WASHINGTON – From President Clinton to party chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) to its field of presidential contenders, few Democrats escape criticism in a new book by Sen. Zell Miller (search) of Georgia, who argues his party has abandoned him and the rest of the South.
In "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Southern Democrat," Miller analyzes how he believes Democrats slipped from the majority to the minority in national opinion polls and predicts they will stay there for a long while. Some stores were stocking the book Tuesday, with the official release set for early November.
"The biggest problem with the party leadership is that they know nothing about the modern South," Miller writes. "They still see it as a land of magnolias and mint juleps, with the pointy-headed KKK lurking in the background, waiting to burn a cross or lynch blacks and Jews."
Miller, a popular former governor who is retiring from the Senate next year, finds plenty to dislike about many of the Democrats seeking to carry the party's presidential torch against George W. Bush. He particularly targets one of the apparent front-runners, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
"He likes to say he belongs to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, but I say he belongs to the whining wing of the Democratic Party," Miller said. "Angry and red-faced, these doom-and-gloomers need to take some `calm-me-down' pills."
Amid the stinging rebukes of members of his party, Miller credits the last two successful presidential campaigns won by two Southern Democrats, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. However, the praise of Clinton is somewhat backhanded.
"Unfortunately, it was just so much campaign strategy, a chess game played with the pawns on the board by a master," Miller writes. "It had no core belief except winning. I do not condemn, for I have done much the same — just not as well."
Since joining the Senate in 2000, the former two-term governor has sided often with Republicans on major issues including tax cuts, education and support for President Bush's judicial appointments. Many time, Republicans have asked him to switch to their side; he has declined, contending he still considers himself a Democrat even in the changed party.