The DLC Brand

Mike Crowley notes that in a stark contrast to the 2003 version of the event, none of the Democratic contenders will be attending the DLC's 2007 national conversation. I find this effort to play down the significance wildly unconvincing.

What captures the significance of this perfectly is that in 2006 Hillary Clinton addressed the DLC National Conversation. In 2005 she addressed the DLC National Conversation. In 2004 and 2003 the focus was on the Democratic presidential candidates, but in 2002 she addressed the DLC National Conversation. Back in 2001, she addressed the DLC National Conversation. She's the sort of person, in short, inclined to attend the DLC National Conversation event. Which is no surprise since her husband co-founded the group and she's a member of the leadership team. These days, though, she's running for president in an environment where lavishing the sort of praise on Al From that she lavished in 2001, then again in 2002, then again in 2005 and again in 2006 wouldn't suit her 2007 purposes very well. That's a change from 2003, when almost all of the contenders thought it would help them politically to be seen as DLC-friendly.

The flipside is that the significance is entirely limited to this sort of atmospherics. The DLC brand has become tarnished. On a policy level, though, I don't see a ton of change. Clinton hasn't radically revised her approach to things, she's the clear front-runner, and I don't know any centrist policy people who feel especially threatened by the possibility that one of her rivals might get the nomination. I hear, though, that some of the DLC leadership people are a little bummed that high-profile politicians don't want to hang out with them.