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Posted at 5:04 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

The death of the DLC?

By Ezra Klein

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.

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 5:04 PM ET
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"liberal means through market ends" ?? If that isn't backwards then it ought to be. A Freudian slip in any case.

Posted by: jtmiller42 | February 7, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Democratic Leadership Council is an oxymoron isn't it. I mean with Democratic and Leadership in the same sentence. We are better off without it. One less group to formulate new things to ram down the throats of Americans.

Posted by: twoeagle | February 7, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Aren't you wingnuts a little uncomfortable with the phrase "ram down the throats of Americans"? Get your mind off your wish fulfillment and make yourself useful for a change.

Posted by: randrewm | February 7, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

yeah, he should feel pretty good about himself. Because he and his kind achieved what they set out to do, the foundational subtext of the D"L"C that you are for some reason ignoring: to make it easier to acquire and wield political power... to get rich.

Posted by: andrewlong | February 7, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to burst your bubble; the term 'democrat leadership' is diametrically opposed.

Posted by: techresmgt | February 7, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

The DLC bites dust and the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) becomes the voice of a Democratic Party that is so out of touch with mainstream America, it has virtually doomed itself to defeat in 2012. Wake up, Dems, and listen if you expect to have a chance. The PPI = Left!

Posted by: my4653 | February 7, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

"...the all-purpose Democratic think tank and holding pen that the Center for American Progress is."

I think you mean veal pen.

Posted by: stonedone | February 8, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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