Quote of the day: If Democratic pols need someone to tell them what they should believe . . . (Plus: A N.J. Repug doesn't wanna talk about it)
"All we have to do is go back to the great presidents of the 20th century, who were Democrats--Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson--and reidentify what they stood for and what the Democratic Party stood for.
"We were one nation, pursuing social justice. We believed in international alliances to make us secure. John Kennedy said we owed something to this country, and Lyndon Johnson restored justice and equality. And that's all the Democratic Party needs to say, because all of those principles, those beliefs are different from the Republican Party."
--former Sen. Gary Hart, flogging his new book, The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats, on last night's Daily Show
Actually, the question Jon Stewart asked was: "Are we at the point where someone needs to write a book telling Democrats what their convictions should be?" After Hart offered the above answer, Jon pressed the point: "But if you need to tell them, doesn't that say something in itself--that they need to be educated in core values that you assume drove them in that direction in the first place?"
"One would hope that that wouldn't be necessary," Hart replied, "but maybe it's generational." He's a child of the Depression, he noted, continuing:
I think parties, even institutions, lose direction and lose their moorings, and I think particularly in the late 20th century, when politics began to be taken over by consultants, highly paid media experts, pollsters, focus-group experts, politicians began to say, "Hell, just tell me what I need to say to get to the center," instead of saying, "Here's what I stand for," and the center comes to him or her.
When Hart suggested a connection between the climate of fear created by the Bush administration and the upcoming election, Jon accused him of cyncism, prompting the following exchange:
SENATOR HART: I am the last American idealist. When I'm gone, take a look, folks, there aren't any more.
JON: You know what? I'm going to have you laminated. That's what I've decided to do.
SENATOR HART: Somebody did that in '87. [Laughter.] You're a little late.
JON [when the audience uproar dies down]: Bravo.
SENATOR HART: I just never knew that's what it was called.
JON: That's what it was called. At least that's what the kids call it.
At the end, after the senator said, "We don't need to sacrifice our constitutional liberties to make ourselves secure," to large audience applause, Jon said, "Those are all terrific ideas, and it seems sad that they have to be written down in a book for a political party to read [mimics reading Hart's book] and go, 'Oh yeah, that's what I believe."
APPARENTLY NOT TALKING--N.J. Rep. Jim Saxton
On last night's Colbert Report (another terrific show), Stephen C's "Better Know Your Congressman" journey through all but one of the U.S. House districts (as far as I know, still excluding the California district Stephen declared "dead to me" early on) took an unexpected twist when NJ-3 was represented not by its sitting Republican congressman, H. James (Jim) Saxton [right], but by his Democratic challenger, Rich Sexton [seen below with his family].
Perhaps ol' Jim--"We invited him; he said no thanks"--has learned the lesson of some of his right-wing brethren: Doing a Colbert Report interview is a tricky enough proposition for the nimble-minded; for the slower-witted, it can be lethal. (Oh, so you think we're talking about you, do you, Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland? Could be.)
Challenger Sexton features the appearance on his website, where he's quoted prominently as saying: "My daughter gave me one piece of advice: Don't be funny. She was glad to see I wasn't."
(After the Sexton interview, NJ-3 went up on the show's U.S. map in "goldenrod" rather than the standard "amber," Stephen explained, with the promise that if Sexton should win in November, this will be "bumped up." If he loses, however, it goes to "cadmium yellow, the color of broken dreams." At least I'm remembering it as "broken" dreams. Could it have been something more vivid, like "crushed" dreams?)
NOTE--The Colbert segment online
A comment on the sextonforcongress blog notes that the candidate's Colbert Report interview can be seen "on the front page of www.bluejersey.com."