IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY to mistake Patrick Caddell for a Puritan revivalist last week when he spoke to an overflow crowd of entertainment executives in Beverly Hills. The liberal political analyst who once lived in a Harvard dorm named for Increase Mather had plenty of the preacher’s fire and brimstone for his old allies on the left.
"There are no smoking guns here," declared a passionate Mr. Caddell of the Clinton Pardon scandal. "There are Howitzers." He urged the Democratic Party to purge itself of Clinton’s influence and return to its principles.
"Now is not the time for moving on," he declared to rousing applause. "It’s time to finally get to the truth."
It was a familiar message from the shaggy, bearded pollster. Once an idealistic young man who worked with Bill Clinton on George McGovern’s 1972 Presidential bid, Mr. Caddell later campaigned for Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Ted Kennedy, among others. But last year, he campaigned not for a Democrat, but for Green Party nominee Ralph Nader. His ideals have remained largely unchanged over the years, but he has become increasingly disillusioned with the party that claims to champion his liberal principles.
Caddell has long been haunted by the left’s Machiavellian tactics and incendiary rhetoric. During the Florida Recount last fall, Mr. Caddell said during an episode of Hardball that the Democratic Party had "been hijacked by a confederacy of gangsters who need to take power by whatever means and whatever canards they can say."
Once a lone voice in the wilderness, the pollster on Wednesday acknowledged the rising tide of anti-Clinton indignation.
"I’ve found myself now outstripped in the rhetoric that’s being screamed by people who spent years defending Bill Clinton."
This was just the beginning of a scathing Philippic that criticized nearly every facet of the American left. His 45-minute lecture touched on the Florida recount, the California power crisis, and the prospects of the new administration. A common thread united these seemingly disparate topics: the current moral bankruptcy he perceives among the leadership of the political left.
He found their tactics during the Florida recount particularly troubling, and devoted nearly half his speech to this topic. He flatly accused the Democrats of trying to steal last year’s election.
"I know about stealing elections," he confided. "I was involved in it for a long time."
"It appeared to me that George Bush won and that we clearly were trying to steal the election."
He contrasted this view with the interpretation held by many Democrats.
"My party truly believes that the election was stolen and that we have an illegitimate president," he declared, as he called on Democrats and journalists to move beyond the recount and accept the new President.
At one point, he urged the party to back away from the heated racial language it used during the episode.
"The African-American turnout in Florida went from ten percent of the electorate to 16 percent – in one election," Denouncing the left’s "racial warfare" in the Sunshine State, he proclaimed, "What happened in Florida was a triumph for African Americans."
"There wasn’t any conspiracy going on," he added. "But in a sense it was really a part of the success. Instead of getting up and saying, ‘Boy, look at our progress. Look what we have done’ and making it a matter of pride, it has to be turned…to convince them that somehow they were made victims."
He also offered some of the harshest words yet for Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Mr. McAuliffe, who won the party chairmanship with the endorsement of Bill Clinton, has come under intense scrutiny for his ties to the former President. Mr. Caddell stoked the flames of this criticism.
"It’s like having Dracula at the blood bank," Mr. Caddell said of McAuliffe, as he called for new leadership and a return to idealism within the Democratic Party.
Despite his discontentment with the current Democratic leadership, Mr. Caddell did make time to utter a few pleasant words—for the new administration. Calling Bush’s victory over Gore a "miracle," he told the audience that he’s optimistic about the new President.
"He’s talking to the country in a new language that we have not heard in a while," said Caddell of President Bush. "He speaks things that do have moral principle. Now if he will back them up, that will be the test of the Republican Party. But I must say I have been terribly impressed."
His remarks drew cheers from the Wednesday Morning Club, which sponsored the luncheon. The club’s goal, as WMC president David Horowitz describes it, is to make the entertainment community "a more civil and therefore civilized place"--and to prod them into accepting the fact that "America, like Albania now, has a two-party system."
Even though the ruling orthodoxy in Hollywood has hit bumps since the left acknowledged Clinton to be a fraud and a huckster, Caddell warned of its continued stranglehold on the entertainment community. "Listening to this applause," he confided to the largely conservative audience, "I know my days are numbered in this town."