Lloyd Bentsen Wouldn’t Be Welcome in Today’s Democratic Party

Lloyd Bentsen Wouldn’t Be Welcome in Today’s Democratic Party


Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News has written an excellent editorial pointing out that the late, great Texas Senator, Lloyd Bentsen, would likely be unwelcome in today’s Democratic Party. Bentsen, who was partisan enough to earn the 1988 vice-presidential bid, was nonetheless an independent thinker who was unafraid to embrace traditionally conservative ideas (particularly on the economy) if he thought it was the right thing for his constituents and for the nation.

Such a Centrist temperament would make Bentsen an apostate in the current Democratic Party�a Joe Lieberman in cowboy boots.

Gurwitz’s argument is not a new one to anyone on this forum. But it’s an accurate argument and one worth remembering.

Bentsen was, after all, the last Texas Democrat to be elected to the Senate. And it isn’t that Texans have become more conservative in the past 20 years (the majority of my fellow Texans have always been libertarian-leaning, god-fearing conservatives), it’s that the national Democratic Party has become more liberal and less welcoming to even the mildest of conservative positions.

If the Democrats want to ever win back places like Texas, the solution is not to cast out the ideological and temperamental descendents of Lloyd Bentsen. The solution is to embrace such moderates and allow the party to once again represent a broad range of ideas. Unfortunately, that is simply not the way the party seems headed.

  • Phillip J. Birmingham

    a Joe Lieberman in cowboy boots

    What, Bentsen gleefully stabbed other Democrats in the back whenever he got a chance?

    Again, the discontent with Leiberman has more to do with the tendency to aggrandize his own reputation at the expense of other Democrats, than any policy positions he has taken. Don’t believe the hype.

  • http://sethyblog.blogspot.com Pooh

    What Phil said.

  • Alex

    (the majority of my fellow Texans have always been libertarian-leaning, god-fearing conservatives). This doesn’t sound very moderate to me. I don’t believe the claim that Texas has not become more conservative/evangelical (along with the Republican party) but it’s the Democrats fault.

  • Monica

    I’m a Texan and lean Libertarian in my politics. I would like to find the Dems appealing since I’m pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. But since I was/still am for the war, that pretty much means the Dems aren’t an option, nor do they want me.

    It’s truly bizarre that the Republicans are now the big tent party, twilight zone bizarre, really.

  • JOanzi

    A pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage REPUBLICAN who feels shunned by DEMOCRATS for being pro-war?

    Have you spoken with any other pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage repugs in that PARTY of the BIG TENT, or do you just go to the “Mission Accomplished” parties (i would think you could find a very very small tent for those)?

    pro-war = big tent?

    you have indeed entered the twilight zone. suggest you consider indy parties once the fun’s over.

  • http://maverickviews.blogspot.com/ Alan Stewart Carl


    I never said Texas was moderate. It’s a conservative state but isn’t any MORE conservative than it was in 1988 when Bentsen won his final term in office.

    My point is that a guy like Bentsen could STILL win in Texas but the Democrats simply don’t support that kind of politics anymore.

  • Monica

    JOanzi –

    I never said I was a Republican, and I’m not. Your sarcasm and vitrol is unnecessary. You’re a poor representation of what I would hope the Democrats had to offer.

  • Kilroy

    Texans supported Bush.

    Debt has gone thru the roof.
    Individual rights have been written off the books.
    The general public has either been lied to or misinformed because of incompetence.
    The prosecution of the war(s) can at best be called not very competent.
    The destruction of working and valuable structures (i.e. FEMA) due to political appointees/incompetence.

    All with the three branches republican. All with no vetos. All with Medals of Freedom being awarded to people whom history has shown really kinda messed up (at least their basketball terms) All with Military people being assuaged from their careers because they said the truth.

    You make some very sound points about the democrats. Are the above examples the “values” of conservative Texans.

    Texans supported Delay…..

  • JOanzi


    I’m not a Democrat, but I’m very glad to disappoint you.


  • JOanzi

    And Monica …

    If you want a real example of vitriol (as opposed to ‘vitrol’), perhaps you should step into the boots of those you so ardently wish to fight your purposeless, unjustified wars. You have no idea what vitriol is.

    [And don’t bother with the “defending freedom” argument, if you have trouble spelling, you probably have no idea what has happened to the Constitution in the last 5 years either.]

  • Monica

    JOanzi –

    How lame that you choose to focus on a spelling error. Good grief.

    So you’re going to pull the chickenhawk card, huh? In your mind I can only support a war if I join the military? With that logic, civilians would no longer control the military, is that really what you want?

    You’re argument technique is to belittling and condescending. It doesn’t really make me want to continue this conversation with you. If you can chill out and ask some real questions without being over the top bitchy, then maybe you can learn something from me, and maybe I can learn something from you. But curently you’ve been nothing but a caricature of what I don’t like about the other side of the political isle.

  • JOanzi


    The disgust is mutual – particularly since your unrepentant spelling and grammar errors make your remarks unintelligible, thus un-debatable. It is little wonder you support the most primitive view of an irrational, inarticulate, and unintelligible preznit.

