The death of the DLC?
Ben Smith is reporting the Democratic Leadership Council could fold as early as tomorrow. I've noticed a bit of Nelsoning running through the response to this news, but it looks to me like the DLC is a victim of its own success. Its onetime chairman, Bill Clinton, is now an ex-president. Its most recent leader, Bruce Reed, just moved to the White House. The major policy initiatives Democrats have pushed in recent years -- the Affordable Care Act and cap-and-trade -- both hew closely to the "liberal means through market ends" formula that the DLC favored. The group's primary stylistic argument was that Democrats needed to do a better job reaching out to independent voters and the business community and demonstrating independence from their traditional interest groups, and Barack Obama, who appeared at the Chamber of Commerce just this morning, is clearly making an effort to do that.
What it hasn't been able to do is adapt to success. It hasn't mended relations with liberals, so it never could become the all-purpose Democratic think tank and holding pen that the Center for American Progress is. Its policy shop and messaging shops got a bit stale, which allowed upstarts like Third Way to pass it in influence. It continued picking fights with people like Howard Dean and Markos Moulitsas, which meant that when it got headlines, they weren't necessarily good ones. It hasn't nurtured and held onto the young talent that could help it build new constituencies or really update its thinking. It never figured out the Web.
But if I were Al From, the organization's founder, I'd feel pretty good about myself. For better or for worse, the DLC won. That's why potential donors and others are now comfortable letting it die.
| February 7, 2011; 5:04 PM ET
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