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Sound of silence.

Not too long ago, in the midst of the Senate mud-wrestle over President Clinton's economic plan, a cheeky Senator David Boren appeared on a talking-head show and blathered about the death grip liberals and on poor old Bill. "Should I sit silent as a moderate Democrat ... and allow only those on the left wing of the party to speak out?" he asked. One wonders what cable system the Senator is hooked up to. On economic matters - the subject of Boren's ranting - the debate in Washington and the media has been overwhelmed by conservatives bashing Clinton's proposals. Democrats on the right and Republicans succeeded in drowning out Clinton's investment strategy with the mantra of deficit-reduction. When Clinton proposed his $16.3 billion stimulus package, no liberal Democrat screamed about its modesty. The most vocal reaction came from the piranhas who said the jobs plan was pork and then devoured it. Had others criticized the bill for not being more extensive, the debate might not have tilted so sharply to the right. During the subsequent House deliberation on the budget, liberal Democrats did not protest loudly when Clinton caved in to business lobbyists battling his small proposed hike in corporate taxes: instead, a "give him a chance" attitude prevailed. While conservative Democrats quickly learned that with Clinton the whining legislator gets the deal, Congressional liberals were afflicted by Carteritis (a paralyzing fear of criticizing a President of your own party) and a chronic inability to work together. Finally, when the Senate was in the throes of the budget battle, Senators Tom Harkin and Paul Wellstone organized a group of progressive Democratic senators to oppose the conservative rush to shear Medicare. Their actions helped slow the raid. It was a small win, late in the process, but it should give them a taste for more. Applying pressure from the left is the only way to prevent the Borenized President from drifting further to the right. It may even help Clinton keep one or two of his progressive campaign promises.

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Title Annotation:Beltway Bandits; Senator David Boren
Author:Corn, David
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 26, 1993
Previous Article:Beat the devil.
Next Article:Take this billion and shove it.

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