Wednesday, January 11, 2012

With Steve Israel In Charge, How Much Longer Will Democrats Be Able To Say "At Least We're Better Than Republicans"?


The one percent

Who would have ever guessed Obama could find a chief of staff as worthless and sleazy as Rahm Emanuel? But a year ago he came through with Chicago crook William Daley. Daley could claim most of Emanuel's sleaze if few of his "charms." He's had no success whatsoever in the White House, and after one awkward year he was finally bounced this week. Good riddance. I wish we could say the same thing about another Emanuel replacement: Steve Israel, the DCCC chair Nancy Pelosi burdened Democrats with after Chris Van Hollen, Emanuel's immediate successor, was kicked upstairs.

In a classic python vs. mongoose scenario, Israel-- an extraordinarily shifty culture-of-corruption "ex"-Blue Dog-- beat out Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the job. Every bit as in the pocket of Wall Street as Emanuel was, Israel was widely heralded as "Emanuel without the potty mouth." That's turned out to be essentially the perfect description of his tenure at the DCCC so far.

Despite Democratic voters clearly signaling their unwillingness to come to the polls to vote for Blue Dogs last year-- half the caucus was wiped out-- Israel has continued Emanuel's policy of recruiting Blue Dogs and other wealthy right-wing candidates, even to the point, as Emanuel did, of sabotaging progressives to help reactionary Democrats win primaries. Israel has been working diligently to re-recruit many of the worst of the conservative Democrats who were defeated in 2010, from Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona (despite a progressive in the race, Wenona Baldenegro) and Michael McMahon in Staten Island to Dan Maffei (NY), Bob Etheridge (NC), Gene Taylor (MS) and 2008 loser Nick Lampson (TX).

And while progressive candidates complain they can't even get a return call from Israel, he's busy plotting with Blue Dogs to pour virtually all the money that comes into the DCCC into shoring up unpopular conservative incumbents like John Barrow, Leonard Boswell, Ben Chandler, Kathy Hochul, Larry Kissell, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Bill Owens and Kurt Schrader, while stiffing vulnerable progressives like Raúl Grijalva, and pushing conservative newcomers who will join the pack of right-wing Democrats who vote with the GOP against the interests of working families, detestable candidates like Rob Wallace (OK), Brendan Mullen (IN), Marty Chavez (NM), Ted Vick (SC), Clark Hall (AR), Brad Schneider (IL), Terry Bellamy (NC) and Leonard Bembry (FL).

Meanwhile, where's the DCCC's help in replacing execrable and vulnerable Republicans Paul Ryan with Rob Zerban, Fred Upton with John Waltz, or Sandy Adams with Nick Ruiz? Nowhere. Instead, Israel is creeping around whispering to Democratic donors to not contribute to progressives like Darcy Burner, especially not Darcy Burner, who leads in the polls and who has the temerity to have a mind of her own and is unlikely to follow the corporatist and imperial pro-war policies of almost-as-bad-as-Republicans like Steve Israel and his cronies.

The Democratic leadership, from Israel and Steny Hoyer down to Joe Crowley and Ron Kind, stinks to high heaven. In the past we've been able to hold our noses and vote for pretty bad Democrats by telling ourselves that at least they're not as bad as Republicans. That's becoming more and more difficult as corporate hacks and warmongers like Israel buy themselves lofty positions in the caucus.

Right now the House GOP is weak and divided, but with the most clueless and ineffective DCCC in memory, will it even be possible to take advantage of their misfortune and bad leadership? Israel is so busy sabotaging progressives that he's all but ignored recruiting plausible candidates against countless Republicans who could be in trouble or in seats that will be emptied by retirements. The civil war between teabaggers and careerist conservatives is tearing them apart, but Steve Israel would rather spend his time calling donors and urging them to not support Darcy Burner than put together a cohesive plan to win back the House. He is probably the biggest mistake Nancy Pelosi ever made.
House Republicans aren’t looking for another bloody battle on the payroll tax. They don’t think it’s worth stepping into the ring with President Barack Obama during his 2012 crusade against Congress.

