Right now C-SPAN is replaying a National Chamber Foundation conference at which Newt Gingrich was invited to represent the Republicans and the Democrats were represented by – you guessed it – the DLC’s Al From. It’s a pretty painful exhibition of the two of them gloating about how much they have in common. True, insofar as Newt Gingrich’s Republicans represent the direction in which Al From would like to shepard the Democrats (his top three under-discussed goals for the Democratic party: eviscerating labor and environmental protections in trade agreements, scaling back the New Deal, and co-operating better with Republicans)…The most ridiculous moment however, would have to be From’s argument that they’re parallel figures in that Newt discovered a “New Republican” movement, and he discovered a “New Democrat” one. The difference, of course, is that Newt’s Republicans made a resounding victory in ’94 by mobilizing their base and Al’s Democrats inspired a new verb – “Sister Souljah” – for what they did to their base and bequeathed a statistical tie in 2000. Newt Gingrich has much more in common with Howard Dean than with Al From – which may be why he used his podium to lavish praise on From and castigate Dean, and may also be why Dean is so much more popular than From these days (for more on Newt as organizer, check out David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf’s book)

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