Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5765

Joe Scarborough

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So where does the shifting political landscape leave Democrats? | I learned a long time ago that when it came to the world of politics, whom the gods would destroy, they first curse with power.

Think Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress of 1992.

The Democrats' unchecked dominance led to tax hikes and Hillary healthcare, which ushered in the era of Newt Gingrich and my freshman class of 1994, whose arrogance and over-reaching resurrected Clinton in 1996, which led to Impeachment in 1998, which led to Bush in 2000.

But oddly enough, after Election 2000 that old Blood, Sweat and Tears line "what goes up must come down" stopped applying to modern American politics.

Bush and Republicans dominated Washington in 2000, made surprising gains in 2002, and stunned the political world in 2004 by gaining seats in the House and Senate, while their President did what most believed couldn't be done: He got re-elected.

Now the Democratic Party seems more suited to guest star in the new ABC drama "Lost" than to regain power anytime soon.

As the New Republic's Peter Beinhardt noted tonight on our show and in one of the most important essays of 2004, Democrats refuse to engage in a meaningful way in the war on terror despite the fact we Americans finds itself trapped in the middle that war.

But national defense is far from the only issue dividing the Democrats. Tuesday's New York Times was filled with letters to the editor from Democrats debating the party's future as it related to abortion.

As Newsweek's Howard Fineman pointed out on our show last night, few Democratic leaders have figured out that diversity of opinion on abortion could help their party pick up seats in Red State America.

That approach absolutely scares the hell out of GOP strategists. But fortunately for Republicans, it also terrifies the abortion-on-demand extremists that always pull the Democratic Party too far left.

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With viability and 3D technology changing the abortion debate in ways never conceived by Justice Harry Blackman and the Roe v. Wade court in 1973, and with apologies to Gary Wills and the Dark Ages crowd, abortion is one issue where science and technology is on the side of Republicans.

Then there's gun control-once an issue that made Republicans scurry for cover and apologize for their $5,000 donations from the NRA.

But no longer.

I remember sitting in Congress watching a gun debate in 1998 where you could see the political earth shifting beneath the Democrats feet.

Republicans went into the proceedings with their usual dread, but halfway thru the debate, Democratic heavyweights Jack Murtha (D-PA) and John Dingell (D-MI) rose to mock and rebuke their own party.

A few years later, Al Gore would refuse to broach the subject out of fear of losing rural voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

John Kerry was similarly tongue-tied in 2004  —   even donning cammos to prove that he too was man enough to shoot animals and birds dead.

So where does the shifting political landscape leave Democrats? Should they elect pro-life, pro-gun, pro-war presidential candidates? Not necessarily.

But they may consider doing something radical: supporting candidates in Middle America that represent the viewpoints of... well, Middle America.

Zell Miller is right. The Democratic Party is a national party no more.

But give Ed Gilliespie, Ken Mehlman or myself the keys of the DNC for four years and we could once again put Democrats in power in the House and Senate. That's because Republicans understand middle America-national Democrats don't.

Maybe if the Party of FDR listened more Peter Beinhardt or Bill Clinton, and less to Michael Moore and, they would once again find themselves chairing committees and planning Inaugural Balls.

But as it is now, they are out of luck, out of touch, and out of power.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. He is the author of the recently published "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day : The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)Comment by clicking here.

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