Progressive Revival?

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Michelle Obama addresses the crowd at the Democratic Natrional Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/(DARIN MCGREGOR/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS)
Michelle Obama addresses the crowd at the Democratic Natrional Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/(Darin McGregor/Rocky Mountain News)

Last night, Senator Ted Kennedy, battling cancer, made an emotional appearance in Denver. He kept the old torch burning for the faithful: "The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

And Michelle Obama introduced her family to the world in primetime, spoke of herself and her father, and brought the big arena to its feet: "He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn't that the great American story?"

Hilary Clinton speaks tonight. It’s a huge moment to test whether the party can come together and reconcile its inner struggles.

But those struggles don’t just center on big personalities, or the Obama-Clinton rivalry. Off-stage, Democrats are grappling with how to define their core philosophy. Progressives want Obama to return to the party’s liberal ideals. Conservative Blue Dogs see things very differently. This battle could define an Obama administration.

This hour, On Point: Live from Denver on day two of the Democratic National convention, we're talking about progressives, Blue Dogs, and the battle for the center of the Democratic party.

You can join the conversation. Will it be “Happy Days are Here Again” for liberal progressives if Obama takes the White House? Are more conservative Blue Dogs wagging the dog of the Democratic party? Should they? Tell us what you think.Guests:

Joining us at our broadcast booth in the Pepsi Center is Rep. Allen Boyd. He represents Florida’s 2nd District, which includes Tallahassee. For the last ten years, he has been a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 47 Democratic Members of the House of Representatives who advocate fiscal responsibility in the federal budgeting process.

Also with us from Denver is Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. She’s carrying the flag these days for progressives. Her new book is “Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe." You can read an excerpt here.

We're also joined here in Denver by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist for The Washington Post and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His latest book is "Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right." You can read the first chapter here.

And with us from Hanover, New Hampshire, is Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly.

More links:

In an "open letter" to Barack Obama titled "Change We Can Believe In," progressive standard-bearers at The Nation, concerned about Obama's "more cautious and centrist" stances during the summer, urge the senator "to stand firm on the principles he so compellingly articulated in the primary campaign."

Earlier this summer,'s Glenn Greenwald said "Let's give 'Blue Dogs' the Boot," and argued that pushing conservative Democrats out of Congress might help the party stand up to the GOP.

More recently, in "Blue Dogs point way with 'Paygo' rules," Gray Sasser, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, called attention to the Blue Dog Coalition's leadership on fiscal policy.

And in a piece last week headlined "Liberal Democrats Turn on One of Party's 'Blue Dogs,'" The Wall Street Journal's Brad Haynes reported on Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman Chris Carney's fight with the progressive online activists of Blue America.

Meanwhile, Amy Sullivan of Time magazine asks "How United Are the Democrats?," and finds that "the Democrats who will gather around the gavel in Denver are actually more united than perhaps at any other point in the past 30 years."

This program aired on August 26, 2008.


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