Friday, November 03, 2017

The Democratic Party Establishment Is Both Inept And Corrupt-- Which Is Worse?


Shattered by Nancy Ohanian

Stanley Greenberg is as establishment a Democratic Party pollster and strategist as you're going to find. I would have guessed he would disagree with lots of what was in my two posts about the state of the Democratic Party this week-- the autopsy on Monday and yesterday's look at what the DC Democrats (don't) stand for. He's married to top Pelosi ally Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rahm Emanuel's coffin was housed in their basement all while he ran the DCCC. But... in Susan Glasser's New Yorker feature of the Democratic Party civil war this week, Greenberg rails about how conservative Democrat Ralph Northam is running a shitty campaign in Virginia as if he's "Hillary Clinton. 'He is running on the same kind of issues, and has the same kind of view of the world. It’s the Republicans who talk about the economy, not the Democrats.' This was the approach that doomed Clinton against Trump. The electorate was angry in 2016 and remains angry now, Greenberg said, and Northam, a Norfolk doctor, didn’t get it. Neither did Clinton and the team of Obama veterans who staffed her Brooklyn headquarters. 'If you live in the metro areas with the élites, you don’t wake up angry about what’s happening in people’s lives,' Greenberg said." Welcome to the club, Stan! I gave up the opportunity to sit in on a Pelosi telephone briefing so I could read over Glasser's story again before going on the air with Nicole Sandler yesterday.

Greenberg and other prominent Democrats think Señor Trumpanzee could be reelected in 2020 "unless the Party figures out, and fast, a way to tackle the problem that sealed Clinton’s fate in 2016: how to appeal to the disaffected white working-class voters who provided Trump’s unlikely win a year ago." Greenberg is still stewing of Hillary's "failure to heed the advice of him and others to appeal to the Party’s traditional working-class voters in the Midwest. Compounding the errors, Clinton’s team conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the campaign, relying instead on flawed data analytics to predict turnout and the vote. As a result, it didn’t even know that final disaster loomed. 'Malpractice and arrogance contributed mightily to the election of Donald Trump,' Greenberg concluded." The villain? Young and data-driven campaign manager Robbie Mook, former executive director of the DCCC in a year where Obama won and the DCCC failed miserably to recapture the House, almost entirely because of Mook and his incredibly incompetent staff. While he was Hillary's campaign manager Mook ignored everyone with a different perspective than his own. That's a big part of why she lost. (As we mentioned yesterday, he and his lot have been contributing massively to defeat populist Lillian Salerno and push one of their own pointless establishment kind, Ed Meier, as the TX-32 nominee.)
Should Democrats bet their future on attacking Trump and pledge, as the California billionaire donor Tom Steyer now wants them to do, to pursue Trump’s impeachment, at all costs, if they win back the House next year? Should they give up on the white voters who went for Trump in 2016 even though many had been reliably Democratic in the past? Was Clinton’s defeated primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, right to try to pull the Party to the left?

Without a resolution to these questions, the next Democratic nominee may well end up caught in the same trap in which Hillary Clinton found herself, stuck defending the legacy of the two-term Obama Presidency, even as the economic dislocations of the Obama era fuelled the rise of populism on both left and right.

It can be difficult, if not impossible, in Washington these days to pay attention to the Democrats’ war within while what appears to be the full-fledged implosion of the Republican Party unfolds. After all, hardly a day goes by when the President of the United States isn’t publicly attacking leaders in his own party, and being attacked back. And this week brought a new obsession: the first indictments in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that the brewing fight over the Democratic Party’s future gets so little airtime. In the wake of Trump’s win, it’s easy to blame Hillary Clinton for being a flawed candidate with a tin ear for politics. Or to rationalize Trump’s unexpected victory as an accident of history. But I haven’t talked with a single Democrat or independent analyst who doesn’t think that the Party remains in serious danger of another electoral catastrophe.

...When Democrats handicap their prospects for 2020 these days, the list of potential candidates is huge and invariably includes septuagenarians like Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden—both of whom appear eager to run—as well as an array of younger, relatively unknown officials, like Kamala Harris, the former California attorney general who is now a first-term senator. While the Democratic National Committee is now being led by Obama’s former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has promised a technocratic approach to the problem of resurgent Republicans, the energy in the rank and file remains with the Bernie bros and Sandersistas, who are determined to pull the party to the left—toward a future of universal health care and free college for all. Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, could appeal to this fervent new activist base, and conceivably win the nomination in 2020. But more centrist Democrats worry that she couldn’t do so without forever alienating not only the Trump base but also the Wall Street moneymen who have provided the Party with key financial backing ever since Bill Clinton introduced his New Democrats to the nation, in 1992. As for Trump’s angry white working class, no one’s sure if there are any Democrats at all in the mix for 2020 who can really speak to them. And to the extent that there are such politicians, figures like Biden or Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, no one’s sure there’s a real place for such a candidate in a party moving left quickly.

