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Monday, May 7, 2012

Biden: Democrats were "taken over by the far Left" in early 1970s

Based on what I've seen on the Internet, the big take-away from Vice President Biden's appearance yesterday on Meet the Press was his revelation that he was "absolutely comfortable" with marriage equality. This was taken as a change in the vice president's stance on same-sex marriage. However, there was something else the Vice President said in that interview that I felt was more important, viz., his acknowledgement that the Democratic Party had long ago been "taken over by the far Left". Specifically, he stated that the Republican Party has been taken over by the Tea Party, adding, "My party was taken over by the far Left when I was elected in 1972."

I'm not inclined to disagree with the vice president. In 1972, the Democrats passed over more moderate candidates for the ultra-left-wing Sen. George S. McGovern. The reward for their bold risk was being on the losing end of the biggest presidential landslide in U.S. history (uncontested elections notwithstanding). In a phone conversation the morning after with then-Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, President Nixon remarked that the difference between the 1972 election and the '68 campaign, which ended in Nixon's narrow defeat of HHH, was that he and Humphrey "both put the country first," whereas McGovern was prone to say "any Goddamn thing that came in his head." The four decades since have seen the Democratic Party's sharp left turn manifest itself in different ways: multiple Democratic members of Congress losing primaries to more left-wing opponents; conservative Democrats switching to the Republican Party; increased polarization, both in government and among the general electorate. And, McGovern wasn't the last hard-line progressive to defeat more moderate (and arguably more electable) candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Barack Obama's election in 2008 was made all the more impressive by the fact that he did not suffer the same fate as Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis and John Kerry.) 

For years, we've had to put up with left-wing pundits (and some disgruntled milquetoasts who purported be Republicans) telling us how the Republican Party had been taken over by the far right. This rhetoric has been ramped up ever since the rise of the TEA Party. Finally, we have an unqualified admission from a high-profile Democrat (the second-ranking official in the Executive Branch) that his party was taken over by the far Left 40 years ago. This acknowledgement likely will not receive the attention nor the scrutiny it deserves in the coming week(s), but it sure jumped out at me. Thanks, Joe; your refreshing bit of honesty validates what a lot of us on the Right have been saying--and the Left has been dismissing--for years now.

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