Democrats: The Future's So Bright, They Gotta Wear Shades

Populist and pragmatist? Yeah, right: "In 1988, the populist Jesse Jackson kept stony counsel before giving his nod to the pragmatist Michael Dukakis."

It's nothing but blue sky for the Democrats in the Sunday Week in Review story byMichael Powell, "Democrats In Sync, Mostly," which is similar in sunny toneto the pro-Democrat mash-note penned by Jodi Kantor last week. Powell further helped the Democrats by not using the dread L-word to describe them, even those safely out of reach of higher office.

"Democrats might be forgiven for wearing shades, so bright are their days just now.

"The Democratic turnout in Iowa more than doubled that of the Republicans. National polls show the party's top candidates edging out the best of the Republican field. They have also declined to feast on each others' entrails, although that could change as the campaign and the candidates grow more frenzied.

"And, whatever their differences in emphasis and philosophy of government, the Democrats have danced to remarkably similar themes. They favor universal health care, withdrawing troops from Iraq, combating global warming, hiking taxes for the very rich, and slashing taxes for the working and middle classes.

"It's all poll tested and much applauded by the party faithful."

Powell does (sort of) call Hillary a liberal, which is rare for the Times do admit - but how in the world can he sell left-wingers Jesse Jackson and Ted Kennedy as populists and an arch-liberal like failed Democratic 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as a pragmatist?

"Mr. Obama is the anti-politician, the idealist who would transcend politics. His lineage extends from Bill Bradley to Paul Tsongas, Jimmy Carter and Adlai Stevenson. Ms. Clinton is the liberal pragmatist, a role taken by her husband, former President Clinton, not to mention Lyndon Baines Johnson and Harry Truman. Mr. Edwards has wrapped himself in a populist cloak, a potentially potent and explicitly partisan approach.

"Not long ago, these factions split over welfare, the death penalty and race in terrifically gory party clashes. In 1980, Ted Kennedy, who ran as something of a populist, pouted and barely could bring himself to endorse President Jimmy Carter at the Democratic convention. In 1988, the populist Jesse Jackson kept stony counsel before giving his nod to the pragmatist Michael Dukakis."