Friday, January 20, 2006

The South-obsessed D.C. establishment strikes again -- choosing Virginia's newly elected Democratic governor (and great hope of establishment moderates who still think there's a "New South" in which the party, with enough pandering, can prevail), Tim Kaine, to give the Democratic response to the President's State of the Union speech.

Kaine is a bright, well-spoken technocrat, who represents some of the best aspects of the liberal meritocracy. But he is not a man to represent the kind of pugnacious, populist spirit that's long been missing from the party -- and that the times demand.

He represents the party's strenuous efforts to hold on to bits and pieces of an old, dying coalition -- rather than evidence of new vitality and growth. Or, evidence that the party's leaders understand that difficult times demand difficult and dramatic change within the party itself.

If what they wanted was to introduce a new Democratic star to the nation, they would have been better served by tapping the first Democrat to win the governorship in Montana in over decade and a half -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer. A smart man with a genuine populist touch, from a part of the country that the Democrats continue to ignore at their peril.


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