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Righting the left

"Righting the left" Continued...

Issue: "Jerry Falwell," May 26, 2007

And lest any Christians in the crowd confuse liberalism with secularism, the packets of national security research compiled for Clinton's visit contain an editorial titled, "Real threat to Christianity drags on in Iraq." Co-authored by John Podesta, the article notes that "militant gangs and terrorist groups [in Iraq] target Christians for assault, murder, rape and kidnapping."

Who bears the responsibility for such violence? Podesta's answer is clear: "[A]n American president . . . has stood by and watched the destruction of some of the world's oldest Christian communities."

Asked whether CAP consciously attempts to reclaim particular political issues, Korb admitted, "I think it's no accident that we've emphasized national security." His own "Strategic Redeployment" policy report, first published in September 2005, became the framework for Democratic proposals to withdraw from Iraq.

Still, Korb insists that CAP does not seek to redefine progressive politics, but "to make people aware of what it really is." A pie chart on the CAP website helpfully lists the symptoms of progressivism for the benefit of the politically curious. A progressive is innovative, optimistic, patriotic. A progressive is not naïve, selfish, xenophobic.

But glossy graphics aside, Korb had it right-core liberal themes do remain constant at the Center for American Progress. Recent CAP events include "Reproductive Rights are Human Rights," the celebration of a Colombian court decision to strike down an abortion ban as a violation of international human rights. The CAP listserv also announced "The Politics of Jesus," featuring Obery Hendricks, a professor at New York Theological Seminary who proclaims Jesus as a political and economic revolutionary.

Paradoxically, the recent political and electoral success of the Democratic Party may pose the single greatest threat to the long-term goals of CAP and the Alliance. Conservative correspondent Byron York, author of The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, speculates that the 2006 midterm elections may "quiet some of the intense passions that gave rise to this movement in the first place."

"Whether [the movement] can continue to grow as quickly in the future as it has in the last couple years is the question we all want to see answered," York said.

So the dilemma for CAP and its Alliance donors is whether the "think tank on steroids" will sustain long-term growth-or, in the end, suffer the side effects of political impotence.

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