trade. And on this issue, at least, Bayh may
quite the New Dem he seems. Though Bayh now says he'll vote for permanent normal trading relations (PNTR),
been a hesitant supporter at best.
"We'd like to see him get the chair," Sweeney told the Capitol Hill
A s with most political battles, the set-to over Social Security reform has produced competing dramatic narratives. For the Democratic faithful, there's Al Gore fighting the good fight against the right's effort to privatize Social Security, the crown jewel of the New Deal. For Republicans there's George W. Bush, courageously tackling the Social Security crisis while Gore panders. But another story line has captured the imagination of the national political press. It goes something like this: Bush proposes his Social Security initiative; Gore attacks it as a risky scheme. But then two respected elder statesmen from Gore's own party come forward to announce that Bush's approach is the only honest way to confront Social Security's impending collapse. Gore is thus exposed as either a hopeless policy Luddite or a demagogue, and perhaps both. The "statesmen" at work here, of course, are senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bob Kerrey, both retiring at the end of this year. The two have...