- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The financial chieftains of the far-left of the Democratic Party met recently to discuss ways to win back the majority of American voters.

The elite group, comprised of several dozen millionaires, dubbed itself the “Phoenix Group,” and is led by billionaire George Soros. Details of the group’s deliberations were closely guarded, but reports indicate that the liberal financiers plan to fund multiple left-of-center groups in order to formulate a “new” party message.

This news ought to chill the hearts of loyal Democrats, in particular party moderates, in light of recent activity by one of the groups the millionaires have funded. Criticism of a centrist member of the Democratic leadership by MoveOn.org, recipient of $2.5 million from Mr. Soros in 2004, can be seen as the opening shot in an internal war that could cripple or even break apart the Democratic Party.

MoveOn.org’s target was House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, one of 73 Democrats who supported bankruptcy-reform legislation. Mr. Hoyer, a 25- year congressional veteran, was the target of a critical $100,000 radio campaign funded by MoveOn.org as punishment for his vote to reform bankruptcy laws.

Mr. Hoyer is not the only Democrat to incur MoveOn.org’s wrath. The group’s director recently attacked the centrist Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) founded by then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. The DLC’s leader fired back that Democrats should reject Michael Moore and the MoveOn.org crowd.

While Mr. Hoyer is impregnable politically, winning with 69 percent of the vote in his last election, the message MoveOn.org is sending is clear: Bipartisan cooperation is unacceptable.

These party elitists, led by Mr. Soros and his rich friends, are determined to win from the left or not win at all. The Howard Dean-led Democrats still refuse to recognize the reality of the curse of the northern liberal: Liberalism is a failed ideology.

Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt, there have been 15 Democratic presidential nominees. When Democrats have nominated a southern or moderate candidate, they have won the presidency five of seven times. When Democrats have nominated a Northern liberal, they have lost seven of eight times.

This internecine warfare is great news for President Bush and the Republican Party.

After George H.W. Bush was defeated in 1992, Republican Minority Leader Newt Gingrich, and my successor as Republican National Chairman, Haley Barbour, carefully laid the foundation for the Republican comeback in 1994. They did it by uniting moderates and conservatives around a positive agenda of which the now-famous “Contract with America” was just one piece of a well-coordinated strategy.

Absent from the GOP game plan were party purges, attacks on fellow Republicans, hot rhetoric between moderates and conservatives and other divisive tactics. And even through presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole lost in 1996, the Republican comeback was made complete by the election of George W. Bush and the continuing Republican control of Congress.

With their success, Republicans have shown there are many ways to revive a political party — a healthy debate on ideas, attractive new messengers, use of new technologies and greater grassroots intensity. The current liberal Democratic approach of punishing loyalists is not only counterproductive, but symptomatic of the elitism, arrogance and political immaturity of the limousine liberals determined to reshape the party of Jefferson.

These are the actions of a permanent minority, not an emerging majority.

Certainly Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean deserves a good deal of the blame for his party’s disarray. Mr. Dean’s aim is consistent with the Soros hijacking of the Democratic Party: Repackage lousy-tasting liberalism and expect fellow Democrats and the voting public to swallow it. Mr. Dean displayed the same far-left pandering in the operation of his post-presidential campaign’s political-action committee, Democracy for America, when he coddled up to liberals and ignored party moderates.

And let’s not forget the sorry record of non-leadership displayed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In the past few months, 13 bills have passed the House with bipartisan support. Mrs. Pelosi voted against 70 percent of these bills. An average of 49 House Democrats (24 percent of Mrs. Pelosi’s caucus) crossed their leader to vote in favor of legislation she voted against. Would it be fair to say the phrase “out of control” applies to Minority Leader Pelosi and DNC Chairman Dean?

Richard N. Bond is the former Republican National Chairman.

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