While Counseling 'Battered Liberals' to Look Forward, Shrum Won't Let Go of 2000 Election 'Stolen' Meme

Shrum0109.jpgBob Shrum has a funny way of telling the troops to calm down.

The purpose of the long-time Democratic strategist's opinion piece at The Week (the picture at the right is at that link) is to counsel his ideological colleagues that despite current appearances, soon-to-be president Barack Obama will indeed enact their liberal agenda.

But while telling Democrats to focus on the future and to resist the urge to dig through every nook and cranny in Washington in search of a Bush Adminstration crime to prosecute, his first sentence revives the long-debunked claim that George W. Bush didn't win the 2000 election fair and square.

Here are key paragraphs from his piece:

Battered Liberal Syndrome

Perhaps there is something in the soul of Democrats, scarred by the stolen election of 2000 and a close loss in 2004, that anticipates setback. Call it Battered Liberal Syndrome. This time, it’s not electoral defeat Democrats fear, but a devaluation of last November’s victory, a scenario in which progressive policy is undermined and Democratic dreams are once again deferred.

A number of liberal bloggers and columnists, most notably the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, worry, hint or state outright that Obama appears to be selling his mandate short. Their indictment of the stimulus—or recovery plan, as Obama prefers to call it—is that the plan is both less efficient and less fair because it includes tax cuts. Then there’s Obama’s reluctance to pledge to investigate and prosecute a wide array of misconduct in the Bush administration. Obama is reproved for his resolve to focus on the future, not the past. At the least, dissenters on the left insist, he should establish a truth finding panel, with subpoena power, to rake through the Bush detritus and expose it to the world.

I decline to join these pessimistic premonitions, this wallowing in disappointment before Obama’s presidency has even begun. .....

I’m convinced Obama’s right to pursue the politics of change in his own remarkable fashion. Americans are fearful, but they yearn to be hopeful; that’s why they voted for Obama. They want solutions, not ideological battle. His stratospheric approval rating as transition yields to inauguration suggests how far he has moved beyond his Election Day majority and how effectively he has harnessed the public will. This could be a powerful force for advancing his agenda—and he’s not going to jeopardize it by letting his presidency be cast in partisan terms.

That doesn’t mean he’s not progressive; he clearly is. But like FDR and JFK, he’s also pragmatic. 

..... That same pragmatism will guide each successive stage of what will prove to be a bold agenda.

Shrum "forgot" that a subsequent media consortium recount showed that Bush really did win Florda:

A group of large newspapers got together earlier this year and hired an accounting firm to recount Florida's disputed presidential election ballots. Their finding: George W. Bush won by a wider margin than he got last year.

And of course, any complete analysis of Florida 2000 has to address the concerted Democratic effort to prevent valid military and other overseas ballots from being counted. This NewsBusters entry from May 2008 does that.

Shrum also argues that "For the moment, the incoming president has marginalized fevered agitators like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity."

Though I don't agree with the assertion (Coulter is so "marginalized" that her latest book is #2 on the New York Times best-sellers list), Shrum is at least smart to include his "for the moment" qualifier. He knows, as Chris Berman at ESPN is so fond of saying, "That's why they play the game."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.