Friday, July 23, 2010

DCCC & NRCC Battle It Out For The National Lameness Championship


The DCCC has millions and millions of dollars-- mostly from corporate PACs looking for special treatment that disadvantages working families, and most of it will be entirely wasted on ineffectual TV ads put together by self-serving Inside-the-Beltway consultants. That's not just my opinion; that's an analysis by a group of the savviest progressive Democrats in Congress after the latest closed DCCC members meeting. "They're hopeless," one prominent congressman told me. "They have no energy, no ideas; there's not a glimmer of hope... They don't deserve to keep the majority." Another told me that the Republicans couldn't have "a better ally than the DCCC if they were paying off people."

The DCCC is counting on the proven ability of incumbents to extort more money and take in bigger bribes than challengers. Yesterday on their blog they were bragging how their candidates had more cash-on-hand than the GOP "Young Guns" facing them. "Of the 33 new Young Gun On the Radar and Young Gun Contender candidates," claims the DCCC, "28 are at a cash on hand (COH) disadvantage [which means 5 are beating unnamed Democrats in the fundraising race]. Average COH for the 33 Republican candidates is $246,800, the average COH for their Democratic opponents is $1.03 million." The fact is that the NRCC is at least as clueless, and with leadership even more inept might help the Democrats muddle through in an ordinary year. But 2010 isn't a year for muddling through.

This should be a year, like 1934, with Democrats going to the voters-- the way FDR did-- with a clear message: "We have tried to repair the damage their policies have caused and they have obstructed us and blocked us and seem determined to make matters worse." In 1934 the Republicans got exactly what they deserved. In the Senate 8 incumbents were defeated and one, Robert La Follette (R-WI) left the GOP and joined the Progressive Party. The Democrats also won the open seat in Maryland, previously in Republican hands. When the Senate reconvened in 1935 there were 69 Democrats and 25 impotent Republicans. Over in the House, the GOP had already been devastated in 1932 but they lost a further 14 seats, leaving the new balance 313 Democrats and 117 Republicans. It was the first time the GOP had fallen below one quarter of the chamber since the party's inception-- but they were destined to keep on falling as voters continued to reject their obstructionism and to embrace the Democrats' clear, progressive agenda for reform and change. The following election left the GOP with 88 seats in the House and a mere 17 in the Senate. That's what should have been/could have been, what Obama would be looking at today. But he's not Roosevelt, and he's surrounded himself with people like Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina and Tom Vilsack. And the DCCC and DSCC are burdened with the fifth-rate leadership of born losers like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Crowley and Robert Menendez.

We've been hoping the DCCC would give up on an array of reactionary Blue Dogs who habitually vote with John Boehner to obstruct President Obama's exceedingly modest agenda for tepid baby step changes. But instead of embracing the attractive, family-friendly Democratic progressives and populists running against conservatives-- men and women like Bill Hedrick, Beth Krom, Billy Kennedy, Justin Coussoule, Fred Johnson, Doug Tudor, Jim Wilson, Joyce Elliott, to name a few-- they have embraced the very people who are ruining Democratic chances for a 1934-style sweep by watering down progressive initiatives and voting against progressive legislation. An analysis of the TV advertising time the DCCC has reserved so far tells a horrible story of willful defeatism. The DCCC "has banked more than $5.2 million worth of airtime in 50 television markets, according to a Republican consultant who tracks Democratic ad purchases." Virtually all the money is going to incumbents who have voted against healthcare reform, against Choice, and for war. Inspiring?

Here's the first batch of Democratic incumbents the DCCC has opted to waste its money on. Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL) is in a tough primary race against another conservative. Boyd is arguably the worst Democrat in the House-- and there is some stiff competition when you consider Dan Boren, Bobby Bright, Travis Childers, Walt Minnick, Glenn Nye, Frank Kratovil, Joe Donnelly, Heath Shuler, Chris Carney. Boyd is the only Democrat who signed on as a co-sponsor of Bush's bill to destroy Social Security. He's served in Congress since 1996, he takes in gigantic amounts of bribe money from all the worst sources, and he still can't hold onto his seat without outside help and resources. It should be noted that while the DCCC has reserved ad space in the Tallahassee-based district, Boyd has $1,060,113 cash on hand and his Young Gun Contender Stephen Southerland has $194,823. 

