To the Editor:
Re “Why Rush Limbaugh Loves Cindy Sheehan,” [July 30]:
In one short paragraph Niall Stanage brilliantly explicates the main problem facing the Democratic Party in 2008.
After citing two typically diversionary Democratic endeavors—Cindy Sheehan’s campaign to “unseat Nancy Pelosi from the House of Representatives” and Senator Russell Feingold’s intention to censure President Bush—Mr. Stanage gets to the crux of the matter.
He writes: “The problem here is not really Ms. Sheehan or Mr. Feingold. It is the strand of political activism … which … represents a constituency that prefers to lose while glorying in its own ideological purity rather than sully itself in the battle for incremental victories.”
Touché! This is something that one of the cleverest operatives in Democratic Party history—Lyndon Johnson—always understood instinctively and intuitively.
President Johnson always inveighed against those who would rather be right than win. “Bomb-throwers,” he often called them. As Senate majority leader in the 1950’s, while fighting for most of the liberal causes, Johnson exhorted Senator Hubert Humphrey and the liberal wing of the party to support him and compromise or risk accomplishing nothing.
In 2008, the Democrats face the same conundrum: Would they rather be “right” on a multitude of micro-issues, or would they rather win a national election by compromising and appealing to all voters, including some they have recently scorned?
East Hampton, N.Y.