Word is out that a new left leaning group plans to stop Hillary by challenging her progressive credentials. I don’t know what is so “new” about it.

We’ve had left leaning Democrats right here in New Hampshire trying to stop Hillary on the very day she announced that she was running for president. As far as I can tell, they might both be founding members of this new group.

I am speaking of Lynn Chong, Chair of the Belknap County Democrats, who is now officially working for John Edwards, and Beth Arsenault, a Democratic state representative.

Here’s how the story came out here 11 months ago when Hillary made her announcement:

According to Belknap County Democratic Chair, Lynn Chong, Hillary Clinton is inexperienced, saddled with baggage from her husband’s affairs, Whitewater, and a failed attempt to reform health care. In a Laconia Citizen article, Chong says that Hillary has served “just one full term in the Senate and was a member of the 109th ‘do-nothing Congress.’” Chong also questions whether Hillary will “do the people’s business” as she has promised or be “too preoccupied with her presidential bid” to change U.S. policy in Iraq.

Calling the Iraq war the “elephant in the room,” another prominent local Democrat, state representative Beth Arsenault, claims that Hillary has been “a little too far out in front in backing it and too late behind in opposing it.” Arsenault also faults Hillary for trying to walk down the middle of the road politically, a strategy that “worked for Bill Clinton” but not for his wife.

Earlier today when I tried to imagine how Rush Limbaugh might greet Hillary’s announcement, what Chong and Arsenault had to say is exactly what came to mind. This is my neighborhood and it is traditionally a conservative, Republican stronghold. But the Iraq war has changed everything here. Last year they kicked out Jeb Bradley from Congress and put in a little-known liberal to take his place.

In an ironic twist, for local Democrats the problem with Hillary is not that she is too liberal but that she is not liberal enough. Of course, New Hampshire Democrats have not had the best track record of late when it comes to picking presidential candidates. That, and a tendency to self-immolate, makes today’s commentary from party leaders not too surprising.

For some inexplicable reason, far left Dems discount all the years that Hillary spent protesting a war in Vietnam, fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, children’s rights, the right to adequate health care, a good education, the right to feel safe on our streets, to be safe from guns, for a fair economic system, for environmental rights.

Fact is, these are one-issue political neophytes who are still sulking over Hillary’s vote to go to war with Iraq. And they are as dense as the granite upon which most of this state is built if they haven’t learned this one political truism: the only way to govern and to make change is to win, and the only way to win is to win from the center, not the fringes. Bill Clinton proved it over and over, Jeanne Shaheen proved it over and over.

Is this true? Go ask Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Ross Perot, Jesse Jackson, or (soon!) John Edwards.

Go ahead, form your new left leaning group. Don’t bother putting me on your email list. Whatever you have to say, I have heard it before.

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