The haunting of the Democrats
The party is caught in an excruciating Catch-22. Whether it chooses the establishment figure or the liberal reformer, history offers many paths to defeat.
By Andrew O'Hehir
Apr. 21, 2008 | History, in Marx's famous dictum, tends to repeat itself: the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. So what do you call it the third time around? A bad sitcom? A bad marriage? A bad dream? All three of those seem like viable ways of describing the Democratic Party's current predicament, locked in an endless and self-destructive struggle with itself, like a would-be Buddhist penitent unable to atone for eons' worth of bad karma.
Even in the annals of Democratic ritual suicide, the 2008 campaign is something special: It's not just that the protracted and painful nomination struggle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton repeats all the classic themes of intra-Democratic conflict -- left vs. center, reformer vs. the Establishment, pragmatist vs. idealist, call it what you will -- up to and including the fact that the differences between the candidates are mainly semiotic rather than substantive.