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Advice to Dems: Face Up to the Problem

Elaine Kamarck is a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and was a senior adviser to Vice President Al Gore.  Today in Newsday she gives the Democrats the kind of political advice Republicans love to see.

Some Democrats are so freaked by the past they are arguing that members of the party should stay away from one of the biggest issues of the day: the Bush administration's domestic spying operations.

This is a mistake for two reasons. First, if the Democratic leaders stay away from this issue, the activist left will fill the void. The left wing of the party frequently manages to sound weak on defense and weak on terror. Nothing could play more into Rove's hand. He wants this debate to be about eavesdropping on al-Qaida, familiar territory on which they win.

Second, if Democratic leaders can't question an issue with profound constitutional importance, a great many Americans will wonder - as they did in the past two elections - whether this party believes in anything at all.

And so the challenge is to get the debate onto Democratic grounds.

What Kamarck doesn’t understand is because of the left-wing’s influence on Democratic politics there isn’t any “Democratic grounds” on national security, its Republican occupied territory. As far the “left will fill the void” she’s too late, there is no void to fill. Howard Dean is Chairman, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the Congressional leaders and Joe Lieberman is persona non grata. All she is doing with this advice is unwittingly playing right into Rove’s strategy.

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Start with stopping the process of writing Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party and then take on the Dean/MoveOn/Pelosi crowd, otherwise Democrats have no chance of competing with Republicans on national security and terrorism issues.