    “A” spelling error? Just one? Perhaps your math is just as bad.

    You apparently haven’t been keeping up with current events, either. Hayden’s confirmation means civilians do *NOT* control the military. [If you manage to dream up a rebuttal about Abu-Rumsfeld, (who BTW served in the Navy) then have at it. First, make an argument that Dumsfeld is in the same genus as “man”, then argue that he is civilian. Finally, explain why I should want an incompetent, nazi, nitwit failure commanding the U.S. military, regardless of his or her background. I’ll wait.]

    If what you mean by “chickenhawk” is a person who chooses violent aggression over reason, gall over substance, “gut” over fact, AND is categorically unwilling and unable to actually fight the battles he or she picks, then … well …

    All I can say is that if the chickhawk slippers fit, put ’em on and head over to that “Big Tent”. Don’t forget to bring a mega-supply of Purple Band-Aids for wounded troops (with thousands already back home, you better hurry to get stocked up for Big Tent 2008)!

    It is sad that you don’t realize that it has always been obvious you have *zero* interest in the “other side of the aisle” [correct spelling mine]. Thank heavens! Even a lazy observer of politics would have matched your views up with Hillary Clinton, if anyone cared enough to rise to a ‘lazy’ response to your phony hand-wringing. A pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, pro-war DEMOCRAT … ? Henny-penny the sky must be falling!

    But please do continue your barrage of meaningless drivel, while lives hang in the balance. Why should you bother to care about what your vote means, when no one will take you by the hand and show you the way to a warm, cozy big-tent party that values life … but not TOO much.

    Rest assured: we may run out of soldiers and English teachers, but there will always be war-mongers. Make yourself feel better. Go now, stop squabbling without any defensible position, find them.

    You haven’t made any attempt to defend any of your statements. You are instead preoccupied with the preservation of your own thin skin. If you state that you are pro-war, as your “civilian” hero says: “the gloves are off”. But apparently this little beam of words is way too hot for you. Learned anything yet, or was willingness to learn another false assertion?

    I have learned that the people who most need dictionaries, spell-checkers, and critical thought will stubbornly refuse them, whilst continuing to assault others with poorly-constructed, self-preserving, hate-mongering nonsense. I have learned that innocent people will be killed and others will suffer in a hellish world because of such people.

    What have you learned … anything?

  • kreiz

    Joanzi: grow up. Please.

  • Monica

    JOanzi –

    First of all, you don’t disgust me.

    You apparently believe I need to defend all of Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s actions because I’m pro-war. You’re making a huge assumption that I think they’ve done everything right, and I don’t.

    No, that isn’t my definition of “chickenhawk”. The chickenhawk debate has been going around the internet for a while now. It pretty much means what you implied earlier – that a person is not allowed to support a war unless they themselves join the military.

    Regarding me never being interested in the ‘other side of the political aisle’ (thanks for the spelling tip!) – you’re making assumptions about my political history and you really shouldn’t. I try to look at topics from all angles. I’m hardly a closed minded person. I vote for the candidate, not the party.

    I don’t know what statement it is you feel like I need to defend. That I’m pro-war? Is that it? And what do you mean I’m “preoccupied with the preservation of your (my) own thin skin”? Also – I’m not sure if you’re saying that I’m a hate monger (since apparently I need a dictionary) or that Bush is one.

    Finally, you ask what I’ve learned. Well, from you I’ve learned that there are some anti-war peeps that will seethe with anger at me and make it very clear that I disgust them and that I’m a lesser person than them – both morally and intellectually – because I believe something different than they believe.

    I know this isn’t unique to you or to any political party, but I find it to be an unattractive characteristic all the same.

  • ShiningExampleOfFreeSpeech

    JOanzi AGAIN: WOW. Never been banned before. Just shows which side of the “huge arse” this site leans towards… Don’t worry, Mr. Moderator, keep it inbred. I’ll exercise my free speech where there’s room for it.

    Kreiz: I am grown, thank you. I an adult who happens to be sick to my stomach of senseless war, killing, and the cheerleaders of violent, state-sponsored aggression.

    If you think being grown-up means sending poor people off to “defend freedom” by killing other poor people, while your own aristocratic government profits from war, whittles away at your rights and freedom, and mocks those whose blood has paid for your it, then … I’m afraid I don’t meet your “grown-up” standard.

    Your found me then. That would make you, what, the Grown-Up Police?


    Yes, I am angry, but I am willing to concede that you have shown greater forebearance in expressing your perspective.

    I apologize if I have seemed arrogant or condescending. I feel that war, when it can be avoided, should be avoided at all costs. I myself consider unjustifiable war the pinnacle of arrogance.

    I do not believe that the Iraq war (i.e. occupation and invasion) was necessary or justified. It is clear – as even the most hawk-ish policy-makers have stated – that this war CANNOT be won militarily. It is clear to me that the military approach has been tragic, foolhardy, and has produced severely negative effects.

