Jeff Faux's "The Myth of the New Democrats" (TAP, Fall 1993) is illuminating--but in unintentional ways. It highlights the unresolved tension in The American Prospect's editorial persona: though dedicated to rethinking old liberal assumptions, the magazine often shies from conclusions that defy liberal orthodoxy. TAP thus oscillates between earnest stabs at policy innovation and purse-lipped attempts to suppress heresy and enforce liberal dogma. Faux's polemic falls in the latter category.
The postmortems on the Democrats' 2000 election campaign have focused on Bill Clinton's "moral drag" on the Democratic ticket and Al Gore's shortcomings as a candidate. Both played a part in the unhappy outcome, but the fixation on personalities obscures a third and probably decisive factor: the campaign's dominant themes and message. After all, Gore could not undo the Clinton scandals or undergo a personality transplant. But the failure to craft a consistent and compelling case for his candidacy can only be charged to his account.