In Washington, where the spoken word "frankly" is a leading indicator of insincerity, honest passion is as rare as in arranged marriages. But today Rep. Gephardt espouses, with heat, a recognizably liberal agenda for increasing equality, and not just measured materially.. It also resuscitates a liberal aspiration associated with names like Louis Brandeis and Walter Reuther, the aspirations to increase the moral status of workers by democratizing the workplace.
Rep. Gephardt's passions neatly complement his political calculations, and are not necessarily synthetic because they are useful in appealing to semi-protectionist organized labor. He also is courting liberals who hunger for something more noble than the Clinton administration's trade-is-everything foreign policy, and for a domestic theme with traditional liberal echoes.