“The Democratic Party today is divided over whether it wants to focus on the economy or identity,” Greenberg said when we talked. That is, as he pointed out, just what the Clinton campaign was fighting about a year ago. Greenberg and others who came out of the Bill Clinton era-- like the former President himself-- had never really let go of the economy-first mantra that got them to the White House in a different time, and they felt that there was a generational conflict with the Obama operatives who held sway over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 strategy. It was a fight that dogged the Clinton campaign all the way until its final days, when Greenberg and his allies inside the campaign pushed unsuccessfully to close with a focus on her plans for the economy.

“The caricature of this debate is, Bill Clinton says you have a problem and the numbers people say you don’t,” Jake Sullivan, who served as Clinton’s top policy adviser for the campaign after working with her closely at the Obama State Department, recalled. But it wasn’t that Hillary Clinton’s team disagreed over the problem, he insisted, just over what to do about it: “Everybody recognized we had a huge working-class, non-college white issue. The question was, How do you add up to victory? Do you attack it head-on or by compensating elsewhere? That was the fundamental strategic debate.”

And it still is.

Oops, not mention of Wassermann Schultz and the way she cheated to guarantee Hillary would win the nomination. As an unrepentant an establishment figure as the DNC's own Donna Brazile blew the roof off that yesterday with a guest post at Politico: Inside Hillary Clinton's Secret Takeover of the DNC. She admits she had promised Bernie when she took the helm of the DNC after the convention that she would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team-- which, of course, included fired DNC chair Debbie Wassermann Schultz-- had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. "I’d had my suspicions," she wrote, "from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails." But she wanted proof. She claims Obama neglected the DNC and left it to rot while Wassermann Schultz "had not been the most active chair in fundraising," diplomatically not mentioning that Wassermann Schultz employed all the DNC's tools to raise money for herself-- voraciously as she tried to build a case for why she should be House Speaker-- not for the party. By the time Hillary took over the DNC she made it "dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations." Brazile says she found the proof she looked for that the fix was in. Everybody blamed Wassermann Schultz for everything. There can be no doubt she was behind everything that went wrong at the DNC, at least according to Brazile's account.
Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the thirty-two states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

“Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?”

Gary [Gensler, DNC CFO] said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.

“That was the deal that Robby struck with Debbie,” he explained, referring to campaign manager Robby Mook. “It was to sustain the DNC. We sent the party nearly $20 million from September until the convention, and more to prepare for the election.”

“What’s the burn rate, Gary?” I asked. “How much money do we need every month to fund the party?”

The burn rate was $3.5 million to $4 million a month, he said.

I gasped. I had a pretty good sense of the DNC’s operations after having served as interim chair five years earlier. Back then the monthly expenses were half that. What had happened? The party chair usually shrinks the staff between presidential election campaigns, but Debbie had chosen not to do that. She had stuck lots of consultants on the DNC payroll, and Obama’s consultants were being financed by the DNC, too.

...Right around the time of the convention, the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up … when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially… money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.

I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.

...The agreement-- signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias-- specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings... This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination... The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.
I talk with so many solid young political leaders, almost every day. And really good members of Congress too, like Ted Lieu and Ro Khanna in my own state, for example. I have to keep reminding myself why any of them would want to be associated with the Democratic Party. And there is literally only one conceivable answer, aside from vestigial values long abandoned in all by name: the lesser of two evils. That's it!

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At 6:30 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

It's all money plain & simple & i hate to say this Donna but we knew the DNC was already & is still corrupt for years you & Tom Perez clean up the mess & do the world a favor & resign but they won't so screw them.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corrupt is worse than inept, for ignorance can be excused. Corruption is deliberate and well-considered to ensure that public exposure is hidden for as long as possible. Such betrayal cannot be excused.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Daro said...

Just watch Jimmy Dore and all will be clear.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, 7:19.

"And really good members of Congress too, like Ted Lieu and Ro Khanna... I have to keep reminding myself why any of them would want to be associated with the Democratic Party. And there is literally only one conceivable answer, aside from vestigial values long abandoned in all by name: the lesser of two evils. That's it!"

Amen again. Those vestigial values are long gone. Bernie espoused a return to them and they ratfucked him out of the nom to keep those values out!

When the lesser evil is still profoundly evil, it's time to abandon that goddamn party forever. A 'good democrap' today would have been so bad as to be nearly unelectable 50 years ago.

I ask again: Why, given the knowledge of the DNC's fraud they now admit, would the likes of Warren and Sanders have lent support and aide to that evil, corrupt party's lying banking whore candidate?

Nobody who worked for Hitler was objectively 'good' either.


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