What the GOP Needs Is a Bill Clinton

Douthat: Way out of this mess is to find a new breed of moderate
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted May 5, 2009 9:28 AM CDT
In this May 8, 1987, file photo, former Sen. Gary Hart waves his arms to quiet applause from supporters, during a press conference announcing his withdrawal from the Democratic presidential race.   (AP Photo/Jack Smith)
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(Newser) – Republican moderates like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter are right that the GOP has a hole in the center, writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times. The problem is that they’re not the right kind of centrists to fill it. Yankee Republican moderates are either just liberals with nostalgia for the GOP name (Collins), or “politically savvy but intellectually vacuous” horse-traders (Snowe and Specter). What Republicans need is a Bill Clinton equivalent—an authentically conservative reformer able to attack GOP dogma.

Clinton and his allies remade the Democratic Party, writes Douthat, helping it “recover from the Reagan era, instead of just surviving it.” The new Democrats “were deeply rooted in liberal politics, but they had definite ideas for how the Democratic Party could learn from its mistakes, and from its opponents, in order to further liberalism’s deeper goals.” Maybe there's a governor out there who’s up to the task on the GOP side, Douthat hopes.