Among the other Democrats who have voted against the most crucial components of what there is of a progressive agenda-- like the so-so healthcare reform bill-- and who are getting the six-figure ad buys are Betsy Markey (Blue Dog-CO), Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID, who has also been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Michael Arcuri (Blue Dog-NY), Kathy Dahlkemper (anti-Choice fanatic and Blue Dog-PA), Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD) and Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA). And even when the DCCC is shelling out for non-Blue Dogs, it is generally for conservative Democrats who vote with the Blue Dogs against the Democratic agenda, like Harry Teague (NM), Larry Kissell (NC), Bill Owens (NY), Tom Perriello (VA) and Mark Critz (PA, whose first vote after the special election was to oppose equality for the GLBT community). 

The only other Democrats who are on the list to get big ad buys so far are decent moderates Martin Heinrich (NM), John Spratt (SC) and Ciro Rodriguez (TX). I didn't see a single GOP-targeted progressive-- like Carol Shea-Porter or Alan Grayson-- on the list. But with Democrats planning to extend Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans-- something they campaigned against all of 2007 and 2008-- it's likely that many progressives will just skip the re-election tribulations of incumbents this year anyway. I guess they're counting on wealthy Republicans voting for them instead.

[UPDATE: Politico just ran a full list of 40 Democrats, mostly conservatives who have voted against the Democratic agenda, who will get virtually all the DCCC advertising money this cycle: Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright; Arizona Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell, and Gabrielle Giffords; California Rep. Jerry McNerney; Colorado Rep. Betsy Markey; Florida Reps. Allen Boyd and Suzanne Kosmas; Iowa Rep. Leonard Boswell; Illinois Reps. Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster; Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly; Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton; Michigan Rep. Mark Schauer, Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers; North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell; North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy; New Mexico Rep. Harry Teague; Nevada Rep. Dina Titus; New York Reps. Bill Owens and Michael Arcuri; Ohio Reps. Steve Driehaus, Mary Jo Kilroy and John Boccieri; Pennsylvania Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski and Mark Critz; South Carolina Rep. John Spratt; South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin; Texas Reps. Chet Edwards and Ciro Rodriguez; Virginia Reps. Tom Perriello, Glenn Nye and Gerry Connolly; and Wisconsin Rep. Steve Kagen.]

Most of the sharpest progressive and grassroots Democrats we've been talking to at Blue America have figured out by now that the DCCC, OFA, the DNC and the Inside-the-Beltway Democratic Establishment isn't coming to help them. They're on their own. We're on our own. It has made people like Doug Tudor, Beth Krom, Bill Hedrick, David Segal and Justin Coussoule much stronger and more resourceful candidates. I want to share part of Coussoule's stump speech with you. It isn't one that any K Street lobbyists or party hacks are going to want to hear, but it's firing up Democrats and independents from Hamilton and Butler counties to Mercer and Darke. Give it a read and see if you'd like to contribute to Justin's campaign. Either we do it-- because believe me, the DCCC isn't going to-- or we resign ourselves to more obstructionism and perfidy from John Boehner.
So, given the obvious potential in this race, people want to know where The Party is at.  Are they supporting you? Who’s endorsing you?  

Well, a few weeks back I traveled to Washington, DC, and had the opportunity to meet with some of Ohio’s Democratic House members, our Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DCCC. And the Party’s message to us was this: raise $300,000, produce a poll that shows a 7 or 8 point race, get a bunch of media attention, and we’ll start talking to you. Now, this was not new information. The DCCC had told us this before, and it’s fair. It was always my assumption that this was our race to run, as it should be.  

