Identity Crisis

Article excerpt


Identity crisis

New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, following up on a Sunday article in which he portrayed the Republican Party as increasingly confident, wrote yesterday that the Democrats appear to be in the midst "of another of their periodic painful identity crises."

Democrats "are composed of an awkward coalition whose clan chiefs have not yet gotten over the idea that power is the Democrats' entitlement and who therefore have not yet learned to sacrifice for the greater good," the reporter said in a front-page story.

"If there is one thing all kinds of Democrats agree on, it is that they need a better message. Republicans have a very simple agenda of lower taxes, less government and more defense, while Democrats have generalities like being for the little guy and attacking more than they propose."

Part of the problem, Mr. Clymer said, is that "Democrats these days lack the killer instinct that it takes to sell blunt, demagogic messages." And the reason for that, prominent Democratic strategist Bob Shrum suggested, is that Democrats are by nature just too kind and gentle to compete with those mean Republicans.

"It's probably a weakness that we're not real haters," Mr. Shrum explained.

Sticking point

The makers of the lubricant WD-40 are objecting to some Texas lawmakers calling themselves "the WD-40s" a name they say describes them because they're white Democrats over 40.

The group entered the spotlight two weeks ago when they were among 51 Democrats who fled Texas to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Okla., in protest of a congressional-redistricting bill, the Associated Press notes. Republicans hold the majority in the state Legislature.

"It is extremely important to WD-40 Company that its trademark not be associated with any political party or political group," lawyer Kathleen Pasulka said in a cease-and-desist letter to the leaders of the so-called "WD-40s."

"Your use of 'WD-40' as your caucus logo or as the trademark of your group of 'Anglo, male, Democrats over 40' dilutes WD-40 Company's trademark rights and in addition may lead the public to believe that WD-40 Company has given you permission to use their name," the lawyer told Democratic Reps. Chuck Hopson and Mark Homer.

Heads up

"Head Start is one of the most revered programs in government but not altogether deservedly so," David Frum writes at National Review Online (

"At a cost of more than $5,000 per child, Head Start delivers scant measurable, lasting improvement in the academic performance of its beneficiaries. Republicans have reacted to this disappointing outcome by demanding that Head Start rededicate itself to academic improvement.

"Sounds reasonable? Yes unless you are one of the Head Start employees delivering those disappointing results. They have reacted to the bad news about the program's effectiveness by gradually shifting the program's mission away from academics to, in effect, day care. That mission shift was quietly abetted by the Clinton administration and will soon be noisily (and probably abusively) defended by Democrats in Congress and their allies in the press," Mr. Frum said.

"Dems see in this fight a chance to do to [President] Bush what they did to Ronald Reagan with the 'ketchup is a vegetable' attack. Understand what is at stake be prepared to argue this case and don't let them get away with it."

Guest list

The White House has played host to few glittering state dinners since George W. Bush was sworn into office in January 2001, so the one last week for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in itself notable, United Press International observes in its Capital Comment column.

"Equally notable, however, was the presence of EBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman and her husband on the guest list. …