Since the early days of the Clinton administration, the Democratic Leadership Council’s “National Conversation,” the group’s major annual event, has been a key stop for Democrats who hoped to be party leaders, and in many cases, president. It was a place to be seen, to impress possible donors, and to solidify one’s place as a serious national player.
At least, it used to. This year’s DLC event appears to suggest the group has lost some of its sway.
TNR’s Ryan Lizza noted the other day the line-ups for the “National Conversation” from the last several years.
Bill Clinton keynoted in 1999 and Al Gore in 2000. In 2001, the event featured Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, and future governors Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitano. In 2002, the National Conversation was a major stop for anyone testing the waters for 2004. Lieberman, Bayh, Daschle, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Mark Warner, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt were all there.
The following year, 2003, was a little less star-studded but still featured Bayh, Napolitano, Sebelius, Warner, Ed Rendell, Jim McGreevey, and Jennifer Granholm. The big attraction in 2004 was Kerry, who was by then the nominee and was eager to show off his centrist credentials. In 2005, the event was again attended by top presidential contenders: Bayh, Warner, Vilsack, and Hillary Clinton. But tellingly, unlike in the run-up to 2004, when even a labor liberal like Gephardt felt obliged to show up, there were no traditional liberals in attendance. Edwards, once a DLCer himself but now reinvented as a liberal populist, was conspicuous in his absence, as was Kerry, who was still flirting with a run.
By last year, about a dozen Democrats were openly considering presidential bids, but only two — Vilsack and Hillary Clinton — wanted to be part of the DLC’s event.
Which leads us to this year. Lizza noted late last week, “Watch the guest list closely. It will be a good indicator of the health of the New Dem brand.”
The list was announced yesterday. By all indications, the DLC brand is in trouble...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"Your services are no longer required"
apparently the DLC ain't what it used to be: