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President Bush's popularity ratings may be low, but Democrats seem unable to take advantage. The party's operatives blame bad tactics. The real problem is bad ideas.

Truth is, the Democratic Party's base has for many decades consisted of a list of groups waiting for government favors — big labor, radical feminists, the ACLU, the AARP, etc. So why wouldn't their campaign speeches sound like litanies?

Other Democrats have a more realistic perspective. A new study sponsored by the centrist Democrat group Third Way and written by Elaine C. Kamarck and William A. Galston, two of the architects of Bill Clinton's 1992 election victory, concedes that Democrats can no longer win elections simply by mobilizing their left-wing base — because there simply are not enough left-leaning voters.

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In his talk at Northwestern, Carville suggested that Gore's failed campaigns proved him to be a victim of his own wisdom. But Gore's IQ came into real question last week as he gave a speech to a media conference in New York and warned that "American democracy is in grave danger."

According to Gore, "the 'marketplace of ideas' that was so beloved and so carefully protected by our Founders . . . effectively no longer exists."

Has the former vice president heard about the Internet? (Our apologies. After all, Gore once claimed to have invented the Internet.) Has he heard of blogs? Or even cable TV? This is an age when more diversity of political opinion is available than ever.

Gore went on to complain about the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine and other governmental regulations of opinion over the airwaves. He claimed that this led to hatemonger talk radio, and he talks of the White House sending out "squadrons of digital brownshirts" to harass journalists.

What Gore's really objecting to is the new availability of ideas through new information sources that he and those who share his beliefs haven't yet found a way to control.
 
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