But they are willing to fight each other-- over policy, strategy and leadership.

A year to the day since Ohio’s John Boehner and 87 eager freshmen took Washington by storm, House Republicans are bruised from battle, irritated with each other and have lost trust in their leadership.

The president whose agenda they came to Washington to stop is vowing to spend the year scoring political points against Republicans now, and they don’t have much leverage against him.

...House Republicans are going into 2012 weaker and more divided than when they took control of the chamber a year ago.

On top of distrust, there’s a healthy degree of discomfort within the 242-member strong House Republican Conference with the party’s jobs agenda and messaging. Some are itching for an election-year reboot.

“Leadership’s gotta get the Republicans fighting for something, in terms of a positive agenda,” said Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, voicing concerns of several Republicans interviewed by POLITICO this week. “We need to fight for specific ideas of job creation.

“So much of what we did last year was negative inference: We will stop this rule, and therefore create jobs. That’s true, and those are good ideas, but sometimes they’re hard to translate to the American people that we’re for something,” Gardner said. “I think we need a positive jobs agenda that goes out and says ‘Hey, here’s our package for small business’ — a proactive agenda to give the Republicans in the House something to fight for and push back on this president.”

That message was evident in conversations with more than a dozen aides, lawmakers and strategists in the party.

“It’s time to pick a fight on our own terms, and on policies we are about, and if we do that, we’ll be on sure footing going into this presidential election,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said.

On top of that, they’ll have to recalibrate their message again this year to jive with the Republican candidate.

Many GOP insiders believe they should avoid a full confrontation with a president looking to pick another fight with an unpopular Congress.

“When somebody’s trying to pick a fight with you it’s usually smart to avoid it,” said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a former member of Republican leadership. “They’re trying to pick the fight because they think they can win it. My experience is they’re usually right.”

Time to send the DCCC and Inside the Beltway Establishment Democrats a message. Please send it here.

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At 6:28 PM, Anonymous me said...

Whenever I get a solicitation from the DCCC, I send a check to a liberal instead.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Judith Hunter said...

I don't know the other supposed Blue Dogs you're referring to Israel shoring up, but I can assure you that Kathy Hochul is not a conservative and is not unpopular. I've lived in this area 20 years, and I've never seen an elected official who generates more positive buzz. Although I haven't agreed with every single vote she has cast, I have been very relieved at how she has avoided presenting herself as a Blue Dog (a real temptation in this very red district) and how she has been a very loyal member of the Democratic caucus. And I will always be grateful that she understood exactly how awful the Ryan plan was and exactly how to campaign on it. I think our grassroots efforts in the special election last year helped to save Medicare, and we couldn't have done it without Hochul. It took Israel and the DCCC an excruciatingly long time to go all in on that special. Given the symbolic importance of that victory, the DCCC has to support her now, as she is a top target. It has nothing to do with her supposedly sharing an evil conservative scheme with Steve Israel.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Judith couldn't have said it better. I totally agree, Kathy Hochul is the best thing that's happened to this district in 50 years. She never stops working for us, and deserves whatever support the DCCC can give her.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger cynthia appleton said...

lso agree with all the comments made by Judith and Suzanne. Kathy Hochul has seized every opportunity in the 26th district to support fellow Democrats and show that support publicly. She is extremely popular and has been very visible throughout the district. She has always spoken out against the Ryan Plan as well as other topics that could incur the local republican rath( since this IS an extremely red district). I have lived in this district all my life and have NEVER been as well represented at the national level as we all are with Kathy Hochul as our Congresswoman. Her grassroots victory sent the local Republican committee reeling and that in itself should be a good reason for the DCCC to support her .

At 4:09 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

It's lovely hearing from the Hochul camp. But the fact of the matter is, almost no Democrats in Congress have voted more frequently with the Republicans than Kathy Hochul. I'm sure you love her to death but she voted with Eric Cantor and John Boehner just over 44% of teh time. That sucks. Vote to reelect her if you'd like but with Democrats like Kathy Hochul in Congress, ordinary working families are doomed to splitting the difference with their class enemies in the GOP.


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