First Ladies Club

Notes from the political sidelines.
July 16 2005 8:48 AM

Desperate Housewives

George Bush learns you can't go home again.

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4. By the standards of the people I grew up with, I have never had a real job. I spent the first 15 years of my career working for Al Gore and Bill Clinton. For the past five years, I have been president of a centrist think tank, the Democratic Leadership Council. Click here for what the DLC's critics say. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own, not Slate's or the DLC's. 

5. I am an unabashed Clintonite. While I can't match Sidney Blumenthal in the cheerleading department, I did once wear a skirt to a Clinton tribute. 

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6. I have worked for and admire most of the Democrats expected to run for president in 2008. Ivan Schlager, an old friend from Capitol Hill, says the true test of a politician's character is whether he knows you by name. He calls this the "Hi, Ivan!" test. I am partial to politicians who pass the "Hi, Bruce" test. However, there is no evidence that politicians who know me like me better than ones who don't.

7. I am not a Bush man. I met George W. Bush once, when the nation's governors came to the White House in 1999. He asked about private accounts for Social Security. I introduced him to Gene Sperling, who explained why Clinton proposed add-on accounts instead.

8. Even though I'm not a journalist, I adore John McCain. He gave my son his first squirt gun.

9. I bear an unsettling physical resemblance to Ralph Reed. (Click here and here.) My greatest fear is that he will become president someday, forcing me to spend my golden years as a celebrity impersonator at birthday parties. I carry a grudge against every Republican politician who, in greeting me, has tried to pass the "Hi, Ralph!" test. … 1:19 P.M.  (link)

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Preoccupied with 1985 Twenty years ago this summer, I moved to Washington to take on the Democratic Party's problems. Unfortunately, we're both still here. 

In most professions, you know when you're washed up. Apart from a few Julio Francos who linger past their prime, most of American life is up-or-out. Politics is just the opposite: In this business, you never have to admit you're washed up, because there's always a chance the tide might change and wash you in again. Anyone can talk about raising the retirement age. In politics, we actually do something about it.

Look at Donald Rumsfeld. By any standard, Rumsfeld's a Has-Been. Ex-Congressman for over 35 years. Former CEO of two former companies. Waited 25 years to get back his old job as Secretary of Defense, and now won't leave even though he lost it again a long time ago. Rummy is an inspiration to Has-Beens everywhere. When I left the White House in 2001, Rumsfeld's appointment kept me going. For the past four years, I've been telling myself I have 7 more presidential elections until I'm Rumsfeld's age. Maybe I'm not a Has-Been. I could be a retread-in-waiting.

That's what this blog is about. In the old politics, the losers could only fail every four years. Now, thanks to the blogosphere, we can fail every day.

The Internet is teeming with blogs that promise the next new thing. Has-Beens love new ideas—we vaguely remember once having some—but we like old ones, too. This blog will offer the best of the '80s, '90s, and '00s, including a number of opinions that have gone out of style: The purpose of politics is to solve problems. Results matter. Responsibility begins at the top. 

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