Ah Democratic renewal efforts of the 80s ad 90s again. Hmmm. I think you over estimate the cynicism of those Democrats who, you guess "For a long time Democrats implicitly believed that it was ... [to] risky to try anything new to win voters that might unsettle the New Deal Coalition". It is also possible that they thought that the new things to win votes were bad policy which would hurt the country.
I'd stress that those timid Democrats certainly didn't include say Lyndon Johnson or George McGovern. Poor and working class Southern whites were part of the new deal coalition. Northern democrats and some Southerners such as Johnson (and Ed Kilgore) were willing to try something completely new which dooomed the New Deal coalition because they thought it was right.
I was just regretting the last time I ground old axes here in comments. I agree with most of what you write and admire the way you write and reason. But I just can't let the quoted passage pass.
You are claiming to read minds. You are criticizing well someone without naming a name, quoting a statement or mentioning a specific event.
I can speak for myself. I had no doubt that it would be to Democrats electoral advantage to cut welfare and endorse three strikes and you're out. Only an idiot would think that costs to the New Deal coalition would outweigh the electoral gains. But I consider some things morally unacceptable and will not praise keeping a 60 year old in prison because he committed say 3 armed robberies before he was 25.
I think the debate between new and old Democrats is better left buried in the past and not regularly dug up as you do. But if you insist on re-opening the debate, then it should be the actual debate on the policy disagreements at issue.
I understand you still support welfare reform (not just the reform proposed by Clinton but the one actually enacted and even after being reminded that as the phrase is used by all but you it did not include any increase in the EITC). Do you still support the deregulation of banking? Reinventing government (that is, according to Larry Katz, basically replacing programs with vouchers ? Do you support 3 strikes and you're out ?