Is Flag Burning Triangulation the Smoke Revealing a Democratic Party Ready to Go Up in Flames?

Yesterday's Senate debate on flag desecration showed that Democrats are as clueless as ever about who they are and what they should stand for. Case in point, Hillary Clinton's ongoing attempt to rebrand herself as a red state friendly DLC Dem by supporting a bill that would have criminalized flag desecration while still holding on to her liberal bona fides by voting against the Constitutional amendment banning it. It was eating your patriotism cake and having it too. And many of her cohorts followed suit.

Think Dems carrying the day in 2006 is a slam dunk? Then read Anne Kornblut's flag desecration piece in the Times -- and think again.

The money quote comes from Democratic consultant Steve McMahon, who says of Hillary's patriotic pandering, "What's politically pragmatic isn't always what's pleasing to the left. But pragmatism is what wins elections for Democrats." Really? And which elections would that be, Steve? 2002? 2004?

And it wasn't just Hillary. Kerry, Biden, Boxer, Durbin, Kennedy, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Obama, and Shumer all also voted against the amendment but for the criminalization bill because, according to the Times, "Democrats who voted for the [bill] in effect bought themselves the right to claim that they had voted against flag desecration, potentially inoculating themselves against possible charges of lacking patriotism in a general election campaign." In other words, they earned the right to declare that they actually voted against flag desecration before they voted "for" it (by voting no on the amendment). Yep, that's exactly the kind of pragmatic thinking that "wins elections for Democrats"!

Scariest of all for those hoping the Dems will regain power in 2006 is Kornblut's assertion that "the divergent views of [Hillary's flag desecration] position reflect a broader rift in the Democratic Party over whether the key to electoral success rests in winning over centrists or by drawing clear distinctions with Republicans by staking out unapologetically liberal positions."

Oh. My. God. "Broader rift"? "Divergent views"? What are these people thinking? Even if they don't know what they stand for, don't they at least read the polls? The latest analysis by Democracy Corps couldn't be clearer: Democrats need to draw clear distinctions between themselves and the GOP -- especially by stressing their opposition to the war in Iraq. Oh, that's right; Hillary doesn't see things that way. She wants to have it both ways on Iraq, too.

No wonder she'd rather have attention focused on her aisle-straddling positioning on a non-issue such as protecting the flag (even proponents of the amendment admit there have been just four incidents of flag desecration this year and no more than 50 in the last five years).

How very "pragmatic" of her.