However, I was surprised by just how disciplined the Democratic establishment is. For example, we had thought we could get someone like Wes Clark, or Max Cleland, or Howard Dean to come out and stump for me-- to create some media buzz or headline a fundraiser-- especially given the military connection, and the fact that my opponent is Boehner. Well, I have Wes Clark’s cell phone number, and Max Cleland’s cell phone number, and Howard Dean’s cell phone number. And we’ve called them. And they all said the same thing: until you’re on the DCCC’s list of designated candidates, good luck and goodbye. Click. And the message has been the same from our elected officials as well, just in case you were wondering where my endorsements are.

Now, as a business person and an Army officer, I understand prioritizing the allocation of limited resources. I understand the Party’s big picture, strategic analysis. But for those of us who live in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District and are stuck with John Boehner, we don’t have the luxury of the Party’s strategic perspective. I wish they were a little more inspired and inspiring, a little more courageous and daring. But they’re not. So, if you’ve been waiting on the sidelines in the race, thinking that the Party would come swooping in like the cavalry because this is John Boehner-- they ain’t coming.  

The party has forsaken us, and John Boehner takes us for granted. The Party doesn’t care if we have a choice, and John Boehner doesn’t want us to have a choice. If we want change in the 8th District-- if we want something better for our children and our communities-- then we have to make it happen ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us.

But even though no one from the establishment is coming to actually help us defeat Boehner, they all want to run against him. Steve Driehaus runs against him, and Lee Fisher, Ted Strickland and the ODP, Nancy Pelosi, the DCCC, the DNC, everybody. They all run against John Boehner because he’s easy to raise money off of. To the Democratic base, Boehner is the perfect villain. He’s almost a cartoon character. And nearly every week he says something outrageous that fires up the Democratic faithful, who in turn donate a lot of money to Democrats. The Ohio Democratic Party even owns the on-line donation site (of course, there’s no mention of me or our campaign on it).  

And that’s the thing, everyone else talks about stopping Boehner, beating Boehner, firing Boehner.  But I’ve got news for them. Scandal won’t get rid of him. Reapportionment won’t get rid of him.  They won’t get rid of him. The only people in America-- the only people-- who can stop John Boehner, who can fire John Boehner, are the voters of the 8th District. And the only person who can beat John Boehner is the Democrat running against him. And that’s me. 

...Now, that leads me to answer the obvious question, and the one I’m most often asked: Justin, why are you doing this, why are you running?

I’m running because we get the government we deserve. And my wife and children, and our neighbors, and their children, and our communities, and all of you, deserve better than John Boehner.
I’m running because of what we all learned in 5th grade civics class.

I’m running because ‘a government of, by and for the people’ doesn’t just happen. We have to earn it.  

I'm running because of what they taught me at West Point. Maybe more importantly, because I believe in what they taught me at West Point.  

That leaders of character choose the harder right over the easier wrong.  

And that they do the right thing even when no one is watching.  

That public service is synonymous with selfless service.    

And that if Democracy is worth dying for, then it’s sure as hell worth fighting for.

I’m running because we get the government we deserve. And in the 8th District, we deserve much better.

I know Justin Coussoule. This race isn't just about getting rid of John Boehner. It's about replacing him with someone as dedicated and conscientious as Justin Coussoule. He can't do it alone, and the Democratic Party isn't going to lift a finger. Let's help him.

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At 7:27 AM, Blogger Bula said...

The Howard Dean comment surprises me. He came up with the 50 State Strategy and is one of the most progressive Democrats.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Yeah, that kind of surprised me too. Howard Dean takes marching orders from the DCCC?


At 4:34 PM, Anonymous me said...

"[Obama]'s not Roosevelt"

Understatement of the year?

Here's who Obama reminds me of: Alan Colmes. Nominally a liberal, but in actuality just a whiny, ineffectual little wimp.

Yeah, I'm a bit disappointed at Dean's reaction. He's sticking with the Democratic establishment, and either doesn't seem to see that it is part of the problem, or thinks that it cannot be beaten.

My own opinion is that it is weak and crumbling, that that a good push from a strong candidate could knock it down for good. Here's hoping that happens sooner rather than later.


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