    Seething with anger is unattractive, but so is indifference to suffering and loss of life. If you do not have family or friends in the military – as I do – who rightfully expect you to care about their sacrifice, if you have no family or people close to you afflicted with war disabilities, if you have never been to a military funeral or visited a person whose former life has been snuffed out by war, then you may not be able to perceive a responsibility to see that no one suffers needlessly from war: no american, no iraqi, no ONE.

    Conventional wars are in our past. There will be no end to this war, no declaration, no truce, and no treaties. If you want some corroboration of this fact, consider France’s conflict with Algeria, consider the intervention required to stop Afganistan from executing a converted Christian, consider the Kurdish oppression of free press, consider the democratically-elected Hamas party in Palestine. There are many, many historical examples to demonstrate that conflicts in the Middle East are far more complex and challenging than the simple-minded war models that we have constructed for them.

    The effort to militarily “democratize” the Middle East is pure vanity, with a costly pricetag, to be paid in lives and gold. Even architects of this folly (Fukuyama, Kristol, etc … former PNAC) now disavow it.

    While I applaud you for gracefully holding your own in this discussion, I hope that you consider my points as well: (1) Democrats are no more *or* less tolerant of ideas contrary to their platform than Republicans, (2) War beliefs and attitudes are as strongly-held on the left as they are on the right, and (3) The invasion and occupation of Iraq was a pre-emptive act that has cost Americans dearly, has detracted from rather than enhanced world peace, and will continue to plague our nation and the world for at least another full lifetime.

    As a conciliatory statement, I should say that I fully agree that arrogance is unattractive. This is something we can both take with us from this discussion. Thank you for that.

  • kreiz

    This has certainly has been a stirring tribute to Lloyd Bentsen, who was a great US Senator and a fine Treasury Secretary under President Clinton.

  • kreiz

    And, Alan, I agree totally with your last paragraph, specifically that the solution is to embrace moderates, not to alienate and drive out Bentsen’s descendants. Given the current heated political climate (as exhibited in this thread), I have my doubts as to whether accomodation will win out.

  • rob

    I was suprised that JOanzi was banned. The comments may have been harsh, but the logic was unassailable (plus very well written).

    If you are going to ban someone, I think you should have the stones to add a comment saying which admin did it.

    Monica: If you think the Republican big tent includes pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, you are nuts.

  • Monica

    Oh man, I honestly don’t think JOanzi should be banned. I don’t want that. JOanzi had her points. (I’m guessing JOanzi = Joann. Could be totally wrong. If so, sorry. ) The war is a touchy subject. I’m sure JOanzi has been attacked numerous times for being anti-war. It can put a person on edge. Lives are on the line, it’s an intense/emotional subject.

    Rob –

    I’m not nuts.

    Let me explain what I mean by Repubs being the “big tent” party. When I disagree with those on the right, it’s just a disagreement – nothing hateful. You may not get that same treatment from the same people? I don’t know.

    I don’t see the Dems being any better on gay marriage than the Republicans. They’re all panderers. I believe that in a couple of generations (hopefully sooner) gay marriage will be a reality. I know my future children will never understand homophobia.

    I will fight the Right on abortion. I have a problem with parts of the abortion debate. For instance, I believe it is killing something, but I believe it’s the woman’s burden and hers alone.

  • kreiz

    C’mon, guys. Here’s a highlight of her unassailable logic:

    “I have learned that the people who most need dictionaries, spell-checkers, and critical thought will stubbornly refuse them, whilst continuing to assault others with poorly-constructed, self-preserving, hate-mongering nonsense. I have learned that innocent people will be killed and others will suffer in a hellish world because of such people.”

    Unhinged. Thanks, Justin.

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  • Chris

    Man, I hate it when people who express themselves like JOanzi are on my side of the fence.

    I do found it laughable that the Republican party is being protrayed as more accepting of diverse opinions than the Democrats. When you have a party that is out of power, it’s nearly impossible to have a consistent philosophy or approach. Thus you have a lot of infighting. The Republicans have been more tolerant of dissent in their ranks because there has been no dissent. When Bush was riding high, Republicans were terrified of breaking ranks with him. Now that he’s in a weakened state, there’s suddenly a lot more division in the party. And if you think there’s tolerance, look at how Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell and Harriet Meiers were treated.

    It seems clear that the current Republican strategy calls for a drumbeat of commentary on the problems within the Democratic Party. It’s amazing the number of pieces I read these days from conservative commentators bemoaning the problems with the Democrats. And some even say they’re commenting because it makes them sad, since a vital two party system is essential to our country, as if the Democrats should keep fulfilling their role of the token opposition. Poor Democrats, nearly dried up and blown away. Whatever shall we do? You can practically hear them snickering behind their hands, wondering if the rubes will buy this one. You’d almost think all those poll numbers had been reversed, and it was actually the Republicans all of the voters seem to favor.

    And for the record, in my memory the term “chickenhawk” was originally applied to the Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitzes of the world, who relished talking tough and challenging other people’s courage without ever having put themselves on the line personally. And I think that’s a legitimate criticism. The later use of the term, to suggest that anyone who supports the war is obligated to join the military, is demagoguery, and I hate it whenever I see opponents of the war resorting to it. It’s a double edged sword that will be used against us in the future.

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