Former Senator Bill Bradley was on Meet the Press this past Sunday pushing his new book, "The New American Story" (yes, I still watch the show, despite my rants). To be honest, throughout the entire mini-interview I was puzzled as to what Bradley was talking about or what exactly Bradley is bringing to the political debate these days.
Two of Bradley's "democratic curses" he discussed were my favorites:
(1) Russert: You talk about closed-minded devotion to the secular. Do you think the Democrats have been reluctant to talk about faith? Bradley: I think that the Democrats—some people in the Democratic Party have been reluctant to talk about faith, and not so much just in a religious sense, but in terms of how it informs our public life.
"Some people," my friends! Add Bradley to the picture board!
This "liberals don't like church" line is a very dull Fox News kind of talking point that the media loves. Pastor Russert in particular loves to talk about this despite any empirical reality backing him up (look here, and here, and wow, especially here).
I am befuddled as to how Senator Bradley can seriously fail to acknowledge that Obama, Edwards, or even Clinton have begun to turn the page on this alleged "curse." Look here, and here, and even here as evidence that Bradley is stuck in his 2000 race for the nomination and that 2008 is doing just fine in that regard, thank you.
The other favorite of mine was this one:
(2) Bradley claims the Democrats are "hypnotized by charisma," and that "the party has, has tended to look for a knight on a shining—on a white horse to solve all our problems." Does this explain nominee John Kerry in 2004? No way. Al Gore? Um... lockbox? I would suggest that Bradley is taking a pre-emptive shot at the Obama candidacy. When he was asked about Obama, Bradley made a fair point that Obama needs to be more specific about his goals for the nation, but also admitted it was early in the race. But while Bradley said he was impressed with Obama's crowds he noted: "I’m impressed with 20,000 people at a speech, I’d be more impressed with 5,000 meet-ups with 100 people at a meet-up." I'd be more impressed if Bradley would acknowledge Obama's singular contribution to the party in terms of energy and idealism. 5000 meet-ups does not a president make. Ask Howard Dean.
Senator Bradley's book might be marvelous. I have read all of his other books. But something tells me that Bradley has been muscled out of his own party by others with even bolder ideas, sharper idealism, and genuine charisma and he knows it.