Monday, November 26, 2007



With the GOP out of favor, reactionaries still have a potent weapon against ordinary Americans

Whether Trent Lott is just another rat deserting a sinking ship, or someone scurrying to cash in on lax rules for lobbyists before they tighten up in January, he clearly was not looking forward to years and years of fruitless opposition as the #2 guy in a dwindling, increasingly regional, self-destructive and shrill minority party. Today's Congressional Quarterly has a cover story everyone on Capitol Hill is reading, It's Looking Like Blue Skies All Over Again-- and that's blue skies like in not red skies-- and they're talking about the U.S., not Australia.
Just over a year ago, Democrats seized control of Congress because of the voters’ exhaustion with the war in Iraq and disgust at the Republican majority's increasingly brazen manipulation of the levers of power. Now, less than a year from the next election, little has happened to elevate the voters’ mood-- or their impression of the party that ruled the federal government from 2003 through 2006.

The GOP remains burdened with a highly unpopular war; President Bush’s troop “surge” in Iraq, initiated over strong Democratic objections, appears to have diminished the violence but has given no sign that it will lead to a big reduction in U.S. troops anytime soon. The corruption scandals, ethical challenges and settled Beltway mentality that helped drive Republicans into the wilderness have yet to dissolve from public memory.

So, even if Democrats have done little to burnish a reputation for running things any better-- as reflected in the extraordinarily low public approval ratings for the Congress they now control-- the fact remains: They may not have to.

That’s because every traditional indicator of election forecasting-- from public opinion polls and issue resonance to candidate recruitment and the “over/under” balance of seats in play-- suggests that congressional Democrats have just as much going for them in 2008 as they had in 2006, if not more. They now have the power of incumbency to give them added advantages in raising money, attracting top-tier candidates, controlling the legislative agenda and capturing the political zeitgeist.

How ironic that just as the popular revulsion against the Republican philosophy of governance and against Republicans themselves (corruption and bigotry) take hold in the public mind, significant numbers of Insider Democrats are trying to claim those very aspects of the GOP legacy for their own party! Rahm Emanuel and his faction seem intent on leading the Democrats down the Republican sink hole-- and, not coincidentally, right at a time when a real push for progressive values and principles (values and principles anathema to all Emanuel stands for and believes in)  could have a lasting impact of American social and political development. This is a real tragedy, especially when the progressive side of Congress is weak, disorganized and completely ineffectual. Nancy Pelosi has turned out to be the worst and most bungling disappointment progressives could have ever expected and the Progressive Caucus in general is next to worthless. It's why I am so insistent on electing real progressive leaders who can go in there and kick some butt-- candidates like Darcy Burner, John Laesch, Donna Edwards, Barry Welsh... real fighters who are not just on the right side, but who are willing to fight hard to win. I would take, for example, these 4 over 20 new Democrats who want nothing more than to fit in with the Insider Establishment.

Yet while, as Congressional Quarterly asserts today, "it’s now dawning on members of both parties that a Democratic sweep-- with gains in Congress accompanied by a reclaiming of the White House--  is the inescapable 'morning line' assumption going into the 2008 campaign season, a war for the soul of the Democratic Party seems to be breaking out-- quietly and completely under the radar-- in, of all places, the DCCC.

The old guard (conservative-leaning or, at best, apolitical Rahm Emanuel loyalists) are trying to maintain tactical control of the organization, making it difficult for marginally more progressive and grassroots-oriented members of Chris Van Hollen's new guard. Ironically, the battle is coming to a head over a congressional race almost no one outside of Ohio is even aware of.

Last Thursday we looked at the special election for the congressional seat being filled December 11 because of the death of Republican Paul Gillmor in OH-05. Robin, a serious progressive Democrat with overwhelming grassroots support is poised to pull off a spectacular victory in a district that is conventionally considered "red." But it isn't as red as Insider the Beltway prognosticators and Powercrats would have us believe. Certainly Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, each of whom won the district last year, know it is far from a lost cause.

Many at the DCCC feel the same way and want to see the DCCC in there fighting alongside Robin and her grassroots supporters. Aside from endorsements by Senator Brown and Governor Strickland, 7 members of the Ohio congressional delegation have endorsed Robin: Marcy Kaptur, Tim Ryan, Dennis Kucinich, Zack Space, Betty Sutton, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and Charlie Wilson. The story in last week's Nation calls her campaign "smart and aggressive." But the Emanuel contingent will have none of it. Emanuel would just as soon see a pro-NAFTA, anti-immigrant, pro-corporate, anti-progressive Republican zealot in the seat than an independent-minded grassroots Democrat like Robin. He and his allies have prevented the DCCC from getting involved with the race.

Emanuel is a boil on the body politick and the bane of grassroots participation in the electoral process. As I pointed out earlier, he is a representative of the rich and powerful and every but as much an enemy of working and middle class Americans as any Republican. Its a boil that needs to be lanced.

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At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Al said...

"Blue skies all over agian"...I guess the author just missed the new poll that shows EVERY Republican in the race for the nomination beating Hillary!

Go Hillery! I am going to vote for her in Georgia's primary.

Are you guys getting nervous yet?

At 8:35 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Perhaps, our Republican stalker above is referring to some poll Michele Malkin or David Duke did among their followers but the latest poll by the most respected nonpartisan polling organization, Gallup, is entitled Democratic Candidates Look Good in Latest 2008 Trial Heats. As you might guess from the headline, each Democrat front-runner beats each Republican in one on one match-ups. The only Republican who comes close to Clinton is the one whose views on the social issues that have made the GOP political pariahs outside of the Old Confederacy, are least Republican-friendly. But even in that case Clinton beats Giuliani by 5%. As for electoral votes... the only contests are in the Old Confederacy, with Clinton winning virtually all the electoral votes in the U.S. and fighting it out for the electoral votes in the Deep South.


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