Archive - Jan 26, 2005

Bleak, Post-Apocalyptic Democratic Future: Day Three

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Memo to Rosenberg and Frost: YOU'RE NEXT.

Today, we continue our series of PROFILES IN A SORT OF THING VAGUELY APPROACHING A HINT OF COURAGE, IF YOU DON'T MIND, in which we discuss the seven candidates who are vying for the chance to run the Democratic National Committee. They're not pretty, they're not talented, they're not loved, but on the other hand, they're not Terry McAuliffe.

PROFILE IN SORTA-COURAGE: Simon Rosenberg

Simon Rosenberg is president of the New Democratic Network. Which immediately raises big warning flags and sets off alarm bells in my mind. See, "New Democrat" was the term the Clintonistas used to describe themselves. "New" wasn't particularly new. It was actually more old. More conservative. Less progressive. Safer. It worked for Clinton, but as I've said in the past, the party, and the so-called "New Democrats", made the mistake of thinking it was the approach people liked and not Clinton, and tried the same approach for three more elections and got their asses handed to them.

Their agenda is certainly full of New Democrat bullshit, co-opting right-wing ideas like "school choice", half-assed welfare, tough on terrorism... basically the failed Kerry campaign. They do avoid Fowler's mistake (from yesterday's column) of looking like they've read one too many management books, but they've been drinking Bill and Hillary's Kool-Aid, and it's been going down worse and worse since '96.

They also want to reach out to "disaffected Republicans". From my experience, there are a lot of disaffected Republicans out there. They think Bush is a douche, think the neo-cons and the religious right have hijacked the party, think they've abandoned conservative values like fiscal responsibilty. Many of them did not vote for Bush. None of them, however, voted for Kerry or thought the Democrats held anything they wanted. If, after fifteen years of rightward movement on the Dem's part, they can't get these Republicans into the fold even with the Repulsive Chimp pushing them away, it's time to stop trying.

The Clinton era is over. We lost in 2004 by trying to run the 2000 election over again, but get it right this time. Didn't work. And we're sure as hell not going to win in 2008 by trying to run the 1992 election over again. Especially if Rosenberg and his Old Democrats get what I suspect they want... another candidate named Clinton.

PROFILE IN SORTA-COURAGE: Martin Frost

A Texas Democrat, a.k.a. "endangered species", Martin Frost does not have the "name problem" we discussed yesterday. He's got a good politician name. Three syllables in a two-one split. Last name a word without any strong connotations, double-meanings, or innuendoes, unless you have a reallyi old refrigerator. He ran against Nancy Pelosi, the previous Dem minority leader, saying she was "too liberal". That was not Nancy Pelosi's problem, of course, unless you go with the modern definition of "liberal" as "weenie", and she was definitely too weenie.

At least Frost lost his congressman job through dirty tricks, a victim of Tom DeLay's gerrymandering power-grab. But Frost's entire campaign for the DNC is based around his administrative plans. Party-building. Organizing. Which, technically, is the DNC chair's job, but for good or ill, the public face of the DNC for the immediate future is going to be the DNC chair. Frost may think the job involves being a liason to state party leaders, but his real job will be to show up on all the cable news channels and tell a skeptical audience what the Democratic Party believes in. Already, the media story around the DNC is that this choice will determine the direction of the Democratic Party.

In his entire trifold, full-color, glossy brochure (I assume it's glossy. All I saw was a PDF, but that PDF sure as hell looked like it was meant to be glossy.) Martin Frost doesn't say one single thing about what he believes. Just his ability to administrate. To manage. To work the phones and bring in money. But if the brochure is anything to go by, he doesn't believe in a single goddamn thing.

Apart from winning. He believes in winning. Which is a step forward for Democrats, I'll admit. But he's been in government for over a decade, and all I can tell is that he's to the right of Pelosi and to the left of Roemer. And I know Republicans to the left of Roemer. And I had to pull THAT from news stories - his DNC campaign literature very carefully avoids any mention of any positions or issues.

The Democratic Party has administrated itself into a corner. The country is looking to this election* to see if we're willing to fight our way out of it, or keep running around with our heads up our asses. Martin Frost wants us to know he'll fight, but doesn't want us to know what he'll fight for, and that's why picking him would be a mistake. Not a Roemer-sized mistake, but most likely a "lose the next election"-sized one.

*Federal Statement Grandiosity Guidelines require me to inform you, the reader, that the entire country is not in fact paying attention to the election of the DNC chair. Mostly just a bunch of political bloggers, columnists, and news hounds. Also, referring to the selection of a new chairman as an "election" is similarly grandiose, in that only 447 party insiders vote, and every one of them will have been called personally by each of the candidates in a one-to-one beg-for-vote session. Still more of an election than what's going to happen on Sunday, but how could it not be?